What the experts say – In October of 2010 three researchers from Cornel U., State U. of NY, Binghamton and State U. of NY, Buffalo published a study in the Journal of Consumer Research where they posited that credit cards purchases actually increase unhealthy food purchases. They summarized the study in this way. “Some food items that are commonly considered unhealthy also tend to elicit impulsive responses. The pain of paying in cash can curb impulsive urges to purchase such unhealthy food products. Credit card payments, in contrast, are relatively painless and weaken impulse control. Consequently, consumers are more likely to buy unhealthy food products when they pay by credit card than when they pay in cash. Results from four studies support these hypotheses. Analysis of actual shopping behavior of 1,000 households over a period of 6 months revealed that shopping baskets have a larger proportion of food items rated as impulsive and unhealthy when shoppers use credit or debit cards to pay for the purchases”
How I did it. – I’ve always believed that one of the worst thing that happened to us was the loosening of the minimum credit card purchase amounts. Just 10 years ago, a responsible individual would never have thought of putting a $6 cup of coffee on her credit card. But the card companies love the volume of transactions due to our collective irresponsibility. You know what the industry calls someone that never carries a balance on their card? A deadbeat. Yep, be responsible, pay on time, build a good credit rating and what will they do, increase your spending limit so they can tempt you into irresponsible behavior, which includes throwing that extra bag of doughnuts, bottle of soda, and bag of chips right on into the shopping cart. Now my financial situation isn’t the best so it really wasn’t hard for me, but I put myself on cash rations. When I ran out of money for fuel, I was in trouble. It only took a couple of times of running out of money on Thursday before I stopped dipping into the fuel fund for indulgences. I did not deprive myself of fuel, but since I had to pay cash for it and cash was a limited resource, I made much better choices about my fuel. I purchased the items that gave me the biggest nutritional bang for my dollar and went further. (Junk food packaging is notoriously small and mostly air.) What did I do with the card you ask… froze it in a bowl of water.