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Published: Jun 29, 2022 3 min read
Photo collage of money and coffee beans with a man drinking coffee, A woman drinking coffee with multiple shopping bags and a third person walking with shopping bags
Vanessa Garcia / Money; Getty Images

Bad news, coffee lovers. Turns out filling up on caffeine before your next shopping trip could make you spend... quite a latte.

People who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee before shopping spent roughly 50% more money and bought almost 30% more items than people who drank decaf coffee or water, a recent study by the University of South Florida found. The study of more than 300 shoppers was conducted at two stores in France and Spain.

Caffeine also influenced the types of products people bought: Those who drank coffee bought more non-essentials, like scented candles.

The results were similar for online and in-person shoppers alike. In one of the researchers' tests, business school students who drank a caffeinated coffee chose more “impulsive” items to purchase online, while those who drank decaf selected more practical items.

“Caffeine, as a powerful stimulant, releases dopamine in the brain, which excites the mind and the body," Dipayan Biswas, the Frank Harvey Endowed Professor of Marketing at USF, said in a news release about the study. "This leads to a higher energetic state, which in turn enhances impulsivity and decreases self-control.”

In other words: coffee makes you less likely to stick to your budget and more likely to scoop up impulse purchases you don't need.

So if you’re trying to cut down on your spending — especially as prices keep rising — it’s a good idea to avoid the coffee shop in the mall or grocery store.

As Biswas, the lead author of the study, put it simply: "Consumers trying to control impulsive spending should avoid consuming caffeinated beverages before shopping.”

Of course, skipping your daily latte isn’t the only way to help curb impulse spending. Little things like eating a snack or meal before you shop, using a cart instead of a basket and keeping your phone away from your bed at night can help. And bigger changes, like setting concrete financial goals, can help you be more mindful of your spending so you get the most value out of your money.

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