Why Facebook and Instagram Will Make You Spend Money…And There Is Nothing You Can Do About It!

A few weeks ago, my family was walking through the food hall in Ponce City Market on a Saturday morning.  It was about 30 minutes before everything actually opened up, but the place was buzzing with walkers and talkers already.  What was most interesting more than the strollers, were the dozens of Instagrammer teams that were out and about with their snazzy outfits, portable lighting kits, and super high def digital cameras, snapping shots that were sure to hit Instagram with the latest and greatest of what you need to know.

Our imagination is the most powerful thing that we all have in our possession.  Seventy-nine percent of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up, and the most popular time for using Facebook and Instagram is in the evening. About half the time we spend is on our news feed or checking the Instagram stories for the day. (source bizjournals.com).  Every time we look at these pictures and newsfeeds during the morning and evening, pictures conjure up images of our friends having the time of their lives.  We see people who seemingly are traveling to a new city every week.  We watch our friends and neighbors driving luxury cars.  Or we fancy the dessert our friends are having at the brand-new restaurant with a sparkler sitting on top of a chocolate ball.   It makes us all take quick stock of measuring up our own lives against the visuals we see on Facebook and Instagram.   So how do Facebook and Instagram get us to spend more money?

The Sneaky Ad – You should know by now that Facebook and Instagram know your tendencies better than your mom or your spouse do.  They know what you like to watch, where you like to shop, what decade relates most to you, and where you would want front row seats for a concert.  Did you ever wonder why they might be serving you up ads for retro t-shirts with 80’s sayings?  Or why they put certain brands of sneakers in front of you?  Or maybe wonder why there are constant ads for Keto products and a Peloton?  Whether they get you by using something called a remarketing pixel or they develop something called lookalike audiences, the computer is faster and smarter than you.

The Vacation I Always Wanted – Facebookers and Instagrammers are obsessed with taking pictures of their vacations by the beach, in another country, or on a cruise with the kids.   Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we often ask ourselves this question: “How are these people finding the money to enjoy all of these vacations?”  The simple answer is they aren’t. You should check out my new website Money Peer if you really want the truth about where you rank.  It doesn’t really matter though, because the more we see these fancy vacations, the more we want to take one ourselves.  Eventually we get the vacation we always wanted, whether or not we can afford it.  Do you know anyone at this point that hasn’t visited either a) The Amalfi Coast b) Paris or c) Iceland?  It almost feels like we stalk each other to get vacation ideas.

The Car I Always Wanted – Vroom! Vroom! There is a beautiful picture of that new BMW, Audi, or Mercedes flashed up on the morning news feed on Facebook.   You scan the picture to realize that you are still driving that 2008 Honda or yesterday’s minivan.  It doesn’t bother you at first, until the next family posts up their stunning new automobile as well.   Recently I saw an Instagram photo where there was a Lambo, Ferrari, and a new BMW right in the driveway.  Before long, you find yourself searching the internet and then on to the dealership to pick up your new ride.  What feels sexier….getting a brand new Maserati or posting a picture of the 2 year old Toyota Highlander you just bought?

The Body I Always Wanted- Instagram models! Instagram models! Calling all Instagram models!!! Can I get shot of you in real life and not with a well-lit, filtered out, and definitely not real photo??? Have you ever seen pictures of someone face stuffing twinkies and apple pie, showing themselves getting heavier and heavier as they grow older?  Of course not.  In fact, most people who have whipped themselves in shape show off the bikini pose or shirtless on the boat.   Those who eat too much simply show pictures of their kids.  It’s kind of how Facebook and Instagram work.   When you see these pictures of people you knew 25 years ago looking so fabulous, you too eventually start spending money to get your body in better shape as well.

Facebook and Instagram are clearly two of the largest social media platforms in the world.   Beyond the people who annoy us with random posts that are creepy and dark, or those that post up on how horrible their day was because they stubbed their toe, most people post the best of their lives to let everyone else know how incredible they are doing.    Enjoy the pictures, but don’t let it make you take a bite out of your wallet.  Nobody….and I mean nobody, posts their credit card debt or lack of net worth statement on these social media platforms.  You know what isn’t fabulous—STRESS!!!  And you may have lots of it if you spend just show you can keep up with the Joneses, because BTW, the Joneses are broke!

About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

Read More About Ted Here

Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.

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