Financial Education Explained by Danielle: My Caffeinated Ethical Dilemma

Feb 13, 2018
Ethics, Budgeting


Have you ever been in a ethical dilemma that you weren’t sure how to remedy? Well, this is my story. Last summer, my longtime friends and I got into the habit of frequenting a small town cafe a few days a week to complete our homework. We somehow rationalized with ourselves that it was okay to spend money because we were supporting the city’s economy:) I know, not the best budgeting habits, but spending money is technically good for the economy, right?

One day, I was using my debit card to pay for my usual—small cold brew coffee with vanilla sweet cream—but the charge to my card did not go through. Neither the cashier knew this, nor did I, as she was so accustomed to the charge going through, and I was used to accepting the fact that the charge would be accepted. I only found out later that the charge failed when I checked my account activity to see what I had spent the previous week. When I first realized what had happened, I wasn’t sure what to do. On one hand, the charge was so minimal that it could’ve easily been missed by the cafe shop owners, but on the other hand, I had a guilty conscience.

So I did what I thought was right, and I withdrew cash (what a novelty!) to pay for the drink, as well as a tip. The next time my friends and I ordered our drinks, I lingered behind to explain the charge mishap from the last time I was there, and give her what I owed. She was so surprised! She went on to tell me that almost any other person would’ve just ignored it and accepted the free drink. To my surprise, the barista upgraded my drink to the next size at no extra charge. In this instance, it clearly paid to be a conscientious person! 


  • Have you ever been in a similar ethical dilemma relating to money? 
    • What did you do about it?
  • What’s another way I could have remedied this situation?
  • What's makes it easy/difficult to do the right thing when it comes money? 


If you liked this article, be sure to check out the NGPF Activity, DEBATE: Ethics. Additionally, we have an entire lesson on Ethics, which is chock-full of activities, projects, and articles.

About the Author

Danielle Bautista

Danielle is a native of Southern California and a recent graduate from the University of Maine, where she braved the frigid winters—a feat in and of itself—and earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs. She has a passion for working with non-profit organizations and serving populations in underprivileged communities. When Danielle isn't writing NGPF blog posts, spearheading various outreach projects, or managing contests and flash surveys, you can find her doing some sort of outdoor activity, learning a new hobby, or cracking what she thinks are witty puns!