Financial Management Tips and Resources for People With ADHD

Updated: May 23, 2024

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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition found in both children and adults. It can hamper the brain’s executive functioning, which we rely on to achieve goals, organize, plan and focus. Common symptoms of ADHD include impulsiveness and difficulty concentrating on boring or repetitive tasks. Therefore, people with ADHD often experience challenges with personal finance tasks like forming and sticking to a budget.

People with ADHD can get assistance in effectively managing their finances by employing strategies that cater to their strengths. For instance, gamifying your budget and setting up automated financial systems can streamline money management tasks and reduce the need for constant attention. Regular check-ins with a financial advisor attuned to your needs can also provide tailored guidance and practical steps for feeling on top of your finances.

ADHD’s Financial Management Challenges

Common financial challenges for those with ADHD include impulsive spending, resistance to planning and disorganization, which can complicate managing money and adhering to a budget. Here’s what to watch out for if you or someone you love has ADHD.

Frequent Impulsive Purchases

People with ADHD can struggle with impulsive behavior, which sometimes manifests in reckless spending. You may find yourself making frequent, unplanned purchases that range from small items to significant expenditures, which can severely disrupt budgeting efforts.

Document Disorganization

People with ADHD often struggle with organizing financial paperwork — such as bills, receipts and tax documents — which can lead to missed deadlines and financial penalties.

Difficulty Sticking to Financial Plans

Individuals with ADHD may struggle with both setting long-term goals and devising and sticking to the steps needed to achieve these goals, often due to difficulties in maintaining focus and consistency.

Challenges Managing Daily Finances

The day-to-day management of finances can be particularly taxing, with ADHD sometimes complicating the ability to perform routine tasks like monitoring account balances or reconciling bank statements, especially if you find these tasks overwhelming or uninteresting.

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Challenges that stem from ADHD symptoms can make managing your finances difficult, but contrary to popular belief, the proper support can help you on your journey to developing a routine that works for you. Tools designed specifically for those with ADHD, like Rena-fi, can help you sustain healthy financial habits.

Tips for Managing Finances With ADHD

Managing finances while living with ADHD involves understanding and leveraging specific strategies that cater to the unique characteristics of your brain. Here are some tips to help you manage your finances more effectively.

Tackle Procrastination

Procrastination can be a significant barrier to financial stability. Breaking down financial tasks into manageable actions can help mitigate overwhelming feelings.

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    Break Down Tasks

    List and break all finance-related tasks into smaller, manageable actions.

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    Prioritize Payments

    Schedule essential payments like rent and utilities at the beginning of the month to ensure they're not overlooked.

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    Schedule Regular Reviews

    Choose a specific day and time each week to review your finances and stick to this schedule to build a routine.

Set Clear Financial Goals

Define what you want to achieve with your finances. Whether it's saving for a future expense, paying down debt or managing daily expenses more effectively, clear goals provide direction and motivation.

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    Goal Definition

    Clearly articulate your financial objectives. This could include saving for a down payment on a house, eliminating credit card debt or establishing an emergency fund.

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    Goal Prioritization

    Arrange your financial goals by priority. Determine which goals are most urgent or important and focus your resources accordingly.

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    Goal Visualization

    Use visual aids like charts or vision boards to keep your goals in mind, helping you stay focused on the long-term rewards.

Develop a Budget That Works for You

Creating an ADHD-friendly budget means developing a simple, flexible system that can adapt to different attention spans and leave room for “fun money” purchases.

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    Simplify Budgeting

    Streamline your budget categories to reduce complexity. Consider using broad categories like 'needs,' 'wants' and 'savings.'

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    Categorize Expenses

    Organize your expenses into clear categories and use tools like pie charts or graphs to visualize financial distribution.

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    Use Technology

    Leverage budgeting apps and financial software that can send alerts to remind you of due dates for bills and goals.

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    Regular Check-Ins

    Set a recurring schedule to review your budget. This could be weekly or biweekly, depending on what works best for you.

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    Create Incentives

    Integrate rewards into your budget for meeting savings goals or staying under budget, which can provide motivation and improve adherence to financial plans.

Curb Impulsive Spending

Impulsive spending can derail financial management efforts, making it essential to establish techniques to mitigate this behavior.

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    Spending Delays

    Implement a mandatory waiting period for all nonessential purchases. This could be 24 hours or even several days, giving you time to consider the necessity and impact of the expense.

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    Cash-Only Policy

    Consider using cash instead of credit cards for daily expenses to make spending more tangible.

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    Eliminate spending triggers by unsubscribing from marketing emails and avoiding browsing online shopping sites.

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    Set Spending Limits

    Use apps to set spending caps and track your progress toward staying within these limits.

Automate Financial Transactions

Automation can help manage regular payments and savings, reducing the chance of missed payments due to forgetfulness or distraction.

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    Automatic Bill Payments

    Set up autopay for all recurring bills to ensure they are paid on time, which can help avoid late fees and additional charges.

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    Automatic Savings

    Establish automatic transfers to your savings accounts to ensure consistent savings contributions without manual transfers.

Organize Financial Documents

Keeping financial documents organized can be a daunting task for people with ADHD, but the right systems can help it become more manageable.

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    Digital Organization

    Use digital tools and cloud storage to organize financial documents. Label folders clearly and back up important documents to avoid loss.

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    Physical Organization

    For those who prefer tangible records, use a filing system with clearly marked labels for different types of documents and regular times set aside to update and maintain the files.

Get Help From a Financial Advisor or Planner

Seeking professional help can provide tailored advice and strategies to manage finances effectively. People with ADHD might particularly benefit from professional financial advice if they're facing recurring money concerns or excessive stress related to managing finances. To ensure a beneficial partnership, consider these tips when selecting a financial advisor:

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    Look for ADHD Specialization

    Choose a financial advisor who is attuned to your unique circumstances and has experience working with clients with ADHD. Their background will enable them to tailor their advice to meet your needs better.

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    Value Clarity

    Select an advisor who provides structured, easily understandable advice to simplify managing finances.

Financial Assistance for People With ADHD

People with ADHD face unique challenges that can make managing finances difficult. Various programs exist to provide financial support and alleviate the burden caused by these concerns. Here's a detailed overview of these programs:

Disability Benefits for ADHD

ADHD can severely impair daily functioning and work capacity, potentially qualifying individuals for Social Security Disability Benefits. Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not list specific criteria for ADHD, individuals can be eligible for benefits if they demonstrate that their condition meets the SSA's general disability requirements.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The SSA uses the term "marked limitation" to describe the severity needed for qualification, which is more than moderate but less than extreme. To be eligible for SSDI due to ADHD, applicants must demonstrate:

Persistent Impairments

Show consistent challenges in starting, maintaining and completing tasks.

Long-Term Symptoms

Provide medical records indicating the presence of ADHD for at least two years, along with evidence of ongoing treatment attempts.

Treatment Compliance

Evidence of pursuing treatment without significant improvement or requiring additional support to manage symptoms.

SSDI offers financial assistance to individuals with a work history but can now not sustain employment due to their disability. The benefit amount is based on the individual's earnings record and other factors, such as receiving any other government aid. In 2023, the average monthly SSDI payment was $1,486, slightly above the federal poverty level.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for ADHD

SSI assists individuals with limited income and resources who may not have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI. For people with ADHD to qualify for SSI, you must demonstrate that your ADHD symptoms are severe enough to impair your ability to work significantly.

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Applying for either SSDI or SSI involves compiling comprehensive documentation that details the severity of ADHD and its impact on daily and work-related functions. This may include:

  • Medical Records: Showing diagnosis, treatment history and response to treatments.
  • Professional Assessments: Evaluations from health care providers that outline the limitations caused by ADHD.
  • Consultative Examinations: Sometimes required by the SSA to confirm the extent of disability.

Understand that the process can be complex and may require the assistance of a legal or disability advocate to navigate successfully.

ADA Accommodation Benefits

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, safeguards the rights of individuals with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination in the public sector. According to the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, ADHD qualifies as a disability in the United States, provided it significantly hinders a person's ability to work or engage in public sector activities. If ADHD is mild and does not impact a person's functional abilities in society, they are unlikely to qualify for benefits under these federal or state provisions.

The ADA requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. This can include modifying job duties, the work environment or the hiring process to suit those with ADHD better if their condition meets the ADA's criteria for a disability.

Health Insurance for ADHD

Most health insurance plans cover both the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. However, coverage specifics, such as the need for a referral from a primary care physician, can vary. To avoid denied coverage, ensure compliance with preauthorization requirements.

If you face issues with insurance claims for ADHD treatment:

  • Contact your insurance provider to understand claim denials and discuss appeal options.
  • Seek out patient advocacy services that can help navigate insurance challenges.
  • Legal assistance might be necessary for significant disputes or ongoing issues.

Reviewing your current plan and comparing it with others during open enrollment periods helps ensure optimal coverage for ADHD treatments. Look for plans with lower copays for specialist visits and medications commonly prescribed for ADHD. Understand your policy's details, including coverage limits, deductibles and copayment requirements. 

Additional Resources

Explore these curated resources to enhance your understanding of managing ADHD in tandem with financial well-being:

About Nathan Paulus

Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.