How do you manage money when you have ADHD?
ADHD and money management
ADHD can make it hard to manage your money. Managing money requires many executive functioning skills like organization, decision making, and planning, all of which can be a particular challenge for people with ADHD. ADHD can affect everyone in different ways, so it is important for you to determine how your ADHD affects you and put systems in place to help you manage your money.
In this article, I will provide tips to help you manage your money better with ADHD.
Money management can be challenging for anyone, but it can become especially difficult when you add ADHD into the mix. One of the biggest challenges can be a lack of interest in money management tasks.
People with ADHD tend to focus on tasks of interest and avoid things that do not bring them the “dopamine hit” we all get when we do something we enjoy. Unfortunately, this can lead to bills not being paid, goals not being set, and money not being managed.
Avoiding essential tasks can quickly spiral out of control when things pile up. Piles of to-dos can quickly become overwhelming, leading to further crises.
Perhaps you are avoiding such tasks because
- You may not know how to start
- That pile will take forever to get through
- You don’t remember exactly what you are supposed to do to complete each task perfectly
- You don’t want to take the time to do it
- You feel like you shouldn’t have to do that stuff anyway
So you miss essential tasks, bills don’t get paid, and you may find yourself spending more, falling further behind, and feeling stressed, anxious, and doubting yourself.
Other symptoms of ADHD can also make it harder to manage money.
- Impulsivity can sometimes lead to poor financial choices
- Lack of object permanence (i.e. out of sight out of mind) can make it hard to manage budgets and balances.
- Time blindness (i.e. difficulting sensing the passage of time) can make it challenging to pay bills on time or save for long-term goals and plan for the future.
Money Management Tips For ADHD Adults
Automate your money
Automating transactions can help you avoid remembering, organizing, planning, and deciding what to do with your money when you would instead focus on something more interesting.
Automate your bill payments – Avoid having to remember to pay bills by setting automatic bill payments or direct withdrawal for as many bills as possible.
Automate savings. – Setup reoccurring transfers to put money into saving accounts, spending allowance accounts, and long-term savings
Use Apps – Use money management apps to track spending and to build and stick to budgets. You can use Apps and services like Kredit Karma to monitor your credit.
Set Calendar Reminder – For any financial process that you cannot automate. For example, you can set a calendar to check your credit report and score every six to twelve months, pay your taxes, or check to make sure your bills are all paid and your budget is still working.
Set Notifications – Have your banks notify you when your balance drops below a certain level. You can also request your credit card company and other service providers notify you when a future bill is due via text or email.
Visual aids can help when object permeance makes it hard to remember how much money you have in the bank and to keep you organized.
Don’t go paperless – If you can still get your bills mailed, do it. Getting a paper bill can be a better reminder than an email you may miss. But don’t let your bills pile up. Instead, you need to use the receipt of your bill as the trigger to pay it.
Use colors – Have a dedicated space for your financial paperwork and use color coding to help keep them organized.
Stickers – Use lots of stickers. Put a sticker on your credit card to remind you that it is only for emergencies. Add a sticker on your debit card to remind you to stick to your budget. Or add a sticker of your goals to your credit card to remind you that spending will prevent you from reaching your goals.
Set Alarms – Similar to stickers, alarms can help remind you to pay bills on time or revisit your budget in six months. Use your phone and make sure the reminder pops up and is audible and not easily dismissed.
Visualize Savings – add a paper clip to a chain every time you save $10, $100, or $1,000. Challenge yourself to see how long your chain can get (credit Atomic Habits). Or print or use a whiteboard to create a fundraising thermometer for your savings goals.
Visualize your budget- Use apps that help track what you have spent and provide a visual of your budget.
* Keep your visuals in spaces you frequent, and move them around periodically so that they stay fresh in your head.
Add friction to your spending.
Making it harder to spend your money can help to make impulse purchases harder and help prevent overspending.
Remove credit cards from online accounts – Avoid the temptation to buy by not saving credit cards on online stores like Amazon.
Use Wish List – Put items in your wish list for at least 24 hours before adding them to your cart.
Leave home without it – Don’t bring money, debit, or credit cards when you don’t need them.
Create a list before you shop – Creating a list and vowing to stick to it can help decrease impulse purchases.
Unsubscribe – Unsubscribe to mailing lists from retailers.
Remove Apps- Remove retail apps from your phone to remove some of the temptation and the ease of access to the online stores.
Some other things to consider
You need to create a budget – Spending without a budget to account for all the bills and things you may have a hard time remembering when you get paid is necessary. Use apps or advisors to help you create and stick to your budget.
Set Specific Goals(Long, short, and micro-term goals) – You will not reach your goals until you have identified them. In addition to long-term goals like retirement, and short-term goals, like creating a budget, you may also benefit from the satisfaction of micro goals. Micro-goals, like spending no more than your allotted grocery budget that week, can help to keep you interested since they are achievable more frequently.
You need an emergency fund – Creating and maintaining an emergency fund is even more critical for folks with ADHD. There are several ways people with ADHD can overspend (voluntarily and involuntarily). Having an emerging fund to draw upon when things come up is critical to ensure you can manage those unexpected expenses.
Ask for help – If going it alone is not working, ask friends and family to help you. They can act as an accountability buddy to help keep you on track.
Use trusted advisors – Certified Financial Planners are like therapists for you and your money. They will work with you to help you create and execute financial plans that you define and work for you.
Manage your credit very carefully – Credit cards can facilitate impulse and overspending. They also require diligence and organization to ensure they don’t spiral out of control. Use the tips above to keep your credit card spending in check and your credit card balances paid.
Be kind to yourself – We all make financial mistakes. Put controls and systems in place, like automation, to help avoid making the same mistake and move on. Shame, self-doubt, anxiety, and depression can cause more financial missteps.
In conclusion, there are a few things that you can do to manage your money when you have ADHD:
- Try to automate your finances as much as possible.
- Use Visuals.
- Add friction to your spending
- Create a budget and stick to it.
- Have an emergency fund
- Manage credit carefully
- Be kind to yourself and ask for help if you need it.
By following these tips, you can better manage your money and live a more financially stable life with ADHD.