Impulsive Shopping & Control with ADHD


Hey all! So, I have ADHD and have written a few different posts about how I cope. One of the most difficult issues for me to overcome throughout the years has been my relationship with money.  I was diagnosed when I was 25, so I was pretty much clueless about why I thought differently from my friends and my partner. One of those huge differences was my relationship with money and my compulsion to spend.

Ok, a lot of people have issues with money. For myself, It also doesn’t help that I come from an ADHD family who spends every single penny they have. I never packed my own lunch [or had my parents’ pack me a lunch] until I was 22 years old. Yes, you read right. From the age of 3 to adulthood I always had lunch money. This, in addition to my natural urge to spend because ADHD people are more inclined to act impulsively without thinking of the consequences, makes me more prone to compulsive shopping.

Now, onto the important stuff: how to cope and gain self control with ADHD.  My friend L told me this trick she learned from Suze Orman, Oprah’s financial lady. It has been around for a few years, but it is the WANT VS. NEED RATIONALE. So, for everything I buy I ask the question,

“Do I need this?”

If I don’t need it, like really need it, then I don’t need to spend money on it that moment. Why this is great for all people, especially ADHD people, is that it takes you out of the impulsive spending mindset. This thought process really does bring me back to reality. While I think this is initially designed to stop people from spending money they don’t have, for ADHD people [and other compulsive spenders] this can be used as a grounding method: to ground yourself back to reality. Maybe you do deserve that new pair of shoes… but if you don’t need another pair of black heels – walk away for today. If you find yourself thinking of them a few days later, this purchase may really have so validity and bring you happiness beyond the impulsive need to shop has passed.

Another thing I have noticed sparks frantic shopping: try to avoid falling for sales. If you find something you need on sale, go for it! But, if you don’t need it you are just letting the impulsive pressure of a sale take control of you.

Here is a small personal example, but a valid one: I was at Target getting some sports bras. Now, I actually needed some new sports bras because I only had two and I was working out about 4 days a week. While looking for sports bras on sale I came across a really cute work out shirt ALSO ON SALE! I frantically picked it up the shirt and immediately imagined how cute I would look at the gym; then I headed to the check out. In the line, I realized I literally had 30 shirts I could wear to work out in and I didn’t need this shirt. At the front of the line I gingerly handed over my work out shirt and said, “I changed my mind. I don’t want to buy this shirt.” It has been about 3 weeks and I still know I didn’t need the shirt! It might have only been $5, something I could afford, but I would have just bought it because I felt impulsive and wanted it. Impulsive shopping can be overcome!

love, Sarah


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