Social Media Spending

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Could your favorite networking app be responsible for your increased spending?

For the last year or so, I’ve been trying to cut back the amount of time I spend on sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. But recently, I noticed that when I spend more time on social media, my online shopping goes up.

Then it hit me: Social media makes me want to shop.

The days that are filled with other people’s faces and newsfeeds are the days when I go to Poshmark or eBay.

The psychological ramifications of social media are still unclear, but research is starting to address the issue. According to a recent survey from TD Ameritrade, social media is much more likely to cause millennials to compare themselves to others than baby boomers. Nearly a quarter of millennials feel pressured to keep up with the spending habits of their friends, and 15 percent admit to spending money to make a good impression.

Here are some of the ways social media has made me spend more, and what I did to stop it.

How social media made me spend more

Sometimes when I see my friends posting about their vacations, lazy Sunday brunches, or cute dresses, I start to feel like my own life is less than theirs. Why don’t I have adorable outfits or the latest eyeshadow palette from Sephora? Shouldn’t I go buy them?

I reached the peak of this obsession when I regularly spent time on the Reddit forums devoted to fashion, skincare, and makeup. Pictures of other girls talking about their new contouring trick or their amazing hairstyle made me feel like I wasn’t complete unless I had the best of everything. As soon as I unsubscribed from those sites, I noticed that I no longer felt like I had to buy a new toner or concealer to fit in.

When you feel worthless, spending money is like an emotional Band-Aid. Shopping releases dopamine, which gives you a rush of excitement and positivity — for a short time. You know the term “retail therapy”? That’s what they’re talking about.

How to stop it

First, delete any apps that are solely devoted to spending money: eBay, Poshmark, and Amazon are the most common offenders. You can also use website blockers such as StayFocusd to prevent you from going to those sites on your laptop or desktop computer.

Then, if you still want to use social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, unfollow any brands or companies whose sole purpose is to get you to buy their products. You should even consider unfollowing blogs and other sites that inadvertently inspire you to buy something. For example, I don’t follow any fashion bloggers because I know they’ll make me want to spend more.

If you’re still having trouble, recruit a friend or partner to act as your accountability buddy. Every time you feel the inclination to buy something you saw on social media, text your friend and tell them about it. They can remind you of your commitment, and try to talk you down from the ledge. Choose someone who is comfortable being honest and giving a little tough love.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or policies of

Meet the Author

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok


Kumok is a personal finance freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado.

Budgeting & Saving

Very Personal Finance

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