These Bad Habits Are Getting Us Through COVID

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Making it through this pandemic is a monster achievement. Almost a year in, we should be proud of ourselves for even the littlest things. It's stressful out there, and we need all the help we can get. It's time to admit that for many of us, we're leaning on something that we might be a little furtive about.

We might not budget for it, but we spent nearly $950 on average on vices in 2020, according to a new survey from MagnifyMoney. By "we," the data scientists mean 7 in 10 American consumers, who have been shopping for cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, and other unmentionables to deal with the weight of COVID, an ongoing economic crisis, the political climate, and life in general compounded with all of the above. Millennials in particular, who should be in their prime earning and career-climbing years right now, spent the most — almost $1,260. More than 6 in 10 millennials reported feeling guilty about it.

Not every vice was too scandalous for polite company. Some survey respondents wrote in answers such as ice cream, online shopping, or supporting Kickstarter campaigns. But a significant number revealed that they spent money on vices rather than putting that cash toward savings, or even that they dipped into savings to support a guilty pleasure.

COVID has taught us a lot about our own resilience, and everybody needs healthy (or at least reasonable) ways to cope with stress. Just be sure you're watching what you're spending — the end is in sight, at least in terms of lockdowns, and good financial habits will serve you far longer than blowing off steam.