How to Manage Your Money with ADHD

This post is for all you LEGIT ADHD’ers out there, like yours truly ;) Who was diagnosed unofficially 8 years ago with it, and more formally 3 years ago – when his doctor gave him some mighty tasty pills which made him constantly high 24/7! Haha…  until said pills were discontinued and he woke up from a fun, yet very strange-like, haze ;) (They were part of the narcotic family)

But this post isn’t about tasty pills, rather how the disorder affects your MONEY. And how to help manage it better according to an article on Reuters I stumbled across yesterday.

Here’s a clip of some of the consequences of ADHD from those who have it MUCH MUCH worse than I, thank God. Those that are classified as “severe”:

“One of her clients… went out to buy groceries, got distracted on the way by a sign advertising an open house, and returned sans groceries, but with a contract on the house. Another client went to jail because he couldn’t face filing his federal income tax returns or paying his taxes. Another, who earned over $100,000 a year, lived for two weeks without electricity or running water because he forgot to pay the bills and was too embarrassed to call the utilities and sort it out.”

Pretty crazy, huh? It sounds funny reading that since they are exceptions to the rule, but it’s still a rather serious problem for many adults out there – approximately 4.1% according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And while I’ve never gone to jail or been too embarrassed to resolve a situation, I HAVE been known to buy a house on a whim. Which coincidentally led me to starting this blog you’re now reading 6 years later :) So at least there’s that…

Here are some other surprising tidbits about those with ADHD vs those without, according to a book the same article on Reuters referenced – “ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says“:

  • 57% are far more likely to miss loan payments, compared to 27%
  • 62% are more likely to buy items impulsively, compared to 18%
  • 54% are more likely to have a poor credit rating, compared to 8%
  • and 71% are more likely not to save for retirement, compared to 42%

Sad sad numbers indeed. All of which makes sense if you’re completely scatter brained and constantly have your attention diverted every 5 seconds (oh look, a squirrel!). But luckily there’s hope for us yet :) And plenty of proof that successful people come from all types of backgrounds, an idea for a project that someone REALLY should put together one day actually.

“I’m Tom Brady, and I have ADHD” (I have no idea if Tom Brady does or does not have attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, but it would make for a motivational blog nonetheless :)). In fact, I think my brother game me that idea a while back, though for celebrities with OCD (obsession compulsion disorder) instead… which he’s suffered from for many many years now, poor brother :( But I digress…. (oh look, Tom Brady!).

This same awesome article also goes into a few tips that can help those with ADHD too. Things like:

  • Developing a bill storage system that is simple, consistent and visible. I use a basket which then gets xferred to a filing box in my desk drawer (I have one of those old school desks which has huge cavernous drawers that allow me to place filing stuff in it :) So it’s right there next to my computer once I’ve paid things!)
  • Putting yourself on a schedule. Easier said than done, but it def. helps.
  • Using financial record keeping software. Tools like, you need a, etc
  • Using strategies to curb impulsivity. Like ” taping receipts to impulse purchases and leaving them in the trunk of your car for 24 hours before deciding to keep them.” – Something I’ve said for yearrrrrrs to do! Minus the tape.
  • Getting help. From a professional.

All good ideas for sure. To which I’d also tack on:

  • Make to-do lists. On paper, or better yet, your hand! Something you can never lose, hopefully.
  • Put things on the calendar – and READ the calendar! Google has made this easier than ever.
  • Drink coffee to help you focus (if you don’t like medication). For whatever reason it reigns me in like none other which is one of the most important things for those with ADHD or ADD.
  • Don’t commit to things you know very damn well you have a good chance of flaking on. Not like dreams or goals or anything – those are good to strive for – but the every day tasks/meetings/lunches/whatever. There’s nothing wrong with saying “no” more and even admitting you suck at keeping meetings. I learned to do this at the very first financial blogger conference I attended when I failed to show up at over 50% of my scheduled meetups because of lack of focus, craziness at conferences, and my hatred of stopping in the middle of something I’m ACTUALLY focused on. The more you can give yourself a realistic environment to thrive in (which for me is a “go with the flow” one), the better, and less flaky, you’ll be in the end. Win-win for everyone!

Okay, I should probably wrap this up there as it’s already taken me 2 hours to put this together as my mind keeps wondering elsewhere, haha… not even joking, though I wish I were :)

The point is, disorders in general – whether ADHD or OCD or any others out there – really do affect our lives. Both financially and in every day living. But that doesn’t mean we can’t lessen the effects of it and continue on accomplishing our goals like every other “normal” person out there! And I put quotes around that because there really is no such thing as a normal person, really. We all have our hangups, some are just more noticeable than others.

If you’d like to share your own with us, we’d love to hear them and support you :)

Photo credit: jumpinjimmyjava

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  1. Lance @ Money Life and More September 25, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    I have so much ADHD I can’t even read most blog posts all the way through in one sitting. I always finish them, but I have to split them up. How sad…

    1. J. Money September 25, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      I’m guilty of scanning most of them myself. That’s why I’m so big into bolding key areas and chunking them up with headlines and pictures, etc. It helps keep people like us reading and at least scanning to the info we really care about so we don’t take one look and then dash off ;)

      1. Micro September 25, 2013 at 6:15 PM

        I can usually hold off on scanning unless it starts getting into a long monologue. Then my eyes start to glaze over and I start glossing through looking for a main point. This is pretty rare since most blog articles tend to be relatively short.

  2. a terrible husband... September 25, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Awesome post, J$. I’m one of those “if I were growing up today they would definitely diagnose me with something” guys. A lot of people see that mentality as looking at disorders at over-diagnosed. I see it as the opposite – that we understand more now than before and, if anything, we under-diagnosed back then.

    Understanding how everything from personality traits to habits to disorders touch relationships and money is such a great cause to advance.

    So I commend you for highlighting it here for so many folks to think about. Awesomesauce.

    1. J. Money September 25, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      Thanks man :) And I agree – I think a lot more people have it than they realize. They just think it’s normal and carry on maybe not even knowing there’s help out there if they really want it.

      One of the first things I asked the doctor when he first told me I had it was actually if meds would turn me into a different person and I’d lose my “edge/creativity.”

      He laughed and said that’s what everyone’s first question is with ADHD! :) And then retorted with, “Just think of it this way: You’ll be YOU, only a BETTER version of yourself!” And I was like, sign me up!!! Haha….

  3. Brian September 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    Isn’t the squirrel the official mascot for ADHD? I have a family member with ADHD and it’s the running joke. I think the biggest thing with any disorder is awareness, having them out in the open with those around can allow them to help.

    1. J. Money September 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      Yup! That’s why I put him there at the top for everyone to oggle ;) I don’t think he appreciates it though…

  4. Sheri September 25, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Caffiene is a quick trick to test children for ADHD – The drugs to help with ADHD are generally drugs that affect neurotypicals the same way caffiene does: Ritalin (speed) etc. ADHD people process it differently. If coffee calms you, then you may likely have a spot or more of this brain difference. I gave my younger child coffee for a couple of years before we had to switch to harder drugs.

    Google calendar is my friend with multiple reminders set — you can set more than one of the same type of reminder to work kind of like a snooze feature. Help move things from short-term to long term memory by writing them down as you say them OUT LOUD. (it’s a quick tell-me-three-times thing: see, hear, think it) At least that helps me get through things.

    If it is a possile stressor item seriously consider automagic billpaying – not on a monthly rather on a paycheck basis.

    PS Not a doctor, see a doctor if you think … blah blah blah – There are experiential items I have seen work time and again on true AD(H)D people. And, though I don’t recommend long-term use: no-doze would also help in the same way as it is pure caffiene (AGAIN – NOT A DOCTOR, this is EXPERIENTIAL ONLY) caveat caveat YMMV etc etc

    1. J. Money September 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      Thanks for the tip :) And the note that you’re also not a doctor, haha… Very smart to add in these days as you never know who’s reading and may start doing stuff without researching it at all.

  5. Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget September 25, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    I like what you said at the end, that there’s no normal person out there. I think about that a lot. What is normal, anyway?! And it makes me feel better about my own hang ups! :)

    And I must say, these tips are great to keep in mind for everyone!

    1. J. Money September 25, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      It’s true, right? We’re all special unique snowflakes and there is no normal ;)

  6. Scott September 25, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    I’m old school bro. I was legit ADD before they even knew about the “H”. And I was doing Ritalin before that was even cool :-)
    High powered coffee is my drug too when I really want to hunker down. I’ve also noticed I’m waaaay more productive earlier in the day.

    1. J. Money September 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Haha… nice. Though sorry to say that those bearing the “H” are more cool than without ;)

  7. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions September 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    My dad wanted to buy a guitar with steel strings, so he picked up the WantAds (remember those? Printed classified ads), and ended up buying a boat instead! He named it “steel strings.”

    1. J. Money September 25, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      Hahahhahahah… that is awesome. Does he still boat at all? I bet no ;)

      I still have a complete guitar package myself (guitar, books, stands, straps, amps, you name it) when I went on a “time to become a rock star” binge… been meaning to put it all up on Craigslist one of these days too – they cost a pretty penny.

  8. Dear Debt September 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    Great post! I don’t think I am ADD or ADHD, I just sometimes feel like it with all the back and forth with technology and social media. Constantly moving and checking. I am legit more OCD though. I try to keep it low key, but my rituals include checking over my purse and saying things in a specific order to ascertain they are there. Testing that the door is locked 5x. My rituals happen in odd numbers….it’s not too bad, but still annoying. Luckily my rituals are fairly productive like making sure my purse has everything or the house is locked. I first realized signs of OCD when I was 13 and I used to make sure my uniform shirt was clean, by touching the right sleeve, to middle, to left sleeve, saying “CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN”. LOL! OCD is very odd to others and I wish I could explain it. My only guess is that it gives me a false sense of control, when I know deep down there is so much that I can’t control and I have to just let be. If I were better, I’d love to write a post about OCD people and time management! Rituals are such a time waster.

    1. J. Money September 27, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      Awwww, I hear ya girl. Big time wasters but very very hard to break unfortunately for people like us :( My new ritual involves scanning my finished articles up and down at least 5 times before it feeling “good” in my head and ready to go. Adding another minute or so on top of all the other stuff needing to finish a post (sometimes I go way over 5 and I just pray it’ll stop and I can move to a *different* ritual, haha.. I find I tend to latch on to one or two and then drop ’em and go to others – which is a LOT better than having them build up! So I try and not complain too much – even though I know it sucks :))

      Appreciate you sharing your stuff with us here – you’re def. not alone! You’ve probably seen this before, but if not you’ll enjoy it :) Talks about your door locking too!

  9. Charles@Gettingarichlife September 26, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    I’m always trying to do multiple things at once and at times I get lost. In regards to my financed I automate everything from savings to bill pay. Prior to bill pay I used to pay bills late all the time because I would keep forgetting.

    1. J. Money September 27, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      Yup! A perfect way to help keep you on track without worrying/thinking/messing up!

  10. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen September 30, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    I’ve definitely got some OCD in me. Sometimes I let it take over and I find myself doing one thing for hours at a time until absolutely perfect. I’ve been trying to control it more though that I don’t need everything to be absolutely perfect.

    1. J. Money October 2, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      Exactly!!! A lot easier to do in theory than in practice, but you’re totally right – walking away at 80% decent can have almost the same effects as spending double the time to get it to 90 or even 99%. Cuz we all know there’s no such thing as 100% perfect, haha… at least with OCD.

  11. Jackson May 13, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    I have ADHD but im a good problem solver, i have the ability to obtain things i want quicklier, or for a test i study the night before and keep the book in my mind till the test come, and also if i want something i prepare in my mind what to say to people in a way that i sound sexy and get what i want, its ADDictive, and when i get bored i just go to a cub with friends to play tennis. The only thing is that u need to learn to be organised, then just live free.
    I also discovred that a lot of my favourite singers and actors have/had (some are dead) ADHD, like Kurt Cobain, John Lennon (that explains his creatiity), Britney Spears (she is mad crazy), Elvis Presely, Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey (he is very adhd), Adam Levine (he Apple about that), Justin Timberlake (he also has ocd), Emma Watson (she admitted, and she is very inteligent), Robin Williams (the actor), and much more. That shows that wen we are inspirared in something we triumph.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      Interesting! Had no idea some of those celebs had it too. Just goes to show we’re all people at the end of the day :) And that everyone has something they’re working on no matter their status/stage in life!