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A cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, jalapeno peppers and mustard with fries at Five Guys Burgers in Vancouver.

laura leyshon The Globe and Mail

If you're trying to kick your unhealthy eating habits, consider carrying only cash in your wallet. Those who pay with paper tend to choose healthier options, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. [https://www.jcr-admin.org/pressreleases/101810122145_Thomasrelease.pdf]/note>

According to researchers, unhealthy food items trigger impulsive behaviour. We're more likely to give in to this impulsiveness if we're paying with plastic rather than cash. The research also suggests that cash payments are "psychologically more painful than card payments" so having to part with cash can help curb our desire to buy unhealthy food. The study found that the participants who paid with cash were more likely to ask whether it was a purchase they really needed.

If you're attempting to curb your unhealthy impulse buys, then this theory of carrying cash is worth testing. Whether you choose to carry cash, debit, credit or a charge card is a matter of personal preference and it ultimately comes down to what works for you.

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In the same way we often have an "if it's in my house, I'll eat it" food, we can have an "if it's in my wallet, I'll spend it," method of payment. What is that for you? If you'll eat the cookies and spend the cash, don't have them around to tempt you. If it's potato chips and plastic that gets you into trouble, get rid of them. Avoid the need for willpower altogether and stick to what works - for you.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group.

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About the Author
Angela Self

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies, a group of five women who specialize in personal finance. They are hosts of a self-titled show on the W Network and the authors of The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough. More

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