The struggle of money jealousy is common: According to the latest NerdWallet study, nearly 3 out 5 Americans (57%) feel envious about someone else’s finances. In an online survey conducted by Harris Poll of over 2,000 U.S. adult respondents, Americans were asked what feelings they have when it comes to money. The Harris Poll also […]

The struggle of money jealousy is common: According to the latest NerdWallet study, nearly 3 out 5 Americans (57%) feel envious about someone else’s finances.

In an online survey conducted by Harris Poll of over 2,000 U.S. adult respondents, Americans were asked what feelings they have when it comes to money. The Harris Poll also asked about how social media affects their finances, and what makes them envious of others’ financial circumstances.

The Key Findings

  • The survey found that guilt and spending money often go together. More than half (52%) of Americans said they feel guilty when they overspend. Of the Americans who feel guilty for overspending, 44% do so.

  • This can have a negative impact on your mental health. According to the survey, more than 50% of Americans (54%) who felt jealous of other people’s financial situation said that this feeling of envy had a negative effect on their mental well-being. It is more prevalent among younger generations.

  • Social media can lead to regret and overspending: Nearly two thirds (65%) of Americans believe that social media is a factor in overspending. These purchases can lead to regret: According to the survey, 18% of Americans regretted a purchase they made because they were influenced by social media.

Kimberly Palmer is a personal finance expert for NerdWallet. She says that impulse buying can lead to regret, guilt and other negative feelings. This can cause regret, guilt or other negative emotions that affect our moods and well-being .”

Many purchases are accompanied by guilt

The cost of essentials like food, housing and medical care has increased, making them harder to pay for. It’s not surprising to learn that over three quarters (77%) of Americans feel guilty at times for making non-essential purchases. The proportion of households earning less than $50,000 (77%) and household incomes above $100,000 (76 %).
is similar.

The younger generations are more likely than older ones to feel guilt for not making essential purchases. 88% Generation Z (18-26 years old) and 86% millennials (27-42) feel the same way, compared to 78% Generation X (43-58) and 66% baby boomers 59-77.

More than one-third of Americans (35%) feel bad about buying non-essential items for themselves as opposed to purchasing for others. Other people feel bad about eating out (30%), or buying luxury goods (30 %).

Spending guilt isn’t just about the essentials. Over half (52%) of Americans say that they feel guilty when it comes to their general spending habits. Nearly three quarters (73%) of Americans feel guilty about buying something that they cannot afford.

You can Do

All of us should avoid unnecessary spending that is not in our budget. For many people, guilt over spending is not always correlated to the money available. You should consider where the guilt comes from. You may be spending your money in ways which don’t match with your goals or values, or you might have internalized the lesson that saving and spending are opposites. Everyone has a different reason for wanting to spend money, but we all need some.

There’s nothing wrong with buying items that make us happy or improve our quality of life. It’s important to examine the reasons and circumstances that lead you to feel guilty when shopping. Palmer recommends that if you are feeling guilty about unplanned purchases or other negative feelings, give yourself 24 hours to wait before purchasing anything from your online shopping basket.

Anger is affecting the health of some Americans

Over 3 out of 5 Americans (62%) believe they have sufficient money to purchase the items they desire and need. Although we may have “enough,” it doesn’t stop us coveting other people’s money: 57% say that they felt jealous of another person’s situation. Gen Z is more likely to feel this way than other generations. 77% of Gen Z members say they do, compared to 70% of millennials and 55% of Gen X.

Some people are envious because of the same things: 30% say that they have been jealous of another person’s finances for reasons such as taking expensive trips, while 29% claim to be envious over owning items they cannot afford. And 28% said they were envious due to someone having more money than they do. Fewer than one in five Americans (18%) admit to being envious about someone else’s debt-free status.

This envy has a cost. More than half (54%) of Americans have felt jealous of other people’s financial situation. This has a negative impact on their mental health. Gen Z and millennials more often say that than older generations – 64% and 65% respectively compared to 49% for Gen X, and only 33% for baby boomers.

How to use

It’s normal to feel jealous, but it may be detrimental if you let it affect your mental health. It’s not necessary to punish yourself for feeling jealous, but you should take measures to deal with it so that it does not make you feel down all the time.

Palmer says that envy is sometimes a good way to learn what you really want. For example, if it’s a trip. In other situations, envy can be a useful tool to help us realize that social media’s seemingly perfect life is likely more complex than we think. A beautiful house might also come with an expensive mortgage, as an example .”

Overspending on social media

With social media influencers and ads, scrolling can easily lead to purchasing. Nearly two thirds (65%) of Americans believe social media is to blame for the increase in overspending.

Nearly 3 out of 10 Americans (28%) have made purchases because they were influenced by a social media deal or promotional code. Some of these purchases were regrettable: 18% have regretted a purchase they made because they saw something on social media.

Social media doesn’t always promote spending. Nearly 16% of Americans say that social media has de-influenced them, or made them decide not to purchase an item.

How to use

One in eight Americans (13%) says social media has made them insecure in their financial situation. Unfollowing (or muting) someone on social media if they make you feel inferior, whether it is financially or in any other way. It’s not personal. They don’t need to be bad people for you to decide to stop following. You shouldn’t follow anyone on social media that makes you feel bad or who is disrespectful of your money.

Palmer suggests that instead of worrying about the things other people possess, you should think more about your own happiness. Then, you can try to incorporate more of these experiences in your life .”


The Harris Poll conducted this survey online in the United States from May 18-22 2023 among 2053 U.S. adult U.S. residents aged 18 or older. Harris’ online polls are measured using Bayesian credible ranges. The sample data for this study is accurate within +/-2,7 percentage points when using the 95% level of confidence. Please contact Sarah Borland, [email protected], for the complete methodology of this survey, which includes weighting variables, subgroup samples sizes and sample size.


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