How FOMO and YOLO Are Destroying Your Retirement

Jerry and Linda joined the rest of their family on a holiday ski trip to Aspen, even though they had to pay for most of it with a credit card. They wanted their children to be able to spend time with cousins and other relatives.

Even though money was tight, Paul and Beth became members at the local country club so they could be a part of the fun they’d seen in their friends’ social media posts.

Figuring he’d only be young once, Jessie bought the sports car he’d dreamed of. After all, once he gets married and has kids, he’ll have to get a minivan.

I’ve heard them all—money mistakes people made because of two little acronyms: FOMO and YOLO. That’s “fear of missing out” and “you only live once.” And while both of those seem like harmless four-letter abbreviations, they can wreck your budget and your retirement dreams.

What FOMO and YOLO Look Like

These two attitudes sneak into your lifestyle when you least expect it, so you might not even realize what’s happening. You’re grooving right along with your budget. You’ve just returned from your “stay-cation” because you wanted to replenish your emergency fund. Then one of your friends goes on a cruise. Then another goes to New York. Their pictures make your life look boring.

So you give in. Fall break becomes time for a family trip that you can’t afford. When you get home, you’re back where you started—in debt and worried that a major emergency could take you under.

You’ve just given into the fear of missing out.

Perhaps you’re haunted by the idea that you only live once. If you only have one life, you should pursue every experience that comes your way, right? After all, the door of opportunity doesn’t stay open forever, right? So you buy that condo downtown. Or you surf off the coast of Hawaii. Maybe you go to that concert or buy that wardrobe. You’re living with gusto and without regret.

Until the bill comes.

When FOMO and YOLO Turn Bad

Giving into FOMO and YOLO is fun—for a short time. You didn’t miss out on anything, but when the credit card statement comes, you don’t get to miss out on debt, either. You’re broke. Your bills are more than your paycheck, and you don’t know how to get out from under the burden. And that’s not all. Your spur-of-the-moment mentality is delaying your retirement because you’re spinning your wheels in debt instead of putting money away for the future. The regret lives on long after the fun ends.

Can’t I Have Fun?

When I talk about saying no to FOMO and YOLO, people ask the same question: So does that mean I can’t have any fun? Not at all. God created us with the need for rest and recreation. Go and have fun, but keep in mind that fun doesn’t need to be detrimental to your future. You can enjoy things—as long as you stay within the budget boundaries you’ve created for yourself. You may have to make some sacrifices now, like that exotic vacation or that bigger house, but those sacrifices will pay off with interest in the future.

Get Back on Track

Even if you’ve given into FOMO or YOLO, you can still fix your mistakes and move forward toward a rewarding retirement. Get intense about getting out of debt and back on track with your retirement savings. Sell some stuff or take an extra job for a season so you can catch up.

If you make wise decisions moving forward, you’ll discover that FOMO and YOLO lose their power over you. And as you move closer toward retirement and your bank account grows, you can look forward to enjoying all those experiences you were afraid you’d missed—without the lingering regret and debt.

To get out of debt and back on track with your retirement savings, you must first create a budget. Create a budget with EveryDollar, a free budget software accessible from your desktop, iPhone and Android.