Debt Tips for ADHD-Related Anxiety and Depression

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Did you know that finances are a leading cause of anxiety in America?  Whether it’s knowing how to manage your money or fearing not having enough, finances can weigh heavily on our minds.  With May as Mental Health month, it only makes sense to look at this relationship, particularly if there are pre-existing issues (e.g. ADHD)  that exacerbate it.  Struggling with anxiety or depression can set up a scenario for poor financial choices which cycle into further stress.  Let’s look at this link and some simple debt tips for ADHD-related anxiety and  depression to set yourself up for success.

ADHD and Financial Health

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental conditions.  And it also often comes as a package deal with anxiety according to stats.  With overworking neurons and struggles to focus on a task at hand, it becomes more difficult to successfully plan for finances and see that plan through.  One review suggests that those with ADHD are “twice as likely to suffer from anxiety linked to finances compared to the general population”. When there’s an added struggle to focus and stick with a plan, the goal is to work with your strengths for success.

Debt Tips: ADHD-Related Anxiety

1. Automate

As much as possible, automate payments so that you don’t have to remember things on a specific date.  Set up automatic payments on your cards, at least for the minimum amount, but a fixed monthly amount is better.  So for example if the minimum is $45 but you can afford more a month, go for the larger number.

Have you tried this and found it causes a lot of overdrafts because of overspending and forgetting about scheduled payments?  Consider having two accounts – one for bills and one for flexible spending like food and gas.  Have about 2/3 of your check automatically deposited into the bills account and the remainder into the flexible spending.  Ideally, sneak a little into a savings account, too, while you’re setting things up!

2. Slowing Down

The corollary to getting debts paid down is also to not continue to increase debt.  We’ve all been there with making the minimum payment monthly, only to see that balance jump right back up by end of the next month!  Part of the struggle for overspending is making impulse purchases.  So it only makes sense to realize this propensity and work through it.  It sounds great to tell ourselves we’ll put something into our virtual cart and sit on that decision to purchase for 24 hours.  But sometimes our brains strongly struggle to stop with the impulse once the item is in the cart.  There are apps that can help you take that pause before getting onto the Amazon app, for example, or your favorite store’s site.  (Bonus, most can also be used for social media apps, just so you get that bit of a mental speed bump to think about whether endless scrolling on the feed is a good idea right now.)  For more tips and resources check out CHADD.

Depression and Financial Health

Depression is another common struggle that plays into how we manage our financial health, and this correlation goes both ways.  Lack of income or overspending can bring on depression, and the depression makes it more difficult to then tackle the underlying financial issues. Facing the challenge of managing finances can be overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure where to start. The sheer scale of the task can feel draining. Breaking down the problem into manageable pieces and setting positive choices into motion helps immensely.

Debt Tips: Depression

1. Simplify
As above, when possible, automate as much as you can so that it doesn’t require ongoing energy and decisions.  Once you’ve set up automatic payments, the bank handles timely payments for you. If you must pay manually, set as many due dates for the same date as possible.  For example, if you get paid twice a month and your car and rent are both due on the first, you probably have the most funds available middle of the month. Setting your bill due dates for the 15th or 20th allows you to align payments with your mid-month income.

2. Routines
We all have a love-hate relationship with structure.  But it’s true that having some routine in our life frees up our brain to not have to make as many decisions, and we’re less likely to get waylaid in our plan.  Routines don’t have to be super involved, and in fact they’re more likely to stick if they aren’t.  Make it a habit to check your balance before a purchase.  Or to spend a few minutes paying bills on your payday lunch break.

New habits are most likely to stick if we can add them into current routines – so if your evening routine is to check in with your body’s wellbeing with a few pushups or yoga, to check in with your mental state with journaling, add in a quick financial check-in on your bank and debt balances and what’s coming up.

General Best Practices

Be gentle with yourself.  If you try something new with your finances, and it isn’t the answer for you, that’s OK.  It’s not a failure.  You’ve gained new experience and wisdom from trying. Taking that first step and trying something new can make the next attempt feel a little less daunting.

Bonus Tip

If you’re struggling with high-interest credit card debt, consider our Debt Management Program for lower interest rates, waived or reduced fees, and support from an expert throughout the program.*


*Interest rates & waived or reduced fees based  on creditor participation. 

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