Guide to managing finances with ADHD
Symptoms of ADHD can make money management more difficult
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, can create many obstacles for adults. Specifically, adults with ADHD can have many issues when it comes to handling money.
ADHD and money don't always mix
In the brain, the prefrontal cortex controls a person’s executive functioning. Executive functioning is a set of skills that one uses to manage oneself and includes processes such as planning, organizingand learning from consequences, all of which are skills needed to manage money. Impulsivity and self-regulation are also controlled by this area of the brain.
Procrastination, disorganization and impulsivity – prominent symptoms of ADHD – can hurt your finances and can wreak havoc on any financial goals. Boring but important tasks, such as budgeting and paying bills, are often left undone when people procrastinate and don’t plan accordingly. Unfortunately, managing one’s finances also involves a lot of moving pieces, including different dates, bill amounts and paper bills, as well as many others. ADHD adults can also sometimes have a hard time remembering upcoming expenses, which can make it extremely difficult to plan for them and pay those expenses on time.
All of these pieces can negatively affect one’s finances if not managed in the right way. Adults with ADHD that have issues with money will find that these situations can be emotionally draining and can strain relationships. Money mismanagement can lead to large amounts of stress for these individuals.
Tips for efficient money management
1. Identify your problem areas
Are you likely to bounce checks, make impulsive purchases, miss paying bills, or rack up large credit card balances? Just one or even the combination of a few of these can lead to a great amount of trouble for your bank account and credit score. It’s important to evaluate your financial habits and identify where you fall short.
Understanding where you struggle can help you form a plan of action. Sometimes identifying your own problem areas can be a hard thing to do, so asking a friend, family member, or even a professional for help can be beneficial.
2. Set up direct deposits and auto pay
Statistically, people with ADHD are less likely to have savings accounts or retirement plans. Preparing for the future and having money for emergencies are vital aspects of money management. To combat disorganization and procrastination, you should automate as many processes as you can to reduce the number of moving parts that are involved in managing finances. This will help take the responsibility (and the potential to forget) out of your hands.
Start by setting up direct deposit for your paychecks, and then consider a monthly direct deposit from your checking account to a savings account to help you upstart your savings and emergency fund. Consider it as “paying yourself.”
Set your bills to autopay, especially your credit cards. Late or missed payments will hurt your credit score and impact your overall financial health.
Be sure to opt into any 401(k) matching that is offered by your employer. It can be frustrating to set aside money when you are used to bringing home a certain amount for each paycheck, but paying into a 401k, especially when it is matched by an employer, is an extremely smart option to help prepare for your future.
3. Get money management help
If money management seems too daunting to handle on your own, there are many resources out there to help you. Hiring a professional is an easy way to go because these individuals will help keep you accountable and will advise you on how to better handle your money. There are also software programs and apps for your phone, tablet or computer that can help you with money management.
By far the most popular budgeting app on the market, Mint allows users to connect bank accounts and credit cards to help track spending and create personalized budgets.
You can use PocketGuard to help you stick to your budget. It will track your monthly income, bills, expenses and savings to help you keep everything organized in one place.
According to The Balance, “You Need a Budget has a cult-like following of die-hard fans who lovingly refer to the app as YNAB.” YNAB assigns every dollar of your income a “job,” forcing you to allocate your money towards living expenses, paying off debt, saving, investing and more.
Goodbudget is a great app for couples who share their finances and budgeting process. It uses the same method as the popular envelope budgeting philosophy to help couples share and sync budgets with one another.
4. Use only one credit card.
While having credit is essential to overall financial health, having more than one credit card that you use frequently can make managing expenses and bills more difficult if you struggle with ADHD. Using only one credit card can make it easier to pay bills and keep up with the documents and terms of that card.
If you have accumulated credit card debt, consider doing a balance transfer to another card that you already own or a card that has a lower interest rate than the one that you are currently using. This will make managing your credit card debts a much easier process, and many balance transfer cards offer 0 percent APR intro bonuses to help you quickly pay off debt once you consolidate.
Shopping for the right credit card is like shopping for anything other necessity; you want the best quality for the best deal. Don’t get taken advantage of by your current card if the interest rate is astronomically high. At a minimum, evaluate credit card reviews to find the lowest interest rate available for you.
5. Organize financial papers.
Being organized is the key to winning the personal finance game. Make sure to create a drawer or folders in your home that is designated for your bank statements, bills, credit reports and other important money information.
Monitoring your credit reports, as well as your bank and credit card statements for mistakes, is another vital part of managing money. Mistakes can happen, but if you’re vigilant about checking your bank and credit card statements, you can rectify any issues immediately.
6. Reduce impulse spending.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but five out of six Americans admit to impulse buys. If you’re having trouble managing money, make a budget and stick to it. Avoid window shopping or browsing Amazon online. Incentivize yourself to stay on that budget with rewards.
Creating a monthly spending allowance keeps you and your bank account on track. It helps to eliminate any financial surprises and keeps you more responsible. If you do go shopping, know how much money you can spend while remaining within your budget.
While ADHD can add a level of difficulty to effectively managing finances, there are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you stay on track and on budget. What is this list missing? Comment to let us know what tips, tricks and apps that have helped you better manage your finances.
Where to go for help
Sometimes severe disorganization can be the result of a mental health condition such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or depression that make it difficult to keep up with routine details. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – especially if you’re dealing with a condition that makes it nearly impossible to organize and maintain your finances yourself. Professionals trained to deal with these difficulties can make a big difference. Here are some resources for finding professional help:
- Should you use a credit card as your emergency fund? – Credit cards come with myriad benefits, such as rewards and consumer protections, and can be a financial lifeline on rare occasions ...
- Credit card limit decreased? Why it happens, and what to do about it – A credit limit decrease can happen because your spending habits changed, or if your good credit is mixed up with someone else's bad credit ...
- Putting off the payoff: Why we carry balances on credit cards – Carry a balance on a credit card is risky, but it's not uncommon. Here are some reasons why we do it, and how you can break the habit ...