Financial planning with ADHD | Tips to help you get started
Financial planning is vital for anyone, but especially for people with ADHD, who may have difficulty managing their money effectively. Financial planning is the process of organizing your finances to achieve your financial goals. Once developed, a financial plan will act as your roadmap to help you reach your aspirations. And if done correctly, will also help to put the structure in place to ensure that your spending does not derail your plans and take you off track.
While financial planning is essential for people with ADHD to help them reach their financial goals, often, the symptoms of ADHD can get in the way of developing such a plan. This article will walk through what is involved in creating a financial plan while outlining what tools and tips may help you navigate challenges you may face because of your ADHD.
The other alternative to creating a financial plan on your own is to seek out the help of a certified financial planner. These services can help you develop a plan that is right for you. They can provide the technical expertise to help determine your goals while keeping you on track. All of that while ensuring you are still in control of what you do and how you use the money you make.
But if you choose to go at it alone, here is how to do it.
1. Define your future: Goals
The first step in creating a financial plan is to establish your goals. For this step, you need to ask yourself where you want to be in a few years.
This type of long-term planning can be challenging to focus on or to even begin. A good tip is to use a timer to help keep it interesting. Set your timer to 5 minutes and write down everything you want to do or have in your life. If you feel like you didn’t cover everything, repeat this step using 5-minute intervals to capture all of your aspirations.
While you are going through this exercise, try to think of some micro-term goals -things that you want to achieve within a month or less. Micro-term goals can help to keep you motivated when executing your plan. Since you can reach them quickly, they will help give you a “dopamine hit” which can help you feel successful and hopefully encourage you to stick with your plan.
Once you have your list, set another timer for 5 minutes and quickly categorize everything by how you long you think it should take before you achieve it.
As someone with ADHD, this type of planning can be very challenging. Here are a few tips to help you get through this step.
- Make it visible – Use a visual timer or an “hourglass”.
- Put on music – sometimes music can help focus your attention on a task.
- Just do it – Sometimes you must accept that you have to do things because they are good for you. This may be one of those times.
- Move around – Moving while creating your list of goals can help increase dopamine levels. Take a walk or stand and write on a whiteboard.
- Narrate your ideas – Instead of writing them down, you could record them and use a speech-to-text app to get them into a document you can use later
- Rest, Relax and Eat – Make sure you are in a good mental state before starting this task. Going into the process while you are well rested, not hungry, and in a good head-space will increase your chances of success.
2. Assess your current state: Tracking
The next step in creating a financial plan is to assess where you are today. To do this, you will need to understand how much you currently pay for your bills, how much debt you now owe, and how much you spend on yourself for things like food, clothing, and other “discretionary” expenses.
Tracking expenses can be difficult for anyone. It requires a sustained focus and attention to detail over time. This may be particularly challenging, depending on your particular ADHD symptoms. To help with this step, take advantage of apps and software that can automatically track and compile your spending into categories for you to analyze.
You can check out this post for a list of Money Management Apps.
Outcome of this step: A detailed list of all your expenses, debts, and how much you currently pay for everything.
3. Develop a Plan: Putting it all together
The next step in the process is to look at where you want to go compared to where you currently are financially. Think through the following:
Income: Determine if your current income and projected future income will be enough to reach your goals. If not, decide how you will increase your income (I.e., Side hustle, improve skills, ask for a raise, find a new job, etc.) If yes, move on to the next step.
Investing: Your long-term goals, like retirement, will likely need more funds than you can contribute from your income alone. Therefore, you will need to develop an investment strategy to help supplement your savings.
Security: What safeguards do you have to ensure you will receive the income you have projected in the last step and not lose the wealth you accumulate.
Options to secure your money:
- Build an emergency fund. Emergency funds help you manage unforeseen expenses.
- Keep your money in an insured bank.
- Purchase insurance to protect your wealth and your income potential (I.e., disability insurance, health insurance, homeowners or renter’s insurance, etc.)
Spending: How do you ensure you spend and save the right amount at the correct times to reach your goals? Build a budget.
Outcomes of this step:
- Determining if and how to increase your income if necessary
- Purchasing insurance to secure your income potential and your wealth
- A budget that you can stick to.
- Your plan detailing how you will achieve your goals and manage your spending and saving to reach your objectives.
4. Execute the plan: Making it all work for you
You now have all the pieces in place. The last step is to live your plan. In your plans, you will identify actions that need to occur—purchasing insurance, increasing your income, and investing for the long term.
All of these tasks take place now. Additionally, you should now have a weekly or monthly budget that you can use to help you appropriately allocate the money you have coming into your different goals.
This is another stage when apps and automation can play a huge role in helping someone with ADHD reach their goals.
For more tips on how to manage your money with ADHD, please check How ADHD May Affect Your Money
One of the most critical aspects of financial planning is understanding where you want to be financially. Your goals may include saving for retirement, buying a home, or paying off debt. It’s essential to be realistic about what you can achieve and create an achievable plan using your available resources.
As someone with ADHD, this type of planning, organization and focus can be challenging. While it may not keep your interest, it is critically important to help you reach your goals. If you get derailed by any part of the planning process, seek help from friends, family, ADHD coaches, or certified financial planners. Their guidance and support can help to get you back on track.