Doom Spending Is Not Self-Care

Please, don’t dabble in doom spending.

The term, which first bubbled up on social media, has gained steam following a recent survey by Intuit’s Credit Karma. Consider it 2024’s sequel to 2023’s “girl math.” But if girl math was a light-hearted buddy comedy, doom spending is a horror film.

It’s not the same as retail therapy — shopping to ease personal woes like a breakup or a bad day at work. Doom spending is “spending money despite concerns about the economy and foreign affairs to cope with stress,” says the credit-tracking company, and about 27% of Americans say they’re doing it.

Self-reported rates of doom spending are higher among men; according to Credit Karma’s survey, 33% of men admit to doing it compared with only 21% of women. But it’s the women I’m more worried about, because women already typically face a tougher road to financial independence. We earn, save and invest less. We have more student debt.

The survey also finds that young women are much more likely to doom spend than their mothers and older sisters. Throw in the financial precarity dogging millennials and Gen Z — the New York Fed noted Tuesday that a rise credit card and auto loan delinquencies was especially pronounced among younger borrowers — and you have a recipe for misery.

Younger Women Do More Doom Spending