Five Ideas for Better Money Management When You Have ADHD

People with ADD have a higher rate of debt, more impulsive spending, and more arguments with their partner/spouse over money issues.  However, there is hope (and help available).   

When you have ADHD, you don't spend money like most other people. Past-due bills and impulsive spending can throw your finances into turmoil, and because these financial pitfalls are directly related to your ADD symptoms, they can seem impossible to overcome.  The good news is that it is possible to get ADHD-related financial disorganization under control and begin to enjoy a more stable relationship to your money.

Recommendations include these five, ADD-tailored steps:

  1. Seek help from financial professionals.  Knowing that you need assistance with your finances is a strength, not a weakness.  Any CEO will tell you that getting support is essential to running a business.  Managing your personal finances is similar to running your own business.  Ask professionals such as accountants, certified financial planners, and brokers for their opinions and help.
  2. Hire an assistant to help you get organized, stay organized, and input your financial data into a program like Quicken.  Having someone come in your home just 6 to 8 hours a week can really help you get on track.  Although you will be paying an assistant an hourly rate, in the long run you will save money and enjoy your life more.  This is because you will now be able to devote more time to doing things you enjoy, and you will no longer be paying late fees on bills you forgot to pay. 
  3. Create financial goals – Immediate, 1 year, and 5 year goals.  What debts do you want to pay off?  How much money do you want to have saved up?  What is your specific plan to meet those goals?  Is your plan realistic?  How will you measure your success?
  4. Make (and stick to) a budget – Get help from a trusted friend or professional when creating a budget.  This is a detail-oriented task where people with ADD would really benefit from outside help.
  5. Know when to keep (and when to shred) financial documents – usually the standard is keep records for 7 to 10 years – but it really differs depending on the type of document.  Double check with a financial professional before you shred anything.

It's also a great idea to talk to your kids about money – even if you have had difficulty with finances in the past, you are still a valuable teacher for your child.  Go with your child to the bank to open up a savings account for him or her.  If you have a teenager, involve him or her with minor family financial decisions, such as choosing a cell phone provider. 

People with ADD have a tendency to be impulsive and disorganized with their money.  However, even if you have had difficulties with managing money in the past, there are ADD-friendly ways to stay focused on making your money grow.  There is hope.

This is a guest post, written by Dr. Stephanie Sarkis.  She is the author of four books about ADHD, including ADD and Your Money: A Guide to Personal Finance for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (2009).  Dr. Sarkis is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) based in Boca Raton, Florida.  She provides counseling and coaching to adults with ADHD/ADD.   Her website is  


Help! I Love Him, yet I'm so unhappy.

Not sure if all is selfish or self centered, controlling,and disrespect part of it ? Is there other issues like bipolar etc. that couple with A.D.H.D ?

ebb and flow's picture

You're probably looking for

You're probably looking for an answer from one of the experts but I can tell you that untreated ADHD symptoms can appear to someone who doesn't understand them as: selfish, lack of empathy or caring, controlling etc.

Bipolar is often confused with ADHD because in ways they appear similar but really they are not. Bipolar can also coexist in people who have been diagnosed with ADHD but it must also be diagnosed by a professional. 

If your partner does in fact have untreated ADHD, a lot of the things your partner may do may seem disrespectful and controlling, but may not be coming from a place of ill intent. I know it's confusing but if you keep reading the posts on this site long enough you'll get it! Also, getting help from a therapist who specializes in ADHD will help you GREATLY!

If it is ADHD, one of the main things non-ADDers must remember is "things are not always as they seem"---(even if you are 100% convinced in your mind otherwise). ;)

Keep reading and good luck!


He does have A.D.H.D.

He WAS on meds, he stopped taking them the same day he was to have his first meeting with a councler.I'm happy that he's not on that certain med., because each time they doubled it his anger and hyper ness got worst and the good if any didn't last long. Now he says he want go back to the doctor because, I'm the only woman  that said he needed help.His parents and 2 brothers are/or need to be on meds. His mom has been on Bipolar meds., one brother takes something and his dad has said he knows he's sick but he will fix himself.

ebb and flow's picture

Wow, if he wont go back to

Wow, if he wont go back to the doctor to adjust the meds you've got yourself in a really sticky spot! :/

A lot of ADDers are in denial about just how badly their symptoms are affecting those around them. It's not that they're being difficult... it's that THEY REALLY CAN'T SEE HOW IT AFFECTS OTHERS! And, even if they do see how it might disturb others they have a very hard time problem solving or coming up with solutions (even if its something as simple as--start meds and go to counseling). This is literally a biological issue in their brains... it displays itself regularly when they come across as having no "self awareness".

I know this is a terrible parallel and I apologize to the ADDers reading this but it's sort of like the person who is mentally ill screaming that everyone else in the world is crazy, not them, and refuses medication!

I know that its one thing to understand their not *trying* to be difficult and another to actually believe it in your heart because it comes across as "difficult behaviour".

You really need to train your mind to be open to the fact that he may not perceive things the same way you are perceiving things right now.

Also, you must be patient and calmly expressive about him getting the proper treatment. I know it's hard because I'm living it myself!

It's a very difficult disorder to live with, as the ADDer and the non-ADDer!

Keep trying to talk to him about getting help. You may not be successful now... but he is hearing you and one day he may be compelled to give it a try again.

In the meantime, get support from us on this site. Vent if you need to, ask lots of questions, and read, read, read!

I know it helps me!!!



Thanks for your wisdom.

I know your correct about how I should handily this, yet it is soooooooo hard. Hard to know that he really loves me, given the fact that he has read how it effects me and still want get help. I dislike some of my actions and belive me he reminds me often. My ex husband is an alcoholic so it feels like daze ya fue. :) Both men are sick and I understand , yet they are still reasonable for there behavior, just as I am for mine. I'm not sure how much longer I can deal with the craziness. I keep my 20 month old nephew usually Friday thur Tuesday, and some of his lack of here and now puts him in harms way. I know he does not think, but we have already been to the ER with the baby because he was not thinking...he was ok that time , but what about the next time. The other day he washed dishes and put a knife and 2 other sharp objects in the drawer the baby plays in. Thank God I found them before the baby did.

ebb and flow's picture

He may know that his

He may know that his behaviours hurt you and feel frustrated inside because he doesn't know how to change them. And he may also be thinking that he's not doing anything to intentionally hurt you, so really you should just see that and feel better about it! ;)       (I've heard that one before MANY times....)

Your actions are the only thing you can control in all of this! If he doesn't want to get help right now... he's allowed to feel that way. I know its frustrating but keep letting him know how concerned you are about his behaviours and that you think trying new meds and therapy together might help. And if he wont get help, you get help, for yourself!!! Find a therapist who knows your situation and go talk to them about it. They can give you great tips on how to change how you react towards his symptoms!!!

As for your nephew, I would suggest taking care of him as though you are the only one in the home while sitting him! If your ADD partner is untreated and absentmindedly leaving knives in places where the child may access them... you need to be your partners eyes and ears!! For that I would put in the extra effort though it may make you upset that your partners not helping out-- Just for safety reasons.

If you love your partner you have to be strong to stay with him. Apparently it gets easier once the ADHD is treated with meds, therapy and maybe some coaching as well. Once the symptoms lessen you can start to see the person underneath it all... The person you fell in love with.... Sounds great to me...


mikeck123's picture


From reading the little bit you wrote about your husband I can tell you the being selfish, self centered, controlling, disrespectful and impulsive are symptoms of Alcohol or drug use, abuse, and possibly addiction. That's my guess. But, ADHD, addiction and bipolar disorder can have symptoms that look the same. He needs to stop either the drinking or drugs. The bottom line is that he has to want to change.

Need advice: Husband won't deal with direct deposit

My husband and I needed to separate our finances. His non-earning for 3 years got me behind on a tax obligation that I had before I married him. So he opened a new account that I can not access (at my suggestion, he's not being secretive). I could not check balances and make electronic payments as he would not get the password for me. (He won't make phone calls for anything.) So that credit union closed his account because he overdrew it (would not keep a register). His next 2 monthly checks were transferred to a savings account that was connected to the checking account. The bank says they won't do that for a third time.

He's had a form to change his direct deposit since late December. He won't fax it to corporate headquarters. He's only paid once a month and God knows where that check will go or when he'll get access to the money. We don't have a fax machine here. We are desperately broke and will need that money on payday. I have no income.  I beg and plead with him every day to spend 1 minute faxing the information but he says he's too busy. He appears not to care that the anxiety is making me crazy.

Does anyone have any ideas how to take care of it? Usually, I'm like, I'm the one without ADHD so I'll take care of the money for him, but I have no rights here and I can't do it.


Something to try

Your husband sounds a lot like me.

Rather than nagging or asking him about the form, suggest that you take care of the form together.

I'm sure you've had the discussion about not having any money if the direct deposit form doesn't get taken care of.  You've probably also had the discussion that the electricity is going to get turned off.

Ask him if there is anything you can do to help. Let him know that you understand how busy he is and you really want to help.  But whatever you do don't do it in a mother like fashion.  It has to be in a, "I'm you're wife, I love you and I want to help you" way.


Last week he actually did send an email to the payroll person at the home office. She is going to send him a paper paycheck which I will have to deposit even though there's no way I can drive to the bank because my tank is below "E". Our bank has no branches in the city where he works, and he leaves way before the bank opens and comes home way after they close. (They don't have ATMs either.)

He still hasn't sent the form. There isn't anything I can do to help. We can't afford for me to go to one of those fax places to fax it. He works 30 miles from here and I have no gas to drive there. I'm also not allowed at his office because of patient confidentiality. So there is no way I can do it. He just has to man up and send a fax! Horrors! Will he never grow up and face unpleasant realities??

I am going to bring this up with our counselor this weekend. It's just one more example of how he prioritizes his clients and his ADHD behaviors over me.

Argh! What do I do now?

I am the keeper of finances in our house. My husband totally agrees with that and wants that. (His father was an accountant and he hates numbers and checkbooks and such.) So I told him he could use one debit card to buy his lunch and he used a different one that was overdrawn. It cost us $29! What in the world can you buy at McDonald's that's worth $29! He won't pack his lunch or carry a lunch that I pack even though there is a refrigerator and microwave at his work.

I get $108 a week in unemployment. We are more than $300 overdrawn. I am angry and I don't know how I'm going to keep us feed and keep gas in his car until payday. The unemployment gets deposited into the overdrawn account and I can't change that.

My husband pointed out that he can't do anything about the overdraft charge now, and I know that's true. I know I'm never supposed to be angry, but what do I do to survive this?

I think I'm done

I am facing a very stressful period. Job interview today, surgery tomorrow. I need my husband to help after the surgery, and it actually has 2 parts, 2 weeks apart. And of course, since I'm not working, I need him to support me financially. But he's not providing the surgery, I did all that.

But I find myself thinking about getting the job and making more money than he does. A big part of me says "what do I need this for?" I visualize things staying where I put them, a bank account that isn't overdrawn, and peace. If I get  this job, I can pay people to do what I can't.

I have tried and struggled and he doesn't think anything is wrong. There can't be any change if someone thinks they're perfect. He says he loves me but his actions are those of a bad roommate-the kind where you decide not to renew your lease. I just don't think I can face the rest of my life like this.

I could say, "he's been supporting me for the last year while I finished school. It's not fair to dump him once I get the fruits of that degree." but I don't think that guilt is enough reason to stay in a marriage. I feel very sad and empty but I don't think he's capable of giving me what I want and need in a husband. Maybe I'm better off spending the rest of my life alone.

Good Luck with your surgery

Good Luck with your surgery lady! Try and stay positive and just focus on your surgery and gaining some financial independence.

Maybe once you have the surgery and get a good paying job you can split the finances with him and take some of that burden off of yourself. Maybe it will help improve your marriage by giving you a sense of independence and self-reliance and you'll not have to always focus on depending on him and being disappointed if he doesn't provide what you need.

I need him and he's not there

I did have the first phase of my surgery Friday. It is not a terribly difficult or invasive procedure, we were home by 11 am. But I have wires in my back and I'm not supposed to lift anything. Of course, he's got a headache and so he can't help me try to pick up the house or run the dishes. I had to practically beg him to pick some stuff off the floor that I was afraid I'd fall on. His response: "there's plenty of room for you to get by." Yesterday he was solicitous and helpful but I guess one day is as long as he can stand to focus on me or our house. Now he's being downright ugly!

This just reinforces my feeling that he doesn't care about me and never will. Does anyone have any ideas? For the next few weeks, until I've healed from phase 2, I will need more help than I usually do.

Absolutely fine not taking care of finances!

I am ADD (sometimes H)...I would prefer NOT to take care of the finances and my husband knows this, NOT that he hasn't left me in charge I just know I have a great deal of issues with staying on track with it! AT one time before we married I had direct deposit and automatic withdraw for the household bills. It was easier for me this way. My register was a mess a lot of the time, but I kept up with my bank acct. checking every other day on line. Once my husband and married he preferred to pay the bills himself (or me). I knew this would be a bad idea. I didn't run up any debt because I'm not a spendthrift. I am a procrastinator!!! I am forgetful! My husband thought I was just lazy and careless. I told him about my ADD for the beginning, he was skeptical. Guess what, he isn't any more!! A lot has happened in our relationship and not all being my ADD but it played a big part! Now he has been reading and has came to a greater understanding that I don't do things on purpose.