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Is social media causing you to go into debt?

Lifestyle content and trying to keep up with beauty standards and the latest beauty trends could be ruining your finances. And if you think you're just a passive consumer of social media, you would be wrong. Not only can it have detrimental effects on your mental health which can cause depression, addiction, and feelings of low self-worth, it may also be eating into your budget more than what you are aware of...

What is lifestyle content?

Lifestyle content is intended to showcase 'everyday' content. Here, think about content like 'spend the day with me' or just images and videos of vacations, dinners and routines. This could create another version of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or just make you feel like you aren't living the life you ought to be living. In turn, this could have negative impacts on your spending habits and perhaps even credit card debt. The simple reason? You want to keep up. Even if you commit the sin of not posting about it.

A survey conducted by Forbes Advisor found that 48% of respondents travelled to a place because they saw it on social media. 

Popular messaging like the image below can also be seen as encouraging an irresponsible way of looking at finances. Messaging like, "Travel now. The money will come back, your time won't" is another popular idea thrown about on social media. The harsh reality this line of thinking does not take into account is that experiences are only more valuable than money when you actually have the money to fund these experiences. 

travel while youre young

Source: Pinterest

And, a way to 'just make it work' may be to rely on credit card debt or loans to pay for these experiences. Another problem with this 'just make it work' is that eventually, the vacation has to end and the bills will be due.

In a blog post titled "Why 'Don't Worry About Money, Just Travel' is the worst advice of all time', Chelsea Fagan said this type of content and messaging is a form of 'aspirational porn'. She goes on to say that 'this serves the dual purpose of tantalizing the viewer with a life they cannot have, while making them feel like some sort of failure for not being able to have it.'

This is the problem with lifestyle content and following social media influencers. It can create a feeling of inadequacy or not measuring up. This feeling may go on to affect how you spend money in an attempt to keep up with the people on your feed. It may also cause you to tap into your savings accounts prematurely. All of which, may be harming you in the long-run financially.

Here's a question for you to reflect on: How many of the things would you want if you had not seen it on social media?

Are you spending too much on discretionary purchases?

A discretionary purchase refers to non-essential purchases like spending money on your nails, hair, dining out experiences, vacations etc. One clear indicator that you may be overspending on these types of purchases is if you consistently prioritise them over saving towards an emergency savings fund.

Emergency savings are crucial for unexpected expenses such as medical bills, car repairs, or job loss. But not many people are really flaunting this on social media.

Here's the thing, by consistently choosing to spend money on non-essential items instead of building up your emergency fund, you are putting yourself at risk of financial instability in the future. It's important to strike a balance between enjoying your money and living in the 'now and being financially prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise.

If you find yourself consistently choosing to spend on non-essential items over saving for emergencies, it may be time to re-evaluate your spending habits and prioritise building up your savings for a more secure financial future.

Buy Now, and really Pay Later 

With the rise of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) payment methods, having immediate access to things you want has never been easier, even when you are not by the financial means to obtain the thing that you want. The appeal of these BNPL payment methods? Not having to pay interest. It still, however, encourages a habit of depending on credit and using money you do not yet have. Also, what people fail to educate consumers about regarding these payment methods is that you can eventually get caught up in a cycle of not being able to keep up with the payments. 

Read: Buy Now, Pay Later Explained

In over your head with debt?

Can't make any haul videos because you're too busy trying to figure out how you're going to pay for your debt? Social media platforms may make you feel lonely, but you are not. 

Did you know: the middle-class is currently collapsing under debt in South Africa. Close to 80% of their salary is spent on financing their debt. 

Read: 'The middle-class is collapsing under debt' - Maya Fisher-French

Moku Insight: If the thought of pay-day no longer excites you because you have too much debt, you may be over-indebted and need debt counselling. 

If you're struggling to make your debt repayments, there is a way out with debt counselling at Meerkat. 

What is debt counselling?

Debt counselling is a debt relief programme aimed at South Africans who are struggling to cope with their monthly debt repayments. The process consolidates your debt (makes it one) and then works out a new, reduced repayment plan for you so that you are better able to manage your debt repayments. 

Want to understand more about the process? Read this blog post. 


“Spending money to show people how much money you have is the fastest way to have less money.”

― Morgan Housel, The Psychology of Money

Grow your money and start your journey towards financial freedom instead. Get out of crippling debt with debt counselling (debt review) at Meerkat!

Contact me about debt review >>

Who is Meerkat?

Meerkat is an authorised financial services provider and we've been voted as one of the Top 10 Large Debt Counsellors in South Africa. We help South Africans do MORE with their money.

We do this by helping them:

  • Pay off their debt.
  • Get affordable funeral cover.
  • Kick-start an emergency savings fund.
  • Protect their income should the unexpected happen.

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