My clients Joe and Sarah called to work with me because one has ADHD, the other doesn’t, and the bills seemed to be an impossible situation. They have plenty of money to pay bills but have late charges, don’t feel in control of their financial life, and want to figure out a system for themselves. They also want to begin teaching their adult children about money management. Here’s what I heard:
Money – bills or investments – it’s all so boring to deal with. We avoid it! Details, mundane, paperwork ridden, and emotional. Neither of us wants to handle the bills but we know we have to. We have different ways and can’t figure it out on our own.
Not ideal for the ADHD brain which needs energy, spark, newness to get engagement and can have trouble managing emotions well. And procrastination? Thy name can be bills, too. Add to that the different attitudes we have about money. And that we all have different ways to organize papers, deadlines, systems – a perfect storm.
Proven ADHD-Friendly Strategies
Don’t try all of these at home. Do read the list and see what appeals to you, grabs your attention or instinctively feels like it might work. Try it. Experiment and see what works.
- Educate yourself on money first. Maybe you don’t know as much as you’d like and that makes it hard to get started. My favorite articles are collected on my “Your Money Life” Pinterest Board.
- Goals/results first. Figure out your “why” for money. What are you looking to do? Teach your adult children? Go on more vacations? Some clients have created a money vision board as a visual, constant reminder.
- Do it together: It’s easier and keeps you both up to speed on your money life. Sarah (no ADHD) is better at juggling the pieces: the two incomes, the various bills, the best days of the month to schedule the bills. Joe is better at coming up with fun things to do and figuring out each weekend or event, including the costs. He keeps the fun quotient high. He’s great with technology, too. Have a weekly “money meeting.” Use all your strengths.
- If you live alone, here are a few strategies to create time to pay bills and deal with financials: Play music or listen to a book or a TED talk; work outside your home/office at a coffee house or library; write out a small plan or mini checklist of the 15 minute steps to get things done; go through financial documents and read what you do know and mark what you want to learn more about or need to answer; work with a financial person so you have an accountability person for when you need to get things done, or work with an organizer or coach to figure out systems that are ADHD friendly.
- Track how you’re doing: If you have credit card debt, track your success at paying down each card. Calculate the payoff horizon so you have a goal. Keep track of how you spend and what you spend on; there are plenty of apps or use a small notebook. Tracking makes us feel in control and empowered that we really are making a difference in our money life. If you don’t know where you’re headed or where you’ve been, how do you know where to focus?
- Autopay and scheduling through your bank: Choose one primary way to handle bills. If you use both methods, and with ADHD have trouble juggling the pieces, you’ll have trouble remembering which bills are on autopay; when each pulls out your payments; which you have to schedule on your own, etc. Simplify the pieces so it’s less difficult and/or annoying.
- Measure your progress: Add up your late charges for a month and see where you stand. Put your new system in place and add up the charges each month. Measure your progress. You can track how much you’ve freed up on your credit limit. Tracking can be simple: look at the bills as they arrive each month; start a tracking system in Excel, on paper, or using an app. Please spend more time on understanding the numbers than organizing your system. Do use technology if it engages your brain and that helps you pay attention to your money life.
- If you have a growing business, this makes household finances particularly tricky. You’ll both need to understand the inconsistent flow of income and expenses at first; it’s a big mindset shift versus the regular corporate paycheck, which your spouse may have. Hire some expertise here: an accountant who can teach you, a QuickBooks advisor who knows accounting well, or take a course. Even if you hire out, remember that you’re going to need to know enough to manage that person. Side benefit, you get an accountability partner for yourself, too.
P.S. If you’d like support, ideas or coaching around how to get organized at home or at work to handle the money management systems (not the money itself of course), give me a shout.
Sue@OrganizeNH.com or call 603.554.1948