Social media provides a never-ending stream of status updates. From your best friend's vacation album on Facebook to Instagram photos of your sister's new car, it's easy to get a little jealous.

As many as 90 percent of millennials say social media creates a tendency to compare their own wealth and lifestyle to that of their friends', and 60 percent feel inadequate about their lives because of what they see in their social feeds.[1]

And it’s not just millennials. Research shows adults measure their self-worth by comparing themselves to their friends on social media. Just ten minutes of scrolling through a social feedback can alter an adult’s mood – and not always for the better.[2]

So, how do you break the cycle? How can you stop spending money in an effort to keep up with the lifestyles portrayed on social media? Here are five tips to help stop the competition.


1. Enjoy the little things

When a friend posts pictures of an exotic getaway, you might be tempted to plan something similar. Pictures of a windswept beach are amazing, but the truth is you don't have to take a $5,000 vacation to have post-worthy photos — or to have fun.

You could host a BBQ or visit a local park with your friends and make just as many memories — and post just as many fun pictures.

2. Consider Cheaper Alternatives

When a friend posts a picture of her new designer purse that you wish you could have, look for other similar options that are in your price range. You can likely find something similar online or find it at a consignment shop at a cheaper price.

3. Remember, Social Media Doesn't Tell the Whole Story

Social media doesn't tell you a person's entire story — just small, personally selected snapshots of time.

Everyone loves posting when new items are purchased or after an amazing trip, but it’s important to remember that these are likely not happening on a daily basis so keep perspective when comparing to your own spending.

4. Ask Questions

If you see a bag or outfit that you love, try reaching out to the person and asking where they got it. It’s possible that they got it at a great discount or have a promo code that they can share. This is even more likely to be the case during holiday times when many stores are running holiday promotions. Also, just because something looks expensive, doesn’t mean that it is – and you won’t know unless you ask.

5. Take a Social Hiatus

How do you feel after you scroll through social feeds or read posts? If you feel envious that you can't afford some of things your friends have or are doing, then it might be time to take a break from social media.

Considering that 88 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds use an average of eight social platforms on a regular basis this could be difficult to do.[3] But even a two-day break every once in a while, could have a significant impact.

If you don't rely on social media as a barometer of success, then you may not feel the urge to buy things out of the need to compete.


Social media provides a digital way to "keep up with the Joneses," and it can impact the spending habits of many. But there are ways to help find balance and keep social media and spending in check. Consider the tips above and let PNC help you learn more about taking steps toward your financial goals.