I will confess that I have a problem… if it’s my own money, I’m a cheapskate, a tightwad.. whatever you’d like to call it. But if it’s someone else’s money? Usually I would have no problem spending it. So maybe I used to have that problem, and occasionally it will still rear it’s ugly head.
How did I stop this particular problem? By asking myself: Do you spend too much? And it wasn’t just where it concerned my own money, but any money. I started to consider what I had in terms of cash and credit. Cash, for me, had to become real money and credit cards were borrowed money.
It was a hard lesson to learn and one that I’ll cover in a future post.
How To Tell If You Spend Too Much
I have a tendency to spend too much on my kids — but not on myself. In fact, I feel guilty about spending money on myself. But my kids? Not a problem.
Still, I knew I had a spending problem and I knew I had to do something about it.
As a family with special needs children, money needs to be one of those issues that we keep under control. As such, I had to keep my own spending under control.
But, I also acknowledge and recognize that I have a very big problem with impulse spending. I have a hard time tracking money. I have a very hard time knowing how much money I really have saved and where.
Sure, I also knew I had bills to pay. I knew I should save money for the future. I knew all of those financial things that any capable adult should know.
Or at least that’s what I thought.
As an autistic adult who has ADHD. An autistic adult who wasn’t diagnosed until adulthood? I never fully realized just how much I had wrong and how much I really didn’t know.
Is it a spending problem where you do spend too much or an ADHD problem?
First, let’s take a look at what the signs of a spending problem really are for a neurotypical adult. Then, we’ll take a look at how ADHD comes into play.
To really understand the problem? We need to understand all parts of the problem and beyond that, we look for solutions.
5 Obvious Signs of a Spending Problem for a Neurotypical Adult
Do you pay your bills on time each month?
This is often the first sign of a spending problem. Rather than using the money earned at their job to take care of their living obligations, people with spending problems choose to spend money on things they want. They may feel they “deserve” the things they want instead of waiting to purchase it until they have the money saved.
Do you use credit cards to pay for everything?
Once the habit has begun of using credit cards to pay for everything, problems generally begin. This may mean you’re using credit cards for everything from groceries to your utilities. By you’re putting everything on credit you may not be aware of exactly how much you’re spending each month.
Do you feel the need to get a second job in order to pay your monthly bills?
If you’re struggling to make your financial ends meet, you may think more income will solve the problem. However, what’s more than likely to happen is that you’ll simply use that income to fuel your spending habits if they’re out of control.
Do you spend money to deal with stress or feelings of lack?
Some people eat in order to handle stress; those with excessive spending problems use shopping as a panacea. Unfortunately, people that use shopping to make themselves feel better don’t realize how much their overspending can cause problems for them both now and in the future.
Do you make find yourself making impulse purchases?
Or can you wait a little while to get something you want? If you’re unable to put off a purchase for something you want you may want to consider how to reverse your excessive spending habits.
So, how did you do? Did you answer ‘yes’ to several of these questions? If you did, you may have a problem with spending… or it just might be your ADHD getting in the way.
Financial Problems and Adults with ADHD
Why is it so much more difficult?
A lot of this relates back to that good ole’ Executive Functioning – or lack thereof. It’s how the ADHD (and autistic) brain is wired.
But, there is good news.
Saving money is a common problem for any typical American household. But when you factor in ADHD, that becomes even more difficult.
It’s hard to resist that impulse buy or recall just how much you’ve spent. To plan your grocery shopping list so that you’re actually saving money.
So what can you do about this?
First things first, you need to be honest with yourself and take a good long look at your money history and your money problems.
For me? That means debt. From student loans to credit cards, I have debt. Many of us do.
But how did it get this bad in the first place? My own carelessness and lack of tracking. My lack of organization and my lack of timeliness. My own lack of planning.
I could go on but I’m sure you get the general overview, right? Now, I’m not trying to make excuses here. But rather, I wanted to identify the problems to create habits that would become long-term solutions.
So, what are the problems?
- Lack of tracking
- Lack of organization
- Lack of planning
- Lack of time management
All of which tie back to my own Executive Dysfunctioning issues.
Now at least that I’ve identified the problems, I can work on creating habits that will become solutions.
Habits such as:
- Starting a budget
- Sticking with that budget
- Creating a better filing system
- Keeping a financial calendar
What to do if you have a spending problem
Even if you answered ‘yes’ to all questions above, there is hope. You can use the ideas below to get your spending under control and help make your financial future look brighter.
First, learn to recognize what it is that causes you to spend indiscriminately. Are you one who goes into the store for one or two items and then comes out with $150 worth? Or do you love to go to yard sales, flea markets, or consignment stores only to “look” and find you’ve spent more than you should?
Once you recognize what triggers lead you to spend money you don’t have, do what you can to avoid those situations.
This isn’t to say that you can’t spend money.
It’s now just a matter of learning how to spend money more wisely.
Obviously you and your family have to eat. You have to purchase the basic necessities of life and you have to have a home to live in.
The point is to determine what circumstances trigger you to spend excessively and do what you can to stay away from them. Have someone in the family who doesn’t spend money so freely do the grocery shopping. Take someone with you to hold you accountable for what you spend. Or consider creating a food budget so you can save money on groceries.
Take it a step further and create a family budget.
A budget is a great way to visually track your expenses and the finances that you have coming in. Don’t let the thought of living within a budget alarm you though. If you think that creating a budget and living within that budget means that you have to sacrifice everything? Think again.
A budget will help you take better control of your personal finances and help you control your spending problem.