Tips for Curbing the ADHD Spending Impulse

Impulsive behavior can be a symptom of ADHD, and that includes impulse buying. This problem can be especially acute during the holidays when there are so many more temptations beckoning from stores and online shopping venues.

If you have ADHD, there are a number of things you can do to help curb impulse buying. Here are some great suggestions prepared by the staff at

Create a purchasing plan and stick to it – Decide what your goal is when you go shopping. Decide what you need and decide on the type of things you plan to buy. Write down only what you need to buy for any given shopping trip and also a reasonable spending limit for each item.When you go to the store, take your list and just  that amount of money, if you can. As you shop, continually consult 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 – Part of controlling the impulse to spend is setting up barriers that make it harder. Look at your budget for each category of expenses, 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. Put the money in envelopes or boxes marked with the category and keep them in a secure location. When you need to buy something from that category, 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 keeps you within a barrier of what you can and can’t afford to spend. This strategy should help remind you of appropriate limits and keep you from impulse purchases.

Learn to budget – 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. 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.

Use apps to help you 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. 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. 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.

Allow a minimum period of time between thinking of and making a purchase – To help limit impulsive buying, use a time limit on purchases. 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.

Only buy returnable items and learn to return – Impulse purchases 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. 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.

Moe recommendations can be found at Choose Help. If you find it difficult to stick with these strategies, you may want to consider working with a therapist or ADHD coach.


Learn About Edge Executive Function Coaching


Share on Social Media