Look Out! Money Traps for ADHD Adults

As people who are naturally good with money can tell you, it takes equal parts consistency and self-control to maintain healthy personal finances. That can spell trouble for people with ADHD.

But don’t worry-with a little prep work, you can end up just as comfortable as anyone else, even starting from less than ideal circumstances. Read on for the top four ADHDer money traps, and how to fight your way out of them.

The Delay Tactic
Personal finance is annoying, dull, and kind of a bummer. Right? It certainly is when your money is in an unhealthy state. Dread takes over when it’s time to balance a nearly empty checking account, or when your credit score might be low enough to break the scale. It’s so much easier to put it off. It’s okay, it happens to most of us, but it’s time to get over that. Starting now.

Over at ADHD Management, they have some good advice on an attitude adjustment in their article “Mindfulness and Money Management for Adults with ADHD.” “Be aware that money is not intrinsically ‘good’ or ‘bad’-it just is. It is just a tool for helping us get things we need and want… Use the practice of mindfulness to focus on the fact that money is just that-money… Being aware of this fact can free you from your past ideas of money that may be hindering your progress.”

Take ADHD Management’s advice and distance yourself from your emotional issues with money. There is so much more to this topic than just dollars and cents-how we deal with money becomes part of our identity. Maybe you had plenty growing up, and never ‘learned the value of a dollar’ and developed bad spending habits. Maybe your family was very cash strapped, and money still remains this never-enough, status-symbol concept that fills you with panic and resentment. Whatever the emotional baggage is, step away from it. An ADHD coach or other member of your support team could be very helpful with that.

If the bad feelings and delays are too much to overcome, there is still good news: you can pay someone else to handle your money for you! Registered CPAs can do your taxes and other accounting tasks for a relatively low fee, and they can also advise on other specialists for specific financial issues. Find one in your area through the American Institute of CPAs. Sometimes the supervision of an expert is exactly what you need to make progress.

The Budget Blunder
A budget is essential when it comes to getting finances under control. You need to know how much money you have coming in and how much your day-to-day expenses amount to. You might have an estimate in your head about how much you pay for each meal or the proportion of necessary items versus entertainment items, but the actual numbers could shock you. Take these steps to create a budget you can stick to.

For a week, carry around a notebook and write down every time you buy something or pay a bill. Smartphone users can use a high tech alternative with apps like Mint, Expenditure, MoneyBook and iReconcile that do basic accounting plus more.

After a week of tracking, tally up how you spend your money. Also include other bills that didn’t come up in the course of that week. Write down all sources of income too.

Now comes the tricky part: spend within your means. Simple theory, tricky implementation sometimes! A good rule of thumb is 60% towards essentials like housing, food, utilities and taxes, 20% towards savings and paying off debt, and 20% towards personal expenses like entertainment, clothing and travel.

Figure out ways to cut back in the areas where you’re overspending. One great source is the ADDitude Magazine article “Budgeting Strategies for ADD Adults: 18 Tricks.” Another resource is Stephanie Sarkis’ book ADD and Your Money.

When the number crunching is in hand, make a list of bigger financial goals and the baby steps to reach them, even just $10 a week in savings. It might feel intimidating or premature to start saving for big, far-off expenses like retirement or college for your children, but you’ll be glad you started now and a little can go a long way.

Create a Fun Fund! Even if it’s just a jar of change that you fill up over time, setting money aside for a rainy day splurge will give you something to look forward to. Disneyworld, here you come!

The Late Payment
So you have made peace with your emotional money issues, your savings account is growing nicely and you’ve got your food, utility and car payments as low as they can be. Unfortunately, you’re not out of the woods yet. Late payments (and the big penalties that come along with them) can be a major issue for people with ADHD.

The blog over at Totally ADD puts it best in their post “The Penny Drops.” “Why do we struggle with money?… Perhaps the 5 ‘Payment Due’ reminders are buried in the growing hillock of unopened mail in the hallway. Or the bills went to our old home because we forgot to send out Change of Address cards. Or worst of all, we actually have the money to pay but we simply forgot. Again!”

There are two main ways to tackle this issue: old-fashioned or digital. The old-fashioned way involves some supplies and monthly diligence, without fail. First get a file storage tub, an inbox tray, or a wall-mounted mailbox-whichever you prefer. That holder will be used only and exclusively for bills. Even if you don’t open the mail, put anything that might possibly be a bill in that holder as soon as it arrives. Then choose one day a month when you sit down with the checkbook and pay the whole batch at once. Whether it’s the first day, the last day, the 13th, whatever, as long as it is an appointment you never break, you will be all set.

The digital option is to make every bill in your life an automatic online payment. This tactic involves more effort at the start but is almost totally hands-off from then on. Talk to the companies you do business with and get directions straight from them about automatic bill pay. If necessary, you might have to change providers, but that drastic step might be worth it if it saves your credit score. Just don’t forget to check in from time to time on the transactions to make sure there aren’t any mistakes!

The Impulse Buy
Did you know that there are highly paid professionals who specialize in retail store layouts? Where to put the clearance rack, which items are next to the changing room entrance-this is big business. They know just where to place the items that make people splurge. Their bread and butter is the cash register line, loaded up with items that are usually cute, tasty, fun, or otherwise irresistible-not to mention totally frivolous. These expert store planners know how to tempt even the most tight-fisted shopper into an impulse buy, but someone with ADHD? You are their dream come true. Nevertheless, you can do plenty to avoid the impulse buy trap!

Avoid temptation. Anyone will tell you, the surest way to avoid a mistake is not to give yourself the chance to make it in the first place. If a particular store is your weakness only go there as a special reward to celebrate achieving a specific goal, and otherwise find somewhere else to shop. If shopping in general is an issue for you, make your list and put that responsibility on another family member, or only go with the exact amount of cash you will need (leave the credit cards at home!). If online shopping is your rabbit hole, only shop brick-and-mortar.

Go shopping the way you go to the doctor. When you go to the doctor, dentist or dermatologist, are you tempted to order one of everything? I doubt it. You want to get in and get out. It might sound like a downer, but do what you can to make shopping into more of a chore than a treat. List what makes shopping fun, and then forbid yourself from doing those activities.

Visualize the worst-case scenario. This exercise will work especially well after mapping out your budget. When you’re shopping and something catches your eye, stop yourself before picking it up. (Don’t touch it! An Ohio State University study from 2009 found that shoppers are more likely to spend unwisely when they touch the object.) Think about the items on your budget that you’re saving for. Make yourself acknowledge that you are taking money away from the Fun Fund. To use the example above, picture yourself standing outside the gates of the amusement park, unable to buy a ticket, just because you kept buying silly things like tee shirts/smartphone covers/snacks/DVDs on a whim.

Follow these tips and the others offered by the experts mentioned above, and by this time next year you will be free from the Money Traps!

Family Entertainment

Family entertainment can be very exciting and a great way to spend quality time together in an excellent environment. Children and adults alike need this time together to learn about each other and be close as a family. Entertainment can be fun and enjoyable and some forms of entertainment can even be educational.

Theme parks are a great form of family entertainment where you have thrilling rides and exciting shows that is suitable for the whole family. It doesn’t matter how old or young members of your family are, these types of amusement parks always have something for every one in the family. Carnivals are another place where families can go for thrilling entertainment. They offer a variety of rides and games for the whole family.

Everyone loves a good circus where animals and their trainers put on a spectacular show. Clowns are a big hit and keep the children and many adults laughing. If excitement is something you are looking for then the acrobats presenting their balancing acts on the tight ropes keeps everyone on the edge of their seats.

Does your family enjoy seeing and learning about different types of animals and their habitats, if so then a Zoo is a wonderful place to visit. You can explore how these animals live and exist and learn what they eat and how they survive. You can see many exotic animals that you would not ever have the opportunity to see any other way.

If you like being one of these first to see the newest movies then a family trip to the theater would be a lot of fun. But if you are looking for family entertainment that is a little quieter and less expensive then having a family night at home watching movies and eating popcorn together can be a lot of fun. Also board games can be a very inexpensive way for the family to play together while providing an educational edge. Family entertainment is the way to bring any family closer together.

What Parents Need to Understand About Kids Entertaining

Over the years I have had many parents ask, “How can I get entertainment jobs for my kids?” I realize parents are proud of their children and want to see them excel, but we have to keep things in perspective. Kids are dabbling in balloons, magic, and juggling just for fun. They are not looking for work; they are just playing. As a child develops their entertainment skills, it might become a hobby. Hobbies, if you’re lucky, can turn into a career; and if you’re really lucky, it may become a successful career! Parents shouldn’t worry about how to get their child a job, they should ensure the child has fun playing with their new found skill.

Children, even teenagers, are restricted by law on the number of hours they can work. Companies can not and will not enter into a contract with minors, especially with the liability issues that can arise from hiring a minor. These two reasons alone make it difficult for kids to get entertainment jobs. Many parents will argue that it’s only a picnic or just a birthday party, they are not sending their child to work in a factory. However, if the child was sent to a factory it would have strict rules protecting the child, their rights, and a secure work environment. Working for themselves, children and their parents have to use common sense to determine what is hazardous and what is safe, not only for their health, but for the audience safety.

Imagine that your child is a juggler and does a small fire act. They have practiced it many times in the past for family and friends and are now doing it for a crowd of people at the local church picnic. It’s been a long, hot, dry summer and the grass is a nice crispy golden brown. During the show the crowd is slowly moving closer and closer. Kids move closer as parents push their little ones up to the front so they can see and hear better. As the performer soaks the fire torch in lighter fluid they accidentally tip over the bucket, and lighter fluid is absorbed into the drought-ridden turf. Trying to be professional the child picks up the torch and begins his or her routine, and because of the spill is now standing in dried grass, covered with lighter fluid.

If a torch drops, will a fire start? How quickly will it spread? Are kids sitting to close? Are animals in the audience? How windy is it? These are things that need to be considered, prior to even beginning a torch act. You may think this would not happen, but I know of a performer who almost started a fire station on fire. This performer was extremely embarrassed, along with receiving a stern lecture by the fire chief and a couple of parents who thought that he was careless. The performer was 23 years old, performed this routine 5 times before in public, and though it was the coolest part of his act. Accidents like this do happen. From then on, the performer had strict rules, made sure a fire extinguisher was available, and would not do the routine if the environment was not safe for the audience. In addition, he went out and bought liability insurance. A hundred-dollar job is not worth injuring a child or the hundred-thousand-dollar lawsuit by the parent of an injured child.

Encourage your child to learn all aspects of entertaining and not just the mechanics. Children can acquire the mechanics of a routine, but lack the communication skills to really sell the routine. These communication skills will come as confidence grows and as the child matures. Often, kids are great when communicating with family and friends, but lack the social communication skills required to work with a group of unknown adults. Public speaking is one of the biggest fears among adults so don’t assume that kids don’t have the same fear.

Children of professional entertainers understand that multiple skills are required to be a successful entertainer and try to acquire these skills prior to entertaining in public. A professional singer’s child may start singing with mom and dad at very early age; their parents work with professionals, give advice, train, and develop their child from experiences that they have learned over their professional career. Individuals or parents who do not entertain are under the impression that just because their child is achieving the basics that the child is now qualified to perform in public. These children may be talented but lack background knowledge and thus are not fully ready to perform.

At a restaurant I frequently entertained at, I would have a mom who would always tell me how great her son’s magic was and how she wants him to do show, birthday parties, restaurants and fairs. Her son was 12, a good looking kid, shy, but overall seemed really interested in magic. Just recently, I was working the restaurant and saw this boy, now a 17 year old with some friends. I walked over to the table to entertain the group and just goofing around pulled out a deck of cards. As I did the card trick, (TV Magic Deck) the young 17 year old mentioned he did magic. “Yes, you used to come with your mom and brother.” I said. “Yep, that was me,” he replied. “My magic is nowhere as good as yours.” This was the boy who according to his mother, was going to grow up to be the next David Copperfield. In reality it was a child who was fascinated by magic, took an interest in it and went on with is life. He was not looking for a career, but just an fun outlet.

If your child is really serious about becoming an entertainer then here are some tips to help your child succeed in the entertainment business.

  1. Parents let your child enjoy the activity. If they want to perform, it is best to let it come from the child seeking it, not the parent.
  2. Get the child involved in clubs related to that field and supervise their activity. Clubs are not babysitters, parent need to be there!
  3. Go to local libraries and check out books on the topic. Encourage the child to research what it takes to become good.
  4. Let the child work at their pace. This is not a career yet; it’s just a fun hobby.
  5. Don’t be surprised if in 6 to 8 months the child’s interest changes. School, friends, and age all affect the child’s interests. What was so important then is not necessarily going to be now.
  6. When meeting performers, ask if they have any professional tips to pass on. Don’t let your ego (parents) get the best of you and start bragging about your child. Just tell the performer your child has an interest in their art. Let the child do the talking, it’s their hobby.
  7. Remember the child is just starting out and only needs the basic supplies. Don’t go over board buying everything. As the young entertainer grows, so will their equipment needs.
  8. Parents read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey or How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie – they talk about how to deal with people. If your child is going to be successful they are going to need to understand how to communicate with others and how to negotiate. Consider picking up a book on negotiating. Good negotiating skills can improve your child’s chances of getting good paying jobs. Not only in the entertainment field, but in other careers choices later in life.
  9. Do not become obsessed with learning everything, take it in small steps. This will prevent the child from becoming burned out to quickly.
  10. Keep it fun! Let the child develop into their own entertainer.

Entertainment is about fun, but there is a business end and the work can quickly take away the fun. Let the child enjoy their youth and when they are old like us can look back and remember the fun time they had learning and sharing with their parents. Make it fun, not a career.