The ADHD Guide to Saving Money
The road to financial stability (and actual savings) is not complicated, but it’s not easy, either. This easy-to-follow plan can help you get out of debt, lower your monthly bills, and spend less. The trick is sticking with it.
by Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.
Savings Guide for ADHDers
Most U.S. households have trouble putting money away — statistics show that Americans, on average, save only 1 to 2 percent of their family income — and those with ADHD have an even harder time saving for their future. Here’s an easy-to-follow plan for finally getting out of debt, lowering your big monthly bills, and spending less.
Live within Your Means
Your first goal is to live within your means — no more purchases on charge cards — while you pay off your consumer debt.
Low-Interest Credit Cards
Transfer your consumer debt to zero-percent or low-interest credit cards. The lower the interest rate, the less you will pay each month. Typically, such offers are sent to customers with good credit, but you can also find them online. (Compare offers on http://www.creditcards.com and http://www.bankrate.com.)
Try Online Banking
Set up automatic monthly payments through online banking. This will ensure that your zero-percent or low-interest credit card payment is never late.
Log onto your bank’s website, open an account, and sign up for online bill paying. Then create monthly payments for other bills you can start paying automatically. These bills should include predictable charges, such as a mortgage payment, and payments to utility and phone companies.
Pay It Out
Add up the payments you have been making on your various higher-interest credit cards and pay at least that total — preferably more — each month on your zero-percent credit card.
Hand Over Your Credit Card
Keep your paid-off credit card in a safe but difficult-to-access place. You might give your card to a family member. Explain that you’ll ask for it only in case of an emergency. Another option is to place the card in your safety deposit box. Or — if you’re an extreme spender — try freezing the card in a block of ice in your freezer. By the time the ice melts, you will have figured out whether a prospective purchase is something you need or just something you want.
Consider refinancing your mortgage and car loans — typically, the biggest bills a family pays each month — at lower-interest rates. This will increase the amount of money you’ll be able to save.
On the Rise
As you gradually pay off your consumer debt, your credit score will rise. This will make you eligible for lower interest rates on your mortgage. (Check your credit score at no cost through http://www.annualcreditreport.com.)
Pay It Off
Pay off your car loan with a home equity line of credit. Typically, home equity loans carry lower interest rates than car loans. The interest you pay each month is tax-deductible. Search for the lowest rates at http://www.bankrate.com and http://www.interest.com.
Avoid Impulse Buys
Don’t place yourself in situations where you’re likely to make impulse purchases. For example, don’t wander through Barnes and Noble on your lunch hour if you can’t resist magazines or Blu-rays. If you receive a lot of catalogs at home, cancel them through http://www.catalogchoice.org.
Instead of “going to the mall” for fun, make a list of the items that you need and go only to the stores where you can find a good price on them.
If online shopping is your weakness, make it more difficult to log on to shopping sites by not bookmarking them. Think of the Internet as a source of information, not a source of shopping entertainment.
Put Yourself On a Spending Allowance
Calculate the amount that you can afford to spend each week on discretionary expenses, such as buying lunch, clothing, books, coffee, dinners out, movies, and so on. Go to the ATM on Friday; withdraw that amount, and don’t take out any more cash (or use a charge card) during the week. If you spend your money over the weekend, pack your lunches and don’t shop or eat out until the following Friday.
Put money away while paying off the balance on your zero-percent or low-interest rate credit card. Figure out how much you’re saving from using this credit card, refinancing big-ticket bills, and sticking to a budget. Designate this amount for savings. Have your bank deposit that amount each week (studies show that people are more likely to save if the money is deposited automatically) into two savings accounts: Emergency fund and retirement fund.
Start an Emergency Fund
Start an emergency fund, invested in a money market account. To find the highest-yielding rates, log on to http://www.bankrate.com or http://www.fidelity.com. You will have to fill out an application online, authorizing the money market company to transfer funds from your bank each month.
Plan for Retirement
Start a retirement fund, invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or cash. Log on to http://www.fidelity.com to explore mutual-fund options or http://www.schwab.com to set up a brokerage account. You’ll fill out an application online, and the company will take it from there, making sure that your bank transfers the funds electronically. If your company has a 401(k) plan, talk with the benefits department about having a portion of each paycheck deposited into the plan.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Don’t tell yourself that saving just a little won’t make a difference. You’re developing a habit — the longer you save something each month, the more likely you will be to continue doing it. Increase your contributions to these accounts as you pay down your credit card debt and curb your spending habits.
Congratulations! You are, finally, building wealth for your future.
More Financial Resources
Save big with these money management tips for ADHD Adults
Manage Your Money with Adult ADHD
ADHD Impulse Buys
Pay Bills On Time with Adult ADHD
Budgeting Made Simple for ADHD Adults
Budget Strategies for ADHD Adults