When Shannon Lee Simmons looks at an Instagram photo that someone has posted of their recent 5-star beach vacation, she sees what most of us don’t: a price tag.
“With my job I get to peek behind the curtain of people’s home renovations, vacations, wardrobes, and seemingly awesome lives and understand that there’s a bill with everything,” she says. “They don’t specify that it actually cost them $8500 and they’re paying it off for the next year and a half.”
Based in Toronto, Canada, Lee Simmons is a certified financial planner, life coach, and author of Worry-Free Money and Living Debt-Free. Her clients include everyone from recent grads to high earners, many of whom share feelings of shame, inadequacy, and guilt when it comes to their spending.
“Social media takes the concept of keeping up with the Joneses and puts it on steroids. It’s just about the worst thing to happen to our bank accounts since overdraft protection”.
So how can we avoid being sucked into feelings of envy and aspirational spending? Establishing a financial plan is extremely important, but there are other things we can do as well, says Lee Simmons.
Remove your credit cards from shopping sites, unsubscribe from promotional emails, and add an app to your phone that limits your social media scrolling time to say 15-minutes. Even better, schedule a 2-week social media break and see how you feel at the end of it.
Once that’s done, she recommends limiting who you follow to a small circle of close friends and family whose day-to-day lives you truly care about. Lee Simmons believes that if we were all more open and honest with each other about our finances, this would also help us feel less tortured.
“If you know somebody really well then you probably have a full picture of their life. So even if you see [them post] some fabulous thing, you can fill in the blanks versus [thinking] that they’re better at saving than you and that you suck with money which just isn’t true.”