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.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.