Due to the rise in the cost of living, and increased fuel and energy prices, most of us are now having to tighten our belts and consider our spending more carefully.
Managing money takes a lot of organisation and self-control and it’s quite common for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to struggle to control their spending habits.
This can be directly related to some of the common symptoms of ADHD, which can lead to impulsive spending, difficulties with the organisation of financial affairs, not planning for the future, and finding it hard to stick to a spending or savings plan.
Money worries can lead to a great deal of stress and anxiety that can be particularly difficult for an ADHD adult.
Here are some ADHD-friendly tips to help get your spending habits under control.
Reduce your spending on food and energy
A lot of our outgoings are down to our lifestyle choices and there are lots of small things we can do that, when added together, will make a big difference. Here are some suggestions:
To reduce money spent on food and food waste, plan your meals more carefully. Limit how much you eat out or get take away food or drinks. If you buy your lunch every day, try making your lunches in advance and taking them with you. If you cook in the evening, can you eat leftovers for lunch the next day?
Batch cooking is effective as it saves time, money and energy. It’s also worth checking the contents of your freezer; most people have items in there that they have had in for a while; make sure you use them up. Vegetables are cheaper to buy in bulk and if you cut them up and freeze what you don’t need, they won’t go to waste. Not many people think to do this, but it saves both time and money.
It can be hard to reduce fuel usage but there are ways to do it. Can you do fewer shorter trips or share lifts more? The way you drive can also have an impact; driving too fast, accelerating too quickly, driving with a heavy load and stopping suddenly, all lead to high fuel consumption. Electric and hybrid vehicles are improving all the time and becoming more widely available. While the cars themselves tend to be expensive, switching to electric is definitely something to consider in order to save fuel.
To reduce energy, can you turn down your radiators or take showers instead of baths? Can you have your heating on for less time in the day and be more vigilant about turning it off when you’re out?
Create a spending plan
You only have to do it once!
First, note down how much comes into your account. Then have a good look at your bank statement to see what you spend on bills, food, transport, mortgage/rent and other essentials. Next, work out how much you can afford for non-essentials without taking you to the absolute limit. Divide this into weekly amounts you can spend. If the thought of analysing your spending like this worries you, ask someone you trust to do it with you.
Another tip is to check your direct debits/standing orders carefully – is there anything you pay for that you don’t really need? Often we sign up for things that we end up not using much, and then forget all about them, so it’s worth having a look.
Set spending limits
There are a number of ways you can do this.
One way is to track your cash by withdrawing a set amount at the same time each week. That way the only money you need to track is what’s in your wallet. However, we are spending less and less cash now so this might not work for everyone.
Another way is to give yourself an allowance in another account. As well as the account your main income goes into, set up a separate account just for non-essential items. Once the money in your second account is spent, do not allow yourself any more until your next pay day. This is a good option for an adult with ADHD who is prone to impulsive shopping.
Pay all bills online and where possible have them set up as direct debits and standing orders. Have all bills leaving your account on the same day so it’s clear how much money is left.
If there are payments you have to make manually at certain times, get used to leaving yourself reminders on your phone, calendar, diary or wherever you are most likely to look. If big annual payments such as car insurance always take you by surprise and are difficult to handle, set them up as monthly. It’s easier to have payments spread throughout the year than in lump sums.
Use an online banking app
This is the easiest and quickest way to see exactly what you are spending. Get into the habit of checking it regularly so you can keep on top of your finances. If you can, set it so you get notifications about income and outgoings. That will make you more aware of what’s happening to your money.
In the current economic climate, saving is difficult. However, it’s not impossible and even saving a little here and there can make a big difference. People are more likely to keep money in savings once it’s there. They are also less likely to spend it, if they have to take action to do it. So if you can, set up automatic savings payments that leave your account on payday. Savings quickly add up and you’ll soon be able to afford the house deposit or holiday you want to book. It’s also really satisfying to be able to buy something after saving up for a long time.
Talk about money
There’s still a big stigma attached to talking about money but doesn’t keeping it shrouded in secrecy make it harder to deal with problems? You don’t need to run down the street shouting about your finances, but it is okay to talk about money with people you trust. This is especially important if your ADHD symptoms make managing money challenging for you. Make sure that someone you know is aware of any issues you have and that you can talk to them about it.
Sell Your Stuff
It’s a great idea to sell items before you buy new ones. Selling in this way not only gives you back some cash, but it’s actually quite enjoyable too.
Some popular channels people use to sell items are Ebay, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Vinted (clothes only). If you have a lot of items, Car Boot and Garage sales can also be highly profitable.
For items that are not really worth selling, but still have plenty of use in them, Freecycle is a good option. People give away their stuff for free to other people who can make use of it. It won’t make you any money, but it will help to declutter your home and reduce your carbon footprint.
If you put some of these ideas into practice, over time organising money gets easier. It’s important when you have ADHD, to face up to any issues you have around spending, and seek help if necessary. To really change bad money habits for good, you need to do it in a way that suits you. Keep it simple and consistent. That way, there will be fewer surprises and you will feel more in control of your finances.
At The ADHD Centre, we offer ADHD assessments and evidence-based treatment packages for both children and adults. Contact us on 0800 061 4276 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated March 2022