Impulse buying is a bad habit the majority of us are guilty of every now and then, enticed by the dopamine and adrenaline it triggers in our brain which can make us feel absolutely amazing - in the short-term at least. However, those with ADHD are more likely to frequently partake in this activity - so today we’re examining why this is; and what those with the condition can do to manage their money better and reduce their likelihood of getting into debt.
The relationship between ADHD, impulse buys and money management
Impulsivity is a fundamental symptom of ADHD due to the dopamine rush it gives the brain. Accompanied by poor planning skills, proneness to boredom and increased forgetfulness - impulse buying is unfortunately an extremely difficult practice for those with ADHD to avoid.
Forgetfulness and being easily distracted further affects those with ADHD’s relationship with money, as it is common for them to forget to pay bills even when they have the money to do so, or remember how much they’ve already spent that month. This is something I’ve come to terms with having been diagnosed myself as an adult, and have definitely faced the consequences from failing to tackle the issue sooner.
Strategies for improving your money management if you have ADHD
In order to manage your relationship with money - it is fundamental to acknowledge it first. Whether through a diagnosis, therapy or just self-realisation; accepting you have ADHD and understanding the symptoms that accompany it is paramount in working to limit the impact of said symptoms.
Before my diagnosis, I shook off my spending habits and impulsivity as something I’d grow out of as my responsibilities grew - however this proved untrue once faced with them. Now living alone and solely responsible for all my expenses, I often found myself forgetting to pay my Council Tax, or going on a shopping spree instead of saving money for essential items like food and toiletries. I was lucky enough that these poor decisions didn’t affect me in the long-term, and my eventual diagnosis helped me understand my habits better; allowing me to tackle them head on.
Here are six tips I’ve learned along the way for dealing with my ADHD and spending:
- Set aside time to budget
- Something I recommend to anyone whether they have ADHD or not - spending 5 minutes a week to write down what you need to buy and how much you have to spend can make the world of difference
- However for those with ADHD, I also recommend rewarding yourself after completing these 5 minutes - whether going out to buy your favourite drink or eating your favourite snack; a reward for finishing tasks has definitely helped me complete chores my diagnosis previously disrupted
- You can also find premade budgeting templates online to further reduce the amount of time you spend on this activity
- Create direct debits for regular payments
- Setting up a direct debit for all of my bills has changed my life for the better, reducing the stress of remembering to pay them each month
- Accompanied by the 5 minutes I spend a week budgeting, I’m now confident I have the money for these automated payments
- Luckily, our Incredible app will also make it easier than ever to repay your debt through putting your repayments on autopilot; reducing the time you spend worrying about how much you owe, to whom and on which days
- Delete your card details from your browser
- Something that further enabled my impulse buying was the ease I was able to do so with, due to my card information being stored on numerous websites
- I therefore took the time to delete this off all the sites I used, and now never agree to having them saved
- Although it only adds seconds between you and your purchase, sometimes that’s all you need to re-think and decide against it
- Shop in person rather than online
- Ditching online shopping altogether and doing it in person can also reduce your likelihood of impulse purchases
- Having to ask for your size or product, queuing and the all-round annoyance of dealing with the public is far more time-consuming than online shopping, giving you more time to consider your purchase
- Having to physically hold your items also visually highlights just how much you’re buying, which is often easy to forget when adding to a virtual basket
- Keep the tags
- For 24 hours after your purchase, keep your tags on / don’t unbox the item
- This again gives you time to really think about the purchase you’ve made, as well as the time to remember if you have any more important things to spend your money on
- Learn what else triggers your Dopamine
- The dopamine rush impulse buying triggers is what makes it so appealing to those of us with ADHD, so exploring what other healthy habits can cause this euphoric feeling is a great way to limit yourself from spending
- Whether that’s exercise, listening to music or calling a friend - find what other quick activities can scratch that brain itch to reduce the likelihood of turning to shopping
However, the very nature of ADHD makes it difficult to incorporate these tips into one’s life, so start small and take it easy on yourself if you still occasionally impulse buy. Something I find helpful is the dopamine I feel when taking control of my finances or when I avoid an impulse spend; a feeling I try to remember whenever I find myself adding unnecessary items to my shopping basket. It’s also important to remember that help is available through numerous charities such as Mind, as well as the NHS - and can be extremely useful.
I hope this blog has brought to light the difficulty many of us with ADHD have when it comes to money and saving, highlighting it as a symptom rather than a negative personality trait. I also hope that it helps at least one person on their saving journey - so good luck and let us know if these tips work for you!