By Rachel Cernansky, Planet Green
According to the researchers, cash payments are “psychologically more painful” than purchases made by credit card, making it easier for people to control their impulsive urges when using cash. “Credit card payments, in contrast, are relatively painless and weaken impulse control,” they said.
The study assessed the shopping habits of 1,000 individuals over six months, and found that when shoppers paid with a credit or debit card, they made significantly more impulsive purchases—on so-called “vice products”—than when they paid with cash.
Another surprising find: weekend grocery runs included fewer impulsive purchases on unhealthy foods than weekday trips did. No proof yet, but one speculation is that people are more likely to have written a shopping list before leaving the house.
Dealing with the consequences of your purchases, financial or otherwise, and planning out your purchases in advance, can help keep your shopping cart healthy.
Even if you’re not going to pay with cash, try reminding yourself that those plastic cards still deplete your bank account—you’re going to have to pay, and if you’re watching your health, you’ll have to pay twice, in dollars now and at the doctor (or weight loss center, wherever) later.