The subject of money is an important one for ADDers. Many ADDers find themselves at odds with money and in any number of situations because of their management of it and their attitude toward it.
- People with ADHD have a greater amount of debt, more difficulty paying their bills, and less money saved up than people without ADHD.
- People with ADHD have lower incomes than those without ADHD, even when they have a similar education level (Barkley, Murphy, and Fischer 2008).
- People with ADHD also miss more days of work due to “unofficial” absences (Secnik, Swensen, and Lage 2009).
- People with ADHD are more likely to take risks that lead to a loss of money (Dreschler, Rizzo, and Steinhausen 2008).
- People with ADHD have higher medical costs, prescription drug costs (for all medications, not just those for ADHD), and more total medical costs than those without ADHD (Secnik, Swensen, and Lage 2005).
Because of our society’s reliance on money as a function — and also as a symbol of ‘success’ or ‘worth’, an ADDer’s inability to handle theirs effectively also stigmatizes them in the eyes of others — which in turn makes them feel bad. It’s important to remember that money management can be coped with just like any other area of our lives and that debt, failure to pay bills on time or to budget effectively is not necessarily as reflection of us as a person. We simply need to try new things and foster new skills to improve this area for ourselves and our families.
One thing that I personally have done is to delegate much of the responsibility of money handling to someone else. In my case it was my partner. She made sure all the bills were paid on time, balanced the household budget and also handled my own personal money to prevent me from impulse buying.
If you don’t have someone in your life who qualifies in this area, see if you can find a financial planner to help you understand your money and put it into a perspective you understand. They will be able to suggest ways to budget, break down your spending habits and help you understand the flow of your income and outgo. Many communities have free or nearly free services to help you here.
If delegating is something you decide to do, I suggest that you don’t just drop it all off and walk away. Even if you have someone doing the lion’s share of the work, it’s still important for you to have at least a basic understanding of your finances to give you some power over it when you need it. The idea in this is to take a lot of the day to day stuff away from you so that it doesn’t become overwhelming.
Everyone’s attitude toward money is different. Some people like the convenience of their ATM card and online banking. Other’s scorn these conveniences in favour of cash in hand and cheque writing. It depends on you. Whatever your preferred method of financing is, make it work for you. Understand that if something isn’t working, it can be changed. For example, I have a bad habit of spending a lot of money on random purchases of convenience — what I call the Tim Horton’s factor. It’s not always coffee, but it tends to be food-related. And it all adds up. So I have had to on occasion stop taking my ATM card out with me when I leave home. Instead I take coffee with me in a reusable mug. On a hot day, I will bring a water bottle with me instead of buying one at the store. These little things matter.
Saving for the future is another hurdle ADDers face. We typically don’t think about something in the future — we have a ‘now or not now’ attitude about our lives. It’s just how we are wired — we don’t plan for things until they are staring us right in the face and this applies to savings as well.
One suggestion from the meeting was to stop spending your small change. Put all your twonies and loonies in a jar and don’t touch them. In a year you could find yourself with hundreds of dollars in there. This money can be used to put toward something you really want — a vacation, a new computer, etc. Or you can put it into a savings account.
One thing I do is to put $50 per pay into a tax-free savings account through my bank. This money is not easily transferable and so it is ideal for putting money aside safe from accidental spending.
If you have trouble remembering to pay your bills, you can use reminders. Computers and smart phones are great for this. You can set regular reminders for bill payments using any number of applications for your computer or other digital device. Some people also use pre-authorized payments to go right from their bank to the people they owe — just make sure that if you do this you have the money available at any given time to pay it out! If you aren’t digitally minded, get a wall or desk calendar and mark it up with bill payment dates and put it somewhere you will always have to see it — on the inside of your front door, the bathroom mirror, whatever!
If you are like me and you have large payouts like rent, house payments or credit card bills — these would be amounts that would be difficult to pay out all at once and leave you short for other things — put some of the money aside when you DON’T have to pay the bill, that way when the time comes, it will balance things out.
One thing you should not do is get down about your money situation. It’s unpleasant for us as times, but money is unavoidable. Money is a tool that allows us to do things in life, and because it’s a tool, we can learn how to use it. And we can use it our way, whatever way it is that works for us. It just takes some time and insight to figure out how.