Is FOMO Costing You?

by Miranda Marquit · 6 comments

Chances are that you’ve heard of FOMO – the “fear of missing out.”

Many of us experience this fear in our lives. We worry that we are missing out on something fun, or we think that an opportunity will pass us by. But is FOMO actually costing you a lot more money than you thought?

For a long time, I had a serious case of FOMO and it was somewhat detrimental. Here are some of the ways that FOMO might be costing you:

Spending Money on Sales

One of the biggest cost people incur is spending money on sale items, as there is always a sense of urgency with most sales. If you don’t hurry and buy, you might miss out on a really great deal. What if that deal never appears again?

In many cases, FOMO encourages you to spend money you aren’t planning to spend. The reality, though, is most sales are cyclical. Certain items go on sale regularly, so you will have the chance to buy something again at a low price.

Also, just because something is offered at an attractive price doesn’t mean you actually need to buy it. In some cases, the purchase might not make sense for your situation. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need it. If you’re just afraid you will miss out on something, and you buy it to avoid missing out, that’s money that could be going elsewhere. Too many FOMO purchases, and you could find your budget spiraling out of control.

Going Out with Others

My FOMO issues were more about the feeling that I’d miss out on fun. I wanted to be at every family event, take every vacation, and be at every weekend gathering of friends. I didn’t want to miss out on a good time, or a chance to see people I like.

However, over time I realized that I was spending money I didn’t have. So what if three of my friends were going on a spring break trip? Did I really need to put another trip on a credit card just to be a part of the fun?

While I love to travel and take the opportunity to travel when I can, it’s usually the result of planning. Many of the choices I made back in college cost me quite a lot of money, whether it was going out to an expensive dinner every weekend, joining family activities even though it required a lot of travel, or participating in trips. My FOMO resulted in credit card bills and over-extension because I didn’t want to miss out.

Today, while I sometimes wish I could participate in all the activities and do all the travel, I understand that I’m not truly missing out. I have a lot of great opportunities and I get to spend time with my loved ones. There’s really no need to spend a lot of money to make it happen and have a good time.

Losing Money Over and Over in the Stock Market

I have a friend who keeps asking for stock advice whenever the market is on fire because he’s missed out before the runup and now he’s bought at the top and have lost money. There are plenty of studies that show that investors lose out on one-fifth to one-third of all gains the overall market’s enjoyed because they bail when the market turns sour, fearing that they’ll miss out on keeping what’s left of their portfolio. And when the market inevitably comes back and is roaring, they have a case of FOMO and then buy back even though all the gains already happened as everyone seems to be making money hand over fist.

Time in the market, not timing the market is what makes you money. If you always let FOMO dictate when you invest, then you are for sure going to keep losing.

Next time you find yourself worried about what you’ll miss, stop and think about what you already have. You might be surprised to discover that you aren’t missing out at all, or that you are exaggerating how much you are actually missing out. You might even be able to transform your financial life in the process.

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current AT&T DSL and U-VERSE promotion codes and promos and see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Hank says:

    I see the concept of FOMO played out many times in my senior housing. I have many years experience as tech support. I have been asked several times to help with computer problems. I’m an advocate of ‘open source’ simply because of the simplicity, stable OS, security & above all else – cost. I find after asking each what do they use a computer for. Without fail as seniors they have 5 general uses: email, social networks (FB), information (Google), financial & lastly games (usually offline, non-role playing type). A few edit pictures but for the most part those 5 are the usual constant. I point out how they can update their older equipment without the added expense of upgrading to the latest greatest hardware. They can do the same 5 uses without added cost.

    Some have purchased tablets, others were given top of the line devices by their affluent children. I try to show them how to use whatever they have but most are not convinced that going ‘open source’ is for them. But, because most are on a fixed income the concept of a higher baud rate, faster CPU, huge HD are unnecessary additions they pay for but never need. They usually have whatever cable connection is available or in some cases a slower DSL connection. Speed is not the prime modivater when they experience FOMO.

    I read an article the other day about the waning interest with tablets, the author’s conception was that users are finding that a tablet is somewhat limited in what you can do with it. Granted it’s great to be constantly connected (as some think, I’m not of the school, I like my privacy). I don’t like that ‘Google’ or MicroSoft knows more about me than I do. The article went on to say that there are many whom like the feel & familiarity of a desktop PC or laptop over a tablet, I speaking of seniors anyone under 30 will take exception to that. A few of my neighbors have reverted back to their laptops, letting the tablets gather dust. My grandson plays with my tablet when he comes over, I never use it & have removed any app that connects to my accounts.

    • David @ says:

      On the other hand, FOMO was one of the reasons why many bought a tablet!

      Hearing your story brings back my younger days when I ventured into a Linux box in college. Now I have a Mac!

      • Hank says:

        I agree the Mac is by far the Ferrari of choice. If you are doing anything highly technical, graphic intense then you need a Mac. My point is concerning the seniors I deal with. Not one is doing any thing more than surfing, emailing, playing freecell, reading/posting to Facebook, or doing simple banking online. All with the exception of the ‘games’ are browser based & easily accessed with either Edge, Firefox, Chrome/Chromium, Safari, Opera or in the extreme, Tor, some may be using a photo application, some even use Photoshop but 99% of their editing can be done for free using GIMP. Overkill is the idea behind FOMO. I have downloaded/installed many, many Linux distros & have found that the less complicated it is the less stressful for my advanced age.

        • David @ says:

          You are right, and it’s not just seniors. Imagine how many computers we could revive if we only used what we needed, instead of updating to all the newest software versions that slows down our machines when all they add are fluff!

  • freebird says:

    FOMO is what has driven my 401k contributions. It’s three things I fear missing out on: first the company match, second the tax savings, and third is substantial exposure to the equity index funds that everyone says is the only way to win in the stock market. It’s also why I’ve maxed out on our employee stock plan.

    And frankly it may be the real reason I haven’t pulled the plug on early retirement. I have this nagging suspicion that my currently-at-the-money stock options that would expire worthless if I left now may suddenly rocket higher a few weeks after I quit. My brother rode one of those “Roman candles” a couple of decades ago when his company stock rose 20-fold in a few years, so even though it’s not likely in my case, I don’t think it’s a pipe dream.

    So I guess in my case FOMO has been a net positive financially.

    • David @ says:

      Good reminder that fear can actually be s good thing. I share that fear and that’s part of the reason why I live so far beneath my means. It sure helps financially!!

      And btw, good luck with your stock options!

Leave a Comment