Shifting from access to economic empowerment: Charles Schwab 2019 Modern Wealth Survey

More than a third of Americans admit their spending habits have been influenced by images and experiences shared by their friends on social media and confess they spend more than they can afford to avoid missing out on the fun, according to Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth Index Survey, an annual examination of how 1,000 Americans think about saving, spending, investing and wealth.

Survey respondents place blame on social media platforms and not people—they rank social media as the biggest “bad” influence when it comes to how they manage their money, while they put friends and family at the top of “good” influences.

According to the survey, three in five Americans pay more attention to how their friends spend compared to how they save, with an equal number saying they’re at a loss to understand how their friends are able to afford the expensive vacations and trendy restaurant meals they portray on social media.

The pressure to spend as a result of social media envy and the desire to not be left out of friends’ experiences is particularly acute among Generation Z and millennials, the survey found: