Everything is coffee's fault. All our lattes are keeping us from saving for retirement, getting enough sleep, and even passively retain millions. Frankly, we're sorry not sorry on most of our purchases, but new research does show that we wish we could resist those guilty pleasures more.
According to survey data just released by Common Cents Lab, millennials regret about one-fourth of what we buy. We like big purchases, like furniture or devices, that we have to mull over first. We really love autopay for recurring costs. We don't feel bad about paying for necessities, like rent or health care. And we love giving gifts and investing in our communities.
The little things, though — those are the ones that add up. Despite the boorishness of every hoary scolding about skipping daily barista drinks, millennials have about 70 percent more regret about spending on throwaway items we can control. Eating out, grabbing a drink, and meals on the run all have a place in our budgets, but it's easy to lose track, especially if you rely on those conveniences because of stress.
Here's the thing: It's easy to justify small luxuries when most of your income is tied up in things keeping a roof over your head and paying down some generationally staggering debt. As the online advice columnist Captain Awkward often points out, sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money. In this case, take that to mean that one $3 muffin is no more responsible for your finances than avocado toast means you'll never own a house.
That said, remember the white-collar crime from Office Space: The three disgruntled Initech employees shaved off infinitesimal amounts of money from high-volume activity and suddenly found themselves millionaires. Small savings can add up to big cash, especially if you're able to sock those funds into an account where they can appreciate. Don't feel so bad about your coffee habit, but try keeping a spending diary, to see how much you can spare for a rainy day. And start small — you don't have to become an expert overnight. You're in the best position to prioritize your own budget, but your future self might appreciate the solid.