ADHD money management takes some time to master. ADHD and finances can often appear at odds with one another. For most people, handing personal finances is confusing and difficult and overwhelming. Add to the normal person’s anxieties extra disorganization and less focus, and ADHD money management might provide the perfect recipe for disaster.
No matter how you might feel about finances, if you have ADHD you more than likely struggle with keeping them tracked and in line. After all, there is a good reason why you most likely will never find accounting on a list of ADHD friendly jobs. Due to the impulsive drive of ADHD and the switching from one activity to another, managing finances and keeping a budget presents challenges.
To help get your home finances in line, we want to provide a few tips to get you started. Use the following strategies to help build a budget that works for you and stick with it to keep you out of the red.
Build Both a Monthly and Weekly Budget
You need a budget. This doesn’t just apply for ADHD money management, we all, no matter who we are, need a budget. You simply cannot manage your finances without having some understanding of how much you make and how much you spend.
If you find the simple prospect of a budget discouraging, don’t lose hope just yet. At its core, a budget is nothing more than comparing income to expenses. That’s it. You can literally make a simple budget in a few minutes. To make things even easier for you, try out this one-minute budget template at this link.
To make a budget, you first write down what you make in a given amount of time (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly), and the total of what you spend in that same time frame (you can get this most likely from quickly pulling up your credit card account).
You then subtract what you spend from what you make and the difference provides you with an idea of what you need to do next. If the number is a negative number you need to spend less. If it is a positive number, you might be on a good track and need to identify ways to invest or save your excess money from each pay check.
Aim Small, Miss Small
To effectively tackle ADHD money management, you need to make your goals manageable and trackable. Unfortunately, many ADHD individuals find tracking goals difficult. If you feel this applies to you, don’t worry, though, you still have it in you to stay on target. First, read up on making effective goals for ADHD adults. Secondly, just keep in mind the maxim: “Aim small, miss small.”
This means that you need to make your objectives smaller and easier to obtain. With smaller objectives, you increase the likelihood of meeting your goals and decrease the likelihood of missing by a significant amount.
For your budget, you need to think primarily in terms of spending on a daily basis instead of for the whole month. If you only add up your spending on a monthly basis, then there’s a good chance that you may miss your goal by a large amount. Instead, if you take how much you could spend for the month and break it down weekly or daily and check in on it daily or weekly, you have time to make corrections so small errors don’t become large ones.
Use Electronic Notification Reminders
Trying to remember all your payment deadlines can have you looking cross-eyed trying to keep them all straight. We all struggle with paying bills on time and keeping them in order. With the number of things you have to pay each month from credit cards to mortgages to car payments to water bills, you name it, it’s a wonder any of us can keep them altogether.
For ADHD money management, when it comes to paying bills on time, we strongly recommend setting electronic notification reminders. You could set these on your calendar on your phone or email to alert you of a payment that is due a day in advance. Companies even make watches that are specifically designed to remind you in different ways of the different things you need to do. You can read more about these watches at this link.
Even better than electronic reminders, though, would be setting up automatic withdrawals from your back account or charges to your credit card for as many payments as possible. Automatic payments remove a lot of the hassle of having to keep payments organized and timely.
If you go this route, though, you still need to review payments made each month. You could review payments made by going through your accounts on a set day each month. Make sure to double check that each payment went through and for the right amount.
Track Your Spending
For ADHD money management to work, you have to track your spending. Typically, most people zone out at this point. Few things make us want to pull out our hair more than tracking down every last dollar we spend.
Tracking your spending, though, helps you know where you actually spend your money and helps you identify the ways to cut back. You could go the old school route and use a checkbook or excel spreadsheet to track the dollars. A simpler and easier way, though, might be to just let your bank or credit card company track everything for you.
You can make all your purchases on your bank debit card each month, which means that all your purchases will then transfer straight into your account statement. Then you simply have to review your statement each month to see where the money goes. The same idea can work for credit cards, just be sure to pay off the credit card balance in full each month to avoid any interest or fees.
An even better way to track your spending, depending on your personality, might be to use different money tracking apps. You can find a list of different apps currently available at this link. Since you can access most apps through your phone, you can always have your money tracker available and at your side to put in purchases as you make them.
Refrain from Making Rash Purchasing Decisions
ADHD individuals thrive best when they have a process or routine to depend upon. For ADHD money management, one important process to create involves what you should do when you have the opportunity for a large purchase. For personal finances, you need to know how you spend every dollar, but you will still be fine if you make a few additional soda or snack purchases outside of your budget.
What you can’t afford, though, is a rash purchase of a $100 jacket that you don’t need or a spur of the moment online order of $50 headphones. For purchases over a certain amount, such as $50, you need to have a “pause and consider” process. You need an automatic check on your ADHD impulsivity, or else you will spend your monthly budget in a day and half.
Whatever limit you decide, find a way to delay an impulsive response. For instance, you could determine when faced with such an unexpected purchase to call or text a friend each time to go over the purchase with. If after talking or texting with your friend, you both decide the merits of the purchase, you can then buy the item. Alternatively, you could make your process a set amount of time, such as 24 hours, between when you think of buying something and actually buying it. At the very least, you should run through a list of decision-making questions like the ones found at this link.
Whatever you do, make sure you do something. A few large purchases can make a significant difference in the direction your ADHD money management takes in a month, a year, or even several years.
Learn to Save Before You Need It
No one likes saving money. In fact, most people hate it and most Americans simply don’t save at all. So many things tempt us on a daily basis to spend more and more that it can be almost painful to save rather than spend.
We need to save now, though, because one day you will need it. Whether when you retire or when you have a medical emergency and the medical bills start piling up, each one of us will need savings to help pay for things later in life. Part of effective ADHD money management involves learning to save today before you need it tomorrow.
Starting to save can present challenges, but, really, it can be a lot easier than you think. For instance, you can set up through your online banking account to have a certain amount transferred from your checking account each month into your savings. Alternatively, many companies will allow you to list more than one account for your direct deposit. This means you could automatically set up a direct deposit each month from your paycheck into savings. You can find many more ways of saving money on a daily basis at this link.
These methods remove the sting of moving the funds yourself. You can think of it as just another deduction. Additionally, you’ll appreciate your planning and foresight in a few months when your car breaks down. This also just helps you get one step closer to really nailing down good ADHD money management.
Build in Accountability for Effective ADHD Money Management
No matter how independent you see yourself, we all need some level of accountability. In fact, setting up effective accountability is listed as just one of our many ADHD strategies to help you thrive.
As our last piece of advice for ADHD money management, we leave you with this: build in accountability. If you have a spouse, make sure you plan out your budget with your spouse and review your spending with them. If not, consider a close friend or family member. Just make sure you have accountability somewhere in your ADHD money management process.
Most of us might cringe at the thought of having to share our finances or review bad purchases. Trust us. Even though the process might feel painful, it truly helps to keep you on target and rein in your finances.
Here at FastBraiin, we want to see you succeed both in managing ADHD and in life in general. These tips offered here provide just a small portion of the resources that we want to share with you. Please keep us in mind as you continue to build an inventory of resources to help you manage your adult ADHD symptoms in all areas of life.