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Archived ADDvice Newsletters

April 2005

Welcome to ADDvice for ADD-Friendly Living

Each month, ADDvice will provide tips, tools, and strategies to help you live well despite your ADD. This month, we will continue to focus on finances. Feel free to contact us at with other issues you would like to see discussed in future newsletters.

Overcoming Compulsive Shopping and Spending

People with ADD often have problems with finances because they continuously spend more than they should. Shopping may be used as a way to deal with depression, anxiety or to create some excitement or stimulation in your life. However, like other addictions, the "high" rarely lasts long and generally makes you feel worse as your finances deteriorate and debt mounts. After shopping, you feel guilty and ashamed that once again you have lost control.

Individuals with ADD are particularly vulnerable to compulsive shopping because their impulsivity makes it hard for them to think through the purchase -- often buying items that they do not need. I remember one man with ADD whose living room was filled with bags of mulch and a table saw and he lived in an apartment!

Do you find that you shop to feel better? Do you go shopping with the intention of buying one or two items and return with bags full of purchases? Do you have bad credit or serious financial problems because of your spending habits? Do you need to take an extra job just to pay the bills that result from your spending?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, try these ADD- Friendly ways to deal with your compulsive shopping or spending:

  • Make a list and buy only what is on the list.
  • Don't shop alone. Take along as family member or friend who can help curb your spending.
  • Try window shopping when the stores are closed or go shopping without your credit cards and wallet until you decide what you want and need.
  • Use only one credit card and cancel and destroy all others so that you can't run up a balance on each.
  • Pay with cash and take only a reasonable amount that you can afford with you when you shop.
  • Take a walk or exercise when the urge to shop hits you.
  • Don't shop on the internet or use catalogues...only shop in person and only when you need something. Refrain from shopping for pleasure.

If you feel out of control, seek professional help. If you already have poor credit because of past spending patterns, contact a credit counseling center.

Many people with ADD tend to have multiple addictive behaviors. To understand more about ending the destructive cycle of ADD and addictive behaviors, order ADD and ADDiction: When Too Much Isn't Enough by Wendy Richardson, MA.

Additional tips from Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD by Terry Matlen, M.S.W. page 140 - 141

Tip#1: Overspending on credit cards - change your habits.

My credit cards are way over limit so I had to change my habits. First, I now force myself to only use cash. To pay off the cards, I took the one with the highest balance and paid an extra $25-50 per month on it until it was paid off. Then I went to the next highest one and did the same. Only two more left to go! - Karen Kruger Chapel Hill, NC

Tip #2: Consider joining Debtors Anonymous.

Details at

Tip #3 Spending out of control - freeze your assets!

I am a shopping addict and have gotten into a lot of financial hot water because of this. Now I keep my credit card in the freezer to keep me from doing any impulsive shopping. - Koto Hayashi, Tokyo, Japan

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