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  • Writer's pictureAviva Nirenberg

Overcoming Impulsive Spending with ADHD


As the holiday season approaches, I thought it would be an appropriate time to tackle a challenge that many of us face: impulsive spending. We all know that feeling when we see something shiny and can't resist the urge to buy it, only to regret it later. But why is this particularly challenging for those of us with ADHD? Well, let's dive into it and explore some strategies to conquer impulsive spending once and for all!


1. Create a Budget:

One of the most effective ways to tackle impulsive spending is by creating a budget. Set specific limits for different categories of expenses, such as groceries, leisure activities, and personal indulgences. On a smaller scale, whether you need a new coat, a birthday gift for Mom, or spending a Saturday night out with friends, having a clear budget will help you stay focused and make more mindful decisions when it comes to spending.


2. Practice Delayed Gratification:

Impulsive spending often stems from our desire for instant gratification. To overcome this, challenge yourself to delay any non-essential purchases for a specific amount of time, like 24 hours or a week. For online shoppers, this entails pausing and leaving your purchase in your cart temporarily before clicking “buy now.” This period allows you to reflect on whether the item is truly necessary or just a fleeting want.




3. Make a Shopping List:

Before heading out for any shopping trip, make a detailed list of the items you genuinely need. Stick to it as closely as possible to avoid getting swayed by the allure of impulse buys. Be sure to check your pantry or closet beforehand to avoid unnecessary duplicates.


4. Set Financial Goals:

Having clear financial goals can provide you with a sense of purpose and motivation to avoid impulsive spending. It could be saving up for a vacation, paying off debts, or building an emergency fund. Visualize the benefits of achieving these goals and remind yourself of them whenever the temptation to spend impulsively arises.


5. Avoid Temptation:

When you know you're prone to impulsive spending, it's crucial to limit your exposure to triggers. Unsubscribe from shopping emails and unsubscribe from store newsletters to prevent yourself from being constantly bombarded with tempting offers. Additionally, avoid window shopping or spending excessive time on online marketplaces without a specific intention.


6. Seek Accountability:

Consider enlisting the support of a trusted friend or family member to hold you accountable for your spending habits. Share your financial goals with them and ask for their support in helping you stay on track. Sometimes, having someone by your side can make all the difference in curbing impulsive buying tendencies.


7. Practice Mindfulness:

Engaging in regular mindfulness exercises can help you become aware of the emotions and thoughts driving your impulsive spending. Take a moment to pause and ask yourself if you genuinely need the item at hand or if it's just a fleeting desire. By being mindful, you can better differentiate between true needs and impulsive wants.


8. Use Cash or Debit Cards:

If you find yourself overspending with credit cards, consider switching to cash or debit cards for a while. Seeing physical money leaving your wallet can have a more significant impact on your spending decisions, making you more cautious and thoughtful about your purchases.



9. Find Healthy Alternatives:

Impulsive spending can sometimes be a result of seeking instant gratification for emotional needs. Instead of resorting to retail therapy, explore healthier alternatives that satisfy those needs in a more sustainable way. This could include journaling, pursuing hobbies, going for a walk, or spending time with loved ones.


10. Celebrate Non-Material Achievements:

Lastly, shift your focus from material possessions to celebrating your non-material achievements. Recognize and reward yourself for your personal growth, accomplishments, and milestones. By embracing the joy and fulfillment that comes from personal growth, you'll find yourself less prone to seeking happiness through impulsive spending.


Remember, tackling impulsive spending is not an overnight transformation. It takes time, dedication, and consistent effort. So be patient with yourself, embrace these strategies, and celebrate every small step forward. You've got this!


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