One of the things that are easy to see in our everyday lives is consumption. Walking out of my house I can see the type of car my neighbor drives, the clothes they wear, and the choices they make in the upkeep of their home. In speaking to my neighbor I might get more details of a store he recently shopped at, or a great restaurant he just ate at, or possible an upcoming home project he’ll be starting soon. Social media brings a whole new level of consumption, friends sharing all kinds of details of their lives from great meals, social outings, new purchases, and vacations. How does this in your face consumption make you feel? I have to admit I used to have a bit of consumption envy when I’d scroll my personal Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds, but then I learned better.
What we Don’t See
It took a little while into my debt repayment journey to realize that all these outside influences really didn’t matter to me, just because the neighbor up the block was taking his family to Disney World, their trip had no bearing on my financial plans and goals. Sure I knew they were taking the trip, I saw the consumption part, but what I didn’t see what how where they paying for it. Did they pay cash, did they borrow the money from a family member, or did they just max out a credit card sinking another $2-3k into debt? I have no idea and that’s really the key to not getting sucked into the envious feelings when you see others doing fun things, or making new purchases or going on trips. You see the end result but have no idea how they got there, and since you don’t have the complete details you can’t make a judgment on it either way. Sure you could ask, but most consider the inappropriate or rude. I guess it depends on how well you know that person. My approach is just be happy for that person either way and continues to work on your own goals.
Good for You, I can Have that Too
Good for my neighbor that they just took the trip to Disney, because the simple fact is if that is a goal of mine all I need to do is work it into my overall plan and save for it and I can have it too. That’s the thing to keep in mind when scrolling social media or seeing a new car in a driveway when you start to have that feeling in the pit of your stomach, any of the purchases, outings, meals, vacations, etc. can be yours if you choose them. I’m sure you can afford these items, it’s just a matter whether they are part of your plan, your financial goals. Now when I look at friends feeds on social media I think the same thing. Are those the choices I want to make with my money? If I plan and save I can afford any vacation, any meal, any concert, but do I choose them, sometimes, yes and sometimes no.
My consumption has certainly changed in the last four or five years, but when I think of other people’s consumption in these terms I never have an envious feeling. If and when anyone asked about how we can afford the things we do I tell them the truth, the incredible failure we had with money early on, the change we made in our spending habits and now the plan we use for our money. The hope is that story will give the confidence in themselves to ask for help or maybe just say that’s how we did it too, or even better yet that they have always had a plan for their money.
What’s your take on consumption on social media? Do you ever feel envious when viewing others consumption?