Whenever my dad lectures me on the perils of abusing my credit card, I always assume he just doesn’t want me to end up in debt from buying too many pairs of shoes. But as it turns out, he was inadvertently protecting me from getting fat. According to a news study in the Journal of Consumer Research, opting for cash over a credit card at the grocery store will save us all from the headache of gaining weight.
For most people I know, a trip to the grocery store usually ends with two thoughts: 1) how did I manage to spend this much? and 2) there’s no way I’ll ever be able to eat all of this food. But somehow, magically, you always manage to finish it. You stare at that box of Oreo’s for a while before deciding that there’s no need to let all of that double stuff goodness go to waste.
But why did you end up with Oreos in your grocery bag in the first place, especially when we’re clearly in the middle of bikini season? Well, as lead study author Manoj Thomas, Ph.D. explains, “You don’t see that money going out of your wallet… Therefore, you are less careful in deciding what to spend on and what not to spend.” They also found that unhealthy foods – like chips, candy and cookies – were also seen as more likely to be impulse buys.
When you have a set list and a set amount to spend in cash, you’re less likely to be tempted into the scary, junk aisles. Lists and cash are great way to avoid impulse buys, but a separate 2007 study also found that grocery shopping with a friend is another great tactic. Your friend can serve as you “external conscience.” The trick is to make sure you actually listen and pay attention to said conscience, because god knows you probably aren’t paying attention to your own.