4 Ways the Internet Is Hurting Your Finances

Photo: Official GDC

Consumers can find a lot of places to put the blame for an ongoing bad financial situation, but not all are brave enough to point the finger at themselves. While the Internet does have the resources to help you fill in some blanks on money management, it can also be part of the reason you are not handling your finances as efficiently as you should be. Here are four ways the Internet can hurt your overall financial stability. (See also: Are Your Finances Fragile?)

1. Procrastination

Researchers have estimated that adults spend, on average, five hours a day surfing the web. This is five hours people could be using for other things, like updating their filing, reconciling a checkbook, or checking credit scores. Procrastination is often disguised by other excuses like "I’m too busy" and "I just don’t have the time to keep up." Excuses are a part of the procrastination package. Sure, it’s good to check your accounts online, but updating your Facebook with exciting hour-by-hour tidbits of your life when your financial house is in disorder may signal the need for reprioritizing your life.

2. Social Media Brags

Speaking of Facebook, you may not truly realize how your social media posts are affecting your money matters. Everyone from lenders to bill collectors are using popular social media sites to see what you are up to these days, especially if you’ve been hard to track down otherwise. Social media pages can reveal a lot about you to a lender and potential employers, so it is very wise to think before you type. If you are running late with bill payments but bragging about the new living room set you just paid $2,000 for, collection efforts may get a lot more aggressive. Don’t be fooled by privacy settings you think will actually keep the world out of your business. People seeking information about you have a lot of resources these days.

3. Information Overload

Consumers who are perplexed by their own financial situation may turn to the Internet to get advice. While there is a ton of excellent, free information online that can make a difference in your money-management habits, since there is no one-size-fits-all solution, all this information can create a totally overwhelming situation and open the door, once again, for procrastinating.

If you can fine-tune your research to specific topics within the personal finance world, though, you can find helpful information to use as a guide. Find a few reputable websites that cover the topics you feel you want to learn more about. Read a few posts to find a site with a style that suits your needs. You can also remove the Internet from the equation for awhile and take a course on personal finance basics, so you have the fundamentals to keep yourself on track. If there are no courses offered locally, consider meeting with a debt counselor to sort out your basic money management issues.

4. Impulse Buying

There are bargains galore on nearly any retail site you come across. The deals may be great, but these opportunities are often too hard to resist, leading consumers into impulse decisions and knee-jerk spending. While those new handbags or exclusive tool sets may be on clearance for a limited time only, the reality is you probably do not need them, can’t afford them, or do not have the fortitude to close the window fast enough. Impulsive spending from the comfort of your own home is far too convenient — even if your budget says no, and even if you are already being swallowed by debt problems.

The Internet can be a great go-to place for tips and information, but it is up to you to police your own Internet use in relation to your money matters. There is no technology that will perfect your financial stability without 100% participation from you.

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Guest's picture

I always think that I'm going to do some valuable reading or research some new interests but I always end up playing around on the same websites, wasting more and more free time. Great article, really hit it on the head.

Guest's picture

Yes, I follow a YouTube link to see a valuable video and end up looking at cute kittehs for 45 minutes.