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ADHD and a Debt-Free Holiday: How to avoid the holiday shopping hangover when you have ADHD

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

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Understand how ADHD impacts financial decision-making

So we know that ADHD impacts your executive functioning. You know, those skills that allow you to focus, plan, remember... control yourself. So it makes sense that ADHD would impact your ability to manage your finances. Something even the adultiest-adult can struggle with.

ADHD'rs are driven by the dopamine.

Watercolor of a woman at a lake looking at her phone

What is new, what is exciting? Because we have ADHD we are constantly dopamine-seeking. And nothing hits that feel-good chemical like the "buy now" button on Amazon. Combine this with our impulsive financial decision making and we are in for a tough time during the holidays.

So how can we get control over ourselves and our budget this holiday season?

1.Make a list.

I know this is the most overdone ADHD tip on planet Earth, but that's for good reason. It works if done properly. We need extra reminders like written lists to keep us on track and that is okay. Make a list of everyone you want to shop for, then brainstorm ideas for them. Widdle this down to a solid game plan before you shop. Know what you are looking for before you go.

A woman writing a list

2. Know what your budget is going into this.

All of the tips and tricks in the world will do you no good if you don't know how much money you should spend. I am fully willing to admit that a few years ago, I regularly practiced the swipe and pray, especially during the holiday season. I had no budget, no real idea of my monthly expenses, and no grasp on how much "spending" money I actually had. This makes responsible spending almost impossible. So get that all sorted before you start spending.

3. Identify your values.

Family celebrating the holidays together

Is it important to you to buy everyone the perfect gift? Does your presence mean more than presents?

For me, limiting consumption is an important value. I want to teach my kids that the holidays are about who you are with rather than what you get. Plus that whole over-consumption damaging the planet thing. This shows up in a few different ways for us, we tend to gift experiences rather than physical things (because let's face it, these kids have more toys than they know what to do with). If we do gift "things" they tend to be one bigger gift for everyone, like a trampoline, or a swing set. And we take each kid, individually, to our local thrift store for them to pick out gifts for each other. This tradition is environmentally friendly and friendly to our wallets.

Once you've identified what matters most this holiday season, look at your gift list. Are there areas that don't align with your values? If so, make the necessary adjustments.

3. Shop online.

I am a huge advocate of shopping online as much as possible if you are neurodivergent. It's less

A man shopping online

overwhelming, there's less pressure, and it isn't a get-in and get-out situation. You can take your time, throw things in your cart, and pull things back out if it surpasses your budget.

Going into a store, especially during the holidays is a huge trigger for me, and it is extremely easy to overspend. Unless you are one of those very organized people who keep track of costs as you walk through a store, in which case I don't think this post is going to do much for you.

4. Use cash instead of card.

If you have to shop in a store, leave your card at home. Only bring as much cash as you can spend on this adventure. This will ensure you don't spend your mortgage on the latest and greatest for your teenager.

5. Go DIY.

A watercolor of an older woman baking bread

There has been a large resurgence of DIY gifting over the last few years. Baskets with homemade bread and a jar of local jelly. A painting of Danny Devito's head on Squidward's body (one of my personal favorites). A handmade birdhouse. The options are limitless.

Tap into that natural creativity we have as human beings and gift things from the heart rather than from Walmart. You'd be amazed at the pride you will feel pouring yourself into a gift for someone you love.

Grab more ideas for DIY gifts here

Grab your FREE holiday wish list for kids here

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