Avoid Impulsive Spending with ADHD

woman using credit card

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For many people with ADHD, it is hard to resist impulsive spending. Impulsivity is one of the major symptoms of ADHD, so it is not uncommon for those with ADHD to buy first and think later.

Sure, impulsive spending may leave you with the challenge of storing all of your new purchases. But the real issue is that it can quickly lead you down the path to debt. Here are some simple tips to keep your finances in better order by gaining control of impulsive spending.

Become Aware of Your Impulsive Spending

The first step to making a change in behavior is to recognize the problem. Once you acknowledge that uncontrolled spending is an issue, your awareness of the problem will help you follow through with a plan to stop.

Make Shopping Lists

Use lists to write down needed items before you go out shopping. Purchase only what is on your list. We have all fallen into the trap of going to the grocery store when we are hungry and buying (and spending) much more than we really need. Lists will help you maintain control overspending.

Use Cash Rather Than Credit Cards

Credit cards can certainly be convenient, but they can also be dangerous when it comes to impulsive spending. Use cash for purchases. It is a whole lot harder to see your cash disappear.

Delay the Impulse to Spend

Shop with an empty wallet. Use the time to look around and find exactly what you need, then ask the salesperson to hold the item for one day. Go home and think about it. Do you really need this item? Can you afford to buy it?

Keep Tags on Purchases

If you do end up buying an item, keep the tags on for one or two days. Or if the item is in a box, keep the box sealed and don’t open it. Take some time to consider your purchase. You can always take it back the next day if you decide it was bought on impulse.

Shop Online

If you are in need of a new pair of walking shoes, rather than going to a mall full of temptations, go online. Add a few choices to your shopping cart, then wait a few days to consider your choice. Use this time to decide if it is really what you want and need.

Discuss Major Purchases Before Buying

Before shelling out lots and lots of money on a major purchase, discuss it with your spouse, a friend or family member. Use them to help you sort through whether or not it is wise to purchase the item.

Don’t Shop Socially

The mall is a fun place to visit, and often times groups of friends will get together for social time while shopping. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of shopping and make purchases that you don’t really need when friends are around to tell you how great the item is.

Learn to Say No

Rather than getting into the habit of saying “I must have,” get a handle on what you really need. It is so easy to “shop ‘til you drop,” but it is really difficult to deal with the negative repercussions of this behavior.

By Keath Low
 Keath Low, MA, is a therapist and clinical scientist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in treatment of ADD/ADHD.