Social media ‘FOMO’ blamed for rising bankruptcy declarations in B.C.

New report says “FOMO” fueling bankruptcies
WATCH: A new report says the “fear of missing out” is partly to blame for an increase in bankruptcies in B.C. John Hua explains why at least one expert says social media and reality television are playing a role.

Keeping up with the Kardashians may be leading to a rise in bankruptcy declarations in B.C., at least one expert says.

Credit Canada CEO Laurie Campbell says social media influencers are inspiring a “fear of missing out” among many people who feel they have to live up to a lifestyle they can’t afford.

“And what do people do when they think they’re missing out?” Campbell added. “They book trips, they go out to the restaurants, they do crazy things and they go on shopping sprees.”

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British Columbians less optimistic about financial future
British Columbians less optimistic about financial future

According to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, insolvency claims in B.C. jumped 5.7 per cent in April compared to the same month last year, from 895 claims to 946.

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Nearly every other province also saw a jump between the two periods, with only Saskatchewan and the three territories seeing a decline.

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But Campbell said Metro Vancouver particularly inspires people to strive for the kinds of wealthy lifestyles that are flaunted throughout the region, which remains one of the most expensive places to live in North America.

“This is extreme wealth and extreme decadence and so many people think they should be living that lifestyle,” she said.

Campbell also cautioned against believing everything they see on social media, saying the examples of lavish lifestyles may not be what they seem.

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Detached home ownership further from reach than ever
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The organizer of last weekend’s party at a mansion in Anmore that featured helicopters and supercars said he only paid $750, for instance, while the rest of the bash was funded through sponsorships.

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“Don’t be fooled into thinking everyone else is living the financial dream,” Campbell said. “You don’t know what their stories are. They may be in bigger debt than you.”

The fear of that debt is starting to rise as more people lose faith in their financial situation.

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An Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of debt counselling firm MNP in April found 56 per cent of British Columbians polled are worried about their ability to repay their debts.

The same survey found the number of residents in the province who expect their debt situation to improve has dropped by double digits compared to when they were asked at the beginning of the year.

In January, an Ipsos Public Affairs poll conducted for Global News found 71 per cent of Canadians overall feel “good” about their financial situation — but that was down nearly 10 per cent compared to just a year ago.

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As fears about debt continue to rise, Campbell is cautioning young people particularly to be aware of their finances and start saving early.

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“We’re now seeing a generation of individuals who are not going to be able to get their financial situation in order if they keep spending recklessly on items they can’t afford,” she said.

—With files from John Hua and Grace Ke