Money for the Distracted: Getting Off the Paycheck to Paycheck Merry-Go-Round

The paycheck to paycheck merry-go-round is a soul sucking ride that leaves most people feeling like this when it comes to their money.
So, how to get off? The B word. That’s right a budget, spending plan, or what ever you want to call it that does not give you  hives. A plan for your money, so you can see where it goes. Before you stop reading know that I understand that accidents, unexpected illness, medical emergencies, veterinary emergencies, and other acts of nature can shoot the best made budget out of the sky. How do you try to get out of a deep hole of debt? Here are seven tips to get started:
1. Stop. Just stop and gather all of your financial documents in one place. Figure out where you are. The library is full of books that will show you how to budget. Turn off the TV, shut down Facebook or Twitter, get off Pinterest and take an evening and sit down with your partner and lay it all out. Do it together. If you are worried about having the conversation or talking about money with your partner, read my post here for tips on how to talk about money.
2. Commitment to improving your financial situation.  Forgetfulness, procrastination, impulse spending, late payments, and general inattention cause problems with money management. Folks with ADHD/ADD struggle with all of the above. I once found a tax return that I was supposed to mail in my raincoat pocket two years after I was supposed to mail it. Why? Because in the two block walk to the post office on my way to work, I forgot to mail the tax return. Set up systems to help you keep your commitment and remember important financial dates.
3. Understand that there is a difference between being underwater because of poor money management, and catastrophic / unplanned life events. Do not see your situation as a symptom of poor character development.
4. Spending to save money is not saving at all. Too many people have bought into the whole coupons-stockpiling madness. Having thousands of dollars of food and household products in storage that rot before you use them is a waste of time and money. Yes, you can save money by stocking up when things are on sale and you have a coupon but only buy what you need/will eat, and enough to last until the next sale.
5. Figure out if you have an outgo or income problem. Do you not make enough to cover your basic expenses? If you can not afford food, housing, utilities, transportation, and medication costs on your income you have an income problem. Do you spend more than you make on non-essentials? That is an outgo problem.  No blaming here, just figure out what you need to work on, or if you need to work on both.
6. Take advantage of free resources to get help. The library is a great place to start. There are many free on line money management tools also. Check them out. Mint is a great place to start, and no they do not pay me to say that.
7. Getting out of debt is like losing weight, we all know that we should, how is the problem. Everyone needs to find ways that work for them, there is no one way. The keys for ADD/ADHD individuals is that the system needs to be simple, easy to remember, and automated as much as possible. Complicated systems that require large investments of time will be difficult for most people but for those of us with the attention span of a goldfish they are impossible.
Find a way to start your journey towards a place of calmness with your money. Financial stress can kill relationships and contribute to depression. Start where you are, be kind yourself, and believe that you can get off the merry-go-round.

Money Changes Everything: ADHD and Money

Money. The topic everyone wants to talk about and no one wants to talk about. There are many, many books on the market telling you how to handle, invest, save, spend and bank your money. Most of them assume that the individual reading the book has an attention span longer than a goldfish. Indivduals who have ADHD struggle with money managment for a number of reasons. Under-employment, inability to maintain a job/career, creative careers that pay irregularly, academic struggles that lead to low paying work, impulsive spending, forgetting to pay bills, lack of organization, and procrastination. This year on the blog I will feature one post a month about money. Money is difficult to discuss because so so many people equate their self-worth with their bank account. If you don’t get anything else out of this series know this: You are Not Your Money.  In an environment where we are constantly bombarded by messages to the contrary, it is often hard to remember this. Money is a tool, it provides opportunities and access. Money can not buy you happiness, or love.Money management is possible and it means you being in control of your money. I have been so broke I couch surfed before it was a thing, lived out of my car for six months, and ate a hell of a lot of rice and ramen noodles. When I finally was making money, I impulsively misspent and then spent 10 years paying it off. Did being broke make me bitter? Nope. I know that it won’t kill me. I know how to survive. I also know that it is so much better to be in control of money.If you are struggling with money management, I encourage you to take a deep breath, know that you can get it together about money, and that it is worth it. The first book that I recommend that you read is Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieveing Financial Independance by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominquez. Get it from the libray, borrow a copy, or buy it used, but read it. Some of it may seem dated but the exercises will help you get a handle on where you are right now in your relationship with money. My favorite exercise from this book is figuring out how much of your time you trade for things in your life. You will never look at material goods the same way after figuring out how much of your life you trade for things.I will leave you with my favorite  quote about money: “To walk in money through the night crowd, protected by money, lulled by money, dulled by money, the crowd itself a money, the breath money, no least single object anywhere that is not money, money, money everywhere and still not enough, and then no money or a little money or less money or more money, but money, always money, and if you have money or you don’t have money it is the money that counts and money makes money, but what makes money make money?”Henry Miller Tropic of Capricorn (1939)