ADHD and Financial Stress

With the holidays coming up, the word ‘Sale’ is in about every store window, and clothing ads manage to sneak up in most browsers. December and January are just more expensive months with Christmas, New Years, Hannukah, gift giving and sales. But if you’re not careful, you can spend more than you need too. 

People with ADHD are more at risk to overspend and impulsively purchase items. This can be enhanced during these few weeks where life seems to be centered around gift giving and ‘buy one get one free’.

Before you go buy those boots on Amazon or buy the whole Target for your loved ones, stop and think. Go through your own personal finances and set a reasonable budget of what you can afford. Make a list of who you are getting gifts for and what items you personally need. Now, before you complete your purchase ask yourself if it is in your price range or if it is on your list.

The holidays are time for family and indulgence but it can also be a time of overindulgence and impulsivity.

ADHD and Financial stress

People with ADHD are susceptible to procrastinating before even the smallest of tasks. People with ADHD are also more disorganized, their work desks are likely to be messy, and their decision making tends to be impulsive.

These three traits can cause someone with ADHD to experience financial stress. People with ADHD  can lose important documents, not save up money and have problems with their checkbooks. Also, impulsivity can cause someone with ADHD to splurge on expensive items that he or she does not need.

A longitudinal research study found a relationship between adolescent ADHD and experiencing financial stress in adulthood. This study controlled for income and found that regardless of income level, ADHD in adolescence was a risk factor for money trouble in adulthood. Being distracted easily inhibits a person from planning and organizing their finances.

ADHD and Compulsive Purchases

Due to impulsivity, people with ADHD are likely to over spend and end up with credit card debt. Those cute shoes you totally don’t need, in the heat of the moment, you forget and all you can think is ‘must buy these shoes’. In general, people with ADHD, may not always think of the consequences of their actions but instead, on the immediate reward.

Also, ADHD is co-morbid with other conditions such as anxiety and depression. Shopping and buying new items like clothes and gadgets, offers immediate gratification and can lift a person’s mood. When feeling depressed, anxious or stressed, going shopping can be the necessary escape to feel better.

“Oniomania”is the term for shopping addiction and not everyone who overspends is a shopping addict. People with shopping addiction tend to shop when they feel depressed or anxious, buy more than they need to and experience ‘ a high’ from shopping.

Tips  for Dealing with Spending and Finances

1.Target your problem area with money. For example, if you always spend too much on clothing, recognize this to control your spending in the future

2.Make sure to pay off your debts. Create a chart of what debts you have and when the due dates are! Organizing yourself is the best first step. 

3.Ask yourself, does your spending align with what you wanted/ needed? If you need a new coat but instead keep buying dresses, then you may be recklessly spending.

4.Create short term goals (save five dollars a week) and long term goals (purchase a new computer next month).

5.Go shopping with a list!!!!! Try it out this holiday season. 



Brook, J. S., Brook, D. W., Zhang, C., Seltzer, N., & Finch, S. J. (2013). Adolescent ADHD and adult physical and mental health, work performance, and financial stress. Pediatrics, 131(1), 5-13.