Now that we're officially overspending, we need to swap 'FOMO' for 'JOMO'

Now that we're officially overspending, we need to swap 'FOMO' for 'JOMO'

  • FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out. JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out, could be the antidote

  • British households spent an average £900 more than they earned last year, according to the ONS

  • It is the first time in almost 30 years that spending has surpassed incomes


I don’t think anyone really enjoys being told they should have less of the things they want. However attitudes to money need a major shift if household spending figures from the Office for National Statistics are anything to go by.

Household debt in the UK is worse than at any time on record. The facts (and scary headlines) have been all over the news last week. If you’re feeling the pinch, you’re not alone.

The data confirmed households, collectively, are living beyond their means.

Borrowing, particularly mortgage debt, is increasing. Meanwhile total saving as a share of total disposable income, which dipped to a record low of 3% last year, was only 4.3% in the first quarter of 2018.

Is Fear of Missing Out part of the problem?

I think it could be. There are obviously other things at play – income from savings accounts is being hurt by low interest rates and higher inflation. That’s not much of an incentive to save.

People don’t necessarily spend less in uncertain times. Leonard Lauder, Estee Lauder’s then-chairman, noticed in the early 2000s that lipstick sales surged rather than fell in a time of economic distress. His observation was even considered an economic indicator by some – the so-called Lipstick Index.

These days we’re more interested in spending on experiences rather than things. Holidays, days out, food and drink... the sort of stuff we post to our Instagram accounts, the sort of things people brag about and we get "FOMO" over.

It's not hard to see that spending less time looking at screens could quite possibly mean less time wanting stuff. How many social media posts have I seen with the comment "WANT" on? Quite a lot. Make it stop! How many of these impulsive wants are we really going to care about years down the line?

What is the Joy of Missing Out?

JOMO is usually mentioned in the context of "digital wellbeing" - disconnecting from technology now and then and living in the real world for the sake of our health and self-esteem. 

Christina Crook, author of The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World, opened her book with the quote: "Beware the barrenness of a busy life" (Socrates). Sometimes we have to step back and see the bigger picture.

This Psychology Today article summed up "JOMO" as: “Being present and being content with where you are at in life. You do not need to compare your life to others, but instead practice tuning out the background noise of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘wants’”.

We all know that’s not easy… and there’s a hell of a lot of background noise! Here are my tips for turning it off - and giving ourselves time and space to focus on what we really do want.

How to embrace JOMO


1. Make more conscious decisions about your money and time

Avoiding over-commitment means you're more likely to have free time, better sleep, a healthier bank account and a less cluttered mind. I'm not saying turn down all invitations and hide away never to be seen again by your friends and family, just make more conscious decisions. Don't spend as much money or time on things you feel obliged to but don't actually want to do. You'll enjoy your choices so much more.

2. Limit exposure to FOMO triggers

Avoiding doing things you don't actually want to includes mindlessly scrolling on your phone. Unfollow social media accounts that trigger major "FOMO" or limit your online time to something realistic. Be aware of how screen time makes you feel. It's often said people spend more money when they're sad. Don't let FOMO lead to "retail therapy" and debt.

3. Consider saving or investing instead of mindlessly spending

If you're struggling to motivate yourself to consciously spend less, remind yourself of the power of compound interest. If you invest earlier you can get the benefit of interest on interest. For an illustrative example of this, read how your first 10 years of saving could be more powerful than the next 40 combined.

The more cash you have at your disposal, the more opportunities you have to save or invest for the future. Empower yourself with knowledge of the options available to you before mindlessly spending every penny that lands in your bank account.

But do be aware your money is at risk with any investment and if you are unsure as to its suitability speak to a financial adviser.

4. If you're after some more JOMO inspiration... could do worse than reading this poem from Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig:

Oh the joy of missing out.

When the world begins to shout.

And rush towards that shining thing;

The latest bit of mental bling --

Trying to have it, see it, do it,

You simply know you won't go through it;

The anxious clamouring and need

This restless hungry thing to feed.

Instead, you feel the loveliness;

The pleasure of your emptiness.

You spurn the treasure on the shelf

In favour of your peaceful self;

Without regret, without a doubt.

Oh the joy of missing out.


Read more: Is investing for me?

Read more: Five ways to get the information and advice you need to take control of your finances

Read more: What money tips would you give your 21-year-old self?

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