If you are one of the 4% of American adults coping with ADHD, you understand how challenging it is to manage your daily finances.
You’ve probably called yourself a number of unflattering names when a check bounces or a bill goes unpaid. Others may think you are lazy or inept. Nothing could be further from the truth. ADHD is unrelated to intelligence, talent, and desire to succeed. Statistically, those with ADHD earn less and save less than the average fellow human who doesn’t have that challenge. Think about it. What are the skills needed to manage money well?
- Establishing and following a routine/system
- Attention to details
Does this sound like a recipe for disaster?! It often is. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make your finances run a lot more smoothly. The hard part is following the steps, so set your mind to just do one thing. If you like lists, make a list of what you need to do to make life easier.
1. Pay yourself first
2. Set bills on autopay where possible
3. Understand timing for what’s leftover
4. Spend what you want of the rest
Let’s say you get paid $4000 on the 5th of every month. That’s your starting day.
Tip: Have your check auto-deposited to your bank if possible.
Rule #1. Pay Yourself First. Use online banking or call your friendly banker and add a monthly transfer to a money market or a better yet, a Roth IRA (if you really want to make it hard to get). Start small if you need to. Do this on the 6th!
Now, whatever is left is for bills, first.
Rule #2. Put bills on autopay. You can set it up through online banking (preferred), or you can let companies take the money from your bank account. I don’t recommend using a credit card because if it gets replaced due to fraud, your bills may not get paid.
There will always be a few bills that can’t be automated. It’s usually best to pay them the day they arrive. You can still set the vendor up and schedule them online. (Not having stamps is no excuse!)
You will also need to mentally set aside the amount you spend on groceries, gas and other non-billed expenses. It might be easiest to carry cash for these or put them on a credit card with a low limit if you can be sure you’ll pay in full each month.
Rule #3. Know Your Timing. If you pay online, every payment that is scheduled will show up in the pending list. Your income has to cover all the bills being paid on or before the 5th of the next month, when more income arrives.
Rule #4. Spend What’s Left. Whatever is left after you pay yourself and subtract the bills paid by the 5th is yours! Let’s say there is $75 left. The best thing to do would be to have fun with some of it, but let that ‘cushion’ grow, so you can cover the unexpected car or furnace repair without dipping into savings.
The more you can automate, the less of your energy is spent on financial anxiety. If this still presents an insurmountable challenge, you may want to consider getting the help of an ADHD coach or hiring a Daily Money Manager to take care of finances and paperwork for you. It may be just what you need to be able to focus on using your innate talents to generate more income.
Is it time for you to stop being embarrassed and take action? The sooner you do, the less money goes down the drain.