So, it is particularly important that you have the right structures in place. Because structures are the bridge between your intentions and the finish line, and will make follow through on your financial goals easier.
But I know that, even though ADHD may be the common denominator for those who are reading this article, the financial challenges are varied. Consequently, some of the challenges and suggested solutions apply to you and others don’t.
My hope is that this article will serve as a starting point for you to dig deeper into those areas that are relevant to you and will help you get your financial house in order in a way that also works with your ADHD.
#1 Know Your Objectives
This may seem obvious. But this is also where I see many people get stuck because they are not clear enough about what they want to achieve.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up some place else.
~ Yogi Berra
The SMART Goal model is one useful structure you can use to make your financial goals concrete. Take the example of debt reduction as a goal:
Be specific about how you are going to do this, otherwise it is just an aspiration.
Run all the numbers, so it is measurable.
Consider all aspects of your current circumstance so you know your plan is achievable. Is there anything you need to do or stop doing so it is achievable?
Assess whether your current choices and circumstances make this a realistic goal. Again, do you need to make some changes to make it realistic?
Decide the time frame. You get this one… Set interim goals and review regularly.
As an adult with ADHD, it is particularly important that you have a structure to reach your financial goals so they don’t remain just wishful thinking.
If you are not clear on your objectives, then this is where you need to start. Knowing your money related values will help you get clarity, as well.
#2 Get Support
Managing your finances takes time and effort on your part, for sure. But you may also need support to create and follow through effectively. The kind of support you require will, of course, depend on your particular needs.
Here are just a few options to ponder:
If you don’t feel you have the information you need to make informed decisions, you may need to meet with a financial planner. Here is an article explaining the difference between fee-only financial planners and commission-based agents and brokers.
Doing a money values exercise will help you, if you need to clarify your goals. Should I put more in retirement or go to the Bahamas? Are we going to cut expenses or add a cable channel to watch the Red Sox? Hmmm…
Maybe you know what you need to do, but just can’t seem to initiate and follow through. Try enlisting the help of a body double to help you get your stuff done.
Hiring a book keeper and /or accountant, especially if you have a small business, may be the ticket for you, if you need help with your books. Here is an article describing the difference.
Confused about where to start and what to do? An ADHD Coach can help you sort out the various pieces of the “puzzle” and create a plan, including accessing the right kind of support.
Need help getting back on your feet? Maybe a credit counselor is the right person to support you. Check out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® for more information on finding the right support.
Then, of course, there is your partner, if you have one. Negotiate who does which tasks. Can you take the finances or some part of it off your plate?
What kind of support do you need?
#3 Use The Right Tools
First, give yourself permission to experiment and flounder a bit in choosing the right tool. You may need some help. And you may even have to back track. That is, you may find that the tool you initially choose is not the right one for you, and you will have to look for another one.
That is just the way it goes, right?
Then, once you hit on the right one, it will take you time to learn how to use it. There is always a learning curve, of course. So, give yourself the space and time you need.
Setting your expectations for the time and effort needed to choose and learn how to use the right tool is important so you don’t end up getting so frustrated that you give up before reaching the finish line.
It will be worth it. Because, in the end, having the right tool will make life easier. Here are a few examples:
Mint is an excellent program, if your primary goal is to keep track of all of your accounts.
YNAB is great for those who are looking for a system for budgeting, as well as keeping track of accounts.
Pocketsmith is the one you may want to use for goal setting, as it is calendar based, allowing you to see your spending and compare it with your actual income.
Automating your finances, including overdraft protection, automatic bill payments and automatic deposit will save you time and minimize the chances of missed payments and additional fees. Schedule bill payments on the same day and close to when you get paid for easy oversight. Also, set a reminder a few days before so you can check that the money is available.
Shoeboxed is helpful for organizing scanned receipts; the DIY plan is free.
What other financial tools do you use and recommend? Readers always appreciate hearing what others are using, too.
# 4 Have Regular Meetings with Your Finances
If you are like most adults with ADHD, out of sight is out of mind. And you know this can have particularly serious consequences when it comes to your finances.
So, to keep your finances on the front burner, it is important to have regular meetings with them. I suggest you do this 2x a month, 1x a month at minimum. If you are in a relationship, it would be good to do this with your partner.
What you do during this time depends on your particular needs, but here are some suggestions:
Review credit card and bill statements.
Pay bills that are not on automatic payment.
Review and plan for upcoming bills, especially if they are irregular – not monthly.
Review your budget, and make decisions about where to spend or limit discretionary money.
Review successes and challenges. Decide whether you need to make any changes.
And, of course, if you are stuck, decide who you can reach out to for help.