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Back to School: Stop Chasing the New Shiny

“Back to School” sales are upon us. Stores on every corner are offering you the latest new shiny items to attract you to make lots of impulse purchases. We, the citizens of ADHD-Land, love sales and shiny new things. However, it comes at a cost. Our homes are filled with unused items. When a new shiny object is purchased to replace the old, the old object never seems to leave the house. Instead, it is shoved into a dark corner of a closet; never to be used again. We are putting charges on our credit cards with the hopes that one day in the future we can pay off these purchases (along with that cool swimsuit that we bought for summer and only wore it one time).

So what do we do about getting ready for school while saving money and space in our homes?

Here are a couple of examples…

The Backpack: A new backpack can cost $25-$40. Meanwhile, a 20-piece set of iron-on patches can create a groovy custom look to your current backpack for only $10 and you can use the remaining patches to style up jackets, pants, and bags.

The Notebook: Are you the type who has notebooks in your closets that have only the first 10 pages marked with scribbles? Shed the used pages and continue to use the rest of the notebook. Don’t like the look of the notebook? Stickers are cheap. Each notebook can cost $5 and up. A 35-piece set of stickers can give you a customized look starting at $2 and has enough stickers to decorate 6 notebooks. BTW… stickers can also style up your electronic devices.

The pencils, pens, highlighters: Everybody has a junk drawer in their home. When was the last time you had a look in yours?

Container for school supplies: Stores would love to sell you “special” containers for your pencils, rulers and stuff; but they aren’t any better than a standard piece of Tupperware that you can find in your kitchen cupboard.

Do you feel like you need a new phone? Unless your phone is actually broken (having a cracked screen doesn’t always mean it is broken), or if the phone is so old that the software is no longer supported, chances are that you will be using the same apps you are familiar with no matter if you waste the money on the new shiny model or not.

In-App purchases? You keep downloading new organization/note-taking apps, but you don’t spend enough time learning how to use them. Instead of searching for the trendy app your friends use, why not spend the time getting proficient in the apps you already have. Most people regularly use only a small fraction of the apps they download on their devices. Learn to leverage the entire capabilities of the free version of the app before considering making in-app purchases. How do you know if the app is worth the download? Read the reviews in the app store.

Need more space? Purchasing a portable external hard drive is less expensive than purchasing a new computer, tablet, or phone. They are also more portable than most devices and can be used across multiple platforms. They do not require an internet connection (unlike a cloud account) so they can be used anywhere. One terabyte of cloud storage can cost a $50-per-year subscription, but a portable 1TB hard drive will cost you $25 and you get to keep it forever. 

There are a ton of creative ideas to save money and get the feel of having shiny things. Get curious about what you really need vs. what you merely want. Good luck with the new semester.

Nate Hooper

Nate Hooper, CALC

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach