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    ADHD and Debt

    There are two things in life I have never been good at. Saying no to impulse spending and saying no to delicious food. To make a long story short, I came back to college at 26 to finish my degree and noticed symptoms of ADHD in myself. There have always been things that I did, or didn't do, that I knew were not normal but never could understand why. My school paid for formal testing to be done and it came back as ADHD combined type. For the most part I have done wonderfully about working to pay down my debt and resist impulse shopping. Understanding why I feel so impulsive, as well as medications, has helped a great deal with that as well. However, this past week was not so good. PMDD (working on controlling that) got the best of me and I spent almost $300 at Sephora.com. Most of that is going in the box to be returned! One of the biggest issues with ADHD is not letting an item become all consuming in your mind. Imagine that you think you want something, but know not to buy it, yet it can take weeks for the nagging to go away. Looking towards long term goals is like asking a three year old to wait 15 minutes to eat a cookie. The brain is simply not wired to want to do that and it takes extraordinary amounts of willpower. For those unfamiliar with ADHD, it is a true neurological disorder and not just a state of mind (FYI). It is difficult to say the least. I'm wondering if there is anybody else out there with ADHD who can relate? What do you do to keep yourself on track?

    #2
    Be warned. Some people on this board are of the opinion that mental and neurological impairments are nothing more than a convenient excuse for character flaws. I am not one of those people.

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      #3
      The way I keep myself on track (or at least as much as I can - I am still struggling with CC debt) is to have money taken from my paycheck before I get it. Most goes to retirement but some goes to a credit union that is not the one I bank at. It is a constant struggle. The above is step one, step 2 is to budget all your income (zero balance type), step 3 is fight the good fight - don't go to shopping sites unless you have a NEED for something. There is budget software, tracking software, et cetera that you can use much of it is free.
      I YQ YQ R

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        #4
        I'd think OCD would make you spend impulsively more than ADHD would. But, I'm not a doctor.

        I don't have a mental disorder (at least I think I don't) but I still have temptations. I just have to focus on my long term goals and not give in to short term satisfactions. That's been the key for me.
        Brian

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          #5
          I am not judging, just curious, if the overspending and impulsivity is common among people with ADHD. I thought, ADHD is the condition, that some kids have that cause them to have too much energy and being unable to concentrate on doing something for a period of time. Did you have ADHD when you were kid, or did it just started now?

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            #6
            Originally posted by hamchan View Post
            Be warned. Some people on this board are of the opinion that mental and neurological impairments are nothing more than a convenient excuse for character flaws. I am not one of those people.
            Sadly I am aware of that and thank you for the heads up. I just sum it up to the general public being misinformed and blissfully ignorant. Hopefully those of that opinion will look past the "excuse" they perceive and be able to give helpful suggestions. As a person who studies psychology and will be pursuing neurology, they would be hard pressed to sway me to the idea that ADHD, and other disorders of the brain, do not exist.

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              #7
              Originally posted by bzbee View Post
              I am not judging, just curious, if the overspending and impulsivity is common among people with ADHD. I thought, ADHD is the condition, that some kids have that cause them to have too much energy and being unable to concentrate on doing something for a period of time. Did you have ADHD when you were kid, or did it just started now?
              Yes, ADHD is lifelong and symptoms must be present as a child per the DSM V in order to be diagnosed as an adult. I did show a lot of symptoms, but due to other major circumstances in my life, was misdiagnosed for years. What bothers me is that a lot of family doctors are out there making diagnosis without being fully informed or completing proper testing. For example, my testing lasted three days, 8 hours a day, with a psychiatrist and included testing for comorbid disorders. Lots of kids are hyper and can't focus. That's part of being a kid!

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                #8
                Originally posted by bjl584 View Post
                I'd think OCD would make you spend impulsively more than ADHD would. But, I'm not a doctor.

                I don't have a mental disorder (at least I think I don't) but I still have temptations. I just have to focus on my long term goals and not give in to short term satisfactions. That's been the key for me.
                When it comes to spending, OCD is based on a routine where as ADHD is impulsivity. ADHD would be like, "OOOH A SPARKLY OBJECT! I must have it" where as OCD might be that the person can only buy gas from the expensive Chevron on the corner of Main St. and no where else.

                I did pay off all my credits cards except for one and seeing that zero has been a huge motivational factor

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                  #9
                  I have bipolar and while they are different neurologically, many of the same symptoms especially regarding money management still apply. A lot of it is better habits learned, no matter what your obstacle, so I'd say don't ever let it get in your way, and especially dont use it as an excuse to not try -- you can still constantly be improving your habits. When it comes down to it, a lot of it is pure willpower to get you to that stage. I know for me I used to use bipolar as a cop-out a lot, and I realized sometimes I truly was just being lazy about changing my routine by saying it 'really wasn't my fault.'

                  That being said, try to manage the condition at a basic level, and half of your issue is solved. Follow a healthy diet, get to the gym, take time out for yourself each day to relax/meditate. A balanced and healthy lifestyle works 10x better than any medication or willpower will.

                  Theres also a lot of condition-specific articles and tips online for cases just like this, so always research. The biggest tip I've ever found was to have more buffer money for when these instances to happen, and to not carry guilt about it. You can say youre going to follow a budget with just willpower, but sometimes you don't win with yourself. It's better to have that $300 for a Sephora ahead of time instead of going into debt with it. When the urge is done, don't feel guilty, just admit it wasn't the best decision, move on, and rebuild the $300 in your buffer account.

                  Another thing is to track all of your spending, but look at it over a longer period of time. You'll likely notice when you're more prone to make unnecessary big purchases, and what your triggers are. That will be a great point to go off of to start improving habits, or avoiding stressful and triggering situations. Try to separate yourself as much as possible from emotional spending, and definitely try not to aggravate it when you go outside of your budget or have a spending binge.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by bzbee View Post
                    I am not judging, just curious, if the overspending and impulsivity is common among people with ADHD. I thought, ADHD is the condition, that some kids have that cause them to have too much energy and being unable to concentrate on doing something for a period of time. Did you have ADHD when you were kid, or did it just started now?
                    ADHD comes with anxiety, sometimes obsessive thoughts, excessive lack of interest, or overly focused interest. It also comes with some psychosocial or other neurological symtoms in other cases with twitching, shaking, sleeping disorders, and more. Much of the time true ADHD is only caught as an adult, ruling out 'typical' kid-like behaviors as a source for the above. Yes, a lot of times kids are hyped up on too much sugar and are improperly diagnosed, but this is not true ADHD. True ADHD is actually quite different from my experiences with knowing others than what the stereotype you just described is.

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                      #11
                      Well I really can't speak to you about the ADHD because it isn't a condition where I have much experience. I have PLENTY of experience with overspending and unplanned spending though so I will give you a couple of my thoughts.

                      First, $300 is out of control ridiculous and I'm glad to see you type most of it will be going back. I would suggest you right now make a rule for yourself of an amount you are allowed to spend when you are shopping like that, either in stores or on the internet - $25, $50 whatever is appropriate for you. Any amount over your rule and you have to go home and think about your purchase for at least 3 days.

                      Second, this intense need to buy that you describe to me sounds much like an alcoholic wanting a beer. Just like an AA recommends a mentor who can be called anytime of the day or night when an urge hits, I suggest you start searching for a financial mentor who can talk you off some of these breakdowns.

                      Third, I have a piece of paper that I carry in my wallet. It lists my life goals. Anytime I get the urge to spend like you describe I take it out and read it. Sometimes I make myself read it out loud. Then, I make myself answer the question. What do I REALLY want, a new sweater or early retirement?

                      Fourth. I used to get so mad at myself not for blowing big amounts of money like you describe at Sephora, but for the small impulse type purchases. A drink at the Convenience store. A magazine to read on the train. A new paperback I picked up off the rack at the grocery store.... I implemented what I call the "Thoughtless Spending Penalty." Whenever I do one of those things that night when I get home I make myself immediately transfer an equal amount over to savings.

                      Fifth. I do use credit cards but I pay them off weekly if not more. It's easy with online payments. When my money gets gone, then I'm adjusting my budgets, eating stale cereal for dinner, and not happy with myself. After too many of those kind of nearly immediate suffering of the consequences, I learned pretty quick that shopping for entertainment just isn't that much fun beyond the momentary rush.

                      Sixth. I think that if there are places like Sephora where you often find yourself out of control then you might just need to ban yourself from those stores and websites.

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                        #12
                        I feel you on both the ADHD and the temptation to buy it now. They don't always seem to go hand in hand though, as my spouse was naturally more of a saver and he's as ADHD as I am. My oldest is actually pretty good at saving right now, but not always. I haven't noticed a correlation with his meds on that one. Therapy + meds help with all areas of this. Now if I could remember to schedule the therapy and take the meds

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                          #13
                          I'm right there with ya. I also got diagnosed in college. My doctor explained that females often go undiagnosed until they attend college because they don't tend to exhibit the hyperactivity as children as much as their male counterparts.

                          I find that it does come with impulsivity. One way I struggle with that is that I have to do something while I'm thinking about it or I will forget. This makes it very difficult to plan ahead, which will affect finances along with other things. If I think of something I need for the house, I go to the store and get it before I forget. If I write it down, I will lose the paper I wrote it on. If I try to designate a place for an ongoing list, I forget to bring the list when I do go shopping. When I get to the store, I often forget what I came for anyway, so I walk around the store, hoping my memory will be jogged. While doing that, I see other things I've been meaning to buy, or that I suddenly decide I should get. Again, if I don't buy them now, I will forget.

                          This isn't selective memory, either. I've forgotten to pick up migraine medication. I really, really need that and yet I still forget it until it's too late. I've found having a smartphone has been helpful. I have managed to learn to put all of my appointments in there, but still struggle with remembering to use it for shopping lists. Maybe I could just take a picture of my shopping list, so when I lose it (and I will), I'll have it on my phone!

                          One thing I've done to deal with the impulsive shopping is to frequent thrift stores. When I go on a bender there, I still only spend $30.

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