Happy hour, dining out and online shopping are vices that tend to happen when it gets dark out
You’re more likely to splurge on things you can’t afford after work.
People are inclined to binge spend after 6 p.m. when they’re mentally drained from a day at the office, a new study suggests.
Research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows that after hours of contemplating projects and assignments at work coupled with thinking about little things like when to exercise and what you’ll have for breakfast or lunch, eventually wears down your willpower for making rational decisions later on in the day. This “decision fatigue” impacts our mental capacity to practice self control, explaining why some people tend to splurge on online shopping, happy hour and other things they don’t need at night.
“This is a time when we can tend to feel like a hard days work should have rewards, and impulse can get in the way of necessity,” Brent Shelton, consumer expert with Dealcrunch.com, tells Moneyish. “If you find yourself browsing online after a long day, catching up on non-work news, emails and interests, it’s easy to get lured into window shopping.”
That’s certainly the case for Amanda Hernandez, an analyst at an accounting firm from New Jersey. Hernandez says she will spend anywhere from $50 to $200 some days online shopping or at restaurants or bars after work.
“It’s definitely a stress reliever. It’s like I’m rewarding myself for my hard work. It’s pretty bad,” admits Hernandez, who will indulge in anything “on sale” like shopping for clothes, getting drinks at happy hour or the occasional spin class.
“I’m getting a deal so I tend to order more and probably spend more than I should,” she adds.
What’s worse is people tend to save important tasks like settling debt or taking care of student loan payments for after work when they are mentally exhausted which can lead mistakes or missed payments.
“You’re at risk at making a mistake, but you’re also at risk of just deferring the task because you’re mentally fatigued from work,” says Evan Polman, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Business.
When it comes to buying things you don’t need, like clothes, shoes or anything on Amazon, Shelton has some advice for how to avoid overspending.
“One simple way to avoid this is to create a ‘needs’ list and if it’s not on this list, bookmark it for later when you’re fresh to research reviews and compare prices,” says Shelton.
Another tip is to plug in savings rewards like cash back, coupons, points and discounts before purchasing to see if they make an impact.
“If the rewards are so-so, that’s generally enough to keep me from over-spending or buying things on impulse,” says Shelton. “If it’s a hot deal and extremely timely, make sure to eliminate other distractions so you can make a good call on the purchase.”
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