This last topic, spending, will likely garner the most interest because it is such a pervasive and insidious problem for many adults with ADHD.
If you don’t have challenges with your spending, no need to read further. But, if you do, read on to explore some of the reasons your spending challenges may be related to your ADHD and the possible workarounds for those challenges.
“Out of sight out of mind” may be a familiar refrain for you, and may apply to your spending, as well as other aspects of your life.
If you aren’t able to regularly see what you are spending relative to what you are taking in, you will likely have very little inclination or ability to make informed decisions about your spending.
Because of this challenge you may:
- think quite a bit about your finances, but not really manage them.
- avoid managing or thinking much about your finances at all.
If either of the above two scenarios resonates with you, one reason you may not be taking action to organize your finances is you are trying to keep all the information in your head. Not a good strategy for most people… And your ADHD related challenges with memory and organization make this a particularly ineffective strategy for you.
But it shouldn’t really matter.
Because you don’t need to and shouldn’t try to hold all the information in your head. There are apps that can do the heavy lifting for you. Check out these tools to organize your finances.
Another reason you might not be taking action to manage your finances is because you need support from another person, not just a tool. If that is the case, reach and find the right kind of help.
Keeping your finances organized enough to make informed decisions about your spending is the first step
Remember Your Intentions
You might be asking, “But what if I am using a tool to see what I need and I have a budget, but I am still over spending?!” If this is the case for you, you are probably frustrated. After all, you put effort into setting up a system…
Maybe you are not remembering your intentions.
Let’s look at the common example of perusing Amazon. Maybe you go on to buy a case for your phone… In the moment, when you need to remember you only want a case, you forget. So, you end up ordering:
- the case – At least you didn’t forget what you originally wanted. 🙂
- a Fire HDX 8.9 – It was such a great deal!
- toys for the dog – He really needs them, and they got great reviews.
- new headphones – Your old ones just weren’t the right fit.
And later on you think, “Why did I do that!!”
In the moment your may forget your intentions because of your ADHD related challenges with:
- prospective memory – You have difficulties remembering to do something in the future, like following through on your budget.
- working memory – You can’t hold a lot of information at once in your head. So, when the headphones capture your attention, you forget you want to limit your spending.
- sense of time – You have a tendency to live in the here and now, leading you to chase the next shiny penny, the Fire HDX 8.9, in front of you.
Being aware that this might happen is critical. Then you can employ a workaround that will allow you to remember your intentions before it is too late…
One workaround could be to make a habit of leaving the items in your cart for a few hours or even overnight. Walk away. Then, when you return, ask yourself questions relevant to your situation, such as:
- “Is this how I want to spend my money?”
- “Is this in my budget?”
- “What will I have to give up or forgo, if I spend this now?”
- “How will spending this now impact my other financial goals?”
Make sure you have the questions posted where you can see them so you don’t have to try to remember them.
Manage You Impulsive Spending
You may also struggle with impulse control due to your ADHD. Going back to the above example you may act without thinking, spend impulsively, because of the:
- overwhelming stimulus of everything on Amazon.
- discomfort of trying to make a decision.
- challenges with trying to slow down.
First, be aware of where you tend to spend impulsively.
Then the second step is to consider what workarounds might help you curb your spending. Here are a few people have used:
- Use a debit card, rather than credit cards; only put enough money in the account to cover your monthly budget.
- Don’t go to stores where you know you may overspend.
- Use the Envelope System for your spending money.
- Make it difficult to access your credit cards. You can freeze them, lock them up or give them to someone you trust.
- Use positive reinforcement. Each time you decide not to buy something impulsively, put the same amount of money in an account for something you really want.
- Make it harder to buy online by not storing your payment information. Entering your information each time might give you the time you need to reconsider.
Impulsive spending can wreak havoc with you finances. And if you find you can’t get it under control on your own, consider that there might be additional factors involved and seek out help.
Questions For You
Where do you overspend?
What are you going to do to curb this?