Tips on making sure you stay within your budget (esp. if you have ADHD)
Hey gang, I’ve been trying really hard lately to be an actual responsible adult with my money and one of the most frustrating things in the world is the fact that if you have ADHD, fiddling with numbers and checking things and restraining your impulse buying IS ABSOLUTELY THE WORST.
So here are a couple of things that I have found that actually do make me stay within my budget:
1) First of all, look at all the money you’ve spent this month. Look at your past couple credit card/debit card bills. In particular, look at the itemized list. Look at what you’re spending and where. Some programs will break this down for you if you plug in your info, like Quicken. I like Quicken. It’s been really useful in double checking my spending.
2) For that matter, you should check your account activity fairly regularly, if not every day, at least every other day or once a week. You don’t want to be getting charged for something you shouldn’t. I don’t even just mean credit card theft—that’s obviously a huge concern nowadays, but people often make mistakes too. One time, I went to a restaurant where our waitress was new. My boyfriend and I wanted to split the bill. She ended up charging me double—once for the half of the bill that I paid, and then again, for the half of the bill I paid plus the tip I added on. Meaning I paid for the entire bill (instead of half) plus tip. My boyfriend also got charged—so basically it was a big mess and about a helluva lot more than I should have been charged.
3) Ask for a copy of your receipts! Always! and don’t just stuff them in your pocket or your purse and forget about them. When you get home, put them in a place like your computer desk or in a little dish. Go through and double check your receipts with your own records and online records at least once a week (my dad insists on doing this every day but that’s quite demanding). Again, I use Quicken to keep my own records and double check things, but you could do the same thing with excell or even microsoft word.
4) Create your shopping list as your run out of things at home. Like if you run out of eggs, write it down. I keep a running list next to my fridge. When I finally do go shopping, I bring the list, and know EXACTLY what I need. This reduces my impulse buying and me asking myself “wait did I actually run out of milk this week or no?”
5) When you come home from grocery shopping, keep a list of perishables on your fridge door along with the date you bought them. I do this to remind myself of what I have and to keep myself from ordering too much takeout (“there’s nothing to eat!” Yes there is. SHut up. It’s on the door). With ADHD it’s really hard to make yourself eat if you’re on certain medications, so don’t get overly ambitious. If you know you’re not gonna eat something and it’s just wishful thinking, don’t get it. If you know your meds make you not want to eat as regularly as other people, make sure you budget your time and energy with foods that you can eat at those times without issues (ex: greasy spicy food for breakfast is probably not a good idea).
6) Set hard limits for your “fun” buys! I was spending massive amounts of money on kindle ebooks for a while because I kept telling myself “well it’s only like $5 for a book!” OK, that’s great, but if you buy 5 books a month, that’s still $25. Things add up.
7) Don’t be too restrictive or too generous with yourself in terms of your budget. The best way to do it is to think about how often you do something. How often do you fill up on gas? How much does it take for your car to get a full tank? How about groceries? How much do you spend, and how often do you go? Look at the types of groceries and things you buy. Is there anything that’s sort of unnecessary? Anything really too indulgent? Be honest. Do you have room for unexpected expenses, like if something essential breaks? What about your heating and gas and electric bill if you have to pay for that?
8) Once you do figure out a realistic budget for yourself, start thinking of things in terms of percentages. For example, if you have a $500 budget per month, a $10 book is already 2% of that budget. Then think about how much of that budget is groceries and essential stuff.
9) Keep track of ALL your accounts, not just your credit card account. All. Your debit card/checking account. Your savings account, if you have one. In fact, if you find yourself actually able to save money and not spend your entire paycheck per month, and you have the minimum balance required for your bank, create a savings account! Seriously, saving money is super cool since it means you’re covered for emergencies and if you want to treat yourself or somebody else to something special. Watch the relationship between these accounts though—if you find yourself consistently having to take out money from your savings account and transfer it to your checking to pay your bills, you might need to re-adjust your budget in some way (either make it more realistic and bigger or maybe cut back your spending).
I hope this helped people! Trust me, keeping track of your money isn’t always easy, but it’s something that you CAN train yourself to do. Don’t let executive dysfunction get in the way! Take a deep breath, go through things step by step, and be realistic. Good luck!