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Winnipeg, Manitoba
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How Reality TV FOMO Can Create Credit Card Debt

When’s the last time you watched a reality show and it impacted a spending decision? Did that decision add to your debt or affect your debt repayment plan? For many Canadians, watching the lavish lifestyles that reality TV depicts can create emotions of anxiety, jealously and even fear. Fear that they’re not as beautiful, not as successful as the young men and women on TV. This fear of missing out is called FOMO for short and it impacts Millennials more than any other generation. Perhaps this is society’s obsession with youth – Millennials are forced to see themselves in all forms of media, including and especially on reality television. The beautiful youth are there in full force: getting massive home renovations, saying yes to the (very expensive) dress, or losing large amounts of weight. It’s easy to get taken in by something so beautiful (and easy!).

It can be tempting to overspend to meet these ideals – something many Millennials cannot afford to do.   As more young people move out of rural areas and into Canadian centres like Winnipeg, they are dealing with rising urban rent, and a lack of job opportunities in the current economic climate.  According to a 2011 BMO Economics report, Millennials are bringing in about $34,000 a year. At this income level, there’s very little wiggle room to allow reality TV FOMO to influence big spending decisions.

In order to make purchases in this situation, young Millennials often turn to their credit cards. Credit card debt, though, can be a very dangerous form of debt. It’s easy to get a credit card, and for young adults, their first credit card is usually also the one with the highest risk. Interest rates are higher, often around 20 per cent. Limits are low to start, but applying for a limit increase is often given when requested.

When all this mixes with FOMO, the perfect storm for credit card debt is created. Making a designer purchase gives immediate payoff, but when it’s made on a credit card, the actual payoff is delayed. There’s often a rationalization that “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it”. It’s important to fight this urge and face your financial reality head on. If you’re unable to make that purchase with the income you currently have, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

But what if your credit card debt starts to pile up? On each of your monthly statements, credit card companies will put the amount of time you’d need to pay off your debt with minimum repayments. When that debt repayment starts to creep into the months and even years, it can be a scary moment for you as the cardholder. At the point that you realize that your extraneous purchases may be out of control, your best solution for debt reduction is to visit a debt relief professional such as a bankruptcy trustee. A bankruptcy expert in Winnipeg can help you start an honest conversation about your financial situation and get you on a definite path to debt reduction.

The truth is, reality shows aren’t even close to reality for many Canadians. Only a select few have the income to support these glamorous lifestyles. It’s important to keep this in mind while we watch. If mindfulness isn’t enough, sometimes turning off the television is the best remedy. The FOMO trap that reality shows create is easy for anyone to fall into; and it’s a trap that can sabotage your best efforts to keep your debt repayment plan on track. If you find yourself more susceptible to it than you’d like, flip the station. Getting rid of the influence to overspend will help keep you on the road to debt reduction and may also help you avoid debt options like bankruptcy in the future.

Do you find yourself watching too much reality television and overspending as a result? Join the conversation by using the hashtags #RealityShowDebt, #RealityDebt, #LetsTalkDebt, and #LetsTalkFOMO.

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