FOMO vs Your Budget

We’ve all experienced FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) at one point in our lives. Social media doesn’t help; we live in a time where we are able to carefully craft how we want the world to see us, whether that is a true interpretation or not. Peer pressure in the age of social media means not having to say anything or pressure anyone explicitly, but sending non-verbal exclusion messages. Look at how much fun I’m having! Look at this thing I bought! Or my favorite – Take a picture of me like I’m not looking.

Having FOMO, especially when it has to do with money and the activities your friends take part in, is hard, especially in college. I’m not going to lie, as a first-generation low-income student, not being able to afford a semester or even a summer abroad really got to me. Making the decision for me to live a bit farther away from campus to save money meant not having a lot of time to kill–not if you don’t want to miss the last bus home. FOMO crawled at me when I really wanted to eat something on campus but went home instead. I even arranged all my classes to make sure I had time to go home and eat there instead of buying fast food. I never went anywhere for Spring Break, and didn’t travel to any place other than home until I graduated.

We’ve experienced FOMO since childhood–from who has the latest toy, the newest clothes for the school year, the ability to eat out whenever. It is in the college years that FOMO intensifies, and it is hard to shake it off. FOMO creates this need to do all the things, even if you are not actually that much into it. It also enables unhealthy spending habits–after all, isn’t it about the money but the experience? FOMO hits your budget pretty hard–especially if you are willingly avoiding your bank statements.

Here’s where JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) has come in handy for me. I hadn’t heard of JOMO until recently, but it perfectly describes how I’ve prevented FOMO from running my life. JOMO reassures me that I don’t need to buy, be, or do all the things. And that’s okay. It means that I don’t hype the hype, and wait until things get quiet to see if I actually want to partake in any activity. It’s not an easy process, but over time I’ve become more confident with being happy with what I have and delaying gratification.

Of course, there are advantages and drawbacks to both FOMO and JOMO, as I outline below.


Does this mean you have to follow JOMO all the time? No! You should be able to treat yourself when you can, but always keeping in mind that in college you should live as a college student. I didn’t need a new car in college; I didn’t need the latest phone; I didn’t need to go out every weekend. But there were things I wish I had done and didn’t because I was too hard on myself.

Keep both FOMO and JOMO in mind as you go through college!