I was rifling through one of the piles in my office when I found a royalty check from my first book (Adoption Reunions). The check’s date was February, 2010. I found it July, 2012.
It’s amazing how much money I’ve lost over the undiagnosed years. How much? Don’t ask me. First, I’d die of boredom looking for the documents to figure it out; second, I’d die of boredom doing calculations; third, if I were good at keeping track of things, I wouldn’t have lost so much money in the first place.
I’m not alone
Being less-than-fastidious money managers is common to those of us with ADHD. Why couldn’t my talent in precision fall in the money realm? (Who needs to see a one-pixel distance anyway? Or pick the lint off a stranger’s shoulder?)
People with ADHD are more likely to bounce checks, get dinged with late bill payment charges, higher banking fees, late penalties on overdue taxes and lots more.
There are less obvious ways we lose money. One is, we lose money. Literally: I once stashed away a $100 bill for safekeeping. I’ve never found it again. (Now that I think of it, that might not be ADHD, that might be the disreputable thug I used to live with. Now that bad choice was definitely ADHD).
We also lose track of time (and you know what they say about time), expensive jewelry and our wallets. I once spent three hours looking for my wallet: does that mean I saved money by multi-tasking?
The cost of instability
We lose money by changing jobs frequently; losing out on benefits; severance pay; retirement funds. (I think. I’ve never had a full-time job with any of those, I was guessing).
A lot of us move more than the norm. This means pizza and beer, AKA moving expenses. Or, if you’re not me, the expense of professional movers, whatever that is.
Moving expenses include switching utility bills to our new address; paying to have our mail forwarded (you know: paper mail; this probably doesn’t apply any more, and the delivery flyers will hunt us down wherever we go, so we don’t have to worry about that); and wasting time to let others know we’ve moved. Again.
We lose money to the bank when we run up service fees; lose track of our balance and incur non-sufficient funds penalties; and don’t choose the best banking plan.
Impulsive shopping, gambling, eating and substance taking can take a toll on our finances. Self-medicating can get expensive, in both financial and health costs. On the other hand, at least if you’re bombed you won’t care as much about money.
My ADHD Treatment Savings Plan
I may never be the best money manager, but my financial life has improved dramatically since my ADHD diagnosis and treatment (and bankruptcy discharge).
Bottom line, if you’re not managing your ADHD, you might also be mismanaging money.
Here are a few steps to get you on track:
Admit there’s a problem
- while you might find watching paint dry more exciting, admit the train wreck of your financial life and start keeping track of your money now!
- overcome shame and embarrassment; admit to yourself you need outside help
Get outside help
- admit to the outside help that you need outside help! (it won’t work just to admit it to yourself!)
- get free professional advice from a debt management counselor
- have money-wise friends help you learn new skills, keep you from making bad money decisions (yes, handcuffs might be necessary; if your beau is good with money, this one might be fun)
- when making decisions involving large sums (e.g. buying a house), use professionals you can trust (lawyer, realtor, contractor, banker) (I know some of that sounds contradictory, but just using your astrologer won’t cut it)
Save for a rainy day
- it’s hard to save when you’re impulsive, but it’s important
- I admit (see, I’m good at that) I need to improve on this one. I’m taking a multi-pronged approach: increase income; curb expenses; and praying to find that *#!&$ $100 bill
Good luck with your money management improvement plan! (No charge for the advice. See? You’re already ahead. Good job.)
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Last reviewed: 5 Sep 2012