Talking About ADHD

“A $400 Adrenaline Rush:” Stories of Impulse Buying with ADHD

What do puppies, hot tubs, and Broadway tickets have in common? They’re all very fun, expensive, and unplanned purchases made by ADDitude readers. Impulse buying is a common phenomenon among adults with ADHD, a result of executive function issues. Here, our readers share stories of retail therapy — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and their feelings about after the purchase.

An ADHD adult after having made an extravagant impulse purchase.

If you’ve ever found a new shirt… or cell phone… or road bike too tempting to resist, only to regret the purchase later, you’re not alone. Impulsivity due to poor executive functioning is one of the most common — and most expensive — symptoms of ADHD. It prompts individuals to open their wallets for unplanned purchases which often go unused, and which sometimes — though not always — become a source of regret.

Here, ADDitude readers share their stories and experiences of impulse buying — from big-ticket items (speedboat, anyone?) to minor acquisitions (fetching fake eyelashes). What is your most memorable story of impulsive retail therapy? Share it in the Comments section below.

I have spent more than $1,000 in a month on the Candy Crush game, just absentmindedly and impulsively clicking to buy more in-game currency. It wasn’t until I looked at my bank statement that I realized how much I had spent. I was so embarrassed.” — Emily, Texas

A dog and a $25,000 hot tub. The reason for buying? I have no idea. Regrets TBD.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I bought a fully functional factory time clock. It’s a gorgeous retro industrial green and I thought it would be fun to find motivation by punching in and out of un-fun tasks. But it’s really big and heavy and it makes an annoying thumping sound, and of course I didn’t think about where I would put it. So it’s hiding in my bathroom under the laundry hamper. But it’s so cool! I don’t need it, it’s in my way; I should regret it, but I don’t. I kind of like being the person who has this sort of thing hiding in the laundry.” — E.J., Pennsylvania

[Download: Benefits of ADHD – Love Your Strengths and Abilities]

“It was the summer of 2020 and I got it in my head that we needed a boat. A few days later, we overpaid for a used boat ($18.5k!). It did get us through that summer but we only used it once the following summer and not at all this summer. Luckily, we got almost all of our money back when we sold it.” — Beth, Colorado

False eyelashes on Amazon!” — Ashley

“In the last month, I’ve bought a brand-new cellphone (high-end plus accessories) and a spontaneous 10-day vacation. I regret doing both.” — Marie, Alabama

“Two days ago, I saw a road bike complete with new shoes. I bought my new hobby, filled with excitement but also a sense of failure hovering. Experience tells me that I will get all of the gear and ride the bike twice, after which time it, and all its accouterments, will become wall art in my garage. Sigh. I am slowly learning, but too late for this $400 adrenaline rush.— Sara, Washington

[Read: What is ADHD? Symptoms, Causes, Treatments ]

“Most of my impulse purchases are food/snack related and while not expensive individually, I’m sure I’ve spent thousands on small unnecessary snacks over the years.” — An ADDitude Reader

“Two pairs of black summer trousers, size Long. Didn’t consider the expense at the time but felt guilty afterward; there is no spare money in my budget. I decided I can make do with my jeans so I brought them back. It was a huge relief that I had not increased the debt on my credit card.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I saw the emotional last showing of the genius, Tony-Award-winning Broadway musical Company. I decided that day, had to pay about double, including fees. It was an amazing experience I will always remember. I only regret not deciding sooner, to save money and stress!” — Jennifer, New York

Impulse Buying and ADHD: Next Steps

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