Shops want us to buy more stuff!
Shocking isn’t it? Well, no, of course not, but that’s the bottom line, and a lot of people with ADHD are prime candidates for seeing something new and shiny and on sale and just snapping it right up without really thinking it through.
How often do you go into a store, say, to pick up a few items from the supermarket on the way home, only to come out with a receipt showing 4 or 5 times what you had intended to spend. It may be that you decided to just go ahead and do the weekly shop while you were there, but most times, you’re so wound up trying to remember what you need that you look at everything. You notice a new product, or a product on sale, or a product you haven’t had in a while but you remember really liking it… It goes on and when you get to the checkout you look at the cashier and say ‘I only came in for a couple of things’ while you type in your PIN and hope that no-one asks how much you spent when you get home.
I have been there way too many times, I’ve been unpacking bags which take up all of the surfaces and spill onto the floor wondering where I’m going to actually put all this stuff. That’s why I’m going to give you some tips for cutting down on your spending, for curbing those little impulsive purchases and ultimately for saving money.
Ugh, I can hear some of you groaning already. Some of us are great with lists, others find them a headache. I know, you lose the list, you miss items because they weren’t on the list, there’s friction in the house because whoever ate the packet of crisps didn’t write it on… I’ve been there too. This is why I use a master list that I can print out and fill in as I walk around my kitchen before I head out to do my weekly shopping. I just tick the boxes of what we need.
I’ve got a basic Master Grocery List printable that you use download here, simply put a line through anything that you never use and add anything extra that you use in the right section. If you want to make your own then use mine as a guide and then you have the advantage of being able to arrange each section according to the layout of your local store.
When you are happy with your master list keep a stack of them in your kitchen – on top of the fridge works for me. I still have a little pad on the fridge for everyone else to write on, but this list will be transferred to the master list when I do my main shop. By using the list you can ensure that you are only buying what you actually need, and therefore you will save money.
By using a master list you can then cut down the number of visits to the supermarket that you will need to make during each week. This means less exposure to the special offers and seasonal purchases that are so inviting. If you are not in the store, you don’t see these tempting offers and you don’t end up buying things that you don’t really need.
You are still going to have emergency runs and special occasion purchases that creep up on you as you are working on your planning skills but, if you can cut just one or two trips to the shops each week, you’ll find that although you spend more on your main grocery shop, you’ll spend less than the total from all the small shopping trips you were making before.
If you have to make a small shopping trip use a basket. I don’t know how many times this has saved me, I get to the point where I genuinely cannot balance another thing under my chin, tucked in between my fingers, can’t carry any more weight and I have to go and pay. I can’t possibly carry that Panini Maker or Raclette Grill that is on offer – Aldi and Lidl, I’m looking at you – so I can’t splurge on them just because it seems like a good idea at the time.
If you’re like me then you’ve grown accustomed to throwing everything on a credit or debit card and rarely have cash in your wallet. This is disastrous for saving money as you very quickly lose track of how much you are spending.
By setting a cash budget when you shop you have a physical spending limit and you are far more aware of your spending. This step works best when you have started to get on top of your planning and prioritising so could be hard to implement if your still taking your first steps to taking control of your ADHD, I will be posting about budgeting and how to work out how much cash you need for your weekly shopping in a separate post.
If you simply can’t handle using cash then look for a bank account or credit card which offers cashback rewards. I currently bank with Santander because they offer cashback on credit card purchases at supermarkets, petrol stations and department stores, and their current account offers cashback on utilities payments, council tax and mortgage payments, it really adds up and is really worth looking into.
Special Offers are designed to appeal to your impulsive side. As an adult with ADHD you have to be extra careful when considering whether to take advantage of an offer or not as we often justify these purchases by saying ‘I may as well buy it while it’s on sale’ instead of actually considering whether we were going to buy it in the first place.
You may have seen other money saving tips telling you to shop around the outside of the supermarket. Not only would you forget to buy things and have real difficulty in buying everything from your list but you would be completely inundated with special offers. Supermarkets deliberately put special offers on the end shelves of aisles so that you see them, even if you just nip in for a pint of milk. When it comes to grocery shopping think before you pick up all of these end of aisle products. If you need some bleach and it’s on 2 for 1 buy some, if you already have a couple of bottles from the last time it was on offer, you should probably just leave it there. If it’s something you don’t usually buy at all, then don’t start now, you didn’t need it before, why would you suddenly need it now?
When it comes to Special Buys and Sales I often see things and think, ooh, that would be perfect for name and buy it there and then. I’m not saying never buy these things when you see them but make sure you know exactly who it is for, when you would give it to them (Birthday/Christmas), and where you would keep it until then. If it’s more than a month away make a note on your phone or a notebook of the idea and leave it in the store. If you’re anything like me you pick things up because you think it looks cool, you take it home and shove it in a cupboard and then forget about it. I often buy something else closer to the time and stumble across the other gift by accident at some point in the future, I generally can’t remember who it was for in the first place!
If you see a really good deal, and it’s something that you genuinely need, ask customer services to put the item aside for 24 hours. Go home, talk to your partner if you have one, look up similar models online and then if it’s still the best deal go ahead and buy it.
That 24 hours gives your brain a chance to process from impulse to rational purchase.
For those who take medication, I’m sure you’ve all heard ‘Don’t shop on an empty stomach’, you end up buying all sorts of tempting treats that you didn’t really need. However, you should also try to shop when your medication is at it’s most effective, when you are more able to focus on the items you need and to be able to make rational purchase decisions. I’ve often looked back at some of the items I have bought, particularly when I’m into a new hobby, and thought ‘Wow, I really shouldn’t shop when my meds haven’t kicked in!”
When you are planning your day, try to plan anything to do with finances, including shopping, in a time-frame when you know that your medication works for you. You are far less likely to spend outside of your budget when you are able to focus.
have you got any in-store money saving tips to share?
By following these seven tips I have been able to cut my impulse spending down considerably but I still get caught out every now and again. I would love to hear any strategies that you use to help you to save money while you are out shopping, please leave them in the comments or contact me here.