Shoppers tell Moneyish how they spend their cash after a few too many drinks — and why you should be careful about doing the same
Three years ago, marketing industry professional Cristy Raposo-Perry, 36, noticed a $325 charge on her credit card statement while she was on a college alumni trip in Sonoma County, Calif.
Turns out, after a day sampling Napa Valley wines, she had ordered a case of assorted bottles from one wine boutique to be shipped across the country to her Rhode Island home.
“I didn’t even know if it was that good,” she told Moneyish. “I could have been drinking grape juice and shouting that it was the best malbec ever.”
Having just purchased a house with her boyfriend, “it wasn’t really the time to be making it rain,” she laughed — so she tried getting the charge reversed. But the store didn’t see her point of view.
“You were here in the store and you ordered it, and you need to keep your order,” a merchant told her.
Raposo-Perry fired back that the store over-served her, and threatened to report the business to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. That did the trick, she said. “They reversed the charge and canceled the order.”
Not all drunk shoppers are so lucky, though. A survey released this week from consumer comparison site Finder found that buying under the influence costs Americans more than $30 billion — an average of $447.57 per person — per year. More than 68 million Americans — that’s over one-fourth (almost 28%) of the adult population — have done it.
While the survey didn’t quantify how many drinks it took for respondents to consider themselves “drunk” — that number varies for everyone — it did find that about 60% of Americans drink seven alcoholic beverages a week; that’s a collective $5.4 billion spent on booze nationwide every seven days.
Almost half of males (48%) confess to drunk shopping regularly, compared to slightly fewer women (41%). Drunken men spend twice as much money as women: $564.51 versus $282.65. Interestingly, millennials — the likeliest generation to engage in drunk shopping — spend just $206.11 per year, versus $738.87 for Gen X’ers.
The most common drunken purchase was food (that 3 a.m. pizza order after a night out), followed by clothes, gambling, and, in some cases, buying concert tickets or even hiring prostitutes.
Alexandria, Va.-based PR professional Ashley Davidson, 32, says she doesn’t buy anything nearly as wild as when her alter-ego “Drunk Ashley” comes out to play — but she does have an eclectic taste for strange Amazon purchases when tipsy.
It all started with a friend on New Year’s Eve 2016. “After a fair amount of wine, we started talking about cool kitchen gadgets,” Davidson told Moneyish. “I ended up with salad scissors that I’ve used all of one time in almost 2.5 years, Scrub Daddy sponges, and some contraption that turns zucchini into pasta. I’ve used that once.”
That started a series of these drunken mini-shopping sprees every month or two, typically amounting to about $40. The purchases rarely exceed $200 annually, she noted — “it’s not like something where an intervention is needed” — but, “the problem is, several days later, I can’t understand why my intoxicated self felt the strong desire to spend money on this stuff.”
Her most recent drunken acquisitions were a Bill Murray print from the 1980’s movie “Stripes” and matching picture frame for about $30; she now displays them in her half bathroom. “When somebody goes to wash their hands and uses the hand towels, there’s ‘Stripes’ Bill Murray [looking back at them],” she said.
According to Jessy Warner-Cohen, a psychologist at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, “alcohol has an effect on certain parts of our brain like the prefrontal cortex, which governs much of our judgment and decision-making.”
“When we drink, the alcohol shuts off some of the inhibitory cues — like the caution to avoid buying something outside of your budget — leaving your brain to respond to our more basic, impulsive desires,” Warner-Cohen added. “So if you want that pair of jeans that you shouldn’t be buying, you’re likelier to spring for it if you’ve had a few drinks first.”
Davidson has a warning for others about falling into the same trap. “It’s almost like … having to tell your friends: ‘Don’t let me drunk-text my ex-boyfriend.’ If you’re going to do this when you drink, then you just have to tell people: ‘Don’t let me drunk shop on Amazon.'”
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