With impulsivity, it can be difficult to control or stop yourself when you get pulled into a spending spree, especially in mania. As a result, living with bipolar disorder may mean you end up with insurmountable debt at some point, such as credit cards, overdrawn accounts, or large expenses such as mortgages that you cannot afford.
As an aside, it is important to remember that not everything is impulsive regarding spending with bipolar disorder, and there is nothing wrong with making purchases, as this is a part of life.
However, those that struggle with impulsive buying do need to monitor their spending habits. But they also need space to live their lives like normal human beings.
It can be easy to want to cut off finances for individuals with bipolar disorder, but this is unnecessary, at least on a long-term basis.
Other Causes of Financial Distress
Generally, mania can be accompanied by euphoria and a sense of grandiosity, which can lead to poor decision making as well.
It is easier to spend more money when you are in this state, and it is not necessarily something you can just stop. It’s not the person’s fault - it is a symptom of a disease.
Tips for Managing Financial Struggles in Bipolar Disorder
While it may not be necessary to take precautionary measures to control finances in every person with bipolar disorder, it is often needed.
There are some ways you can try to stay on top of finances when the urge to spend strikes.
- Stay away from triggering websites that you have the propensity to make purchases from. You can remove these sites from your browser's favorites list or unsubscribe to their emails.
- Do not make major life changes during a mood episode without first thoroughly thinking through the situation, perhaps with a loved one or therapist. This does not take away your freedom, at least it shouldn’t; the purpose is to try to think things through more clearly and talking with someone about it may help.
- Keep track of all of your finances, both earnings and spendings. You can do this in several ways such as spreadsheets, and expense journals or logs.
- Create your own expense or spending log to remind you of your financial situation if you can’t find one that suits your needs. A bullet journal may be beneficial if you create your own and desire something that offers a multipurpose way to manage or keep track of life. Memory can be an issue with bipolar disorder, so writing things down is important.
- If needed, hand over your credit cards to a loved one for a time, until the urge passes. Always keep a little money for emergencies. Again, this is not to take away your freedom indefinitely, but to limit spending for a time so those poor decisions aren’t made.
- If you are having trouble thinking, make a pro/con list to see if it helps you to make a better decision. Taking the time to make a list will make you think more than you may have otherwise, which could give you the opportunity to change your mind about a purchase. You may also want to discuss it with a mental health professional if necessary.
- Educate yourself about managing finances. It may help you to control spending if you understand this better. This can be done through courses, an accountant, or by doing your own research, for instance.
If you desire financial freedom but feel trapped, know that there is help available. Trust that you won’t always be in this place as long as you start to make healthier choices that help get you out of the place you’re in.
If you are digging yourself in deeper financial trouble over and over again through venues such as overspending or risk-taking, you may be facing more than just unwise money decisions. It may be a sign that there is something more going on than meets the eye.