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FOMO: Do You Live For Now Or For The Future?

Do you suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? It’s that sensation in the back of your mind that makes you go out even when you’re tired. It’s the reason you go to the concert featuring that band you don’t even like that much because your friends are going. An adventure can happen anywhere, and if you’re not there, you’ll be the one person in the world who missed it.


How much influence does this fear have on today’s millennials? A recent Eventbrite survey found that 75% of 18- to 34-year-olds prefer to “invest in experiences instead of things.”  70% cited FOMO by name as a motivator for their financial decisions. But seeking out adventures, rather than investing in your future, has consequences.

It’s not a coincidence that this same group is suffering financial hardship. Millennials have the highest debt percentage and lowest credit scores, according to Experian. The same study also finds that half of millennials were late on at least one payment last year.

Fighting FOMO is a serious challenge. It may be best to fight fire with fire and think about what you might be missing out on in the future. Let’s look at three ways you can use the FOMO to feed your financial future — rather than your financial fears.

1. FOMO on Retirement

Road tripping with friends across the country could produce some priceless memories. What could be even more priceless, though, is getting to take that trip with your spouse and family once you’ve retired. Cut your travel budget now and put the extra into an IRA.

Don’t think of it as not having wonderful experiences. Think of it as investing in future adventures. Consider opening an account specifically to save for one great excursion a little bit at a time. You’re not missing out on anything; you’re saving for better experiences later in life. Besides, with your savings, you can make arrangements that don’t include 16 hours in the seat of a sedan.

2. FOMO on Home Ownership

The biggest difference in wealth for older generations is time in home ownership. If you’re renting, your housing money goes out the window each month. You don’t build equity and you have to keep making that payment as long as you live there. With a mortgage, the money you pay each month stays with you as you build equity. Once you pay the mortgage off, your housing costs plummet.

Those opportunities may seem distant if you’re burdened by student loans and credit card debt. Getting out of debt is the best way to ensure you can qualify for and pay a mortgage. That means cutting spending now and committing to paying off loans and credit cards with any extra money.

Don’t think of the nights out that you won’t have. Instead, focus on the wonderful experiences you’ll have in your new home. Think of having a holiday meal at your kitchen table surrounded by family and friends. That’s the experience you’re investing in when you position yourself for home ownership.

3. FOMO on Financial Security

58% of millennials live paycheck-to-paycheck. That’s a stressful life. The constant worry over making rent and paying for basics can contribute to stress and lower quality of life. It’s an experience, frankly, that’s not much fun. Many millennials see this constant scramble as emblematic of their generation’s lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Setting aside money in an emergency fund can help you escape that cycle. A few hundred dollars in a savings account can provide a great deal of peace of mind.

Financial security is an experience just like going to a live show or a craft beer festival. The difference is that it’s an ongoing, long-lasting one. There is no closing time, and there is no last call. Being secure in your finances will never leave you with a hangover or ringing ears the next morning. It will make it easier to have the kind of experiences you want.

Fighting Fear Of Missing Out is a challenge. You only live once, as another generational acronym (YOLO) reminds us. Don’t use that as an excuse to not think about the future. You only get one life to have the kind of experiences you want to have, but that doesn’t mean you have to have them all right now. You can’t go back and study harder or save more for retirement. Live an enthusiastic, out-loud life in a financially responsible way.

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