FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. And if you’ve got it, it’s costing you money.
I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately who are experiencing serious FOMO about something. Multiple people have expressed concern about missing out on:
- Buying a home while real estate prices are still low
- Buying a home while interest rates are still low
- Buying a home because prices will never be this low again
- Investing in a vacation or income property
These all have to do with real estate, but I imagine there are things people don’t mention to me, such as:
- Buying a program from someone because you’re afraid it won’t be offered again
- Buying something (clothes, furniture, jewelry, car) because you’re afraid you’ll never see a deal this good again
- Buying something (clothes, furniture, jewelry, car) because you’re afraid you’ll never see one you like as much
- Overspending on children because you’re afraid of limiting their experience
And more than any other mistake I see, this is how to make money disappear from your life.
Artificial resource limitation
I have a term for this: it’s called artificial resource limitation. (OK, it’s not as catchy as FOMO, but you get the picture.) It means that the resource isn’t actually limited, it’s just that you perceive it to be limited — that’s why the limitation is artificial.
People mistakenly believe that if they don’t act on this thing immediately, the opportunity will be lost forever. And that means they create the reason — the excuse, really — to spend money they haven’t budgeted, or money they maybe don’t even really have. Of course, part of this may be true. You might lose the opportunity to buy a specific home, lock in a low rate, or work with someone in a specific program. But does that mean that your life is forever ruined? I’m going to say no.
This is “all or nothing” thinking at its finest/worst. It’s like when a dieter convinces herself she should have a slice of cheesecake because the restaurant specializes in cheesecake and when will she be here again? The fact is, there will be other cheesecake — just like there will be other houses, other courses, other fabulous shoes, etc. But we convince ourselves that we have to be “all in” or risk getting nothing. And that’s bad for both your diet and your budget.
Fear and buyer’s remorse are not good reasons to buy
When I was buying my first home, I felt pressured to do so because everyone was telling me, “interest rates will never be this low again!” My interest rate on my first home mortgage? It was 8 percent. Ultimately, I ended up selling that place and renting for a while when I moved across town. But when I was ready to buy again, I was told the same thing. The interest rate on that mortgage was 6.5 percent. Yes, we might be at low mortgage rates. But if one of the reasons that you’re considering homeownership right now is that you’re afraid of missing out, then don’t. Fear absolutely should not be part of your decision criteria.
Artificial resource limitation will always give you buyer’s remorse because you will never be happy with a decision that was motivated by fear. You can’t feel good about something you bought for your kid if you were afraid they would miss out. You have to go into it excited. When I talk to parents about private school, I always ask, are you interested because it’s going to build on your child’s interests, or are you afraid they won’t get into a good college otherwise?
I’m very optimistic: maybe you aren’t supposed to buy a home now because in 2 years your income will have doubled and you’ll be looking in a whole other price range. Maybe your kid doesn’t need private school because he’s destined to be a saxophone prodigy (do they have those?). Maybe you aren’t supposed to do this program now because you’re going to get new information in two months that causes you to change direction. I’m always looking at not just the financial decision, but the motivation: is it fear or excitement?
So, the next time you feel like buying something (or investing in something) for fear of missing out, ask yourself, do you have a case of artificial resource limitation? And if you’re not sure, ask yourself, does this purchase, this thing, fit with my chief money initiative? If you haven’t declared yours yet, click here to download my free workbook and discover yours for yourself.