Food & Nutrition

7 Convincing Reasons You’re Better Off Paying with Cash

Stop at the ATM before you head out shopping—you’ll be surprised by the benefits.

You’ll value your purchases more

Human hands exchanging money - closeup shotMaryna Pleshkun/Shutterstock

Volunteers in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research bought a coffee mug for $ 4.94 (marked as $ 2 off the original price) using either cash or credit. Two hours later, the researchers told them to pick a price to sell back the mug. Those who’d used cash asked for almost $ 3 more than those who’d paid with credit. “You feel something when you physically part with your money, and there are different levels of pain depending on the type of payment,” study author and University of Toronto assistant professor of marketing Avni Shah has said. Watch out, though—there are some times when it’s actually better not to pay with cash.

Your purchases will feel more meaningful

Woman is putting fifty dollars in the walletVera Kandybovich/Shutterstock

In a follow-up, the same University of Toronto researchers gave people either cash or a voucher to donate to a charity of their choice, to find out if the reasons people valued the mugs more because of the effort and fees related to finding an ATM. Turns out the first study’s findings held true: those who’d donated cash felt more connected to their chosen charities and less connected to the ones they hadn’t picked. Cash might help you make more thoughtful, meaningful shopping decisions, Shah says.

You’ll buy less junk food

People Buying Fresh Local Vegetable From Farm at

Shoppers who pay with plastic buy a larger proportion of unhealthy, impulsive foods than those who pay with cash, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research that followed households over six months. The authors conclude that paying with cash could boost feelings of self-control because it’s more painful to hand over cash than to swipe a card. Check out some more tricks from people who are really good at saving money.

Your kids will eat less too

Portrait of cheerful asian girl eating salad with joy. She is looking aside with curiosity and smilingOlena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Trickle down your junk food resistance to your kids by giving them cash for the cafeteria. Students at schools that only accepted payment from pre-filled accounts ate about 752 calories at lunch (441 of which were from non-healthy foods like cheeseburgers and dessert), compared with the 721 calories (378 being unhealthy) eaten by kids whose schools also accepted cash, according to a study in the journal Obesity. The study authors say prepaid accounts give parents less control over what their kids buy, and because they’re not sure how long the money should last, children are inclined to spend more.

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