Why Following Trends is Normal

And how to avoid the financial pitfalls of it

by Kaitlyn Ranze

Do you ever wonder what it would’ve been like to wear hoops skirts and elaborate wigs, day in and day out? I do. Then I remember how grateful I am to be able to appear in public without a corset and I don’t have to paint my face with lead-laden makeup.

Ok, so it was fair to say I was a little optimistic about my post Covid lifestyle.

But would I have? Definitely. Because humans are social creatures. This need for social interaction is what drives us to follow trends. It’s how we bond with others, distinguish ourselves from the crowd, and feel like we’re part of a group. It’s human nature to want to be accepted, and following trends is one way to achieve that.

The problem with following trends is that they can often be short-lived and expensive. Just think about how many times you’ve bought something because it was popular only to find out a few months later that it’s already out of style. (Fast fashion, anyone?) Or how many times you’ve shelled out big bucks for the latest must-have item, only to find out that it doesn’t really do anything that the older model did. (Dear, Apple. Please chill with the new phones, please.)

Why humans follow trends

When we see someone else doing something, it triggers a response in our brain called mirroring. Mirroring is when we automatically mimic the actions of others. It’s a survival mechanism that helps us fit in and feel like we belong.

There’s no doubt that following trends can be costly. From buying into the latest crypto craze to blowing your hard-earned cash on overpriced trend-driven fashion, there are plenty of ways to lose money by chasing after what’s popular.

Here, we take a look at some of the most costly trends and show you how you can avoid falling victim to their financial pitfalls.

Cryptocurrency: The Latest Crypto Craze

When Bitcoin, Luna, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies were hitting all time highs, it was no surprise that investors were rushing to get in on the action. However, buying into the latest crypto craze can be a costly mistake. Cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile, meaning their prices can fluctuate wildly from one day to the next. This makes them a risky investment, and one that’s not suitable for everyone. If you’re thinking of buying into the cryptocurrency trend, make sure you do your research first and only invest what you can afford to lose.

A woman is holding her head, downtrodden because she lost a lot of money investing. Font says "Ask the money coach: I lost a ton of money in crypto. What's next" with a read now button.

Meme Investments: The risks of investing in meme stocks

The rise of meme stocks like GameStop and AMC has caught the attention of retail investors around the world. While there’s no doubt that these stocks can be profitable, they’re also incredibly risky. Because they’re driven by social media buzz, their prices can fluctuate rapidly, making them hard to predict. If you’re thinking of investing in meme stocks, make sure you have a solid understanding of the risks involved before you put any money down.

Fashion: The Cost of Keeping up with the Latest Trends

From designer labels to fast fashion, it’s no secret that clothes can be expensive. And if you’re trying to keep up with the latest trends, the cost can quickly add up. The key to avoiding the financial pitfalls of fashion is to buy what you love, not what’s popular. That way, you’ll never waste money on something you’ll only wear once or twice.

Pro-tip: try focusing on the cost per use. Think of the number of times you will wear an item over the next six months. What about two years? If you focus on the cost per use, suddenly, fast fashion doesn’t seem so cheap.

Going Out: The Cost of FOMO

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is a powerful force. It can drive us to do things we wouldn’t normally do, like spend money we don’t have on nights out we can’t afford. If you’re susceptible to FOMO, it’s important to be aware of its power and learn how to resist it. After all, the cost of missing out is often far higher than the cost of staying in.

Housing: From Buying to Renting, Keeping up with the Joneses Could Cost You

Check out this episode of the Nav.it money podcast, where Viv talks keepin’ up with the Joneses.

It’s no secret that housing costs have been on the rise in recent years. And if you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses, the cost can quickly become unsustainable. The key to avoiding the financial pitfalls of housing is to buy what you can afford and be content with what you have. That can be a tall task when housing prices have gotten really outrageous, making the same apartment less affordable from one year to the next.

While there are strategies like house-hacking and relocating to lower cost of living areas for remote workers, that obviously won’t work for everyone. That’s where a plan comes into play. Try sitting down with a money coach to help you come up with a creative plan to cope with rising costs. There’s no need to keep up with the Joneses if it means putting your financial future at risk.

If you’re sick of wasting your money on trends that come and go, here are a few tips to help you avoid following trends:

1. Do your research

Before you buy anything, do some research to see how long the trend is likely to last. If it’s something that’s only popular for a season, you might want to think twice before spending too much money on it.

2. Stick to your budget

Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s worth going into debt for. If you can’t afford to pay for something outright, wait until the trend dies down before buying it on sale. (This could even include housing.)

3. Think about your personal style

Just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it will suit your personal style. If you’re not comfortable wearing something or using it, there’s no point in buying it just because everyone else is.

4. Be trend-savvy

There’s nothing wrong with following trends, as long as you do it in a smart way. For example, researching and investing 2-5% of your TOTAL portfolio in crypto is ok, as long as you’re comfortable with the volatility and also the risk of losing it.

5. Be the master of your own trends

At the end of the day, you should dress and accessorize for yourself, not for other people. If you’re happy with your personal style, don’t feel like you need to change it just because a new trend comes along.

Trends can be costly, there’s no doubt about it. But by being aware of the risks involved and making smart choices, you can avoid falling victim to their financial pitfalls. Do your research before buying into any trend, and only invest what you can afford to lose. And most importantly, remember that you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. Be content with what you have and you’ll be better off in the long run.

Related Reads:

10 Ways to Avoid Overspending

How Stress Impacts Spending, Saving, and Investing

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So the next time you find yourself following a trend, remember that you’re just being human.

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