• Terri

Confessions of an ADHD Financial Counselor: Impulsive Spending and how to stop buying ALL THE THINGS

Author: Terri

The impulsivity that comes with ADHD isn’t just about being a daredevil or storming away in an argument. Another fun thing that comes with it: impulsive spending! I mean, those displays in the check-out lines at Target and Walmart? Clearly made for us ADHDers! Unless I’m the only one in line, I usually end up buying a few things while I’m waiting.


Why yes, I do need a snack! Actually, make that three snacks. Something fruity, something salty, and chocolate, obviously. A drink, more chapstick (I’m always losing mine). OH what’s this flavor gum? And, sure! Why not a magazine!? Shoot – sometimes I end up buying a portable charger I don’t even need because they just make it look so NECESSARY! The best marketers have to be married to someone with ADHD, I tell ya.

I’m 30-years-old, and I just found out I have ADHD last year. Looking back throughout my life, I can definitely see that pattern. The example above is not an exaggeration. I can’t tell you how many times I went to buy something just to get home and use or put it away and find that... oh my god I already have it! A past Terri was definitely looking out for future Terri. Self high-five!


I have now purchased at least 3 different self-tanners that I've yet to even read the instructions on. It’s the end of summer - what am I waiting for? I buy new mascara at least twice a month; there is absolutely no way I'm passing up cute nail polish if the color calls to me from across the aisle; clothes, shoes, beauty products… you’d think I would look more put-together with all the crap I buy! Now, I can’t say I’ve gone into “debt” due to this; though, I wonder what my savings accounts might look like if I didn’t spend so impulsively.

Luckily, I'm pretty cheap.

"To be honest, I'm PROBABLY gonna spill coffee on it anyway."

I'm always searching for a deal, and I never pass up a clearance sale. I'm also no good at online shopping – seriously, who has time to wait for something to be delivered?! I WANT IT NOW! I want to try the clothes on and feel the stuff in my hands and see them with my own eyes in person! This oddity about me has actually saved me some money – by the time I remember there's something in an e-cart, I'm already over it and onto the next! I mean, I know there are things that are “worth” spending the money on, for quality purposes. But my impulsivity gets in the way of my research, reviews, and saving for those higher-priced items. I’d rather buy my $3 Walmart tanks 35 times a year than spend $20-$40 on a “better quality” shirt. To be honest, I’m probably gonna spill coffee on it anyway. I’d rather ruin a $3 shirt than a $30 one – and OMG $30 for a white tank top when I can get TEN of them that are similar from somewhere else?! Who’s spending habits are we criticizing here, anyways?!


Okay, Okay, Okay….

MAYBE I’m not being completely open with my impulsive spending as I could be - I can already feel the judgement (or internalized judgement) just thinking about it! But I will admit, when I cancelled my wedding 2 years ago, all that money I was putting into savings each paycheck was put towards a “treat yo'self” spree I was on.

"Emotional Spending for an ADHDer is like self-medication."