Is Social Media Derailing Your Spending Habits?

One scroll through Instagram has us wanting everything from an ice latte to new sunglasses.
is-tiktok-making-me-spend-too-muchmarie claire

As I indulge in my midday scroll, I find myself transfixed by the ASMR tones of an iced latte clinking and a fresh set of acrylics drumming on a sunglasses case. One thing’s for sure – my daily round of ‘should I buy that’ has begun.

Today’s temptation? A desk chair with an extendable leg rest. My existing desk chair was serving me just fine. Now, I look at it with disappointment for everything it isn’t.

Social media has come a long way since the days of third person status updates and organising your top friends. And as someone living 11,000 miles from my home in the UK, there are so many things to love about having access to pretty much everyone I’ve ever known (and their wedding photos).

But in more recent years, social media has gone commercial – and in more ways than the overt algorithmic advertising and sponsored posts.

Social Media Is A Bottomless Shop Front

Chair plus leg rest? We obviously need that! (Credit: Pipersong)

Every scroll is like browsing a shop front, showcasing the endless stream of “stuff” we can buy. We can either tap for details, swipe up to shop, or send a DM to the creator requesting the link to whatever’s caught our eye.

A few taps is all that stands between us and ‘add to cart’. We can be $100 in the hole and already tracking the delivery within minutes of discovering a product exists. If you’ve got your card details stored in your smartphone, you’ve probably not even left the couch.

Now don’t get me wrong. We all have those moments of ‘shut up and take my money’, when you’ve come across something so utterly fantastic that you’re certain it’s a winner. I can confirm me and my Stanley cup dupe are very happy together.

The TikTok-famous Stanley cup. (Credit: Stanley)

But as a financial behaviour specialist (and a former hot money mess myself), something that often keeps us from making progress with our finances is feeling stuck on a spending hamster wheel – and social media plays a big role in this cycle. It’s understandably difficult to keep your dollars in your pocket when you’re scrolling through images and videos of everything you don’t have, each thumb stroke pouring more fuel on the comparison bonfire.

Whether it’s someone’s ultra-aesthetic living room or an amazing outfit worn by someone with style you’d die for, comparison between the lives we have and the lives we scroll can be damaging to our happiness and our financial wellbeing. The result? An unspoken sense of pressure.

There are endless ways to aesthetically upgrade every corner of our lives. The bed sheets we sleep in, the clothes we wear – it’s no wonder we hand over our money without a second thought. But we can change that.

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