You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the psychology of food shopping, but grocery store managers do. Because they know we’ll spend a lot more money if they use certain tricks. For example, new and renovated stores have ditched the traditional aisle-by-aisle layout because the less structure there is, the more we’ll wander. And the longer we’re in a store, the more we tend to spend. Here are 3 other tricks that trigger more spending:

  • Playing old pop songs. Studies show that familiar songs make us slow down as we shop. And when we get lost in the music, we get distracted, and nostalgic – and tend to toss things in our basket to comfort ourselves that we really don’t need.
  • The fresh flower display. Personal finance expert Chris Reining says stores display fresh flowers near the entrance because fresh-cut flowers make us think that everything in the store is fresh. And that’s important - because most fruits and vegetables in store bins are at least a week old - and traveled 13-hundred miles to get there.
  • Larger carts. Marketing specialist Martin Lindstrom says that our visual cue to quit shopping is a full cart. That’s why a lot of stores have doubled the size of their baskets, and – not coincidentally – sales have increased 40‑percent.

So, what’s the best way to minimize the impact that supermarket psychology has on your budget? Make a list and stick to it. And be careful with coupons. Studies show that using them increases the average grocery bill. Of course, that’s fine if you’re stocking up on items you actually need. But, for a lot of us, coupons trigger impulse buys, because we just can’t resist a great deal.