Two years ago I cut up all of my credit cards and started the very worst part of my debt free journey: the beginning. This post is all about how I learnt to deal with FOMO (fear of missing out).
My family has made big lifestyle changes to support this decision. We now live fully within our means. That means we don't use credit, and we haven't created any more debt since we started this journey.
We downsized to a smaller, more affordable home, and we are still renting. We haven't travelled since 2014. We spend a LOT less money, and we waste a lot less of everything.
Adjusting to change
These were all major lifestyle changes, so in terms of change - we had a lot to adjust to.
In fact, it has required a huge amount of resoluteness to stay on this path. It would have been easy, at times, to just get a new credit card, a new store card or just use evil Afterpay.
Then I could buy what I damn needed, without saving (and waiting) for it.
Creating positive financial habits
But in the past two years I've done more to improve my financial outlook than in the thirty before that!
One of the biggest impacts I've made is to stop the buy now pay later habit.
Identifying A spending trigger: FOMO
I also did a lot of work to identify and address my spending triggers. Spending triggers, if left unmanaged - will send you BROKE, and keep you broke.
Having an awareness of what makes you want to spend money, spend more money than you need to, or money that you don't have - is invaluable knowledge when you want to improve your financial situation.
One of my spending triggers was FOMO.
FOMO: Fear of missing out.
Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event currently may be happening elsewhere.
Previously, FOMO would have caused me to spend money that I didn't really have.
In my twenties I'd go out every weekend because my boyfriend (now husband) DJ'd at clubs and bars. I did not want to miss out on the fun!
I overspent on my wedding, because - damn it - you only get married once so I wanted it to be perfect! I didn't want to miss out on this experience.
I definitely travel because of FOMO. There's a whole planet to see right?
FOMO distracted me from my goals
The problem with this spending trigger is that it distracted me from doing the right thing financially.
FOMO distracted me from long term savings, house deposits, investments and debt freedom.
Fear of missing out on events and experiences was a major cause of poor financial outcomes for me. There was no avoiding it - I had to address this spending trigger.
I feel like I've done a heap of work on this so that it doesn't happen again - or at least as often (we are all human!).
But recently, my resolve was put to the test in a big way! I had my very own FOMO Triggered Spending Challenge.
How did I deal with it? Let's dig in.
My recent FOMO experience
Last year, some close friends of mine moved into a beautiful new home, very close to a stunning seaside home that I once lived in.
This suburb is undeniably affluent. The only reason I was able to live there in the first place, was because I was willing to pay high rent.
I really loved living there. We were right across the road from the sea and could watch the ferries and cruise ships come and go from the harbour.
It was a quiet neighbourhood, with clusters of arty folk and a super chilled vibe. It also had a nice community feel.
My husband and I agree that we definitely want to return there someday soon. We were both willing to be patient.
But then this - argh, FOMO rears its ugly head!
Now we have FRIENDS living there. Oh, how nice would it be to be able to walk home after a wine on the beach together at the end of the day.
We've spent a bit of time at their new home over the last few months, and really loved being back in the area.
How I would have dealt with FOMO in the past
My old self would have experienced the FOMO, and decided - right, it's time to move back there right away!
It is definitely out of our price range right now while we're living off one income, but my old self wouldn't have cared.
FOMO would trigger my spending and I'd have made a poor decision, to immediately satisfy my wants and desires.
This would have had a knock on effect to my financial goals, and contributed to a poor financial outlook.
But a few very distinct things have changed in the past few years. Before I explain exactly what is different, and how this can help you too, I need to set the scene.
The incredible power of belief
At the time we live in this dreamy suburb, we were trying for a baby. I was working in a six-figure corporate job - both my husband and I were. We were DINKS. 'We could afford' to pay this amount of rent.
Or so we thought.
I should have been socking more money away for my maternity leave. But I wasn't, because I had a few mistaken beliefs.
Mainly, I didn't believe I was going to become a mama.
The Psychological Effect of infertility
We had infertility issues for many years, due to the scarring in my abdomen from severe, untreated endometriosis.
One of the unfortunate psychological side effects that you can experience when suffering from long term infertility - is the constant mental preparation for failure.
For example, I wouldn't dare dream of being pregnant. And I would certainly never imagine being a mama, and holding our actual baby in my arms.
Because of course, that would be much too painful to bear, in the case that we didn't succeed in becoming parents.
So the problem was that I honestly believed that I would never become a mother.
My belief was so strong that throughout the whole pregnancy, I didn't truly believe that at the end of it, I would bear a child.
Once she did arrive, I still pinched myself frequently. This is real.
I still couldn't truly believe that I had become a mother.
I just couldn't shake it!
The outcomes of that strong belief
This belief system I had created had a flow on effect to other beliefs. I believed:
- That I would always earn a six figure income
- That I would always be just a stone's throw from becoming debt free
- That I would have little trouble getting a house deposit together.
All thoughts which have been emotionalized (given feeling) and mixed with faith (expectancy), begin immediately to translate themselves into their physical equivalent. - Napoleon Hill
These beliefs caused me to act in certain ways.
One of those actions being that I wasn't putting enough money away for maternity leave.
Because I honestly believed that I was never going to need it.
What actually happened
What I didn't, and couldn't possibly have anticipated, was what actually happened.
- I got pregnant, and stayed pregnant
- I was laid off while pregnant
- I got post natal depression.
Yup, in that order.
But because I didn't truly believe that I was going to ever actually have a baby, I didn't have enough of a financial buffer to cover the two unpredictable outcomes of being laid off, then getting post natal depression.
Had everything gone smoothly, things may have been different.
But they didn't.
That's part of the reason I ended up creating a huge pile of consumer debt, and having to go back to work when I wasn't ready. (See point #3).
The FOMO effect
So back to my friend's beautiful new home.
The home that triggered the FOMO.
The FOMO that caused a lot of self doubt and questioning.
Have I done the right thing, quitting my job?
We could have been debt free by now, and be well on our way to buying a home.
Am I doing the right thing, trying to build a business out of nothing?
*Fret, fret, fret*
FOMO isn't a nice feeling to experience, but it happens.
How to deal with FOMO
I believe that you have two choices when it comes to FOMO. You can either let the experience limit you further, or grow from it.
I've illustrated how powerful belief is. I've also demonstrated how beliefs result in the actions you take on a day to day basis.
A strong positive belief is essential to dealing with FOMO. So the first step to dealing with FOMO, to preserve your financial goals is:
1: Maintain a very strong belief in yourself and your goals
FOMO is fleeting for me now because I'm doing the work required to do, be and have everything that I desire for my life.
I have an unfaltering belief that I will be a six-figure online business owner.
I publish them because I believe that someone with a burning desire to succeed (maybe you!), will see these income reports and see how they have grown over time.
You'll see where I started and how I grew my business over time, and maybe you'll have the courage to follow in my footsteps to success.
I've visualised my success. And because I've visualised it, as far as my mind is concerned, it has already happened. I have visual memories of being, doing and having the things that I desire.
I've set goals for myself, and have strategies in place to reach milestones along the way to these goals.
Now, I'm even starting to THINK like a six figure online business owner. For example, I do planning every Sunday for my week ahead - because that's what I believe a successful entrepreneur (with very limited time) would do.
She wouldn't wing it.
All of these practices have given me a very strong belief in myself and my goals. But I know that I'm also doing the work to achieve them.
So FOMO... I see it come, I see it go. It only touches me briefly.
In order to stay on your chosen path, you need to maintain a very strong belief in yourself and your goals.
Do whatever you need to do to make it real to you (visualisation, goal setting, a vision board, all of it), and it will become real.
This next step, is baked in to my life. It contributes greatly to my positive mindset. It's absolutely essential.
2. Practice gratitude, Daily
Everything you have now you once dreamed about.
Let that sink in for a bit.
It's easy to get caught up in the 'not enough' trap, when you see others having the things that you want.
When your friend gets a new car, and all of a sudden yours seems inadequate. That little bit dirtier. That little bit smaller. It's not enough.
When you see others doing the things you want to do. When every Tom, Dick and Harriet seem to be going to Hawaii for a holiday. It seems like a Very Long Time since you went anywhere. It's not enough.
When you see others being what you want to be. When you see a role model making a huge impact on the people you want to help too. How did she get there? It seems like it will be such a long time until you can make an impact too. It's not enough.
But there was once a time that you were excited about buying that car. The first few weeks of having that very car that now seems inadequate - you LOVED it - remember?? It was more than enough.
You once spent 6 months avidly planning your own trip abroad, SO excited about the new experiences, the new cultures and the new landscapes that awaited you. When you went on that trip you had the time of your life - do you remember?? It was more than enough.
You remember, don't you, banking your first pay check and feeling so proud of yourself. About being tipped well for making your customers so happy - and feeling proud that you did your job so well. It was more than enough.
Everything you have today, you once dreamed about
Gratitude helps you to remember how much you once dreamed about, everything that you have today.
I've started watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (it's delightful). She helps people learn how to live tidily AND enjoy it.
One of the first things that she did with the overwhelmed parents she was trying to help in Episode 1, was ask them to thank the house.
They thought this was weird but I noticed a perceptible, positive mindset shift for them, once they'd revealed their gratitude to the house for providing them with shelter and security.
Sometimes people get irritated at the whole 'be grateful for what you have' mindset.
I remember a saying that did the rounds in the 80's for kids my age - if you refused to eat your dinner you'd get the following line from your parents:
"There are starving children in Africa that don't get dinner every night. You should be thankful for having anything to eat at all."
So the practice of gratitude was kind of forced on us, rather than being demonstrated or taught.
Being ungrateful wasn't an admirable trait. So I can see how we might feel resentful at the suggestion of gratitude.
But it really bloody works!
I'm grateful every day for everything I can do, for everything I am, and everything I have - today.
FOMO SHMOMO, we are already blessed.
FOMO doesn't stand a chance anymore
If you allow yourself to fully believe, and be grateful for what you already have. FOMO won't last long.
You may still experience FOMO, but you'll be able to manage it better with these two simple techniques.
Unshakeable Belief, and Daily Gratitude.
For the record, I won't be moving back to that suburb until it's financially viable without compromising our financial goals. I know it won't be long, so I can be patient!
FOMO didn't get the better of me, this time...
Remember: Everything you have now, you once dreamed about. Everything you have now, someone else is dreaming about.
Everything you have now, you once dreamed about. Everything you have now, someone else is dreaming about.