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Duration:05:48
Uploaded:2022-06-16
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In this video, one woman shares her experience living with ADHD, and how it has affected her relationship with money.

Through bi-weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Video by Grace Lee
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Written by Kaitlin Stevens

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[PAPERS SHUFFLING] I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.

And suddenly, so many things about my behavior clicked. It was clear for the first time why I struggled with certain things, like staying motivated at school or work, maintaining friendships that required a lot of effort, and abandoning hobbies that were once my main focus.

I remember looking at old journal entries where I asked myself why I couldn't stick to anything, why I was so lazy-- a lot of negative self-talk from a time where I didn't understand myself and thought everything was my fault. Of course, ADHD affects everyone differently. Here are the five main ways my ADHD affects my personal relationship with money.

Number one-- struggling with the constraints of a 9:00 to 5:00 job. I have inattentive ADHD, and I find keeping a typical structure difficult as a result. Also, my productivity comes and goes in bursts.

Because of this, it's not easy to work a standard 9:00 to 5:00 job where I'm expected to have the same level of output on a daily basis within the same time frame. I also find it harder to work during regular daytime hours when there are more things to be distracted by. Instead, I find it easier to work late at night when distractions are lessened.

And sometimes I can knock a week's worth of work our in one night. While this structure works for me, it doesn't work for supervisors at most 9:00 to 5:00 jobs. I chose to be a freelance writer, not just because of my love for writing, but because it is one of the few jobs I found worked with my structure in terms of working hours and productivity output.

Number two-- self-rejection. A lesser known part of ADHD is rejection sensitive dysphoria, which can cause self-rejection. As a freelancer, I often self-reject out of fear of real rejection, because the anticipated emotions that rejection brings can be extremely painful.

Sometimes I self-reject before I've even tried pitching a certain outlet, convincing myself that my work is not good enough, and that my ideas are stupid. Sometimes after having one pitch rejected, I'll struggle to see the value in any of my ideas, then take a break from pitching altogether. But this means I end up depriving myself of the opportunity to have my pitches accepted and getting paid for my writing.

Number three-- forgetfulness and neglecting to pay bills. Object permanence is a big part of my ADHD. And if I don't pay a credit card bill or utility bill as soon as I open the e-bill, I will likely forget that it exists, and not realize my error until the next month when my bill comes and is twice as high as it should be, and topped off with a late charge.

While credit card companies are usually OK with waiving late fees the first couple of times, they get a lot less lenient when paying your bill late becomes a habit. For the most part, I've overcome this by always paying my bills as soon as I open them. Number four-- wasting money by buying the same thing twice.

I've often forgotten about clothes I've just bought because once I put them away in my dresser and can't see them anymore I don't remember that they exist. To combat this, when I buy a new pair of pants or a new shirt or sweater, I wear it for a few days and leave it in plain sight when I take it off, so that I can remember I have it. But when I don't do this, I end up buying the same thing twice because I forget that I own it.

This is also true for household supplies and groceries sometimes. I'll buy a pack of toilet paper, forgetting that I just bought a pack two days before. Or I'll buy the same condiment or pantry staple twice.

There are plenty of accidental doubles in my kitchen cabinets. It's the worst when I double buy a perishable item. Trying to get through three packs of eggs in two weeks is not easy, especially in a household of just two people.

Number five-- impulse spending and the graveyard for dead hobbies. ADHD affects my moods. Sometimes I'm in a low mood, possibly triggered by RSD, which makes me socially anxious and depressed.

When this occurs, I sometimes try to cope by online shopping or ordering a lot of takeout since I don't have the energy to cook. On the flip side, ADHD also makes me experience high moods, where I want to spend as much time as possible going out and seeing friends. When I'm in these good moods, I'm more prone to spend a lot of money on going to events or booking a trip or shopping in person.

Whether my ADHD mood is high or low, I'm also prone to pick up a new hobby, like learning to play the guitar, or taking Muay Thai classes. I'll buy all the necessary equipment and pay for classes, only to abandon my interest in that hobby a month later. For instance, I once decided I wanted to get into photography and bought a $1,000 camera, which I did use daily for a few months, but then completely abandoned it to collect dust on my shelf for years where it still sits.

The good news is once I recognized these habits, it became easier to control them. Reading about how impulse spending, abandoning hobbies, and neglecting to pay bills are common experiences of adults with ADHD made me feel less alone. I've joined support groups on Facebook and follow ADHD content Instagram pages.

And sometimes just seeing someone post a reminder in there to pay bills helps. I've also made it a point to set reminders of my phone's calendar for all of my bills, and have many of them set to auto pay, which makes it much easier for me to pay them on time. Organization has never been my strong suit especially with ADHD.

So being realistic about the organization I can handle with my finances has made it easier to keep track of them. Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your ADHD and personal finance habits. Then hone in on your strengths, and lean on support groups for your weaknesses.

It's OK to ask for help, whether it's from a friend, a useful app, or a Facebook page. Good luck. And remember, one mistake doesn't mean nothing is working.

Keep going.