3 Money Mistakes That Aren’t As Bad As You Think

  • Financial therapist Megan McCoy says spending money on small pleasures can make you happier.
  • Regularly using credit cards isn’t a bad thing, as long as you’re intentional about how you use them.
  • People often feel guilty about spending money on things that make them happy, even when they saved for that purpose.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider,

You pull up to the drive-thru of your favorite coffee place, take one sip of your flat white mocha, and aahhh, you’re ready to start the day. You love this morning coffee ritual, but as you drive off the lot, there’s a pang of guilt from spending $4 on your daily coffee that haunts you from the next few hours.

If this sounds like a normal morning to you, you’re not alone. Financial therapist Megan McCoy, Ph.D., LMFT, AFC, CFT-I says that many of her clients and students have felt guilty about the same thing, and that splurging on your morning coffee isn’t actually as bad as you think.

Here are three money mistakes to stop beating yourself up about.

1. Splurging on morning coffee

A lot of financial advice urges people to stop wasting money on morning coffee and save those few dollars every day on their long-term goals.

But McCoy encourages people to stop beating themselves up for splurging on that morning coffee, if it truly makes you happy. “Research has shown that buying smaller, more sporadic, little pleasures gives us more joy than big purchases that we make,” she says. 

Splurging on morning coffee — or something else — doesn’t hurt as long as you spend within your budget, and track how much you’re spending.

2. Using credit cards regularly

Credit cards are sometimes painted as a last resort, but McCoy says it’s not a bad thing to make credit cards part of your regular spending habits.

As long as you’re paying your credit card off each month, it’s actually beneficial to reap the rewards and cash-back perks that big credit cards have to offer. McCoy says, “Using your credit cards as intentionally as you would your debit card is incredibly helpful for your credit score.” 

McCoy also suggests researching how different types of debt can help your financial health in the long run. For example, regular on-time payments on secured debt, which is backed up by collateral like a house or a car, can help you get lower interest rates on unsecured debt, like credit cards and personal loans.

That said, in most cases you probably don’t want to take on debt just to build your credit score — but you shouldn’t panic if you need to.

3. Splurging on big-ticket items that make you happy

McCoy shared that she often works with people who have a hard time splurging on big-ticket items that would make them really happy, even if they’ve saved up for that specific purchase. 

Even if you’ve saved up to take a ceramics class, buy a motorcycle, or take a trip to your grandparents’ hometown — or anything else that you’ve always wanted to do — a lot of guilt comes up when it’s time to actually cough up the cash.

Instead of fully enjoying the big-ticket item you saved up for, your mind wanders to the extra car payments you could have made with that money, the designer purse that everyone else has, or other purchases that can increase your social status (or at least your Instagram following).

McCoy says, “Anytime you’re buying things that align with your values, you shouldn’t feel guilty. You should find ways to pay for it or spend less in other categories.”