FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) can leave you in debt and with financial regret. We are living in an age where we can follow the lives of friends and strangers on social media.
We face a constant barrage of photos of fancy brunches, concerts, luxurious vacations, over the top weddings, new cars, #OOTD (outfit of the day), and more, and the pressure to keep up is higher than ever. However, the reality of social media is that it only shows one side of people’s lives. People rarely show the mundane things in their lives or the tough stuff, creating an illusion of constant glitz and glamor. Unfortunately, this illusion creates a tremendous amount of pressure to “keep up”, which often involves a lot of spending on eating out, fancy cocktails, vacations, the latest technology, and new outfits – all things that come at a great expense and can hinder you from achieving important financial goals like saving for retirement, being able to purchase a house, or building an emergency fund.
So, how do you keep up without going into debt for the sake of some great Instagram shots?
Factor Fun Into Your Budget
Look, no one’s saying you can’t have a little fun and treat yourself once in a while! But the key is finding a balance between having fun while still putting money towards savings and paying down debt, not accumulating more. Take time to review your current budget (or create one if you haven’t already). Look at your recent spending habits, whether you’re meeting important financial obligations such as paying money towards outstanding debts, and how you can make adjustments. It is important to leave some room in your budget for things like entertainment and dining out, but by setting a reasonable spending limit for these things, you can avoid getting carried away in the moment.
If you have your eyes on a bigger expense such as a vacation, be sure to plan ahead. Estimate what expenses will be involved and make a plan to put money away each month to work towards this goal. A well thought-out budget makes it possible to find a balance so you can pay off debt and still have a social life.
Pay Cash, Not Credit
It can be tempting to give into indulgences like a last-minute vacation with a simple swipe of your credit card, but this is a quick road towards unmanageable debt. Even charging smaller indulgences like dinners out with friends can quickly add up faster than you think and leave you with a credit card statement at the end of the month that you can’t afford to pay off. Instead, pay cash for these types of purchases, and if an outing is involved (such as a concert or sports game), bring a predetermined amount of spending money with you and spend that and only that. By paying cash and not credit, you’ll become more aware of your spending habits and learn where you can cut back; perhaps you’ll decide it’s not worth ordering dessert or that extra glass of wine every time you go out for dinner. You’ll also avoid racking up high credit card bills (and their high interest rates). If you properly factor these expenses into your budget, you should have enough money to always pay cash rather than credit and enjoy these expenditures guilt-free!
Learn to Just Say “No”
The problem with social media is it makes everyone’s lives look like a constant barrage of fun – but what you don’t see is the times people decide to stay in and cook at home or the concert they had to miss out on. What you also don’t see is the price people are paying for their extravagant lifestyles – anyone can “afford” nice vacations and dinners if they have enough credit cards, but those expenses will come back to haunt them. Once we come to the realization that social media paints an overly perfect picture of peoples’ lives, we’ll feel less pressure to say “yes” to everything.
While it may feel unfair to not be doing all the same things your friends are doing, you’ll soon come to find that the cost of missing out will more than be made up for in the fact that you won’t be racking up out of control credit card debt. Instead, you’ll be building up savings so that things like a house, a nice collection of wine, a new car, or a retirement full of travel and adventures are all well within reach for your future self. A little bit of restraint now will allow you to indulge in a more fulfilling and meaningful way later.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.