Linda Walker asked:
ADHD money management is a paradox. The first thing financial experts say is never let anyone else have control of your money. The next thing they say is that you need to follow a strict budget, avoid impulsive spending and save for the future.
As an adult with ADHD, you know that is a recipe for disaster. After all, they are asking you to:
pay attention to the details of a budget,
consistently micro-manage your finances to get out of debt,
eliminate impulsivity in your spending,
plan for the future,
organize all your bills and receipts,
and so on…
It flies in the face of the very challenges ADHD adults face. Just think about how most ADHD adults see money management.
Typical ADHD Money Management
Budgets are so boring! Most people don’t use them, let alone ADHD-ers. Getting out of debt is the slow drip of water torture, unless you’re planning on winning the lottery! (Not an effective plan, by the way.) Eliminating impulsivity in something that’s as much fun as spending money? Forget it! Oh, and plan for the future? When there is only "now" and "not now," you’re not going to put money you could spend NOW for sometime that is NOT NOW! Sound familiar?
Harv Ecker, the well-known author of "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind," and a popular speaker on the subject of personal finances tells people that if you count on getting rich enough to have someone else take care of your money, you won’t make it. He explains that you won’t get rich if you don’t learn to manage your money, and you won’t stay rich if you let someone else take control of your money.
For adults with ADHD money management is so difficult that many (I’d even guess most) ADHDers never learn how to do it effectively. Studies show that on average ADHDers earn $10,000 less per year than non-ADHD-ers, and if you have trouble earning it, you’ll also having trouble keeping it. It doesn’t have to be that way though.
There are many ADHD-ers at the top of their game who excel in their careers, earning far above the average person with a comparable background. They’ve learned to work with their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. Your challenge is to become one of them, and it is possible, but it won’t happen by itself.
Learning ADHD Money Management
Where can you learn ADHD strategies for money management? Personal financial management is rarely taught in schools, so unless you’ve sought out extra education, you’re following the only financial model you’ve seen. You manage your money just like your parents. If your parents are excellent financial managers, if they are wealthy and are living the life style you dream of living in the future, good for you. However, if your parents aren’t living the life you want, it’s time to change your approach.
You can learn personal money management through books, seminars and classes. Unfortunately, even when they teach personal money management, nothing is said about ADHD money management, and without specific ADHD strategies, you might never get out of debt let alone build your savings. In traditional approaches, the first step to getting a handle on your finances is to "prepare a budget," and as you know, those words will make almost any ADHD adult shudder in fear.
Keys to ADHD Money Management
While you can’t learn all about ADHD money management in one article (see here to learn more), to get your financial affairs in order, apply these three ADHD strategies. The three keys to ADHD money management are:
Pay yourself first. You must save for the future. At some point, your income may be interrupted. You may need or want to stop working, and if you have no source of income, you’ll need to survive on what you’ve saved for a rainy day. Your first priority must be to save up for that umbrella! If anyone counsels you to pay all your bills and put the rest into savings, run away! You already know there’s never any left to go into savings.
Make everything automatic. While you don’t want to delegate responsibility for your personal finances, you can make the decisions about your ADHD money management strategies and then set up systems to operate according to your wishes. When you drive a car, you decide to speed up and step on the gas. The car responds to your bidding, but it doesn’t demand that you get out and push it yourself. When you automate your payments, with Internet banking and other systems, you set the strategy so you’re not giving up control, but the system compensates for your ADHD challenges. You’ll save on late fees and interest charges by never forgetting a payment, and you’ll protect your credit rating too.
Use what’s left over for whatever you want. If you’re saving for the future and paying all your bills, any money that’s left is yours to play with! It’s now safe to be impulsive if you want. Even if you spend every penny left over, your financial success strategy is still executing perfectly. You can spend it all, or save for a big purchase like a dream vacation.
There are also excellent ADHD strategies you can put in place for special money management issues such as getting out of debt or buying a home. If money management is presenting a special challenge for you, you may want to consider ADHD coaching to ensure you’re working with someone who can help you set up systems that will meet your special ADHD needs. ADHD Money Management Coaching programs can help you put the right systems in place while you maintain control over your financial future.
Life’s Better with ADHD Money Management
While traditional approaches to managing personal finances may give you a headache, once you get an ADHD money management strategy established and the systems set up to make sure it’s executed as planned, things get really interesting. You see, once you stop concentrating on mundane tasks like paying bills, you can turn your attention to earning money. ADHD-ers actually have a good chance of outperforming the general population in terms of personal prosperity. Once you focus your energies on getting the most out of your strengths. Typically, an ADHD-er who chooses a career that plays to his or her strengths will excel far beyond the average person.
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