How Being Hungry Affects Our Spending

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One thing you learn very quickly when you shop for groceries is ​Never go to the grocery store hungry.​ Even if you have a strict list of what you need, suddenly your stomach starts telling you everything looks both delicious and necessary. By the time you hit the till, you've spent twice what you budgeted.


Hunger, as it turns out, can mess with our financial restraint under all kinds of circumstances. That's according to new research from endocrinologists at Harvard University. A substance called ghrelin is made in the stomach and is nicknamed "the hunger hormone." For the first time, scientists have shown that ghrelin can affect how impulsive we get with money. The very short version is that girls and young women especially will choose a smaller reward for a more immediate pleasure, rather than waiting for a larger reward at a later date.

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We already know that hunger can affect our decision-making, spurring us to settle for less. We also know that hunger can imitate other states of mind, like loneliness, in our brains. If anything, this underscores the need to keep an eye on the state of your stomach; especially when it comes to snacking, mindfulness is key. We like to think of ourselves as rational and reasonable people, but sometimes we just have to listen to our bodies first. Keep an eye on your hunger if you've got any kind of decisions coming up — your budget and your bank account might thank you for it later.