Image: Beer © Corbis

Buying under the influence, shopping after chardonnay or drunken shopping. No matter what you call it, shopping after tossing back a few can do a number on your budget.

When you drink, your defenses are down and inhibitions fall by the wayside. So the same way beer goggles make sex with the ex or smooching the stranger standing next you in a bar seem OK, alcohol can impair your judgment online or at the mall.

And retailers know it. In fact, they bank on you walking through their doors (brick-and-mortar or virtual) wearing those same beer goggles.

 Why booze messes with your money

The concept of "beer goggles" refers to the shortsightedness, diminished insight and lack of inhibition that comes with drinking, says Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist and psychology professor who has conducted neuropsychological research on alcohol use and the brain.

Initially, before alcohol slows down your motor skills, making it tough to walk or talk normally, booze brings you out of your shell, she says. "Because alcohol lowers inhibitions, we tend to think less about ramifications of actions like overspending when drinking or intoxicated." Those lower inhibitions, combined with the partying atmosphere associated with drinking, can also heighten impulses to shop or make money feel like it's burning a hole in your pocket, Durvasula says.

Damon Raskin, a specialist in medical detoxification at Cliffside Malibu Addiction Treatment Facility in Zuma Beach, Calif., says even one drink can alter a person's decision-making ability. "Being 'buzzed' can impair a person's ability to stick to their budget when they're shopping or lead to them making impulse purchases," he says.

That's why online retailers, wise to the connection between a boozed-up brain and overspending, ramp up their efforts to entice you to shop by flooding consumers' inboxes with post-happy-hour deals.

"According to my raw Web statistics, one of the highest-traffic times of the day is between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. I usually send e-blasts out in the evening, and we experience some immediate sales as a result of the e-blast," says Colleen Lloyd-Roberts, the founder and president of the online retailer Top Notch Nail Files.

Merchants located near mall restaurants that serve alcohol stock their storefronts with loss leaders hoping to lure in lit-up shoppers, too.

Shopping when you're not of sound mind can threaten your finances in several ways. Here's a look at the dangers of traipsing through the mall, either in person or online.

You blow your budget

"Shopping when you're uninhibited could lead you to totally losing track of what you have in your bank account and being at a greater risk of paying overdraft fees when the check you wrote bounces or causes an automatic debit to bounce," says Adam Koos, a certified financial planner in Dublin, Ohio.

A one-night stand with a merchant means you're also more likely to impulsively spend money already allotted to financial necessities such as the electric bill, rent or car payment. "If you can't return the impulse items once you sober up, it could take months to recoup the blown money and catch up on bills," says Koos.

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