Culture

Have you got financial FOFO?

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Do you avoid looking at your bank statement? Forget to return clothes you bought online? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.


At some point we’ve all stood at the cashpoint and closed our eyes as our balance is displayed on the screen, holding in those heart palpitations and trying to remember our breathing exercises as the cashier nonchalantly asks the golden question, cash or card?

If this sounds familiar and not just you, but those around you experience a similar encounter, that’s because according to Barclays, 37% of Millennials have experienced financial FOFO (fear of finding out) about the amount of money that’s in their bank accounts.

Is it just me, or does this say a lot about how head-in-the-sand we are about money when just looking through our own bank statements can feel like we’re surveying a crime scene?


If seeing your balance makes you feel hot, stressed and worried, which is the opposite of how you feel when spending money, it can be hard not to wince when you have to open up your bank app.

Ignorance isn’t bliss but sometimes it feels that way. Money amnesia can feel like a very real thing and it’s easy to see why – with one-click checkouts, contactless payments and Instagram’s newest shop now feature, spending money is now as easy as opening a door.

Better yet, when THE ICONIC emails you a sale offer you can’t resist, you can have a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans winging their way to you within three clicks of the mouse. No wonder, that so often you can ‘accidentally’ forget how much you’ve spent until the online order arrives.


The money saving 101: is spend less than you make and save for the future. Everyone can recite those two facts, but people still don’t do them and as a result, people feel an intense amount of shame.

Money is the leading cause of anxiety, with 43% of millennials losing sleep over their financial habits.

Yet, overspending is so common and all apart of human nature; so why are we losing sleep over our mistakes but not fixing them? Quite simply, the art of avoidance.

With the taboo nature of money, we’ve all got very good at avoiding any conversations on the subject, even with ourselves. This means we never really get to the bottom of understanding the compulsions behind our 1am splurges or the root of our admin phobias.

Looking at the emotions and triggers behind our spending is often far more productive than putting ourselves on a strict budget that we’ll inevitably fail; because knowing why you don’t do something is more powerful than knowing you should do something.


A lot of our financial problems aren’t based just on who we are in the moment of purchasing; but rather, they’re banked on the idea of the people that we will be when the time rolls around.

We believe that our future self will stick to our pre-paid fitness class and exercise, stick to a budget, start saving and send back clothes that don’t fit and do the right financial thing.

However, all too often, we find ourselves ignoring the latter and instead these become common wastelands where our hard earned money lays.


But – and this is important – this is not a call to stop spending money on shoes, or a judgement-fest on the amount we waste on flat whites, hair accessories or beauty products.

Women are too often shamed for how they spend money and that just makes us avoid our bank statements even more.

Have you ever been guilty of sneaking your latest purchase in your handbag and diverting your online shopping to your work address to avoid a growling from your partner? E-x-a-c-t-l-y.

This isn’t about shaming and silencing; instead, it’s about encouraging and empowering us all to look at our spending with some accountability and honesty, because there’s every possibility that our money could be spent better.


Mindful spending isn’t enough of a thing but it really should be.

It’s only when you look closely at your spending and admit to yourself why you’ve bought something – because of a bad meeting at work, because you felt entitled after a hard day in the office, because you were trying to impress a friend you didn’t need to impress – that’s when you get a grip on your budget.

By putting systems in place that mean you can’t avoid your spending – for example through a digital bank notification every time you spend money on pay-wave – making the initial steps to be reminded of where your money is going, is the first way to claim accountability.

Next, talking about money with friends and sharing opinions, comparisons and thoughts, will open up your financial circle so that it doesn’t seem to be such a daunting place.

Saying aloud “I’m trying not to spend money on brunch, Uber and going out” to a friend also increases your accountability, by sharing your common goals you’ll be amazed at the reduction of the ever-so-impending FOFO.

So, let’s stop avoiding our own money and let’s start looking at our bank balances. If we’re going to lose sleep over anything, it’s not going to be financial FOFO.


This article originally appeared on Grazia UK.

Words: Alex Holder
Photos: Getty Images, GIPHY

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