5 ways to tackle retirement envy coming from Facebook

Curious middle aged couple looking at computer on kitchen counter with excited expression

Image: Langstrup Photography/Bigstock.com

‘“Keeping up with the Joneses” goes online.’ That’s the title of a report about social media use and attitudes in the US. Facebook can lead to retirement envy.

The survey and report show that Americans are envious of friends who put on social media pictures of lavish vacations and purchases. They admit they do the same thing, but that doesn’t take away the envy.

Almost four in 10 (39%) said that people’s purchases and holidays on social media made them look at similar purchases or vacations. One in four (25%) admitted feeling envious.

In a nod to retirement, the report suggests that most individuals would be better served by putting money into retirement funds than spending money out of envy. ‘Building a solid financial foundation should take priority over building a social media following.’

So how can you stop retirement envy in planning your retirement? Here are five ways.

1. Stay true to your own budget

One of the dangers of retirement envy is attempting to do things that will overstretch your budget. Suppose your friends are planning a cruise through Europe when they retire and they invite you. You don’t have to go—particularly if it doesn’t fit within your budget.

Yes, you may be—probably will be—envious when the Facebook photos go up, but if the bigger picture of your own long-term financial plan has kept you home, you’re a winner.

2. Your retirement is your retirement

When I retired, my wife and I caravanned around Tasmania for three weeks. We kept running into retirees who had been caravanning for months. One couple had been on the road for 10 months and still had another 18 months before going home.

They loved it. Good for them. We had things back home we wanted to do and found it easy to get on the Spirit of Tasmania for the trip back to mainland Australia. Three weeks in the caravan is about right for us.

Your retirement is your retirement. Facebook can open up a whole range of other options, but it’s a mistake to attempt to live someone else’s retirement. This is a time when you can truly be who you are.

3. When there’s more than you in your retirement

Negotiation is needed if you’re a couple because your relationship is important. A good retirement for couples will have space for ‘me’, but it’s also about ‘we’.

This takes serious thought, discussion and planning because you’re naturally more involved with each other when you retire. One advantage of doing retirement together is that you have the opportunity to support each other through the change and issues that arise—including retirement envy.

4. When Facebook becomes Fakebook

Facebook users choose the comments and images they/we put up. We tend not to put up things that would embarrass us. But what this does is give a false and sometimes more glamorous picture of our life than the reality.

If you have friends who have retired before you, you could be seeing more of the glamour in their lives than the reality. One academic paper investigated ‘a new phenomenon’ they call ‘false Facebook-self’. They report, for instance, that two-thirds of mothers of newborns surveyed felt pressured to picture a perfect life on Facebook.

Don’t be pressured by what you see on Facebook, because you don’t have the full story. It may not be as good as it seems.

5. Recognise Facebook for what it is

Facebook—and other social media—are great for catching up with distant friends and events. It’s like seeing a diary entry in someone else’s life. Seeing what others are doing in retirement can help you plan yours.

It’s only if you let it influence your life too much that you could be in trouble.


Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

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Category: Connecting, Lifestyle

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