Is being bad with money an ADHD thing, or can I just not be trusted with a credit card?


Here’s my history with credit cards:

  1. Got everything nice and balanced.
  2. On track with some new way of tracking transactions
  3. I’ve got this (really)
  4. A few extras are well within my budget
  5. I’ve got this (not really)
  6. End up several hundred dollars in debt.
  7. Wife notices.
  8. Wife Bails me out. (using money set aside for something nice)
  9. She gets angry (with good reason)
  10. Go back to 1.

Is this something that treatment could make easier? I’m just at the start of my journey, and I’m waiting for psychiatric intake. Probably another month, as ADHD isn’t a high priority for medical resources (I’m in Canada).

I mean, I suppose I could just be bad with money. But I’ve been trying for 20 years to get better, and I’m not making progress.


Oh man is this relatable.
I know quite a few ADHDers who aren’t great with money… it’s hard not to impulsively spend money and then credit lines are so easy to abuse as well. I was trying to save some bonus money I got from my job and I already used $150 of it for things… mostly food related things. We’re horrible at saving money… thankfully we always make our bills… but sometimes it gets really tight financially because we spent more than we should have. If your wife is better with money I’d give her your credit card… and if you need to use it, ask her for it that way you have someone you are accountable to to see if your purchase is really a necessity or if it’s just impulse.

Money is hard. Money is super hard.
I’ve yet to figure it out. I’ve yet to figure out how to stop impulsively buying things.


Impulse control is a fairly common thing for the ADHD world . For me It’s sugar I can’t walk away. But I have found that I can use my lack of impulse control to get things done. Sometimes I can just find myself doing things I haven’t expected.


As for the original question: It is a frequent ADHD thing but also don’t get a credit card. I think it’s one of those things where you need skills on top of the pills. Impulse behaviors have a tendency to come back with a vengeance when your guard is down, i. e. when the pills wear off.


So… I actually teach a financial class at my church (… actually… starts up again soon. Need to get ready… )
It’s not (necessarily) an ADHD thing, though it doesn’t do you any favors. A lot of people were never taught the discipline of how to create a budget and stick to it. This is, naturally, an easier task for those w/o ADHD and/or has a spouse w/o ADHD, but it CAN be done.
The real basics of it is this: Make a monthly money plan BEFORE the month begins. You probably know what you pay is gonna look like, or pretty close to it. So, take the worst number you think you might get, and when you are gonna get it, and plan how it is going to be spent, down the very last penny. Leave nothing unspent on paper.
“But Judas,” You say, “What about fun money? Things I see I want?”
Well, spend it… on paper. Before you even know you are going to see the thing.
Make a category that is Blow Money, and toss some money in it.
Make a Date night category. Make one for things like Spotify, etc.
Know that you will have X amount of dollars JUST for things like this… and since it was planned for… IT’S GUILT FREE!!! WAHOO!

Now, it tends to take about 3 months to get right… cause you know… there is that thing you forgot about, or that one bill that is every two months, or whatever. Just keep going.

Also… somethings are best to use CASH on. Get some envelopes, a marker, and some cashey money. Put names of categories on the envelopes, Date night, blow money, fuel, and groceries are good ones to do, for sure. Take your pre-planned amount, and when you get paid put that amount in its given envelope.
When your envelope runs out? You’re done. Until you get paid. That’s it. And no shuffling money without checking with the spouse! Then you gotta go back to your plan (the budget) and rejigger it to work with moving the money.

If you wanna ask more, feel free, but I am at work, so I gotta… you know… work.
Good luck!


I am TERRIBLE with money… There often are so many things out there, awakening my deepest interest and sadly: they mostly cost money. Good money. :disappointed_relieved:

Can’t really tell if it is an ADHD thing but i have severe problems with controlling my impulses. :sweat_smile: If i want something, i want it really bad and as soon as possible. The strange thing on this one is, i wasn’t like that as a kid. It’s embarrassing… Being an grown 24 yo man and being unable to tell whats important and whats not. :neutral_face:


I hear you on that one! I used to have very poor impulse control when it came to buying things. If I wanted it, i got it. What really helped me was understanding finances and how it impacted my parents’ marriage when I was 12. Now, I didn’t see things like this at THAT age, but being older (21-22 if I remember correctly) and getting serious with my then girlfriend, it “clicked”.
I understood that in order to start a family, get engaged, buy a house, I had to repair my credit and save to make down payments. I set goals and paid down everything to 0. It was VERY difficult but i knew if I gave an inch there, I would justify the toys, indulgences, and that would ultimately unravel it all.
I really treated my poor impulse control, as finances are concerned, as a recovering addict (speaking from personal experience-different story). I avoided places that I couldn’t handle ( like electronic stores, BUY ALL THE THINGS!) Got rid of the temptation of credit cards as I hid them away and made it difficult to get to, but still accessible after that initial impulse subsided to where I could identify a real need vs want- I would refuse any spend unless completely necessary. Those around me viewed it as “cheap” but I did not possess the skills necessary to offset the poor impulse control and I knew that-and accepted that.
I did not know about my ADHD then-just diagnosed in the last 60 days- so I don’t think it is simply chalked up to the condition but I see that as being a common factor amongst what I read.
I read someone else in the post said cash-YES! Giving yourself a PHYSICAL budget really helps.
*Setup Autopay of bills so you don’t spend what you need.
*Get a savings “buddy”. Someone you trust to share those details with and will not be afraid to be real with you when you eff up. A good friend, partner, spouse, and don’t forget about Mom/Dad. Doesn’t matter the age-they will always be willing to help (hopefully) and there is NO SHAME in admitting you need help. We all start somewhere and can learn the good and the bad from those that walked there before.
*Ditch plastic-Use only when you need to (emergencies, building credit etc)
*Use plastic-but the pre pay/as you go kind-Can Build good habits without the risk of spending too much. You dictate the amount and borrow against your own money.
*Understand what your disposable income is and how much of that you want to save & SPEND. It is very important, in my opinion, to treat yourself. Cue the Parks and Rec gif…
It is hard to find the right balance of save and spend but if you can’t responsibly, and without guilt, enjoy the fruits of your labor you can drive yourself into a self fulfilling prophecy.
*Online shopping-easy to loose track of actual spend. I for one KNOW i couldn’t handle it so I don’t shop online. I can’t offer tips other than that on online shopping as I have zero experience to share from and have next to none firsthand experience.
I by no means have it all figured out , I just found some things that worked for me in the past. I have the things I was aiming for when I was younger despite my challenges and mountains I had to navigate around. Now I have to figure out spending and planning for a family and what that looks like 10 years from now…and things seemed complicated 10 years ago…help!!


I hesitate to suggest this due to how this may come across but…

I have used a simple rule: to spend less than what I have. To not take on any debt that can’t be paid off from what I have.

This is something my ADHD brain can easily remember and follow. And it has acted as a quick reality check on what I can afford. I have taken many other risks (such as quitting well paying jobs & joining startups etc.) but this rule saved me through the lean times. This doesn’t mean I keep detailed account of money spent (not my strong point) but I do at least check my bank balance & any outstanding credit card bills before any major expense. Plus I try to spend no more than 75-80% or so at most. This wasn’t possible initially but over time I have built up enough of a buffer.

Offering this in the hope that it’ll help at least one person…


This is pretty much what I do now… But I had to learn this lesson the hard way, and I suck at getting it all together and keeping it updated because my paycheck varies a LOT!


This is totally something I’ve dealt with!! I had so much trouble making lasting change and it was frustrating not only for me, but for the people around me who were tied up in it. Here’s a simple strategy I use. It may not work for everybody but this has kept me in the black for over a year now!

I call it the 50-30-20 rule. This splits your income into 50%, 30% and 20% chunks. Here’s where it gets good: you decide what these chunks go to. I do 50% for paying bills, 30% to savings and 20% to spending.

To help make this easier, I have the savings chunk directly deposited into my savings account so in order to spend it I have to take it out of that account (its possible for emergencies, but the extra step makes me think twice). Most of the time I forget this even happened and get a pleasant surprise when I check my accounts!

Similarly, I take out the 20% spending money in cash. I can use this on whatever I want (dinner out, shopping, craft supplies) but once it’s gone, it’s gone! If I spend it all in one day then too bad, I’ll have to wait 2 weeks to go out to the new restaurant.

I find this strategy gives enough flexibility to meet the needs of life (let’s be honest sometimes it’s ok to spend a bit more on fun stuff, and other times I need more for bills), while also providing the boundaries I need to keep me in check.

Hope this is helpful!