You know what it’s like. You find a free moment or two and grab your phone to check your favorite social media platform. Your eye is drawn to those lifestyle influencers who share the most beautiful scenes of their gorgeously decorated homes or the newest styles of clothing.
Before you know it, you’ve clicked “Buy” on a website where your credit card information is already saved. It’s easy and quick. But what are these lifestyle influencers doing to your wallet? Could lifestyle influencers on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or other platforms be making you broke?
What is a lifestyle influencer?
By definition, a lifestyle influencer is someone who uses a public platform such as Instagram to share potential consumer items to convince their followers to buy products. They might focus on “unboxing” videos in which they unpack some hot new items on camera for their fans to see.
Lifestyle influencers are all around us. Chances are you know at least a few influencers whose primary goal in producing their YouTube channel, Instagram account, or blog is to get people to buy things.
Luxury influencers and lifestyle influencers generally receive kickbacks from companies in exchange for promoting their products. It’s a win-win for businesses, right? Companies might spend much less on free products or benefits for influencers than they would have by hiring a traditional marketing company.
Lifestyle influencers aren’t bad people. They often promote products and concepts they truly believe in (for instance personal finance influencers). You don’t need to assume the worst about your favorite influencers; they can give great insight and inspiration.
It’s simply important to keep in mind as you scroll or view videos that the influencer you’re following may have financial motives for sharing the products they do. That doesn’t necessarily mean their views aren’t valid. It means you need to pay attention to your own lifestyle as you enjoy seeing them with new jewelry or convertibles.
How lifestyle influencers might be making you broke
You can probably imagine how people go broke from following too many lifestyle influencers. The more high-end the products or items they’re sharing on their social platforms, the greater the kickbacks they likely receive from the company. This is how influencers make money. So when you make a purchase, that luxury influencer gets some benefit from your spending.
While you may believe with all your heart that every Instagram influencer you follow is totally sincere, let’s be real. They’re showing you what they want to show you. Most of the time, it only includes the best: the prettiest home, the shiniest car, the most peaceful vacation, or a particular designer handbag.
Think about the ways influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and other social media sites might be leading you to overspend and maybe even go broke.
1. Lifestyle influencers can breed discontentment
Most social media posts from a lifestyle influencer can make you feel dissatisfied with your life. Why is that? Because when you’re dissatisfied, you go looking for something to fill that void and make you happy.
If they can get you to buy something for hundreds or thousands of dollars, you add to their paycheck or host of freebies that month. When you see that person’s glowing face, you assume it’s due to the new skincare product they just reviewed. (Who knows how much the photos have been retouched, though?)
Whatever the influencer posts, it may be done strategically to make followers feel they need to spend money to fix that. How can you avoid this discontentment?
Getting into a practice of gratitude, even for the smallest of joys, goes a long way in helping to curb that discontented feeling. Luxury influencers make you feel you lack something; you have the power to ignore that and recognize all that you already possess.
The next time you’re scrolling Instagram and feel that tug of longing for a new luxury purchase, take a moment to remember how much you have right now and say thank you.
Write what you’re thankful for each day
Building gratitude is like building muscle strength: it’s most effective when you train that muscle daily. As author James Clear says, gratitude can be a habit (he likes to say one thing he’s grateful for every night as he sits down for dinner).
Make this habit your own. You might be a morning person and want to list three things in a journal before breakfast or wait until bedtime. Or maybe you use your social media for good and post your gratitude list there!
Send thank-you notes
Whether you go with the old-fashioned pen-and-paper note sent through snail mail or a simple text or GIF, thinking of people in your life can spark gratitude and help you avoid shopping.
This may be a daily or weekly habit, but however, you choose to do it, letting people you care about know you’re thankful for them feels amazing. However small or large the gesture or gift, people enjoy being thanked.
2. Lifestyle influencers may convince you that you need the thing they’re promoting
Something luxury influencers are really skilled at is making their followers believe the products they’re sharing are “must-haves items." A dangerous habit is to believe you need the stuff appearing in your social media feed.
The truth is, you probably never gave that item a single thought until your favorite influencer posted about it! Try these strategies next time you think to yourself, “I need that,” when looking at your Instagram.
Ask yourself if it’s truly a necessity
Whether it’s a gorgeous handbag, organic protein powder, or high-end baby gear, you might decide you need the item being advertised. But before you hand over your hard-earned money, ask yourself whether you really need this new product or simply like it.
If it’s just a luxury and not really important to you, save the shopping for another day.
Do you own something that fills that need?
If you’ve decided this new product is truly a need, the next step is running an inventory of what you already own. If you have an item that’s similar and gets the job done, could you avoid buying the new, high-priced version of it?
This goes back to the practice of gratitude. When we keep in mind the things we already have—not only possessions but health, relationships, and purpose—we can more easily stop online shopping based on influencer recommendations.
Remember that lifestyle influencers are getting paid
This is a key tip: remember that lifestyle influencers get paid to share their opinions of expensive products. This doesn’t necessarily negate their opinions. But it should make you think twice before forking over the cash to buy new stuff. They may have tried a product once just to get paid thousands for promoting it on their influencer platform.
3. You may feel you are missing out
FOMO, or fear of missing out, drives a lot of our decision-making. This is especially true when it comes to lifestyle influencers. You might think you have to have that new item, or your life will be incomplete. This is false.
In fact, you probably will not be missing out on anything other than spending money on something you don't truly need. Here are some tips to help you from giving in to FOMO:
Consider whether your real friends care about this item
Following lifestyle influencers may give you the illusion of being friends with them. However, most of the time, they’re just someone whose photos and videos you see. If your true friends wouldn’t care whether you buy that great new car, then you won’t miss out on a thing!
Identify your triggers
Think about which luxury influencers lead you to worry most about FOMO. Or which types of products (shoes, jewelry, vehicles, travel experiences) are most tempting for you. You might be better off hitting “unfollow” and avoiding the temptation altogether.
You could even start a total social media detox for a period of time to shift perspective.
Budget and plan for what you want
Instead of giving in to FOMO, plan ahead and start saving for the things you really want. There’s nothing wrong with spending money on things you desire, even if they’re not necessities. But you have to operate within your own budget. So make a plan and stick to it.
4. You may think you'll change if you get this one thing
Lifestyle influencers may convince you that you can become a completely different person if you just buy this course or product. It’s a variation of making you think you need something. Whatever is wrong with your life, buying x, y, or z can fix it! Here’s how to avoid falling for this trap:
Know that buying doesn’t change who you are
Whatever clothing you wear, whatever car you drive, whatever foods you eat, you’re still you. Your inner self doesn’t instantly change by buying the latest must-have item. Even well-intentioned purchases (like getting a new elliptical machine to get in shape) can be risky if you don’t have a plan for actually using them.
Examine your goals
Before (and maybe instead of) buying things seen on Instagram, decide what your goals are. Don’t be swayed by advertising just because it’s presented as if it’s a friend sharing her new favorite thing with you. Think about your actual goals and make plans to accomplish them.
Find budget-friendly ways to improve yourself
If you desire real change in some area of your life—fitness, spirituality, relationships, intellectual development, career—there are always low-cost ways of getting there.
- Public library: get free educational resources
- Join a local organization
- YouTube has tons of free resources (with ads) for every subject under the sun
5. Lifestyle influencers can waste your time
Just as important as it is to watch your bank account and net worth, you need to pay attention to how you’re spending your time. Even if you don’t run up huge credit card bills because of social media influencers, you’re still giving them a part of your life with every minute you spend online. Consider how to avoid going “broke” in terms of your time:
Set time limits for social media
If you’re not sure how much time you spend on lifestyle influencers, take a few days and track your time. There are time-tracking apps and programs to help you see your social media time clearly. Or you can make a simple spreadsheet and record how many minutes you spend each day on TikTok, Facebook, or other platforms.
Treat your time like your money and give yourself a budget for social media and lifestyle influencers. The less time you spend on those platforms, the less money you’ll likely spend as well.
Try a new hobby or activity
Perhaps you’re shocked when you see how many hours per week or day you spend browsing influencer platforms. You can shift things by taking up a new leisure activity.
Find free concerts in the park, go for walks, dust off the old piano, learn a language on Duolingo. There are so many different hobbies you can try!
Make money with your time
I wouldn’t suggest spending every minute of your leisure time on working—we all need some downtime. But for some people, starting a side hustle is a better way to spend time than browsing social media. Instead of being tempted to spend money by luxury influencers, you can make more money with your skills!
General guidelines to avoid lifestyle influencers making you broke
Lifestyle influencers aren’t evil. But you can implement a few easy strategies to help you avoid overspending when you see their tempting posts about brand-new clothing or whatever they’re promoting.
1. Make it harder to overspend
Even if you keep following your favorite lifestyle influencers, you can give yourself some boundaries that create friction when you get the urge to click the “buy” button. So here are a few tricks to prevent impulse shopping:
Delete credit card info from frequently visited sites
Saving your credit card information on Amazon and other shopping sites takes a lot of the pain out of buying non-essential items. So by deleting your information, you force yourself to think about each purchase. Having to go find your wallet and manually enter the payment information every time will deter you from certain spending sprees.
Give yourself a waiting period
Many personal finance experts recommend a waiting period before making purchases. Whether it’s 72 hours or much longer for large purchases. I don’t know about you, but my desire to buy something is highest when I first notice it in the store or online.
After a couple of days, that desire has dropped quite a bit, and often I don’t even want it at all anymore. Try a self-imposed waiting period—it could seriously decrease your impulse shopping!
Unsubscribe from lifestyle influencers
If you find that a waiting period isn’t enough, and you’re still broke from all the shopping caused by lifestyle influencers, unsubscribe. Take away the temptation. Usually, if you don’t see the product or store promotion, you won’t even think about buying stuff.
Unsubscribe from individual store emails as well because if you’re not careful, you could have dozens of stores marketing directly to you (with your permission).
2. Get good at budgeting
Along with making it harder to spend money, you can work on your budgeting skills. Everyone is capable of making and sticking to a budget if they try. This can help you withstand pressure from lifestyle influencers.
Basic budget guidelines
In general, a budget or spending plan is where you list all of your expenses and income and make sure everything comes outright. You want your income to meet (or exceed) your expenses. Whether you use a spreadsheet, a budgeting app, or pencil-and-paper, total up everything you need to spend money on and everything you earn.
By budgeting regularly, you can see whether you have room for fun purchases of items you see your favorite lifestyle influencers using. Then you can buy (up to a dollar amount) guilt-free!
Try different budgeting strategies
Consider different strategies and find the budgeting style that fits you best. You might like the 50/30/20 rule, where 50% of your income goes to needs, 30% for wants (non-necessities), and 20% for debt payoff and savings.
The envelope or cash system is another popular budget because people find they spend less with an all-cash method. The zero-based budget is another useful way to look at your income and expenses. Try out different methods to find which one is easiest for you to stick with.
3. Get clear on your financial goals
Why do you need to avoid overspending? Well, all of us have to avoid that, since “overspending” means spending more than you have. Get specific on what you want to accomplish financially. It might be much easier to say no to luxury purchases via influencers if you remember you’re saving for something else.
Some financial goal examples you could consider are:
- Taking a year-long sabbatical from your job to travel
- Saving a down payment for a house
- Paying off debt
- Getting out of a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle
- Financing your child’s college education
Your goals may be totally different from those above. Whatever they are, remember them when you’re looking at lifestyle influencers who tempt you to buy luxuries. While it’s okay to splurge at times or budget certain “fun” purchases into your life, try not to get carried away.
Avoid lifestyle influencers that are making you broke
Lifestyle influencers can certainly be fun to follow and give you inspiration and ideas. Maybe you’ll see something that motivates you to start your own business or learn a new skill.
Be mindful about who you follow in any social media format since they may cause you to be discontented and spend money you don’t really have. Don’t let any lifestyle influencers dictate or control your finances—that’s your job!
Instead, find personal finance influencers that will help motivate you to get out of debt, save money and build wealth. Start with our completely free financial courses, and don't forget to follow Clever Girl Finance on all of your favorite social media platforms too!