When I stumbled upon this question on the internet, I was totally intrigued. How DOES social media affect our spending?! I can take a guess and say that it heightens our desire to “want” things significantly. We’ve all had a conversation with someone about things we want to buy, then like magic, they appear as ads on our Instagram or Facebook feed. Social media makes it way too easy for us to get exactly what we need and often, even what we don’t.

Think back to the pre-social media days. How frequent was your purchasing? Spending money wasn’t as easy as a one-click checkout on Amazon. You’d have to physically go to the mall or store. Now, shopping is made almost too accessible.

In many ways this can be helpful- research studies have shown that many people rely on the information and reviews on social media as a guide for planning their future purchases. In fact, 54% of social media users browse social media to research products before making a buying decision.

We also really value the opinions of people we trust- the things we often get sucked in to buying are oftentimes from social media influencers- people we TRUST and follow. Research shows that consumers who are influenced by social media are 4 times more likely to spend more on purchases. Moreover, consumers are 29% more likely to make purchases the same day as seeing an ad on social media (i.e. impulse buying!).

If you’ve watched the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, this will all make sense to you. This movie spells out how social media is essentially designed to understand us- what we want, what we like- so then it can strategically place ads in our feeds that are customized to our interests. Fascinating. But also, so dangerous. One recommendation that came out of this movie is to turn off notification settings. Turn off your notifications for Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook, all that good stuff. This way, you are only going on social media when it is convenient for you. Take control over your online purchasing by taking control of how often you look at your phone. The more mindless scrolling you do, the more likely you are to come across ads for things that you will want to buy. If social media is free to users, then who is footing the bill? Advertisers. We develop this fear of missing out (FOMO) if we don’t have a particular gadget or brand of clothing… don’t get sucked in!

Before hitting checkout, ask yourself a few questions; is what you’re buying something you really need? If it is a “want”, make sure you’re not overindulging. Allocate a few dollars a month to “wants” but keep it under wraps. Impulse buying is tough to avoid but deleting apps you know are triggers for you can help in managing your spending. Financial wellness is important too!