Australia is currently listed on the 11th spot for spending on fast food takeout meals with an observed $4 billion increase in less than three years. This is related to a study conducted by a professor from Cornell University regarding the credit card spending habits of 1,000 customers over a period of six months in 2003. The findings show that consumers tend to think of spending more wisely by purchasing healthy food with cash; however, vice foods are bought with the use of credit cards. Due to the financial crisis that affected the worldwide economy, consumers perceived saving more in preferring to spend on fast food over more pricey healthy food options. Consequently, due to the increase in sales of fast food, 25% of citizens over the age of 18 have exhibited obesity making the Australia the 39th most obese country worldwide.
Consecutive experiments following the Cornell University study have shown that consumers correlate healthy foods with beneficial products and liken the purchase of such items through cash as responsible consumer attitude. On the other hand, junk food is viewed as unhealthy or vice products and that the purchases through credit cards reflect an attitude of instinctual, visceral behaviour.
The findings above show that consumers have finally recognised that wrong credit card use often lead to irresponsible purchasing attitudes; which is why more expensive food items are bought with cash whereas cheaper and easier to pay vice items are paid through credit cards.
These findings, all interwoven together, have projected the need for consumers to understand more about the concept of responsible spending, especially in preferring the use of credit cards over cash. Additionally, an overall re-education about health and lifestyle attitudes that are economically friendly and healthy needs to be done.
One of the main functions of a credit card is to act as a safety net in cases of emergency when cash is not available, such as repairs for a family car or unforeseen medical emergencies. The craving for junk food is not an emergency and healthier food choices that are not as expensive as casual and formal dining restaurants are widely available.
The avoidance of cumulative debts and interests, as well as influencing consumers to buy healthier food choices, would probably be achieved if consumers knew the amount of their balances and the nature by which they have spent most of their credit amounts.
The studies have also shown that spending capabilities do not equate to the type of food that are being purchased by credit card holders. The credit card is known as a status of financial stability; however, these are the consumers who also frequently purchase fast food – they have the inclination to shop impulsively. Therefore, further research regarding an individual’s ability to pay credit card debt with junk food purchasing preferences would bring more light into the degree by which purchasers are more prone to buy impulse or visceral products.
The changing background of society, where economic stability is setting in, social issues are being given more focus, and technological innovations are rapidly affecting consumer buying decisions, credit card companies are being driven into devising new methods of allowing consumers to manage their accounts responsibly, such as the inclusion of an electronic screen display on a card that shows cumulative debt. With similar tools in mind, the consumer would probably think twice before purchasing unnecessary vice items and let them lean more toward thoughtful spending. There would be the avoidance of junk food purchases, more responsible financial management, and better spending preferences for cash, debit, or credit payments.