ADHD and impulse buying, they just seem to go together so well. Admittedly, pretty much all of us struggle with impulse buying. That’s partly why many marketing efforts and product placement are so effective. Still, the impulsive, quick reacting nature of ADHD makes impulse buying all the more tempting.
Organization usually doesn’t come naturally to those of us with ADHD. For this reason, we often have to build in measures to help teach us better organization. If you want to manage ADHD well, you should rely on calendars and to do lists to keep focused and organized.
Part of the result of low organizational abilities is a tendency to just act without order. This can impact many things in life including how and when we buy things. Another factor impacting quick purchasing decisions can be the impulsive nature of ADHD. Those with ADHD respond quickly and impulsively. Add poor organization in with impulsivity and you have a recipe for disaster.
These act as the main culprits making ADHD and impulse buying worse. Other things can play in as well, though, such as stress. Stress and ADHD provide enough problems on their own, not to mention the side effects such as impulse buying.
With so many things contributing to impulsive shopping, what can you do to keep it in check? In this article, we look at this issue deeper. We want to give you the best guidance on how to keep your ADHD and impulse buying under control.
Stick to Your Purchasing Plan
If you go on vacation or just a short trip, you have to have a map or plan on how to get where you are going. In fact, for any task you set out to accomplish, you need a plan. Without a map or plan, we usually won’t reach our destination and will get distracted along the way and end up somewhere we never wanted to be.
Does shopping feel this way for you sometimes? Impulse buying thrives on you not having a plan, or not sticking to your plan.
To keep ADHD and impulse buying at bay, you need to come at it like you would planning for a vacation. You need to plan out every detail and stick to the plan so that you accomplish what you want without ending up where you shouldn’t be. This means sitting down before doing any shopping, online or in person, and giving yourself limits.
One limit should be on the type of things you plan to buy. You should write down only what you need to buy in this trip. Additionally, you need to set a reasonable spending limit. Maybe you need a new TV. Before you even go to the store and see all the fancy displays, you need to consult your budget and give yourself a definite number on what you can spend.
Then after setting limits, what you will buy and for how much, you go to the store with that list and that amount of money, if you can. As you shop, continually remind yourself of your plan and objective. You can look, but you can’t buy. No matter what you do, stick to your plan.
Pay Yourself an Allowance
Figuring out how to wrangle in your ADHD and impulse buying involves making sure that you properly create barriers for yourself. While many of us think of barriers as a negative, they can actually provide several benefits. Barriers, walls, or boundaries can all help keep us in check and guide our behaviors.
We need limits for our young children so they don’t hurt themselves. Similarly, though, we may be older and wiser, we, as adults, should limit our behavior, especially in areas in which we overindulge.
To manage your spending, you should learn to pay yourself a small allowance. Think of the areas in your life that you tend toward impulse buying. Maybe this includes clothing or books or electronics or food. Whatever the category is, you need to look at your budget and the amount that you can actually afford to spend on these things each month.
Once you have an amount in mind, go to your bank and take out those funds. You then put the money in envelopes or boxes marked with the category and keep them in a safe secure location. When you need to buy something from that category, you take money out of the envelope. When the money is gone then, you’re done with buying that category for the month.
You can consider these category envelopes your allowance for the month. This allowance then keeps you within a barrier of what you can and can’t spend. In the end, hopefully, this strategy will help remind you of appropriate limits and keep you from impulse purchases.
Learn to Budget Well
I know we just said the one word everyone dreads in these conversations: budget. No one wants to plan out or set a budget, no one wants to keep a budget, and no one wants to even think about a budget. The fact is, though, that we have to learn to manage our finances, especially if we have ADHD. Though most of us see budgets as limitations on fun. In reality, they help relieve stress in our lives.
Budgets help show us exactly what we bring in each month and exactly what we can spend. Understanding these items is important because for a healthy and prosperous lifestyle, we absolutely must keep these things in balance. If we fail to, then our expenses soon will overtake our income and lead to financial ruin.
To start reigning in ADHD and impulse buying, you absolutely must learn to budget well. There’s no way around this one. You need an ADHD money management plan and for that you need a budget.
We know budgets can be intimidating. Many things in life, though, can be intimidating until you actually set about to doing them.
Learning to create and live on a budget can be challenging at first, but a budget can make a significant impact on your daily life. In using a budget, you then know how much you can spend and when you track your spending, you know which categories the expenses go to. For suggestions on building an effective budget check out the ideas at this link or in this article.
Use Apps to Help Track Your Spending
One of your best ways to keep your ADHD and impulse buying in check is to keep your eye on your larger overall spending. While you might tend towards impulse buying in one small area of your life, you may rationalize it away by saying you’ll save somewhere else. Many times, though, that is just a lie that you use as a crutch. You know perfectly well that ultimately you don’t plan on cutting out anywhere else.
Good intentions get you nowhere if you have no follow through. You need some way to track your spending to see how closely you stay to your budget. To do this simply, you should consider using apps on your phone. Many apps will allow you to set spending limits and then track your spending and see how well you’re doing overall.
You don’t have to use apps, but for many with ADHD, it’s an easy and quick solution. Without apps, you can sit down and record your purchases yourself, but this process requires a lot of organizational abilities and consistency. To get started with tracking expenses, apps can provide an easy entry into the process. You have many budget apps to choose from as options. For ideas on the best ones, check out the ideas in this article and in this post.
Set a Time Limit Between Thinking of and Making Purchases
In additional to apps, another way to limit ADHD and impulse buying is to use a time limit on purchases. What we mean by this is to set a predefined time between when you think of a purchase and when you actually buy something. This should be some substantial amount of time for you to really think about the purchase.
For instance, you could place a 24-hour limit on purchases. This way, you can’t make any purchase immediately at the store. Rather, you have to go home and think over the purchase and consider your budget.
Time limits help in that they eliminate the impulsivity factor of the purchasing. With waiting a set amount of time, you can mitigate purchases that don’t really fit into your overall plan. The waiting time gives you space to get away from sales pitches or tempting deals. After leaving the store, more than likely, you might even forget about the purchase or realize that it isn’t right for you right now.
Marketers know that they can get you to buy if you buy now. You have to learn to beat them at their own game by inserting more time into your purchasing decisions. With more time, you decrease the likelihood that you will make the purchase at all.
Only Buy Things You Can Return and Learn to Return Purchases
Time limits on purchases help tremendously in limiting the number of purchases you make. Still, though, even with waiting an amount of time, you will want to go back and finalize some purchases. The time limit may have made you assess a few things, but still you might not fully see the whole picture yet. Additionally, you still might be in impulse buying mode even 24 hours later. In light of this, to really curb ADHD and impulse buying, any purchases you do make you need to make sure you can return the items.
Impulse purchases, more than most things we buy tend to lose our interest or their worth to us rather quickly. The reason for this is that we most likely didn’t need the item to begin with. Instead, we fell for the sales pitch or some idea of who we wanted to be or emulate. In reality, though, when it comes down to it, we rarely ever need or want things we buy when impulse shopping. You can fight back against your own impulses here, though, through giving yourself the option to return the purchase.
The best thing to do would be to shop at places with generous return policies. This could be a return period of up to 3 months or longer. Whatever the policy might be, you should be sure that you read it and know what it is before trying to return anything.
After making a purchase, though, wait a week or two. Then really consider if you still want the purchase. If you decide that you don’t use the item, you can then take it back. When returning the item, don’t exchange it right away. This way you can turn around the original impulse buy to go back into your overall budget.
Remove the Impulse from ADHD and Impulse Buying
Most of our tips and strategies revolve around one simple overall idea. This idea is to remove the impulse factor from any purchase you make. Impulsivity works best when you don’t have time to think about the usefulness of a product or how it might fit into your life or budget. Marketers know this and they want you to buy without thinking. To fight back and eliminate ADHD and impulse buying you need to build in time to think and consider any purchase.
Impulse buying presents unique challenges for individuals with ADHD. People with ADHD tend to act more impulsively than others and might have difficulty planning out in advance and seeing the consequences of their purchases. This doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t keep ADHD and impulse buying in check. That lie is what every marketer wants you to believe.
With time and effort, anyone can learn to budget and make reasonable purchases. We hope that you have found some great strategies in this article to help you get better at sticking to your budget.