Finances and ADHD A Difficult Relationship, But Not Impossible

August 20, 2022
by 
Dr Stefan Ivantu

Shopping online with ADHD

Managing your money can be challenging if you have ADHD. Budgeting is more difficult, spending is more impulsive, and conflicts over money are becoming more frequent in people suffering from this condition. With the growing popularity of online shopping and next-day delivery, it is very common for people with ADHD to order items that may not need. Due to postponing returning the items, and the burden associated with packing and postage, they feel stuck with unnecessary items. People with ADHD may have a lower online return rate, however, research and data are required to prove this concept.

For online purchases, the average rate of return was at nearly 16% in 2021 - in the general population

Two PC monitors suggest online shopping

The ADHD tax, does it exist?

The financial effects of a poor sense of time are extensive, yet ADHD sufferers may not directly spend more money. However, they are more likely to forget to pay a bill on time, which could result in penalties, worse credit scores, and associated debt. In light of this, it might be challenging for people with ADHD to obtain a solid mortgage or to commit to purchasing a property. People with ADHD are more likely to have speeding fines, their car insurance premiums may be higher. Because of difficulties in proactive planning, and comparing car insurance prices they can end up paying significantly more. And this pattern can apply to so many aspects of their life and financial wellbeing.

- "The ADHD Tax" - can be defined as experiencing higher expenses due to a combination of: postponing, careless mistakes, limited organization skills, and impulsivity.

Three coin stacks with writing tax

Planning Finances with ADHD

For the simple reason of avoiding admin work, many people with ADHD don't like to look at their finances. Even though cognitively they should know better, they like to think that everything will turn out for the best. They have broken the very first financial management rule, which is the problem. And very often this pattern can be followed-up by postponing, until someone eventually comes to the rescue. In some relationships, this may not be a problem when a supportive partner or spouse is taking full responsibility for managing the finances.

"We don't need to deal with the bills if we can't see them - they don't exist"

                                      

Top 5 ideas on how to manage expenses with ADHD:

  • Get the appropriate support for ADHD
  • Set one day a week for planning expenses
  • Have a financial advisor
  • Generate personal strategies
  • Remember, it’s not the same for everyone

Woman managing finances, with smart phone, laptop and tablet.
Photo by Vecteezy

Individuals with ADHD can excel at managing finances

Some individual strengths might turn to have ADHD into a personal advantage rather than a disadvantage. Not everyone with ADHD has the same personality traits as overspending. Some ADHD sufferers could develop an obsession with money matters. They may become so totally absorbed in their task as a result of this that they fail to notice anything else. This has the advantage that someone with ADHD can focus on a task until it is finished. Sometimes a person with ADHD needs professional support in harnessing these traits to their benefit.

A strong woman showing the fist with the writing focus

Conclusion

To understand the future, we need to have a look at the history. In the beginning, people suffering from ADHD were not allowed to have special circumstances when sitting exams. For some time, it was thought ADHD manifested only in children, and cannot continue during the adult life. Currently, times had changed and the Joint Council for Qualifications published the Adjustments for Candidates with Disabilities and Learning Difficulties, providing guidance to support people with neurodiverse conditions.

Although overspending is not widely recognized as a symptom of ADHD, the symptoms of inattention can become a significant factor in managing finances. People with ADHD may be more likely to have difficulty controlling their spending due to impulsivity and limited planning skills. Additionally, ADHD may make it more difficult to stick to a budget or manage finances effectively. Therefore, people with ADHD may be more likely to overspend without the appropriate support. It would be helpful to have more research in this field, and eventually followed by policies to support people suffering from neurodiverse conditions.

A teenager on the top of the mountain showing victory

References and further reading

FCA launches guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers | FCA

Access Arrangements, Reasonable Adjustments, and Special Consideration - JCQ Joint Council for Qualifications

Financial self-control strategy use: Generating personal strategies reduces spending more than learning expert strategies - ScienceDirect

Life With a Partner with ADHD: The Moderating Role of Intimacy | SpringerLink

The Long-Term Financial Outcome of Children Diagnosed with ADHD - PMC (nih.gov)

Financial judgment determination in adults with ADHD | SpringerLink

Managing Money and ADHD: Saving and Spending - CHADD

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