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12 Ways to Resist Impulse Buying: ADHD Shopping Secrets

Impulse buying leads to money problems for people with ADHD who struggle with impulsive behaviors, poor planning and organization, and other executive function deficits. Impulse buying also produces a quick dopamine rush, which ADHD brains crave. Here are smart shopping tips for reining in your spending.

Impulse buying is an unrelenting temptation – because it’s so easy and so instantly rewarding. When we buy things on the spur of the moment, it triggers a rush of adrenaline and dopamine associated with positive emotions. It feels good, but not for long; stress soon follows when we realize the negative consequences of our purchases, namely money problems.

Spontaneous spending — and financial headaches — are common among people with ADHD, who struggle with impulsive behaviors, poor planning skills, and other executive dysfunctions inherent to the condition. Impulse buying also produces that quick rush of dopamine, which ADHD brains constantly crave.

That said, I have found a handful of strategies to successfully put a lid on impulse buying – or at least limit it considerably. Here are some quick tips for individuals with ADHD.

How to Stop Impulse Buying with ADHD

1. Use cash only when you shop in stores, and only take the specific amount that you are willing to spend in one outing. This will help you focus on obtaining only what you need to purchase and prevent you from reaching for your cards or even your smartphone for payments.

2. Carry cash in moderate bills (e.g. $10) so you will be less tempted to break a bill for a small, unnecessary item.

[Click to Read: Impulse Buying Stops Here!]

3. Make it a rule to not buy anything in the checkout lane, be it physical or virtual.

4. Limit the number of times you visit a store or shop online. Only go if you have a list with a plan of what you intend to purchase.

5. When shopping in person, consider taking someone with you. If you find yourself shopping online, tell a friend immediately. Provide them with your shopping plan so they can help you be accountable for your buying.

6. Consider deleting card and other payment information from places you frequent online, especially where you find yourself impulse buying (this includes eliminating card information from your virtual wallet!). You’ll be less tempted to make a purchase if you have to fill out your information every time.

[Read: How to Spend Less When the ADHD Brain Wants More, More, More]

7. If you really want something, wait 24 hours before you buy it. Give yourself a day to answer these questions: Do I need this? Will it significantly improve my life? Is it worth the cost? If you can answer yes to all, make the purchase.

8. Calculate the item’s value in terms of the number of hours you will have to work to pay for it. Is it worth that much to you?

9. Unsubscribe to retail emails and texts so you won’t be tempted to spend money on items you don’t need.

10. Consider a month-long No-Spend Challenge where you only allow yourself to buy groceries and necessities, and nothing else.

11. Allow yourself a treat purchase that is reasonable for your budget and keeps you from feeling deprived of the joy of shopping. Keep the tags on your treat items for a day so you can return them if you change your mind.

12. Keep your saving goals in mind with a visual reminder. Put a picture of your saving goal on your lock screen of your phone, on your fridge, on your door, and on your car dashboard to remind you that limiting your impulse buying will be beneficial in the long run.

Controlling impulsive behavior can be difficult, but these tips can help make it possible. Happy saving!

Impulse Buying with ADHD: Next Steps


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