Social media has changed the way we communicate, live our lives, and spend our money. Just like most things, social media has its pros and cons. It can connect us to long-lost friends and family and with those we otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet. But it also has a dark side. And part of that dark side is just how distracting it can be. Among the many downsides of social media distractions, they can wreak havoc on your finances.
Once you identify the problem, though, you can start working on solutions. So, that’s just what we’re going to do here. If you find yourself distracted by social media and fear it is negatively affecting your finances, don’t worry, there’s a way out!
Here, we’ll dive into what social media distraction does to your finances and what to do to combat social media distraction. Then, we look into how you can use social media to actually improve your financial life.
What social media distractions do to your finances
So many of us turn to social media when we are bored or want to avoid something going on in our lives. While there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, spending too much time distracted by social media can negatively impact your finances.
These are just some of the many ways the distraction of social media can harm you financially:
1. Overspending, comparison spending, and spending on things you don’t need or even want
Whether it is an influencer modeling the latest clothing trend or your best friend from high school posing in front of her new home, social media can cause even the most rational person to spend money they don’t have. Throw targeted advertisements into the mix, and social media is a recipe for spending beyond your means.
Anyone who has been distracted by social media before and who has spent money on something they later regretted also knows that it is easier to spend over your phone than in person.
There’s something about taking out your wallet and handing over cash that makes a transaction feel real. You might find yourself spending on things you don’t need or even want just because they are so easy to buy with one click on social media.
2. Less time spent goal setting and executing on your financial goals
It takes a lot of time and effort to succeed in reaching a financial goal. If you are distracted by social media and spend more time on it than you’d like to admit, that is a lot of time you aren’t using to reach your financial goals.
One recent study found that people spent an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day on social media. That's a ton of time that you could dedicate toward financial goals instead of the distraction of social media.
Even if you cut your social media distractions down by half, that would still leave the average person over one hour a day with free time. Imagine what you could accomplish!
3. Focuses your financial mindset on spending rather than saving
Your money mindset is everything when it comes to living a healthy financial life. And social media distractions can harm that mindset by putting you in a spending mode rather than a saving one. Of course, you don’t have to restrict yourself and stop spending altogether. However, it’s best to be intentional about your spending.
When you spend too much time distracted by social media, your mindset might shift into (or remain in) spending mode. It seems natural to spend, especially when that’s what everyone else you follow or interact with on social media is doing.
How to get out of the social media distractions trap
The distraction of social media is a very real problem. It can also be a powerful influence on your life and finances. But if you want to stop it and stop its negative impacts on your wallet, it can be done! If you want to stop spending due to influences or change your financial mindset, consider trying these tips:
1. Unfollow influencers and brands
With their aspirational lives, social media influencers can make us want to spend, spend, spend to keep up with what we perceive as normal lives. But their lives are anything but normal! Influencers are paid to promote certain products and places.
Also, they work with companies to carefully craft campaigns and ads to make us want to buy things. The best way to avoid falling into the trap of buying things influencers hawk? Unfollow their accounts.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to unfollow brands, too. When you follow a brand you like, that’s free advertising for them. It can be hard to resist a new clothing purchase or home décor item when you’re scrolling late at night. So, it’s best to delete those accounts to stop impulse purchases. Try to only look at their websites when you have a specific purchase in mind.
2. Set a daily use time limit and turn off notifications
Next, try limiting the time you spend on social media aka social media minimalism. The less time you spend scrolling, the fewer ads you’ll see, the fewer products you’ll want, and the less FOMO you’ll have.
Turn off your notifications, so you control when you are on social media, and it doesn’t control you. These steps will drastically limit the time you spend on social media distractions and the amount of money you’ll spend.
3. Get an accountability partner
If you’re having trouble limiting your social media use on your own, turn to a friend for help. You no doubt can recruit a friend who also wants to limit their social media distractions and get them to be your accountability partner.
A lack of accountability is one of the primary mistakes people make when trying to achieve new goals, like limiting social media or reaching new financial goals.
If you can’t find someone who wants to get rid of the distraction of social media, you can always turn to an app as an accountability partner. Just be sure the app is actually helping you stick to your goal of limiting social media and curbing spending and not making you spend even more time on your phone.
4. Try a social media detox
If none of the previous tips work for you, it might be time to take a more drastic approach: a social media detox. This is when you intentionally delete social media for a certain period of time. It might be for a day, or it might be for a year.
Among other benefits, a social media detox can help improve your finances. Since a social media detox can help you improve your mental health, increase productivity, and, yes, save money, too, it’s definitely worth trying out.
5. Delete it for good!
The best way to eliminate social media distractions? Cut all social media out of your life – permanently! If you’re an all-or-nothing kind of person, perhaps deleting all of your accounts is the best option. You can always go back, but why would you once you see the proof of the benefits of quitting social media in the form of your growing bank account?
Using social media to your financial benefit
Once you have your social media use under control and are aware of how distracting it can be, you can better use social media for good. Instead of harming your finances, it can actually help improve them! Here’s how:
1. Follow financial platforms you admire
Sure, there are influencers out there who can be detrimental to your financial health (not to mention your mental health) and who you should probably unfollow.
But there are also influencers, platforms, and financial gurus who you definitely should follow. There are free resources that can help you educate yourself on personal finance, from buying a home to investing and beyond.
If you’re looking for accounts to follow, Clever Girl Finance, and its founder and CEO, Bola Sokunbi, are two great places to start. So are the accounts of experts like Farnoosh Torabi and Patrice Washington. And, if videos are more your thing, don’t forget about these female Youtubers who talk all about personal finance.
So, rather than getting caught up with social media distractions that don't serve you, find some that can motivate you to achieve your goals!
2. Get support from others with similar financial goals
Advice from financial experts is so valuable, but so is support from others who are on similar financial journeys as you are. Especially if you don’t have the support in your real life, you can find support groups online for everything.
Whether you want to save for a house, pay off your credit card debt, or have another financial goal in mind, someone else out there has a similar goal. Social media platforms are great places to find a virtual accountability partner (or many!).
3. Use social media to network and find job opportunities
You can use social media to find your next job. Aside from networking on social media platforms like LinkedIn, there are plenty of other ways to use social media in your job search. Use social media to highlight significant accomplishments and wins for potential employers to see when they come across your profile.
Post relevant content in your field to show your expertise. The options are limitless to use social media to expand your network and position yourself for a new job. It's a great way to make money and increase your salary too!
4. Tap into reviews before you make big purchases
Social media can be dangerous if it causes you to spend on things you don’t need. But it can also be helpful when you’re purchasing something you do need or want, especially if it’s a big purchase!
Tap into your network to ask people about their experiences with products. Also, be sure to find reviews before making your next big purchase. If you do this, you’ll likely end up with a better product and at a better price. It’s a win-win.
5. Access offers and discounts
Lastly, another way to save money on online purchases is to scour social media for coupons and offers. Sometimes you can even get discount codes by reaching out to a brand directly on their Twitter or Instagram account – it never hurts to try! You’ll be surprised at what brands will respond to and offer their customers.
Get rid of social media distractions and get your finances on track
Social media distractions get a bad rap, and rightfully so. It can throw you off course financially without you even realizing it’s happening. But when you take control over your social media use, you might be surprised at just how much you can harness it to your financial benefit. Learn even more about improving your finances by ditching debt and saving money with our completely free financial courses!