What Is the ADHD Tax?
The ADHD Tax is a term used to describe the accumulation of fees, additional expenses, and other costs associated with the financial missteps taken by people with ADHD. Some also include the extra time needed to complete a task and mental and physical strain as part of the ADHD Tax.
I have a good friend with ADHD who decided to take a gap year when she finished high school to save up for university.
Weeks before she was about to start school, she found herself applying for a student loan.
All of the money she had earned in the year before she was to start school was gone. Since she never felt the passage of time, never felt the urgency to save, and never had systems to ensure some of each paycheck ended up in savings, she spent more than she realized.
She said she never felt like she was spending a lot, but little by little, all the money she made during her gap year got used up.
The money she spent, the cost of her loan, including the fees and interest she paid the disappointment she felt could all be considered the tax she had to pay due to her ADHD.
The symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person, but most people can treat their ADHD with medication and therapy. But even with treatment, people with ADHD may still find themselves making decisions that can have disproportionally poor financial outcomes than those without ADHD.
Other examples include:
- Missing regular medical or dental checkups
- Paying bills late, or not at all
- Forgetting important dates that can affect their work and pay
- Not saving or planning for the future
- Paying more for products or services because of procrastination
All the costs a person with ADHD may pay for their financial missteps add to a huge financial burden. As we can see, the ADHD tax can cost you money, time, and physical and mental health.
Although the causes of the ADHD tax may vary, there are some common themes as to why people may often find themselves paying more to get through life due to the symptoms of their ADHD. The three most common reasons include forgetfulness, procrastination, or ignoring things that may not be interesting. When done consistently, these three traits can cause people with ADHD to pay heavily. But there are ways to overcome those causes.
Procrastination: If you are putting off a task, you must build awareness of what is causing you to procrastinate. Are you feeling overwhelmed by the job, or do you not know how to start. Are you worried you won’t be able to do the task perfectly, or do you just feel like you shouldn’t have to do it? Once you can identify why you are procrastinating, you build systems to help you overcome them, like finding someone to keep you accountable or automating a task once, so you don’t have to remember to do it again.
Forgetfulness: If you find that you are often forgetting to do different tasks that are starting to cost you financially, you must accept that you cannot rely only on your memory to remember various tasks. Once you have acknowledged that, you can start using calendar reminders, timers, or alarms to help you remember when you need to act.
Ignoring: If you are ignoring a task because it is not interesting, try to envision the outcomes of not doing the task. That may be difficult, but if you can see the consequences of ingoing a job, you may be able to use those adverse outcomes to add urgency and motivation.
There is no easy way to minimize the ADHD tax. But you can do it. Here is a short list of other tips to help you avoid paying the ADHD Tax.
- Automate your bills, especially the ones that can affect your credit.
- Create visual cues to help remember important tasks and dates
- Use budgeting apps
- Use apps to monitor your credit score.
- Find a trusted advisor to help you manage your finances.
The ADHD Tax is the cumulation of the extra fees, additional payments, and added costs due to financial missteps taken because of the symptoms of ADHD. It can be costly. But it can be minimized by being aware of the causes and using the systems, processes, and automation noted above.
If you find you have been paying the ADHD tax, be kind to yourself. Everyone will make financial mistakes. Recolonize what you have done, try to put controls and systems in place to help avoid making the same mistake, and then move on. Shame, self-doubt, anxiety, and depression can cause more financial mistakes.