The Impulsive Spending Impact of Social Media: Regrets and Costs

The Impulsive Spending Impact of Social Media: Regrets and Costs


A recent Bankrate survey has revealed the extent to which social media influences impulsive spending, with U.S. adults spending a staggering $71 billion in the past year on impulse purchases based on what they saw on social media. This amount surpasses the gross domestic product of countries such as Slovenia, Ghana, and Jordan. However, over half of these impulse buyers (57 percent) admitted to regretting at least one of their purchases.

Social media users have expressed concerns that it presents an unrealistic picture of wealth and success. More than half (57 percent) believe that people post to look more successful, while 51 percent believe that social media promotes unrealistic lifestyles.

The survey found that 48 percent of social media users have made an impulse purchase of a product they saw on social media, and of those buyers, 68 percent regretted at least one of their purchases. Americans who made impulse purchases based on social media posts spent an average of $754 in the past year.

It is worth noting that younger generations are more susceptible to social media-driven impulse buying. Gen Zers (ages 18-26) and millennials (ages 27-42) are the most likely to make impulsive purchases after seeing them on social media. In contrast, baby boomers (ages 59-77) were the least likely to make such purchases, but they were the most likely to regret them.

To combat the negative effects of impulsive spending, Bankrate Senior Industry Analyst Ted Rossman recommends adopting the 24-hour rule. This rule suggests stepping away from an item in your cart for 24 hours before making the purchase. It allows for reflection and helps determine whether the item is truly essential. Rossman also advises involving your spouse in financial discussions to avoid secret spending, which is a common example of financial infidelity.

In conclusion, social media has a powerful influence on impulsive spending habits. It is important for consumers to recognize the unrealistic nature of what they see on social media and exercise caution before making impulsive purchases. Financial awareness and careful consideration can help individuals avoid regrets and unnecessary expenses.

Source: Bankrate survey, August 16-23, 2023 (statistical data)