3 Struggles when Budgeting with ADHD

Budgeting is a great way to get your finances in order and streamline your goals as well. However, I find that ADHD can make the task a bit challenging than most. Here are 3 budgeting struggles for people with ADHD and some solutions that have worked for me.

Table of Contents
    Here’s the video version!

    Shiny Object Syndrome

    You get the amazing idea to start adulting properly with your budgeting.

    And out comes your phone and the Google Fu begins.

    Then you see there are many paths to the same destination and they all seem to work. So you might as well try the most recommended one.

    If you were like me, then you probably chose some app like Mint.

    The ease of having everything money-related on the same screen instead of logging in separately and risking the distraction or loss of thought in that transition is a huge bonus.


    You also have Personal Capital, Quicken, YNAB, and many others.

    Screenshot of google search of common budgeting apps such as Mint, Personal Capital, Quicken, etc.
    A quick search gave me these and more

    Imagine having the all-or-nothing mindset many of us have plus too many options…

    We either get analysis paralysis and can’t pick anything. Or we keep switching to a new shinier thing to somehow do better at budgeting when we literally have done nothing but pick an app.

    I personally do this with almost anything, from apps to socks.

    My advice for this is to really let yourself really dig deep into the app/program.

    If you are the type to hyperfocus on topics, use that to your advantage. Find a tool that will similarly help you to my search above.

    Then give yourself a week or two to really live in it. Basically live like a local. Use it as if you weren’t going to switch to something else.

    This helps you really understand the app’s features and also helps if that is the app for you! It definitely helped me with becoming more focused with my debt journey.

    Out of Sight, Out of Mind

    A common worry for someone budgeting with ADHD.

    Putting something away in a place it isn’t usually. And then it disappears.

    It’s not in the usual place but also gone from where you remember.

    Woman looking confused at empty wallet.
    Where’s my money?

    That can also happen with your finances. If you don’t check them relatively often, you won’t know how your budget or goals are doing.

    I absolutely love the idea from Tori Dunlap at Her First $100k about having a money date with your finances.

    Check out her podcast episode about it here.

    Basically, the idea is to get comfortable with dealing with your money.

    Do you want to pay your bills in a cold room with that old t-shirt tag scratching your back?


    Get a nice blanket, splurge a few cents on the thermostat temp, pop some popcorn, and even partake in a sip of the imbued bubbly while you are on your money date.

    Woman lying comfortably in a hammock.
    I hear these are comfortable?

    You wouldn’t go to a meetup uncomfortable, so why should you pay your bills and budget like that.

    This will chip away at the shame or uncomfortable feeling you get when you deal with money. Eventually, you’ll look forward to these dates.

    Two woman toasting glasses of wine at a fancy restuarant.
    This will soon be you and your bills enjoying some fancy grapes.

    The Concorde Fallacy

    Ever hear the story about when the UK and France overspent on their budget to make a supersonic passenger plane because they had already spent something on the development?

    Probably thought/said, “We already spent so much, so it would be a waste to stop now”.

    Well, that is a demonstration of the sunken cost fallacy.

    You put so much effort, money, or resource into something that you continue to do so despite diminishing returns. Plus it would benefit you to move on.

    I sometimes get so stuck on something and try to bend it to work for me when there is something else already in that shape ready for me to use.

    Hand pinching clay to form a vase.
    This you can bend. Other things…not so much.

    But I’m so hung up on my current effort (and all that I have put into it) that I don’t even think about any other options.

    Like the first tip, give yourself a time limit to try out the app.

    If it doesn’t work for you, move on. There’s always more out there.

    Time is a important part of budgeting with ADHD since you need some data to look back on to evaluate if this is the thing for you.

    If you find yourself stuck, try a strict time limit that corresponds to something you have to do (like a work project or a task from family) or have a body double.

    Man working on laptop across from an identical man doing the same thing in a window filled room.
    I wouldn’t use my doppelganger as a body double…

    This might be a bit drastic, but have your body double (someone you trust) uninstall the app if need be because you are still stuck on it. Only try this if you know it’s hard for you to leave a hyperfocus session.

    That’s it!

    These are a few budgeting struggles I and some others with ADHD have experienced problems with and some solutions.

    What are some other struggles you have had with budgeting? Let me know in the comments of this post.

    By Bell

    Probably forgetting something but it's on a list somewhere on my phone.

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