How does ADHD affect spending habits?

spending with adhd

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects people’s behaviour. In the UK, around 1.8 million adults have been diagnosed as having ADHD, but these numbers could be much higher as ADHD often goes undiagnosed.

There are three subtypes of ADHD: the first is characterised by hyperactivity and impulsivity, the second inattentiveness, and the third combined. It can affect a person’s ability to concentrate, sustain attention and control impulsive behaviour.

There is more and more evidence to suggest that the traits of ADHD can have an impact on finances. Here we’ll explore how the traits of ADHD can affect people’s spending habits.

How the traits of ADHD affect spending habits


A common trait of ADHD is impulsiveness. Recently-commissioned research by the digital bank Monzo and conducted by YouGov, found that those living with ADHD are four times more likely to frequently impulse-spend than those who do not have the condition.

The majority (60%) of those surveyed who are living with ADHD said they believe it has a direct cost implication for them because of its impact on day-to-day money management, which they estimated amounted to just over £1,600 a year on average.

For most of us, popping to the supermarket is a mundane chore but for people living with ADHD, it can be a challenge. People with ADHD may struggle to focus on buying exactly what they need, and instead get distracted by the hundreds of items that they don’t actually need to buy. In these types of situations, impulsiveness can win out, resulting in a far bigger shopping bill than it needed to be. In fact, the Monzo study found that people with ADHD are more than three times more likely to find it difficult to stick to a budget (50%) compared with the general population (15%).

People with ADHD may also find that they order items online and forget that they’ve done it. This kind of unnecessary spending can quickly stack up and have financial implications.  

Inability to focus

One of the symptoms of ADHD is inability to focus or pay attention to one thing for long, or to simply forget about it. This makes things such as parking tickets and payment deadlines particularly tricky.

People with ADHD may simply forget that they have a fine to pay, or a payment deadline looming. They also may feel overwhelmed by a ticket or due date, and the easiest thing is to decide to “tackle it later”, but it then gets forgotten about and the cost jumps.


For many adults with ADHD, disorganisation is a symptom of the condition, and this in itself can make financial planning- or even coming up with a shopping list – an every day challenge. The Monzo study found that people with ADHD are almost three times more likely to miss bill payments occasionally or often (49%) than someone without the condition (18%).

People with ADHD often have to make meticulous lists in an attempt to tackle something like a supermarket shop, which is particularly difficult when disorganisation is a trait of the condition. This can make the whole experience feel overwhelming, frustrating and exhausting.

Whilst those who do not have ADHD might have a general sense of what is happening with their finances on an ongoing basis- a rough idea of what is in their bank account, or any upcoming bills for example- people with ADHD often have no idea what is in their bank account until they look again. As a result, people with ADHD often find that they go into their overdraft by mistake, which creates stress and anxiety.

ADHD and finances: a summary

The Monzo study lays bare the impact that the traits of ADHD can have on people’s finances, and also the effects this can have on the person. Notably, the study found that those with ADHD are twice as likely (76%) to suffer from anxiety linked to their finances compared with the general population (38%).

Furthemore, two-thirds (65%) of those with ADHD said the condition makes managing their finances more difficult. The respondents also cited spending impulsively (58%), struggling to budget (51%) and struggling to save money (49%) are the biggest issues they face.

Concerningly, those with ADHD are almost three times more likely to struggle with debt (31%) compared with the general population (11%).

ADHD and spending habits: how a private ADHD clinic can help

If you have ADHD, keeping on top of finances can be challenging. However, with the correct treatment path day to day life can seem much easier and far less stressful.

If you think you may have ADHD but have not yet been diagnosed, struggling with finances can seem even more overwhelming as you might be wondering why you find it hard to cope. Getting a professional ADHD assessment and diagnosis can be the first step to getting your finances and spending habits under control.

Either way, a specialist ADHD clinic can help. Sanctum offers a comprehensive, multi-professional assessment for adults and children who may have ADHD. Sanctum’s diagnostic team all have specialist experience of assessing and supporting individuals with ADHD, and our treatment plans can help you to live a happier, healthier life. 

If you would like to speak to Sanctum’s friendly team about obtaining an ADHD assessment or about ADHD treatment plans, you can get in touch here

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