Money

5 Things You Feel Guilty For Spending Money On (But Shouldn’t)

There are two things that inevitably happen when I spend even a cent of my money. The first is that I tell myself I’m making a very good, wise decision and dance giddily inside as I consider my pending purchase. The second is that as soon as the transaction has been approved, I dive into a well of guilt.

The figure in my account was so high! And now it’s low! Because I’m a big dumb idiot who can’t make smart decisions. Someone banish me to the damp cellars, lock me up with no food and take away my personal agency because gosh freaking darn it, I can’t be trusted with my own money.

But as I get older — and hell, way wiser — I’m realising the alternative is much worse. A pious life of never spending sounds awful, and involves my only years being completely boring and miserable.

Because you know what? Life really is short. And money is there to be spent. Sure, there are some things you can feel guilt about spending money on, but these shouldn’t be one of them.

#1 Coffee

My opinions on this one go back and forth. While I’ve lamented in the past about how much I spend on coffee (tl;dr heeeeaps), I still deeply believe it’s a worthy expense. Buying coffee every morning is one of the reasons I can make it all the way to the afternoon. It might be the only reason I know so much about my colleagues. It’s certainly my creative kick-start.

It’s steamy and delicious and sure, I could put $4 every day into my savings but I’m not really going to. I find $4 to be a silly amount to put aside and I just won’t do it. Instead, I will buy a tall cup of the caffeinated bean and strut happily through my day, without the guilt.

#2 Your car

Yes, we all consider going car-free after a particularly heinous service. “$821 to fix that banged up hunk o’junk? Are you kidding me???” is something I said just three days ago. Imagining my life as an independent, car-free person is something I dreamed about immediately after. But I live in the suburbs, so… no.

They say that cars are nothing more than “money pits”. Like, okay, if that pit also picks you up and takes you places that you need to go in lieu of public transport? Dropping all that cash to keep your car roadworthy and safe is an investment in your time. It saves you from a 20-minute trip turning into an hour and a half with three connections.

Research from CarHistory shows that more than half (59%) of Australians aged between 18-49 spend more time researching an overseas holiday than researching their next second-hand car. A third of people spent only one or two hours researching their car. I’ve spent longer researching what to have for dinner.

And sure, the actual vehicle depreciates in value, which sucks big time. But like I said, it’s a trade off for being able to move through the world with ease. Cars aren’t a waste of money and you’d probably miss your life without them* (*unless you live really centrally in which case, forget this.).

# 3 A big night out

Regret is a real thing. And while spending an obscene amount of money on a night out feels like regret the morning after, I reckon not going out now will hurt me harder later on.

Relationships are important and memories are there to be made. Life is long and it trundles and dips and goes and goes. Your 20s are the time to get away with shaking it all up: spend that money, do silly things, make stories you feel joyous telling.

#4 A shortlived hobby

Okay, so you got really into painting and spent $500 on paints, canvases, easels and a really fun apron that says, “I’m messy but cute!”

But now, all you do is peer over at that pile of abandoned intention while sitting on the couch eating Pringles. Your pangs of guilt muffled only by the sound of your Netflix stream.

Just chill. Oh, you’re already chilling. Well chill internally because dropping money on a lost hobby is not the worst thing in the world. You know why? It’s there for when you need it. When you’re older and you realise that hobbies don’t have to require so much time and effort, you’ll ease into it without so much pressure. And you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more.

For now it seems like a huge waste, but later on you’ll be thankful. Or, you know, sell the whole thing on Gumtree.

#5 Television, books, etc

This one may just be for me, a person who spends an obscene amount of money on books each month, but I still think it should be said.

Paying for streaming, the newspaper, or your literature journals is not a waste of money. If anything, it’s a really smart way to pile lots of different things into your brain, making you a better, more empathetic fellow human.

You’re keeping on top of the conversation, finding things that interest you. There’s no waste in that. So keep doing it, and @ me with your takes on The Bachelor.

So there’s my permission. Spend big on all the above while you can. And don’t feel a morsel of regret.


Josephine is a writer from western Sydney who likes to blatantly lie on her bios. She played the youngest sister in 80s sitcom Family Ties and looks fantastic running with a backpack on.