How to Manage Impulsive Spending if You Have ADHD

Back in the Spring of 2023, I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and after reading up on the symptoms and signs, everything in my life just made sense! It was a bittersweet relief to finally understand how my brain works, why I struggled with tasks, and why I sought dopamine hits (like spending money).

Folks with ADHD struggle with executive functions, like impulsive behavior, disorganization, time blindness, and execution of mundane tasks…all things that I have been struggling with my whole life.

I won’t say that this diagnosis has been the easiest thing to understand, but hey, I have a whole lifetime to try to work with my brain and my “neuro spicy-ness”.

Apparently, one symptom of ADHD is impulsive spending because we’re searching for a quick dopamine hit. Since we often struggle with delayed gratification, even if it will put our budgets into disarray, we often don’t think about that part (at least this has been my experience).

I mean, it feels good in the moment to place that Amazon, Ulta, or Sephora order, but then stress hits when I see that I went way over my budget. I would always justify it with “I’ll worry about the financial damage later”, which has caused havoc on my budget and has kept me from reaching my financial goals.

Ever since my recent diagnosis, I have been down a rabbit hole trying to understand my brain more, and even though I am no ADHD expert, I figure that I can inform anyone else who also struggles with impulsive spending due to ADHD. Therefore, please keep on reading to learn how I will manage my impulsive spending due to ADHD.

How to manage impulse spending if you have ADHD

Cut Up the Credit Cards Yourself

I am very much an “out of sight, out of mind” person. So, when I know I have a credit card handy to do some emotional and impulsive spending with, that card WILL be used. Even when I knew I would be setting myself back, the urge for a quick dopamine hit would get the best of me.

Now, there have been times when I would hide my credit cards somewhere, freeze them in a cup of water in the freezer, and even give them to friends/family. However, those cards would eventually expire, and I would be sent an updated card. Then, back to damage, I go.

However, very recently I did something dramatic and drastic. I cut up 3 credit cards myself. Here’s the picture I shared with the CGS Facebook Group:

It was something about having my own hands do the cutting that sent a signal to my brain that this was it. No more relying on credit cards. It was actually quite emotional to see those credit cards cut up, as if it was like cutting a spiritual cord to something I knew I could overcome on my own.

Delete Your Card Information from Online Stores

This has been such a game-changer for me because thankfully, I didn’t memorize my card numbers (memorizing long numbers is not my strength). In this case, I will say this has been a strength because when I removed my card information from tempting sites like Amazon, GrubHub/UberEats, and Ulta/Sephora, it just made it that much harder for me to actually buy something. If I really wanted something, it meant that I had to physically go to the store! LOL!

Get an Accountability Partner(s) and Inform Them of Your Financial Goals

What I’ve been learning about ADHD is that we need a village! We need trusted individuals who will keep us accountable and check in on us from time to time. And sometimes we even need some tough love. I was able to find my accountability partner through the CGS Facebook Group, and she’s been such a blessing!

If you have some big financial goals that you want to achieve this year, inform your accountability partner of your goals! If you have an awesome one like mine, they will be understanding and supportive of your financial goals. In fact, they will make sure you are progressing!

Invest in a Money Coach

Remember that village I was talking about? Well, ya girl needed to expand that village a bit haha! I am great on my own, but I am a force when I have experts on this journey with me.

By working with Raya and understanding the importance of budgeting, I had to learn that “no” was a complete sentence. It’s also interesting that I do better with managing my spending when I know someone is literally looking and analyzing what I spend every day…and knowing that it’ll be a topic of conversation on our next call!

Before becoming a “City Girl Savings” gal, I wouldn’t bother turning down a spontaneous day, expensive brunch/dinner, a concert in another state, dropping $200+ at Sephora, eating out every night because I just didn’t feel like eating the food I had at home. Now that I know that someone is keeping tabs on me (🤣🤣), I can confidently say that I am more mindful of my spending habits.

Use a Visual Reminder of Your Financial Goals’ Progress

This is something that I want to start doing. So, I recently invested in a dry-erase board, and I drew out where I want to be in my savings by the end of the year. I also know that there are many fun savings goal progress templates on Pinterest, where you can color in your progress.

I think this helps because folks with ADHD need to see things visually for reminders. I know this has reminded me that my impulsive spending will just keep me from reaching my savings goals. Plus, it’s fun to color or add to my dry-erase board, which gives me the dopamine hit that I’m looking for 🙂

Practice Mindfulness and Self-Reflection

When I started to incorporate mindfulness techniques into my daily routine, it started to help me become more aware of my thoughts and impulses. I now try my best to meditate for 20 minutes every morning (this Bob Proctor abundance meditation is a fav), and then I list out 3-5 things I’m grateful for.

This practice has allowed me to calm my thoughts and know that I have everything I need and it’s just enough. By taking a moment to pause, reflect on my feelings, and evaluate the necessity of a purchase before acting on it has been great for managing my impulsivity.

I hope this article was helpful for anyone who has ADHD and struggles with impulsive spending. As I learn more about ADHD, I am sure there will be a part 2 and 3 of this article! Let me know, how do you manage your impulsive spending?

Remember to like and follow City Girl Savings on all social media platforms and subscribe to the City Girl Savings podcast as well!

-Lena
The CGS Team

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