The No. 1 reason Americans feel guilty after shopping

Recent research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Slickdeals found that the top reason we feel guilty about buying something. (Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash)

Ever feel guilty pulling out your credit card to make an essential purchase? You’re not alone — over half of Americans (51 percent) say they feel guilty about spending money, according to new research.

The statistic emerged in a new survey which found that, no matter what we’re buying, there’s usually a twinge of guilt — especially when we’re paying full price.

Of those who admitted to feeling guilty about spending, only 5 percent said they didn’t feel remorse buying something at retail price — 5 percent.

Those same respondents say they feel guilty one in every five purchases and spend $89 guiltily each week — or $277,680 in their adult life time.

However, 85 percent were found to report finding the weight of guilt lifted off their shoulders when the thing they’re buying is at a discounted price.

That magic number? 23 percent off, according to the poll.

The new study, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Slickdeals, found that the top reason we feel guilty about buying something is because we later stumble upon the same thing at a better price (57 percent) — the second biggest was that there was probably something else that would’ve been a better use of our money.

So what do we feel guilty spending on exactly? The biggest purchase we distress over is treating ourselves to a nice meal out (47 percent), with clothes following next (46 percent), and shoes rounding out the top three (35 percent.)

One in three Americans reported feeling a pang of guilt when buying alcoholic drinks, while one in four said they felt guilty about spending money on their passions.

Another one in five Americans said they feel guilty when taking a trip to the grocery store, with 16 percent saying they feel the same about health products.

“The survey shows that guilt is pervasive among shoppers today,” said Josh Meyers, CEO of Slickdeals. “However, it also highlights the importance of getting a discount when it comes to guilt-free shopping. When consumers are informed and confident that they have found the best deal, they are far less likely to experience guilt.”

While spending money can certainly be a guilt-inducing experience, the results of the study showed that there are a few exceptions.

According to the survey, 56 percent of those who normally experience guilt over spending feel less guilty when they are buying an “experience” rather than an object.

Not only that, the guilt seems to affect us only when we’re indulging in ourselves. The results showed that 70 percent of guilty buyers feel less guilty about spending money if it’s on somebody else other than themselves.

Americans feel so guilty about spending money on themselves that four in ten (39 percent) have put off replacing a broken essential home appliance out of guilt, with the average American saying they have put it off for 14 weeks.

“Spending money — whether on life’s essentials or a fun indulgence — should not make people fraught with guilt,” added Meyers. “As the leading crowdsourced shopping platform, Slickdeals transforms age-old buyer’s remorse into happiness, excitement and pride in knowing you got the best deal.”


  1. Going out to eat 47%
  2. Clothes 46%
  3. Electronics (TV, phone, etc.) 38%
  4. Shoes 35%
  5. Take out 35%
  6. Alcoholic drinks 34%
  7. Cosmetics/beauty items 31%
  8. Snacks 30%
  9. Vacation and travel 24%
  10. My passions 24%


  • Bowling balls
  • Coconut oil
  • Beer
  • Books
  • Yoga classes
  • Coffee
  • Food at my favorite restaurant
  • Flowers
  • Guitar
  • Jewelry
  • Travel

>> Download the video & infographic for this research story <<

NOTE: All news copy and multimedia on this SWNS account is free to use as you see fit. Where research has been conducted, we ask that you credit the company which commissioned it.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

SWNS is a UK and US-based news and media content agency with a proud 40-year history.