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How to Avoid Financial Distress When You Have ADHD

ADHD symptoms can make financial planning and money management difficult.

ADHD symptoms can make financial planning and money management difficult.

What Is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattentiveness. It typically begins in childhood and continues into adulthood.

Common ADHD Symptoms

  • Daydreaming
  • Careless mistakes
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fidgeting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattentiveness
  • Impulsivity
  • Disorganization
  • Poor time management
  • Anger management issues
  • Procrastination
  • Mood swings
  • Low self-esteem

Why Do Some Adults With ADHD Experience Financial Distress?

The four most common symptoms of ADHD are impulsivity, hyperactivity, restlessness, and inattentiveness. Combined, these symptoms can lead to simple mistakes and an inability to focus on minute details or organize complicated tasks. These issues can create challenges for adults with ADHD when it comes to decision-making.

Money management requires patience, diligence, organization, and deadline management. For example, utility bills and credit cards must be paid by their due dates. You have to calculate how much to pay at the end of the billing cycle, set aside that amount, and disburse it. If an adult with ADHD misses the deadline due to inattentiveness, they may have to pay interest and fines.

According to a survey conducted by Oxford Academic, adults with chronic ADHD symptoms during childhood find it challenging to repay bills and are more likely to default on their payments in adulthood. The survey results also showed that adults with severe ADHD symptoms are less likely to save money and postpone buying necessary items.

Preliminary research suggests that medication and proper treatment may help to reduce the adverse effects of ADHD symptoms on financial health. In a recent interview given to ABC Australia, Dr. Stephanie Moulton Sarkis says, “People with ADHD are more likely to go into debt, impulsively spend and argue about money with their partner or spouse.” Dave Coghill, an ADHD expert from Melbourne University, says that with ADHD, individuals tend to make hasty decisions, which often leads to overspending.

Some of the most common money problems adults with ADHD face are impulsive spending habits and poor money management, often leading to debt. Impulsivity, poor time management, disorganization, and inattentiveness are a few of the reasons behind this.

4 Tips to Avoid Impulsive Spending With ADHD

Impulsivity is a major symptom of ADHD. So, it’s not uncommon for adults with ADHD to buy first and think later. The biggest problem with impulsive spending is that it may leave people with things they don’t need. And the “buy now, think later” mentality may push adults with ADHD to debt problems. Here are a few tips to avoid impulsive spending and future financial problems.

1. Before Making a Purchase, Look at Your Shopping List

Make a shopping list to keep track of what you need. When you go out shopping, look at the list before you pick something. It will help to control your overspending habit. Have a good meal at home before visiting the grocery store. This will help you avoid buying more than you need.

2. Add Items to Your Cart, Then Wait 24 Hours

When you are shopping online, add items to your cart and then wait for 24 hours. Look again at the items in your cart. Do you have enough money to buy what’s there? Do you need everything you selected? Take time to think it over.

3. Discuss Major Purchases With Your Family

Before buying a big-ticket item, discuss it with your family and friends. Ask for their suggestions. This will help you buy the correct item within your budget.

4. Pay in Cash Instead of Swiping Credit Cards

Credit cards give instant gratification and can lead to the habit of impulsive spending. If you have ADHD symptoms, it’s best to buy things with cash. This can help to control your spending impulse.

5 Tips to Avoid Financial Distress When You Have ADHD

In addition to the practical spending tips above, there are other ways you can reduce your chances of getting into financial distress.

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1. Speak to a Doctor

You can’t fix your financial problems without addressing the underlying issue. Speak to a psychiatrist to find out what medications or therapies are available to reduce your ADHD symptoms.

Ultimately, everything comes down to one thing. You have to learn how to manage your ADHD symptoms by understanding your triggers. That can help you to better manage your money in the future.

2. Consult a Certified ADHD Coach

You can consult a certified ADHD coach who can help you with money management. They can help you figure out how much money you have in your bank account, where you are spending money, and how much you owe. They can also provide solutions based on your financial situation.

3. Take Advantage of Technology

If you can’t keep track of your bills, you can automate your payments. This will help you avoid defaulting on your bill payments. Plus, you can bank online to find your deposits, withdrawals, and account balance with just a few clicks.

Automatic bank payments can help you avoid many problems resulting from unpaid bills, including termination of your insurance coverage. Automatic bank drafts can help you pay the insurance premium on time and get the coverage you need.

4. Determine Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

What are your short and long-term financial goals?

  1. Do you want to build an emergency fund?
  2. Do you want to buy an expensive gadget?
  3. Do you want to buy your dream home?
  4. Do you want to pay your creditors back?

Write down your goals in a notepad according to your priorities and the small steps you will take to achieve them. Look at your goals and your plan every day so that you don’t forget them. Take one step every day to move forward toward achieving your goals.

5. Organize Your Financial Documents

Make separate folders for different financial categories. Initially, you can make three folders—one for paid bills, one for unpaid bills, and one for other financial documents.

As soon as you receive a credit card bill, keep it in the folder labeled as "Unpaid Bills." This will help you remember the bills you need to pay for the current month. After you have made bill payments, move the bills to a folder labeled "Paid Bills."

Keep all other financial documents (e.g., your insurance policies, loan agreements, bank statements, sample letters to credit bureaus, credit reports, tax papers, etc.) in the third folder. Check all the folders every day to remind yourself of any essential financial responsibilities or tasks.

"Adults with ADHD often find the task of organizing their finances too tedious. As receipts and bills pile up, they may become overwhelmed to the point of denial or paralysis,"

—Jane Massengill (licensed clinical social worker and a certified ADHD coach)

The Bottom Line

For adults with ADHD, managing finances can be a challenging task. Individuals may feel overwhelmed when their bills pile up due to poor money-management skills. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fortunately, as discussed above, there is much that can be done to change the situation.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Lyle David Solomon

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