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3 personal finance lessons the failed Fyre Festival can teach you

Shutterstock_793249471Gourmet meals. Luxury villas. Dope music. Private jets. All on a secluded Bahamian island – sounds pretty epic, right?

Fyre Festival, the brainchild of tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland and hip hop artist Ja Rule, was expected to be an out-of-this-world, glamorous music festival. At least that’s how it was sold on social media – until festival-goers arrived on the island to find prepackaged sandwiches instead of celebrity chef-cooked meals, FEMA tents in place of the luxury villas…and no music. Needless to say, no one was happy after dropping up to $12,000 per ticket to be there.

The recent Hulu and Netflix documentaries (a drama in and of itself) shed light on the event and the people who ripped off ticket buyers. You might be asking yourself, “What does this #firstworldproblem have to do with personal finances?” Read on for three lessons you can learn from the failed Fyre Festival. 

Stop trying to “Keep up with the Joneses”

A survey the AICPA conducted found that one in four social media users feels envious of friends who boast on social media of lavish vacations and purchases and admitted that they post things solely because they seem fancy and expensive. It makes sense that some might have bought a ticket to emulate friends or influencers– even though it was beyond their spending means. Luckily, there are some ways to reel in this behavior, like limiting your time on social media or using apps that can help you control your spending.

Do your research

How do you know if something is a scam? Research, research, research. If something sounds unbelievable, it probably is. Before you drop a pretty penny on festival tickets, or invest in the “HOT TECH STOCK THAT WILL SHOCK YOU,” check out articles from trusted sources or, even better, consult a CPA. They can help you figure out how to make sound financial decisions that work for your life.  

Understand the power of influencers

In 2017, the worldwide Instagram influencer market value was estimated to be $1.07 billion dollars and is expected to more than double in 2019. So it’s no surprise that many companies turn to influencers to market their brand and products. In the case of the Fyre Festival, this turned out to be a dangerous game. Celebrities like socialite and model Kendall Jenner and model Bella Hadid, who have a combined Instagram following of 124 million, posted about the festival, promoting it as extremely glamorous. Unfortunately, many people didn’t know the two were being paid to post and wouldn’t actually be attending.

Even though a good chunk of influencers only promote what they’ve tried and liked, the same does not go for all of them. Before you click “add to cart,” check out their post and see if there’s an ad hashtag (#ad). They’re required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose this information, but some influencers can be sneaky about it. Ultimately, make sure who you follow can be trusted -- or else you’ll find yourself wasting money on impulsive, low quality purchases.

Moral of the story…even though Fyre was a failure, doesn’t mean your personal finances have to be.  

Samantha Delgado, Manager – Communications, PR & Corporate Responsibility, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants


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