Recently, I recently stayed home to catch up with my writing and creating; however, a lot of what I do involves social media, so I couldn't help but check Facebook.
Within 3 minutes of looking at my screen, I saw so much: my family at the beach; my cousins at a BBQ; my friends in Peru; my nephew playing golf in the Dominican Republic; birthday cakes; inspirational quotes; how to lose 7 pounds in 7 days; how to make $25,000 a week from home; five tips on mystery foods; and the cutest videos you can't miss. WOW.
I finally returned to my project. But as the clock went tick, tack, tick, tack, I eventually gave in. SNAP. I'm right back on social media.
The Financial Dangers Of Social Media
We become social media addicts for two reasons: it offers immediate gratification and it allows us to have relationships with those we don't have time to see. These aren't necessarily bad things. After all, in today's world, your social activity greatly contributes to having a successful career and network. However, it also directly relates to your finances.
On a basic level, social media can make us dream of appealing things that cost money (i.e., you ignore that birthday cake picture I mentioned before ... only to end up at a bakery the next day). The relationship between the two runs much deeper than that, though—and it can both hurt us and help us.
How Social Media Can Hurt You Financially
- Loans: Some lending companies look at your social media and network to determine whether to offer you a loan.
- Competitive spending: Spending too much time on social media can cause you to catch FOMO syndrome—fear of missing out. If you try to keep up with the Joneses vacationing in some exotic locale, you could overextend your wallet.
- Identity theft: If you accept friends of friends whom you have never met before, you could potentially fall into a scam that could cost you not only money but also your identity. Be sure to keep your privacy terms up to date, and avoid listing key information, such as birthdates and passwords, that hackers could use against you.
That last one is important. In 2014, more than 17 million victims fell prey to identify theft in the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. With that in mind, take preventive measures online. Many horror stories occur simply because someone was not careful.
How Social Media Can Help You Financially
- Networking: We spend 28% of our time online using social media. Having thousands of friends may be an asset depending on what industry you are in; however, it can be a liability if you accept those posing as your friends. Remember social karma, and stick to known professional sites, like LinkedIn.
- Budgeting: You can keep track of your expenses using a password-protected device. Pay your bills only from your computer, and set reminders to pay on time and to keep up with a budget. Share that you follow a budget in your social network to create a financially responsible culture.
- Career: The number of social media users who are 54 to 65 years old has grown greatly. And while that may not include your peers, it could include your CEO. Liking articles related to your profession or writing strongly about a neutral cause may help you build a positive professional image; however, make sure it is not controversial, favors a specific political party or religion, or uses inappropriate language since employers look at all these sites to find out about you. Build up your marketability by writing an industry-specific blog and share in your network.
Making It A Positive Experience
Social media isn't going away. Still, it all boils to your financial balance sheet. Your network, credit, and career will affect your overall life plan, so take care of them. Social media can distract you; instead, concentrate on your own highway, not others' trails or roads.