This past summer I decided to delete my Instagram account. I had been debating it for a while, feeling like all I used it for was to waste time and compare myself to others. And when I finally got rid of the temptation to mindlessly scroll for hours, I instantly felt better.
Now I don’t want to claim I am some pure, anti-social media, guru. Because since then, I’ve made a new account and I use Twitter as well. But the long term break I took from social media guided me to reflect on how my usage was affecting all aspects of my life. And now, I have much healthier methods for how I take up my screen time.
What was probably the most surprising part of this journey was how much each aspect of changing my habits consequently affected my finances. I came to learn that spending less time on social media was actually saving me money!
I want to share a breakdown on how my social media habits were costing me, and how I was able to improve my finances with new screen time habits.
I stopped comparing myself to others
I’ve never tried to maintain a specific social media aesthetic or brand. In fact, when I saw other people’s carefully curated profiles I admired them but told myself I’d never do that. I was certain I wasn’t being influenced by influencers, until I couldn’t see their profiles anymore.
This is when I realized the tiny ways seeing other people’s profiles was affecting me. My mind grew clearer as I focused less on other’s looks. I realized the ways I want to present myself and live my life. And I felt less motivated to buy things to switch up my look or lifestyle and instead focused on what I already know about myself, while exploring my own identity more.
Because if I’m being honest with myself, I’ve always truly known I don’t care about wearing matching exercise sets or making smoothie bowls.
Less comparison= improved mental health
And this saves me money too. The more healthy I am in all aspect, the better equipped I am to take care of myself and not have to dip into my mental health fund.
I came in contact with less advertisements
This factor definitely comes bouncing off the previous one. Social media platforms are flooding with advertisements, and they know how to target your interests, too.
Less time I spent on social media= less opportunities to be sucked in by targeted ads. This was a huge help for those tempting online shopping moments.
With my brain being less muddled by bright screens and retweets, I had a clearer mind and was able to feel inspiration in surprising moments. This inspiration came in many forms: work plans, writing prompts, new meal ideas, and more!
This upped my ability to do what I truly wanted. It lead to less late night food delivery when I was lazy, and hours spent caught up in my favourite hobbies.
My productivity skyrocketed
Unsurprisingly, spending less time on social media increases my productivity immensely. This is probably the most significant way changing my screen time habits has helped my finances.
Out of habit, boredom, or an easy distraction, I’d often scroll through social media when I should have been working.13% of workplace productivity is lost to social media scrolling on a regular basis.
Because of my increased productivity, I was able to produce better work that in time would earn me a promotion. The connection from distancing from social media to getting a raise is obviously not a straight line. But being able to do not only better, but more work, ultimately lead to increasing my skill level and knowledge in the work that I do. And that is bound to pay off.
Let’s do the math!
Now, I’m no math whiz but I do know that not buying coffee everyday saved me money. And it didn’t start happening until I took time away from social media.
Here’s an average of my spending habits during the time of my most rampant social media use:
- Iced coffee 7 x per week (around $6 each)
- Takeout food 2 x per week (around $59 for my go to orders all together)
- Shopping for something new that I didn’t ever really want (anywhere from $10- $70 depending on the week and content I was engaged with)
You might be shockingly thinking “$171???” but it’s true. This stuff adds up fast!
I’d spend way too much time in bed before school scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. By the time I’d stop I’d basically only have time to brush my teeth, throw on some clothes, and rush to the train station. Of course, getting to campus tired from a flustered morning would lead to an iced coffee purchase. Every. single. day.
Now, I am definitely all for buying yourself coffee but a large drink on a student’s budget every day is just not feasible. And my bank account was hurting because of it.
As I mentioned, my newfound inspiration was a great thing that distancing from social media gave me. Ever since I changed my habits, my takeout food spending has gone down significantly. I was ordering food twice/week, every week. And while sometimes it was due to stress, it was mainly laziness and boredom. I was bogged down mentally and bored of my routine, so I’d get lazy and order food.
But with less time on social media I feel more clear-headed and creative. And those things make me actually want to cook myself good meals!
So, how can you go about changing your social media habits?
I’m guessing many of you can relate to the ways in which I used social media previously. But what’s even more important is the the steps I took to start spending less time on social media and save myself money.
How I Started Spending Less Time On Social Media
- Completely deleted the social media account/platform that was sucking up the most of my time. I used the screen time app on my phone to decipher where most of it what going.
- Set screen time limits for other social media apps on my phone.
- Made sure any loved ones who use these platforms to contact me were aware of what I was doing and had alternate forms of communication with me.
- Started turning off my phone (not just locking it or turning off the ringer!) every time I did work.
- Used work breaks in a healthy way that boost productivity and make me feel happy. Like going outside, having a snack, or playing with my cat.
Make this into a personal AND financial challenge
This is definitely not a must do. But once you’ve made some headway on changing your social media habits, it might be fun to make into a sort of challenge! Perhaps begin by opening a savings account, or picking a particular to debt to tackle.
You can make it a goal to repay debt using the same amount of money you would’ve spent had you been on social media more often. Or, you can watch you screen time percentage decrease and save a certain amount each week based on that percentage!
You can make this your own personal thing based on your own income and goals, but I know for me sometimes incentive and savings productivity are huge motivators!
Spending less time on social media has saved me money and mental stress
And as I always advocate, these two things are undeniably connected. Avoiding social media more often than I used to has given me a clearer head. And the improvement in my finances and mental health have made this personal journey so worth it!
Being healthier overall and increasing my productivity have saved me money and improved my quality of life. Of course I still love to share silly photos of my cat online, but I’ve also learned when to stop scrolling, and start saving.