I’m currently in an awkward financial phase of my life. At least, I hope it’s just a phase. I’m in my mid-20s, all of my friends are too, and for the first time, we’re starting to reach varying levels of income and financial responsibility.
Long gone are the days where we all had similar entry-level salaries and cramped studio apartments. Now that some of my friends are surpassing me financially and can afford social outings that I can’t — at least not if I want to have a savings account — I’m beginning to experience FOMO (fear of missing out) for the first time in my life.
It’s pretty hard to say no to friends or family because of money. I really do want to go to brunch, or that theme park, or on a weekend getaway. When I have to duck out of a pricey event, it’s not personal — it’s financial.
But now that I work for myself and my income is more inconsistent, it’s even more important that my FOMO doesn’t get the best of me or my bank account. Here's how I overcome those nagging feelings that I’m majorly missing out.
Know what your budget is
In order to truly know how much money you’d like to allocate to social outings, you need to create a solid budget first. Carve out a Sunday morning, make a big cup of coffee and get to work.
Begin by taking a look at your entire financial situation. Do you have debt? If so, how long until you can pay it off? How large is your emergency savings fund? Are you planning on buying a new car next year? Ask yourself the tough financial questions so you can see exactly how much you can allocate to spend on essentials, how much you should be putting toward debt each month and how much you need to be saving in order to meet your financial goals.
You’ll want to make room in your budget for fun things like shopping, entertainment and dining out, so make sure you have a clear picture of what that amount is. It will be easier to plan how many nights out with friends you can afford once you’ve allocated money for it. Sticking to this budget will also help you avoid financial guilt at the end of the month.
Keep your eye on the prize
There’s no way to get around FOMO completely. There will always be things we want in life but can’t afford, and that feeling is magnified when you see that your loved ones *can* have those things. While you can’t completely eradicate those negative feelings, you can choose to focus on the positive instead.
Instead of thinking, I am so bummed that I can’t go to Las Vegas this weekend, you can think, I’m proud that I’m getting closer to paying off my student loan debt. If you’re saving for a home, wedding or retirement, think about how happy your future self will be when you’ve met your goals. Consider creating a dedicated savings account for your goal so you can see how much you’ve saved. Make a vision board, keep a financial journal, do whatever helps you remember why you’re making financial sacrifices. Skipping happy hour won’t feel so bad when you know you’re one step closer to your dream honeymoon.
It can be uncomfortable to talk about money with friends, but they may start to take it personally when you repeatedly turn down their invites.
A few months ago my friends were considering a weekend getaway to Los Angeles. It’s a quick drive for us and seemed like an inexpensive way to have a special weekend together. I was all in – until we started planning and the costs kept rising. After some sweating, I finally confessed to my friends that I didn’t know if I could swing the trip.
It turned out I wasn't the only one feeling this way. So we made some changes and opted for one day in Los Angeles and had just as much fun. My friends understood where I was coming from and were more than happy to support me.
If you want to avoid having to turn down an expensive activity in the first place, try planning an event yourself. Suggest a beautiful beach walk or hike on a Sunday morning instead of indulging in pricey bottomless mimosas. See which local museums offer inexpensive tickets or if your local art galleries offer free wine and snacks on certain nights. After all, everyone loves when someone else does all the planning.