8 Ways to Stop Your Bad Mood from Busting Your Grocery Budget

eHow Money Blog

Woman looking at cakes on displayImpulse shopping has gotten the best of all of us. Who hasn’t made the dreaded mistake of grocery shopping while hungry only to blow your budget on junk food while forgetting the milk and bread? In fact, an interesting new study that looked at mood and grocery shopping found a bad mood could leave you at risk for splurging on food that aren’t healthy or good for your budget.

“In an evolutionary sense, it makes sense that when we feel uncomfortable or are in a bad mood, we know something is wrong and focus on what is close to us physically and what is close in time, in the here and now,” said Gardner in a release. “We’re seeing the trees and not the forest, or how to do things and not why to do things.”

That can lead to tossing anything and everything into your shopping cart, whether you need it (or can afford it ) or not. The alternative sounds simple: avoid shopping when you’re hungry, tired, stressed, fighting with your sister, etc. However, for some of that that may limit our ability to shop on most days.

The alternative to never stepping foot in the grocery store is knowing how to overcome emotions and stick to your budget even when you’re cranky. Here are eight ways to do just that.

Can’t touch this. The chance to pick up those extras sold at most grocery stores like pots, containers, etc., is always nice. It helps you imagine how you’ll use the item and how it might fit in your home. But in-store demos and suggestively stocked shelves aren’t just for your convenience. Studies have found consumers who touch products are likely to pay more for those products than consumers who keep their hands to themselves. Researchers say touching an item sparks a sense of ownership and makes it harder to put the item back on the shelf or demo table. And when you’re in a bad mood, you may be especially susceptible to the ‘ownership’ effect.Woman shopping for pots and pans

Eat to shop. Not only will eating before heading to the grocery store prevent impulse purchases, eating foods that boost your mood can also keep you from overspending, says Carole Stovall, Ph.D., a psychologist director of BehavioralHealthFirst.com and CEO of SLS Global. About 30 minutes before going to the grocery store, nosh on magnesium-rich foods like spinach, pumpkin seed, a banana or cup of low-fat yogurt which reduce the release of stress hormones. Protein-rich foods have also been linked to a reduction of anxiety, while vitamin B-rich foods like bananas and cantaloupe can improve your disposition and turn a bad mood around.Man Eating Granola with Yogurt

Check your list twice. Not remembering what ingredients you need for dinner or if you’re out of eggs can spark or worsen a bad mood. But shopping with a list stimulates feelings of calm, says Stovall. “Usually when we put a list together, we are calmer and perhaps more relaxed. With a list, we tend to buy what is needed vs. shopping impulsively.”Woman checking grocery list

Shop with a buddy. Shop with a family member or pal you can trust to help you put on the brakes when being grumpy has you in the mood to overspend. “Let them know what’s on your list and what you’re shopping for so they can keep you on track.”Couple shopping for produce

Think about the future. Gardner’s research suggests a lack of long-term vision may be to blame for poor choices made at the grocery store. The thinking is that happy people are more inclined to hold their future goals (like paying off bills, saving for retirement, etc.) in mind, says Erica Curtis, a licensed marriage and family therapy in Santa Monica and professor at Loyola Marymount University. “Unhappy people appear to be more concerned with pleasure-seeking in the here-and-now.”

Even while stressed, focusing on future outcomes may help you resist impulse-buys that satisfy in the short term. Curtis suggests jotting a note at the top of your grocery list, like “Tomorrow is another day. Shop wisely.” Cute retired couple gardening

Fake it til you make it. “Research suggests that when you set out with an intention to behave a certain way, you are more likely to succeed if you convince yourself this is who you already are,” says Curtis. Often times, people approach a task like grocery shopping by “shoulding” themselves (“I should do this”, “I shouldn’t do that”). In actuality, you’re much more likely to stick to your grocery list if you tell yourself “I buy only what’s on my grocery list” or “Even when I want to splurge, I resist the urge,” rather than “I should only buy what’s on my list” or “I should resist the urge to splurge,” says Curtis.Woman stressed at the Grocery Store

Beware of sales. Clearance prices and discounts offered through loyalty programs tap into your emotions and exploit your sense of urgency. The fear you might miss out on buying an item that’s on sale (even if you don’t really need it) is harder to overcome when you’re in a bad mood. To ensure you’re really getting the best deal, download a coupon app like Coupon Sherpa for easy in-store comparisons of other retailer’s prices.Couple checking for coupons on tablet at grocery store

Have a pre-shopping ritual. If you are going over-budget due to stress-related retail therapy, it’s time to identify some alternative coping strategies. Venting to a friend, listening to music, going for a brisk walk, doodling, organizing your desk drawer, thinking of something that makes you happy – whatever works for you. Find something that brings you a sense of calm, order, or happiness to shift your mood in a more positive direction. Then do your grocery shopping.

Photo credit: Getty ThinkStock

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