Ask the Experts

How Can I Stop Buying Things on Impulse?

“I have ADHD, and I buy stuff impulsively all the time. My house is crowded with items I don’t need, and my checking account balance is getting closer to zero as I write this. Help me stop buying stuff I don’t need.”

Impulsive spending can be a challenge for many with ADHD. The primary concern, however, is that your spending has become so excessive that you are being crowded out by all the junk in your living space. Get an evaluation to see if you have another condition other than ADHD driving you to buy things you don’t need.

While adults with ADHD often display compulsive urges, you may have another condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Research indicates that people with ADHD have a higher rate of OCD compared with their peers. After you’ve been evaluated, treatment (including medication) can be tailored to your specific needs.

Also think about talking with a counselor. Sometimes impulsive behaviors are a distraction keeping us from thinking about and resolving other problems.

Treatment will facilitate behavioral changes that are more likely to stick. These may include removing yourself from situations in which you spend money — blocking shopping sites on your Internet browser — or having an “accountability person” go with you to the store.

If you’re worried about your dwindling savings, see a financial professional to determine your level of debt and to create strategies for reducing it.