Tips to Reduce your Holiday Financial Stress

ADHD adults have so many strengths and talents, which often include creativity, outside the box thinking, brainstorming, making connections between ideas, humor, a love of learning, and many others depending upon the person and in particular, their areas of interest. Whether you’re an ADHDer like me or not, consider your strengths and what you enjoy doing before getting caught up in the holiday gift-giving frenzy.

Two words that can make any ADHD adult laugh out loud or sigh and sarcastically think, “Mmmhmm, sure, I’ll get right on that,” are “planning” and “budgeting.” ADHD brains are wired to think differently which has so many positive upsides that are sadly, widely misunderstood, and undervalued.

Being an ADHDer also means experiencing neurological-based challenges which need support and tools just as I need glasses to help me to see better. Skills such as planning, organizing, and prioritizing information and activities can be challenging for ADHD adults because of the way our ADHD brains are wired so we need tools and strategies to make these, including budgeting our money, easier.

Here are a few tips including specific actionable steps to avoid or reduce your financial stress during the holidays. You do not have to be an ADHDer to put these into practice.

Tip #1: Make a list of everyone you want to give a present to this holiday season.

  • Based on what you know about them, what might they like? Why are you giving them a gift? What do you want them to feel when opening it?

  • Connect these thoughts with your strengths and what you enjoy doing for fun to make the gift giving experience more meaningful and enjoyable for all.

  • Write down your ideas next to each name. If they’ve given you gift ideas, include those as well.

Tip #2: Write yourself a permission slip that reads, “Do not spend what you do not have. Your future self will thank you.”

  • No, really, you can do this! Commit to this yourself and write reminders where you will notice them (computer, phone, kitchen, etc.).

  • Take your list of people you want to give presents to, including the gift ideas and thoughts you came up with from tip #1 then look at your bank statement and determine how much you can spend in total and on each person. If you are already in credit card or student loan debt and feeling stressed due to consistent daily financial strain, get creative and give yourself permission to do the holidays another way this year.

  • Thoughtful handmade cards, letters, or handwritten personalized notes inside of a store-bought card might just be the best present someone on your list receives all year.

Tip #3: Embrace the “Power of the Pause.”

  • One of the most important skills an ADHDer can learn is how to pause. Pausing, slowing down, and cultivating the ability to relax are critical skills that ADHDers (and non-ADHDers) need to thrive in life, and these become essential during the holidays.

  • When you have an impulsive gift idea either online or in-person, even if it’s the best idea you’ve ever had, pause. Wait 24 hours before deciding whether to purchase it or not. As a reminder, put a sticky note that reads, “Pause” wherever you might need it.

  • Instead of being what my wife affectionately refers to me as – “a marketer’s dream” – and recreating your impulse Peloton buy with another “must have” that also will be collecting dust soon enough, use your ADHD strengths to do the holidays your way – differently.

Tip #4: Imagine yourself in February, after the holidays have passed, in your kitchen, eating one of your favorite desserts.

  • How will you feel then if you paused, planned, budgeted, and got a little more intentional and creative this holiday season?

  • How will you feel knowing you did not pile on to your debt and are able to make a list, create reminders, and do what you set out to do? Enjoy the holidays with more joy, peace, and ease.

  • Do you think the people that love you will love you any less in February because you did not buy them an expensive present, and instead chose to give them a handwritten note inside of a card or a less expensive but thoughtful gift and a hug? Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. I realize this is not easy and will make some eyes roll but maybe just think about it?

Tip #5: Write your own.

  • What is another way you can avoid or reduce your financial holiday stress this year?