If you know someone with ADHD, you are probably familiar with the struggles of making good financial decisions while managing ADHD-driven impulses. This is especially true for young people. Navigating new and heavy information like finances can be intimidating.
Fortunately, with a bit of help, and a lot of planning, teens and young adults can learn practical financial habits for the future and set themselves up for success later in life. Here are five ways to do just that.
Ask for Help
The most important thing to remember when tackling new challenges is that you are not alone. There is always someone to turn to for help with any aspect of your ADHD. SOAR is an excellent resource for finding dedicated ADHD coaches who can advise young people on life management skills, including finance and independence, as they transition into adults.
In addition to ADHD coaches, you can also turn to your parents or another trusted adult, and even therapists. Any of these people can set a positive example, share tips and habits that work for them, and help you figure out how to implement them in ways that work for you. Working with a therapist can help you address any financial trauma or hesitancy and combat the negative impulses associated with ADHD.
Name Your Financial Goals
Once you’ve got a good team of support and financial educators, it’s time to start identifying what you want to do with money. What are your short-term and long-term goals? These can include saving up for a new phone, buying your first car, or attending one of the SOAR Summer Camps. Naming your financial goals will help create a solid connection between your wishes and your finances.
If you’re 18 or older, it’s time to start building your credit so that you can eventually take out a mortgage or apply for a business loan. A secured credit card is a smart way to start. Though it requires an upfront deposit to guarantee the card, properly using it and paying it off is a safe and guided way to establish credit. And, with lower spending limits, the risk of impulse buying is already reduced. If you’re younger than 18, ask your parents if they’d be willing to add you as an authorized user to a card. This will start building your credit while your parents remain responsible for all of the purchases.
Identify Where You Struggle
ADHD affects everyone differently. So it’s important to know how your specific symptoms may impact your personal finances. For many people, impulsivity can become impulse spending. For others, a lack of organization can turn into a mountain of receipts and make tracking spending almost impossible.
Your existing control methods can be modified to work with your finances as well. Organize your financial tasks, like balancing your bank account or paying bills, into daily, weekly, and monthly checklists. If you have a debit card, put a special sticker on the card to remind you of your daily budget. Keep a picture of your money goal in your wallet or phone.
Research, Research, Research
The unfortunate truth about being responsible with your finances is this: It requires a lot of research. Don’t worry, though. Turn to your support group, and seek out ADHD-specific resources and advisors at high school and college.
You should also look for tools designed to address your specific concerns. There are actually financial education resources dedicated to people with ADHD. Though it can be challenging, acting mature with your finances is a huge first step in financial freedom and security.
Additionally, knowing how much things cost will help you properly budget. It will also teach you to take care of your belongings. When you get a car, research maintenance and repair costs. While budgeting up to $100 every few months for an oil change may seem costly, it can prevent engine damage that will cost much more. When you move into your first home, do the same. Knowing that even something as minor as a window replacement costs as much as $1,800 will likely encourage you to toss that baseball outdoors.
Technology Is Your Best Financial Friend
If you’re old enough to have a banking account, look for one with an intuitive website to help you track your monthly purchases and payments. Once you start paying bills — like your monthly Spotify subscription — you will have real-time insight into your monthly money habits. Using online banking also comes with the benefit of setting up automatic transfers to savings accounts and making automatic payments.
There are also apps that can help you track spending and saving by creating visual representations of where your money is going. These are fantastic tools to ensure you know how much you’ll need to save per day to reach your savings goals.
While people with ADHD may face unique challenges when it comes to money management, it’s nothing that can’t be overcome. And getting a head start on being responsible with money will be a huge boon when it comes time for you to become independent. Your future self will thank you!
About the Author
Ann Lloyd is a newly enrolled MBA grad student. Currently, she is getting her degree online and working as a marketing intern on the side. In her spare time, she’s hard at work on the Student Savings Guide, her blog about living a budget-conscious life. The guide caters to students and recent grads, but anyone can use these tips to get by!
This article features five tips for students and five tips for parents. Jump to the students’ section here and to the parents’ section here.
Feeling restless? Adjusting to more time at home, daydreaming about future adventures at SOAR camp, or just anywhere out and about for that matter?
We created this list of ADHD tips for students and parents to help you brainstorm different things you can do to pass the time.
Even though life may look a little different right now, it doesn’t mean that the SOAR family isn’t here for you! SOAR teaches campers how to embrace adaptability and creativity, and no time seems more relevant to exercise these traits than right now.
So, go ahead and get your daypack packed, fill up your Nalgenes, and tighten up your Chacos, we’ve got some exploring to do! Here are 10 ways you can explore (and grow) with SOAR even from home! 5 tips for the campers, 5 tips for the parents.
5 ADHD Tips for Students
1. Take a Virtual Visit of a National Park
Were you excited to explore a National Park at camp? Don’t let social distancing stop you. The National Park Service and Google Earth have created hours of online exploration of ‘America’s Best Idea.’
Hop on Google Earth for virtual visits of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons, Dry Tortugas, Great Smoky Mountains, The Grand Canyon, and more! Or head to the National Park website for even more exploring. There you can find webcams of wolves, geysers, and bison, just to name a few! Learning about these incredible places from home will help you appreciate the parks even more once you are there in person!
Been to SOAR before? Have some familiar faces you might be missing? Why not set up a zoom hang? Try out some online games like Quiplash, Code Names, or make it old school and play Jeopardy. Just keep it civil now. ☺ Or why not Pony Express it and foster a SOAR friendship with some good ole’ snail mail?
4. Have a Camp Night at Home
Yum yum, think of enjoying a hobo dinner over the roaring fire while looking up at the mighty Big Dipper. Summertime perfection. Or how about a s’more competition? Delicious! Whatever you do, get your family involved. Cook up one of your favorite SOAR meals. Why not set up your tent and make a night of it? How about showing off your fire-making skills? P.S. make sure it’s parent-approved/supervised, use a proper fire pit, and make sure there aren’t fire warnings in your area. Don’t disappoint Smokey!
5. Start Thinking about Your Next SOAR Adventure
Yes, it may seem like the world is on hold right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think about your next SOAR outdoor adventure. Explore our website to see all the amazing SOAR expeditions. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for virtual takeovers, visits to our different campuses, info sessions with staff, and more! Have something about SOAR you’d like to learn more about? Let us know! We are here and we can’t wait to get back outside with you.
5 ADHD Tips for Parents
1. Join Our Weekly Webinar Series
These webinars were created specifically to give extra support to parents during this time. Led by John Willson (SOAR’s Executive Director), our weekly webinars feature a variety of important topics for parents of ADHD/LD children.
Missed a webinar? Don’t worry—we have them saved for you on our website, in addition to supplementary powerpoints/videos.
2. Connect with us on social media
If you don’t already, follow our SOAR accounts. Join us on Instagram and Facebook, to keep up-to-date on our SOAR community. Have a look into our programs, special events, and join us on virtual expeditions! (p.s. Hint, hint we have a social media giveaway coming up. )
3. Meet Us on a Zoom call
We have recently launched interactive Zoom call meetings in addition to our webinar series. These meetings allow parents the opportunity to ask questions directly to ADHD/LD experts. Here are our previous Zoom meetings—“Ask the Experts.”
Want to make sure you don’t miss out on future calls? Sign up for our Newsletter here.
4. Make Time for Self-Care
Now more than ever, it is important parents are making time for themselves. Find your outlet and schedule time for it. That may be a 30 min walk alone around your neighborhood, a call with a dear friend, or cooking a nourishing meal. Prioritizing your own wellbeing benefits the entire family. Whatever it is, make time for it.
With the added pressures of social distancing, education from home, and close quarters, anxiety and stress can be riding high right now. Keep in mind that seeking help beyond your main circle can be necessary during the time of COVID-19. Many reputable and professional mental health services are available online.
Teletherapy is a resource that many families are turning to—learn more in this ADDitude article. You can also consider hiring a virtual ADHD coach to help you tackle those things in your life you’ve always wanted to work on, but just never found the time.
Remember, you’re not alone. We are in this together!
Your child is on a developmental journey that takes up all of their time and energy. They are learning about the body they live in, the mind and emotions that rule the body, they are learning about other people and how to be in relationship with others, their spirit is filled with creativity and joy, and they are trying to understand the rules and regulations of the planet they find themselves inhabiting sometimes by pushing boundaries. Absolutely developmentally appropriate.
What does all of that going on inside the child look like if your child has ADHD/LD or Autism? Often all of this development operating simultaneously in your child can lead to a giant, anxiety-filled, high volume meltdown, often at an inopportune time in a public place!
Frustrating? Can be for sure!
So, when we find ourselves frustrated by our child’s behavior, There are four key steps we can take to support ourselves so we can best support our child.
Egolessness-Never take your child’s behavior personally! It is not about you. This is their struggle. They are looking to you as someone who can help them figure it all out, but sometimes they don’t have the language skills to let you know that. So observe their struggle through the eyes of objectivity, take it all in, the verbal and non-verbal. Observe the struggle and then take a deep breath.
Compassion-Assume your child was trying to meet a need in their life from their developmental perspective, and be compassionate- not condescending. Often the need has to do with safety, belonging, control, freedom, and identity.
Respond, don’t react-Step away- Stop, breathe, listen. It might even be good to have a code word or sentence to let your child know you need some time. “Mom’s going to step away, Ill be back in a minute and would like to hear all about what happened here.” That can be reduced over time to simply saying “stepping away.”
Listen to empower. Help your child find their own solution to their frustration. For example:
What was the problem you were trying to address?
What were your choices for addressing the problem?
Were the consequences of your actions what you intended?
How can you make this situation better?
When you model the above 4 steps, overtime your reaction to your child will change for the better. In addition, you will be teaching your child to respond with the same compassion for themself when they start to feel overwhelmed, and with new understanding, their behavior will improve as well.
SOAR is an authorized permittee of the National Park Service and the National Forest Service. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.