What you should really fear about FOMO (Shift from YOLO to YAGO)

What you should really fear about FOMO (Shift from YOLO to YAGO)

Apr 18, 2018

FOMO is a millennial term that stands for Fear Of Missing Out. It is a form of social anxiety, a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event, often aroused by posts seen on social media.

Because of the prevalent use of social media, both children and adults have become prone to comparing what others have to what they have – “My friends are all vacationing in nice places this summer.” “She always looks so glamorous in her signature outfits.” “Wow! He already has that gadget even if it’s not yet available here.” “Aww… she just got engaged and what a big rock she has on her finger!”

No one is immune from the danger of feeling the pressure of unnecessary comparison, “Am I missing out on the fun? Does my life suck, compared to those of my friends? Poor me!”

The effect of feeling sorry for oneself may result in premature purchase of stuff so one could also post something. As my marketing friend once said, “These days it only has value if it’s postable!”

Book that flight to Boracay (oops, it has been shut down for six months, try something else) now, buy that nifty gadget and signature item by swiping your credit card, even if you can only afford to pay the minimum balance. YOLO (You Only Live Once) so live life to the fullest! Forget about saving and investing regularly that you promised yourself when you attended a financial literacy talk four years ago!


The flipside of FOMO

Come to think of it, FOMO takes into consideration the Economics concept of Opportunity Cost (the benefit/satisfaction from other choices you give up on because of the choice you made). FOMO is a concern about missing on an opportunity to enjoy what one sees on social media. And that’s where the problem lies. We humans, all of us, suffer from what we call Opportunity Cost Neglect in Behavioral Economics. Simply put, it is our difficulty of doing opportunity cost computations. When we attempt to do it, we tend to focus only on explicitly presented details and fail to spontaneously retrieve other relevant factors in order to generate alternatives not explicitly provided. (Click Opportunity Cost Neglect: The Psychology of Money Series to learn more about it.)

So what happens to someone who is always on social media bombarded by other peoples’ posts? You guessed it. These posts become his bases of comparison, because they are the salient or obvious ones.

He fails to compare the benefits of the other uses of his limited resources. And what are these too important but hard to picture benefits?

The benefits of decent old age and financially happy future. Yes, it is very difficult for us to imagine our future old selves. Instead of YOLO, there should be YAGO! What’s that? You Also Grow Old! 🙂

We fail to see clearly how a premature purchase of luxury affects our retirement years. Very much like diet and exercise, saving and investing results cannot be seen in the short-term. Nobody gets fat overnight. Normally, nobody gets poor overnight. It is the accumulation of our daily actions that will make us fat or poor in the future.


The antidote

In order to combat FOMO and YOLO that result in irresponsible use of one’s resources, we have to be clear on our long-term goals. What kind of life do you really want to have when you reach 60 and beyond? What kind of home do you want to live in? How many times a year would you want to travel? What kind of healthcare would you want to have when all sorts of ailments start showing up? What kind of altruistic activities would you want to get into?

Do some cost computations of the above. Then try to figure out what rate of savings and investing you should be doing NOW while you still have time. Each time you spend on something that’s not scheduled or out of the ordinary, bring out those images of how you want to live your old age. Imagine how those would deteriorate each time you make those premature purchases caused by FOMO.

If you keep on spending because of the fear of missing out today, you will definitely miss out on the opportunity to save and invest for your decent old age. It’s time you change YOLO to YAGO, because You Also Grow Old!


Cheers to high FQ! wallet-icon



  1. Watch out for my next book FQ: The nth Intelligence coming out soon. This is in collaboration with ABS-CBN Publishing, Inc.
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Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook & YouTube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.