How to Make a Budget When You Have ADHD Part 2Money management is one of those important life skills that we aren’t formally taught at school. Yet, if it doesn’t come naturally to you, there are negative consequences. ADHD adults find money management challenging because it requires attention to detail, organizing, planning into the future and impulse control. If you missed Part 1 head here

A problem many adults with ADHD have when creating their budget, is knowing what categories to create and how much $ to allocated to each category.

Here are some category examples:

  1. Food
  2. Home (mortgage / rent)
  3. Utilities
  4. Insurance
  5. Transport (car, bus pass)
  6. Health (dentist, medication)
  7. Grooming (hair)
  8. Gifts
  9. Saving
  10. Debt
  11. Vacations
  12. Entertainment
  13. Charitable donations
  14. For Fun
  15. Clothes

If you feel overwhelmed when you look at the list, don’t worry! Some of those categories practically take care of themselves. E.g. Home and Utilities. For those categories, there is an external company or bank that decided the dollar amount, gave you a deadline and attached a consequence. For example, your $70 cell phone bill needs to be paid by June 6th; otherwise, it will be discontinued. As an ADHDer, it is much easier to respect those conditions, than a category you regulate yourself. E.g. Entertainment.

Here are 5 steps to create and maintain those self-regulated, unfixed categories.

Focus on one self-regulated category at a time. This way,you won’t feel overwhelmed.  or  are great categories to start with, as they are usually ones that can expand and get out of control.

  1. Focus on one self-regulated category at a time. This way,you won’t feel overwhelmed. Food or Entertainment are great categories to start with, as they are usually ones that can expand and get out of control.
  2. In the article,‘How to Make a Budget’, an action item was to track your spending for 7 days. Now it’s time to use that data! Go grab it.
  3. Let’s start with food. However,the same rules apply for any category.  Add up how much you spent on food in those 7 days and multiply it by 4. Now you have an approximate figure of how much you are currently spending on food per month.
  4. You could divide the Food category up into subcategories; such a Groceries and Dining Out. Or keep things simple, and have a broad food category. There isn’t a wrong answer; simply what makes sense and feels good for you.
  5. If you want to reduce the amount you are spending, don’t just pick a number and expect to be able to stick to it. Instead,look at why you spend that amount and what you can do to change it. For example, you might be tired after work and stop at the gourmet grocery store on the way home for supper each night. A change in behaviour would be to go to Costco on the weekend, and buy food for the week. By creating a new plan, with new behaviours, you are setting yourself up for success and not white-knuckling it and feeling deprived.
  6. What you decide now isn’t written in stone. To make a budget,you have to start somewhere. This method gives you a good starting point and the frame work to gather more information to customize your budget. Each month, spend a few minutes looking at how you did, what worked and what you could do differently next month.

To stay within your allocated $ amount, discipline and planning is required! You might not like doing either of those things, though that doesn’t mean it’s bad or that you can’t do it.

One client told me he was grateful to have a budget. It gave him structure and rules to follow that he had been missing, but didn’t realize it. He loved that his budget forced him to appreciate and value money. Rather than reaching for the phone and ordering a pizza, it motivated him go look in the fridge and get creative with the contents. He started to enjoy life more and appreciate both the small and big things in life.

What category of your budget are you going to master this month?

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