FOMO or "Fear Of Missing Out" is sending people loco – and into debt.
We’re living large, affording ourselves the unaffordable, because we’re ruled by the Fear Of Missing Out, generated by the insatiable social media monster.
Keeping up with the Kardashians has replaced keeping up with the Joneses, says psychotherapist Deborah Mecklinger, of walkthetalkcoaching.com. “Adults and not just teens plan their activities with their Instagram and snap stories in mind.”
Endless stream of updates, invites and opportunities beckons and keeps us on edge. And posting trips, parties and designer things make for enviable, photo-worthy lives. “When we see pictures of great parties, events or captivating moments, we want that as well. And many people desperately don’t want to miss out on these moments,” says psychiatrist Dr. Reef Karim.
The emotional consequences of FOMO can “motivate people positively or negatively to do things or spend things or desperately find things to keep them occupied in their search for moments that define them,” says Karim.
Jessica Domingo admits to FOMO - she just can’t say no to exciting experiences and making memories, even if it means debt. She’d go and then owe. “If someone invites me to Europe, I am going. I believe that the experience is worth the debt I will have to deal with after.”
She’d feel pretty bad missing out. “I would see all the amazing photos and posts online and wish I went,” says Domingo, a 26-year-old working in public relations. Luckily, lots of disposable income while living at home helped quell her FOMO.
Domingo, who thrives on new experiences and not the ooohs and ahhhs from her posts, admits she’d likely have enough for a down payment on a house right now if it wasn’t for FOMO. And now that she’s out on her own, living for today could get costly.
According to debt expert Blair Davidson, “it’s human nature to want to be part of the crowd, part of the fun, but when FOMO has you living in the moment and is putting your financial future at risk, it is time to be concerned.”
Green with envy? “FOMO is leaving people with less green in their wallet,” says Davidson, of bdo.ca, adding that shelling out for entertainment, dining out, vacations and home renovations tops lists, behind mortgage payments.
FOMO fever is rampant: 64% of all Canadians, across all generations, genders, relationship status and incomes, fear missing out, according to a Citizen Relations study. And not only that, it’s leading to major depression and anxiety for teens, reports a new Australian study.
Davidson saysthat boomers are hard hit by FOMO because they’re also contending with “FOHMO” - Fear of Having Missed Out - on life experiences, and “FOMTB” - Fear of Missing the Bucket. Checking off bucket lists can do major damage to bank accounts.
Canadians currently have a record-high debt to income ratio of 164.6%, and more and more boomers are delaying retirement because they feel they don’t have enough saved. “There are also those who will carry debt into retirement. Bankruptcy and insolvency filings for this demographic continue to increase year over year.” Adding further to boomers’ debt load is the fact that they’re contributing to their adult children’s living expenses – and possibly funding their offspring’s FOMO? Quite possibly, considering that 70% of Millennials admit to reactive purchases because of FOMO, according to stats from a Citizens Relations study.
And seniors also fear missing out – and some are living large. Davidson says that those 65 and over are the fastest growing demographic looking for debt help today. Stats reveal that 10% of those who declared bankruptcy last year were aged 65 and older - a 20.5% increase since 2010.