Shopping. It can be an issue when you have ADHD.

You might avoid shopping altogether - running out of toilet paper, shampoo, food because the act of shopping creates so much overwhelm that procrastination takes over and leaves you stranded or spending more out of last-minute necessity. Fast food dinners vs planning/preparing a nutritious meal; saving a few pennies at the grocery store vs impulse shopping without a list.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may find yourself buried beneath impulse purchases - itty-bitty dopamine rushes that accumulate into piles of tangible stuff that may not bring you joy or fit any need beyond the rush you got from hitting the "purchase" button.

For the majority of shopping struggles, shopping is likely to feel like one of two tasks: a chore or a spree. To tone down the love-hate relationship with shopping, I find it helps to incorporate the PINCH motivators to keep shopping habits under control:  • Play/Humor/Creativity • Interest • Novelty • Competition • Urgency (Hurry-up). What the heck does play, interest, novelty, competition or hurrying have to do with minding your money when shopping? When you can ignite one of these five components, it can create a catalyst for dopamine production and heightened executive function (aka - better decision making). In other words, it just might increase your ability to proactively DO what you KNOW instead of shopping reactively.

  1. Gaming the system: making shopping more of a game could infuse a bit of all five components. Perhaps it is finding the best deals, setting a goal of getting out in a certain number of minutes, keeping your basket to only what is on a list, coupon hunting, body-doubling or shopping with a friend, finding the best deals or offers online, creating a treasure hunt out of Craigslist or a Goodwill visit. Make it a game on some level.

  2. Fill 'er Up: Grocery shopping can be harder than you might think. All of the tempting endcaps and rows of delicious and typically unhealthy options can be harder to resist when you shop on an empty stomach and/or without a list. Have a snack to combat low blood sugar or impulse shopping based on your level of hunger. Taking a list of your items to purchase can help you stay the course - you can even make it a challenge to get out without any extras or in less than 30 minutes (ok, maybe 45). Many who loathe the whole grocery shopping event can now create online orders and simply pick them up at a scheduled time - insta-satisfaction in (a)avoiding the crowds and temptations and (b)minding your budget both financially and in the area of time, with the final score of © extra time to play instead of shopping!

  3. Leave it: Do you REALLY need that cute new sweater in your online cart? Will you truly use that tea bag holder in the shape of a cat? You can feed the thrill by filling that online shopping cart. Then walk away, close the browser, come back to it tomorrow with the following questions: (1)Is this a need or a want? (2)do I have the funds to cover this? (3)do I already have something like this? Duplicates can crowd your closet, pantry, living room, etc. If you treat your new blender purchase like you might a new sofa, this might help you visualize the next steps or kill the impulse to add more stuff to your home. Either way, giving yourself room to pause allows your decision-making muscles to flex over those impulses. While the rush of putting it in your cart may give you a PINCH of joy, allowing your brain to catch up to that rush can ultimately leave you with the right items in your cart (or none at all).

  4. Level Up: In an age where making purchases with the swipe of a QR code, a microchip or a send button has removed the tangible parting of ways with our cash, you can make it a bigger challenge but freezing or cutting up your cards, removing saved card numbers from your shopping sites or password keepers, and essentially making it more painful to shop at the touch of a button. Dave Ramsey has long preached about the envelopes of cash for each budget item (groceries, gas, dining out, etc.). Leveling up on the complexity or inconvenience of your shopping vehicles for spending can truly create a pause in the impulsive purchasing and can also feed that playful, novel, competitive brain of yours!

While these are merely a few suggestions, you can find a few more ideas in this post from ADDitude: “I’m Finally Saving Money, Thanks To…” In conjunction with an online post from someone with ADHD, it was the inspiration to this post.

You might be thinking "Great advice, but I've tried all of these and nothing seems to help me find the right balance.". Anxiety, OCD, depression, and other co-morbidities can impact your spending habits as well - no joke. If you suspect you have issues managing your shopping and spending habits that extend beyond your control, you may want to follow the advice of psychologist Stephanie Sarkis in ADDitude's "Ask the Experts" spotlight on impulse shopping - seek professional help in the event that treatment for a contributing condition or diagnosis might help.

Taking steps toward the thing you want to be/see/do is the first step in change. Find a friend or someone to support you in that new habit or ritual. Make it more fun to grab the best deal and only what you need. You just might PINCH yourself when you realize how much space you gain and how much cash you retain.