How to stop the impulsive online shopper

The online shopping space is rapidly expanding. It continues to present us with endless choices, from buying a product from a local store, to ordering goods from all over the world. It is an integral part of modern society and brings exhilarating and unnerving change.

Impulsivity in adults
With so much demanding attention, living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the digital age can be challenging. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder with common symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. While most people are familiar with ADHD in children, many don’t know what ADHD looks like in adults. A common presentation of ADHD-related impulsivity in adults is impulsive online shopping.

Having too much choice can be taxing on anyone’s attention and stress levels – not to mention marketing tactics pouncing on every interest you show. For people living with ADHD, this could complicate the impulsive shopping spree even more.

Identify potential co-existing conditions 
ADHD, when undiagnosed, can cause co-existing conditions – such as low self-esteem and anxiety. This is another possible cause for excessive and impulsive online shopping behaviour in individuals with ADHD. Shopping can become an uplifting coping mechanism in dealing with sadness and poor self-image.

Impulsive spending on things you don’t need goes hand-in-hand with unnecessary financial stress. This self-defeating cycle comes full circle in poor money management skills often exhibited by individuals with ADHD.

How to curb the shopping habit
If you often struggle with impulsive online shopping, especially on payday or during the festive season, don’t despair.

You can enjoy online shopping, save money and avoid wasteful spending. Here’s how:

  • Take a deep breath and ask for adviceDon’t launch too enthusiastically into big purchase decision. Sleep on it and take time to consult with family or friends. The offering will still be there in the morning.
  • Limit your advertising exposure: Unsubscribe yourself from retail newsletters that don’t serve an immediate need. You can also change the settings of your Google and social media accounts to limit the advertising you’re exposed to.
  • Cut out the temptation: You are doing yourself no favours by ‘window-shopping’ in the biggest online malls like Amazon. Know what you want before you go online.
  • Draw up a budget and stick to it: Start with a short shopping list and make every effort to stick to the allocated budget. Writing out your budget is a good way to solidify the number in your mind. Credit cards can easily spark an euphoric shopping frenzy. Resolve to only use credit cards for emergencies.
  • Plan gifts in advance: Avoid being overwhelmed by the shopping hype, especially during festive season, by having a clear goal and defined budget. You can even buy them in advance.
  • Use comparison sites: Let aggregator sites like PriceCheck do the hard work for you and save you money.
  • Use the ‘add to wish list’ function: By keeping things aside for 48 hours by placing it in a wish list, you’ll have time to decide if you really need it that desperately. You have nothing to lose by sleeping on the decision.
  • Stick to cash as far possible: Paying cash helps to put the financial impact on your pocket into a tangible perspective.
  • Keep track of online spending: Make time every week to go through your payment notifications on your phone or email and add up the numbers. This will make you think twice about your next shopping urge.

With just a little forethought and discipline, bad online shopping habits that prey on impulsivity can be stopped. That means a safer, happier and less stressful shopping experience.

Paired with a comprehensive treatment plan from a healthcare professional, individuals with ADHD can thrive in every new era and reach their full potential.

Think you might be showing symptoms of ADHD? Use this self-assessment to see if your symptoms could be consistent with adult ADHD.