I spend a lot of time on Instagram. A LOT. But what 23-year-old doesn’t? This also means I spend a lot of time watching my friends post on social media about expensive dates they went on last weekend with their S/O, or the fancy tour of a local winery they experienced wearing a brand new outfit. Meanwhile, I am at home eating leftovers in my secondhand sweatshirt and begrudgingly putting away over 50% of my income into savings.
After making some big purchases very early in life, such as buying a duplex with my partner at 21 (yikes!) and getting married at 22 (weddings are so pricey!), I am finding myself wishing I left some room in my budget for lifestyle purchases, like fancy dinners and weekend splurges. Instead, I have my financial eye set on something else — a second property. My husband and I take a lot of pride in our home and look forward to moving on and turning our current house into a cash-flow positive property.
So what does this mean for me and my Instagram struggles? I feel constantly tempted by the products and experiences touted on social media, just knowing I am sitting on my little nest egg.
Saving money on a regular day is hard. Life is expensive and there is temptation everywhere, especially online. And these urges are getting worse as businesses have started opening back up. Now, trendy patios are serving picture-worthy cocktails and clothing stores are opening up their change rooms again. As I watch all of my friends on social media indulge in these activities that I would love to partake in, it becomes more important now than ever that I refocus myself and remember my long-term financial strategy. Here’s how I do it:
Unfollowing social media accounts that tempt me to spend unnecessarily
I used to think this wasn’t an option because the social media accounts that tempt me to spend are, well, my friends. Friends don’t unfollow friends on social media, I thought. It took me a long time to realize that just isn’t true. The reason I spend my weekends at home instead of wearing a new sundress and holding a glass of vino for a cute Instagram picture is about priorities. Priorities that, in the end, are different to everyone.
Now, without the distraction of tempting online content, I recognize that my friends are in different life stages than me and just because I don’t follow them in social media, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends IRL. If you have even a little more self control than me, you can probably even get away with simply muting your friends’ tempting social media content for a period of time as you work to shift your mindset towards prioritizing and feeling good about your goals.
Cleaning my house until it’s absolutely spotless
Despite owning our house, we live in a very small amount of space and rent out half of the house to a family. While we are proud of this financially responsible move, we don’t necessarily love living in a cramped one-bedroom apartment with our two dogs. But, as we wait to accumulate the down payment for our next house, we need to make the most of our circumstances.
The benefits of intense cleaning are twofold. First of all, it’s incredibly hard to scroll through Instagram with a toilet brush in one hand and a mop in the other. Secondly, a living space, no matter how cramped and full of dogs it is, becomes significantly more lovable when it’s clean. When you love where you live, you’re more content to spend time there instead of out on the town, spending needlessly for an afternoon of fun.
Doing low-cost Insta-worthy activities
It’s natural to feel left out when I see my friends’ posts about their fun (and expensive) weekend plans. But I remember there are lots of things I can do that are fun, social, Instagrammable — and that doesn’t cost a thing. Now, I fill my weekends with activities like hiking with my husband and our dogs (how cute are our canine trail guides? Super cute!), or going to the local outdoor tennis courts with our $20 tennis racket set. Just because it’s not expensive doesn’t mean I can’t have a ton of fun or feel like it’s time well spent!
Social media makes it easy to share experiences together, but it can feel hard to connect with friends who aren’t in the same boat. In some ways, it makes me the “less fun” friend because I’m more reluctant to spend money on activities when I could be dropping that money into a savings account for my future.
When social media peer pressure challenges my willpower to upkeep my financial goals, I remind myself that it’s okay to have different priorities than my friends. Not only that, but it’s okay to live a lifestyle that can’t be as easily shown off on Instagram even in a world where social media plays such a big role. In the end, I know my choice to save is right for me. And one day, when I finally achieve this next financial milestone, I’ll know that I will have something worthwhile to post about.
Image via Unsplash