Adult ADHD & Money: 4 Easy Ways to Manage Money with ADHD
From paying the bills on time to creating (and sticking to!) a budget, managing money with ADHD can be hard. In general, finances cause anxiety for most people. For those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), however, money management can seem impossible.
Impulsivity, disorganization, memory problems, and trouble focusing are all very common symptoms of ADHD. Unfortunately, those symptoms make it difficult to keep tabs on your spending, manage your bank account, remember to pay the mortgage on time and set money aside for a rainy day.
A 2017 study by PLOS ONE found that adults with ADHD were more likely to carry higher credit card balances, incur more late payment fees, have more difficulty paying bills, and open fewer savings accounts than their neurotypical peers.
But there are some simple ways to improve how you manage money that, when used consistently, can keep you running in the black.
1. Use Cash When Possible
In a touchless society, most people aren’t carrying cash anymore. We swipe our debit cards, tap our phones to a screen, or Venmo a friend our half of the lunch tab. But for those with ADHD, making a habit of using cash whenever possible can be a game-changer.
Research proves that people (both neurotypical and neurodivergent) spend more money when they use a credit card than they do when they spend cash.
Using cash makes it much easier to track spending. That’s because cash is a finite resource. Once you spend it, it’s gone. That’s why cash can be a great strategy to help you manage money with ADHD. You’re cognizant of how much you’re spending and how much you still have in your wallet.
Not so for a credit or debit card. Using plastic (or Venmo, or Apple Pay) makes it easy to lose track of how much you’re spending on things you don’t really need. Leaving the cards at home and carrying only the amount of cash you intend to spend allows you to control your purchases. You can’t spend what you don’t have!
2. Track Your Spending
If you have trouble managing money, the conventional advice is “just stick to a budget.” But how do you stick to a budget (or even create one) without knowing exactly where your money is going?
The ADHD brain tends to gloss over small details necessary to track casual spending. You may know that your car payment is $X and due on the 15th, but do you know how much you spend on lattes, a night out with your spouse, or the candy bar you grab in the checkout line?
Make a commitment to track your expenses for an entire month. Write down every purchase you make as soon as you make it. You can buy a small journal to carry with you or use the note-taking app on your phone. At the end of the month, take a realistic look at what you’re spending.
Are you paying for two music streaming services when one would do? Spending too much on lunch at the office? Any opportunity to cut corners is more money in your pocket.
You may want to check out a budgeting app to help you like You Need A Budget – (YNAB) to help you end paycheck-to-paycheck living, get out of debt, and save more money.
When you track expenses consistently and know where your money is going, your confidence increases. You’ll manage your spending first, then you can create a budget that accounts for your fixed expenses, discretionary expenses, and savings goals.
3. Pay Bills As They Come In (And Set Reminders)
There’s no rule that you have to wait until the due date to pay a bill. As soon as a bill hits your mailbox or email inbox, pay it. (Or if you’re into online banking, set it up to get paid on time!) That eliminates the chance of you forgetting or accidentally spending the money earmarked for it before it gets paid.
Setting up automatic payments for fixed expenses can help you stay on track and avoid late payment fees. The money is automatically deducted on the due date without you ever needing to touch it. Be sure to set up reminders in your calendar so you can see what’s coming out of your account and when.
4. Get on the Same Page With Your Partner
It’s hard to manage money with ADHD to start, but adding a partner to the mix can be even more challenging.
So, if you’re sharing finances with a significant other, money can be a big point of contention in your relationship. Forgetting to pay a bill, spending too much on a hobby, or overdrawing your checking account will most likely frustrate your neurotypical partner who can’t understand why money is such a difficult concept for you to understand.
It’s crucial for you and your significant other to have regular conversations about your financial wants, needs, and goals. This looks different for every couple. Some might agree that anything above a certain dollar amount requires two yes’s or one no. Others may find that it works better if one partner handles all of the money.
It doesn’t matter what your system looks like as long as it works. Keep the channels of communication open.
Financial Security is Possible – Even with ADHD!
When it comes to ADHD, money matters! While ADHD can make it harder for you to reign in your spending, pay your bills on time, and save for a rainy day, putting simple systems and strategies in place make financial security an attainable goal, regardless of your diagnosis!