Millennials Feel Guilty About Spending Money—Here’s How To Stop

Millennials, who make up the biggest generation, carry a lot of guilt for spending money. In fact, millennials in the United States tend to spend just about two thirds the amount that generation Xers and baby boomers spend on entertainment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Research suggests that millennials are the first generation to actually “influence up.” Millennials spend a lot of time shopping online and tend to be impulsive buyers—though they also tend to have low-cost indulgences. That’s largely because millennials are particularly susceptible to buyer’s remorse, which refers to feeling guilty after making a purchase.

In fact, millennials are almost twice as likely as generation Xers to feel guilty about their overall wealth—and 76 percent of them considered wealth inequality in the country a major problem, compared to just over half (57 percent) of generation Xers, according to a Spectrum survey (via Think Advisor). After all, millennials have been dubbed the “unluckiest generation in US history” for the economic crises they’ve endured.

With that said, here are five key tips to stop feeling poorly about money mistakes—and make wiser money moves in the process.

1. Create a budget.

A burgeoning body of research shows that millennials don’t generally have budgets to which they stick. And their undisciplined spending habits don’t make them feel too great. But budgeting can help you stay accountable in managing your money.

Budgeting, of course, can be easier said than done. Following a 50/30/20 budget simplifies the process. The 50/30/20 rule divides your after-tax income into three categories: 50 percent for your needs, 30 percent for your wants, and 20 percent for your savings and investments.


2. Prioritize your expenses.

Make a list of the expenses you have that you need to cover first—and then make a list of the purchases you’d like to make. List them in a descending order, starting with what is most important to you. When you have the spare income to spend, you can refer to your list to remember what it is that you really want—instead of making an impulse decision triggered by emotion.

Prioritizing your spending also means cutting back on unnecessary spending. Look for recurring payments you make to certain subscriptions you may have forgotten all about. Cancel memberships you don’t use. Cut back on coffees you can make at home, and choose to pick up your groceries instead of spending those extra dollars on delivery. 

3. Invest your spare income.

The same aforementioned Spectrum research shows that younger investors, like millennials, are more likely than other groups to leverage wealth-management apps. Take advantage of the robo-advisors and trading apps at your disposal., for example, is here to tear down the walls that prevent you from accumulating wealth—while granting you premier access to the world’s top-performing private investment strategies. It’s triggering a personal wealth movement and, overall, a new era of personalized investing, powered by AI.

The average return on investment is about 10 percent annually. So, even if you only deposit a small amount into an investment account every month, you’ll watch your money grow over time as it adds up and accrues compounded interest, too.

Knowing that you’re at least still saving—and growing that savings—may help alleviate some of the stress surrounding your spending habits.

4. When you shop, shop ethically.

Plenty of research shows that millennial consumers care about where and how their products are being made. They care about shopping ethically to support sustainable business practices and the people behind their products. They are willing to make cause-related shopping decisions, studies suggest.

Purchasing products that support a safer system, a greener environment, and people’s health and livelihoods can help you from feeling guilty about shopping. Making ethical shopping decisions, at the very least, contributes to the greater good—even if it doesn’t always contribute to your financial wealth.

5. Seek professional help to manage your money woes.

If you experience deep guilt after shopping, it may be time to chat with a professional. After all, studies show that most people are stressed about their current or future financial situations. Regardless, arguably, everyone could benefit from seeing a therapist—even if they have no real pressing concerns that surface.

Younger generations like generation Zers and millennials are stripping therapy of its taboo. They’re more likely than other generations to seek professional help. Thirty-nine percent of generation Zers and 37 percent of millennials already do. 

Traditional cognitive behavioral therapy can help unpack the root of feelings like guilt—as well as the triggers that drive you to impulsively spend—and cope in healthier ways.

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