And you probably don't even know it's happening

5 Ways Facebook Costs You Money

by Kristine Kostuck

Staying in for the evening can be an excellent way to save money, but your hours in front of your computer may be leaving you with an empty pocket book.

The New York Times reports that the average social media user spends about 50 minutes of their day on Facebook. That is nearly an hour spent scrolling through ads, sponsored content, and photos of your friends.

Aside from the constant stream of ads, Facebook creates other tempting ways to spend your money. Here are five things to keep in mind when using Facebook that will keep you from overspending.

1. Social Pressure and Suggestion

Facebook users often share the best parts of their life. When we are constantly bombarded by vacation photos, new cars and dream weddings, it is impossible not to feel a hint of envy. Jealousy has been scientifically proven to affect Facebook users, and research conducted at Midwestern University couldn't illustrate this better. The study showed that out of a group of 736 college students, 70% of them said that they feel inadequate after looking on Facebook, and that feeling is often taken a step further by users when they try to compete with the unrealistic expectations social media creates. The American Institute of Certified Public Accounts reported almost 40% of American adults with social media accounts said that seeing other people's purchases and vacations online prompted them to make similar purchases. Furthermore, this number only reflects the people that realize they are doing this.

2. Time is Money

People always underestimate the power of time management. CNN revealed that teens observe media for a whopping nine hours of their day. Even though Facebook only takes up an hour of that time, it is still one sixteenth of the average waking time. This takes away from making more money or improving well-being to function higher when making money. Monitoring your time online could open space for positive opportunities to improve your life.

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3. Inspiration

If you are trying to figure out what to cook for supper or what to give your friend for their birthday, you can bet that there is a solution somewhere in your newsfeed. People share everything from DIY projects, recipes, and tips to help your appearance. Although Pinterest has been credited for being the worst social media site for overspending on DIY ventures, RichRelevance, an e-commerce consultant, says Facebook users spend quite a bit too. The company tracked 700 million shopping sessions by social media consumers, and Facebook users spent about $95 per session compared to $168.83 that Pinterest users spent. Being conscious of spending habits along with being realistic with time could prevent you from overspending after that initial like on a post.

4. Hand-Held Expense

Sometimes it isn't the sites we visit, but how we get there that is causing us to overspend. About 64% of the U.S. population owns a smartphone. That number continues to grow, but just owning a smart device never seems to satisfy our media appetite. Most smartphone users upgrade their phone every year to obtain a faster one. According to new data from Ofcom Technology Tracker, smartphones are now the most important internet-connected device for many people. Consumers see their phones as such an important necessity that they are willing to spend more money on them. Next time you are due for an upgrade, try to think about why you need more storage or a faster phone. You may come to the realization that Facebook is weighing your decision more than you think.

Are you heading for debt trouble? This simple checklist can help you find out and provide options for doing something about it.

5. Company Following and Parties

Many people follow companies or brands online because they think they are saving a quick buck. Followers hear about new products, sales, and access to coupons. These are all great things if you have the intention of buying the product anyway, but constantly having something you enjoy in your face every time you open Facebook makes buying the latest thing hard to resist. To avoid this, hide the company you like from your newsfeed and only visit their page when you need the company's product next.

Even if you do not follow companies or brands online, you somehow can't completely eliminate the expectation to buy. Direct sale party invites and posts can obnoxiously continue for weeks. The best way to avoid an obligation trap is to unfollow the group as soon as you know you are not interested in the product or block the company all together.

Although the temptation is always there when we use social media, being conscious of your feelings, time, and true desires can save you from impulse buying next time you scroll through your newsfeed.

Reviewed February 2018

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