People with neurological differences like autism and ADHD think and learn in different ways. These differences are a result of normal variation in the human genome. But they can also make parts of day-to-day life more challenging, including managing money.
Born and raised in Manchester, 26-year-old Abz has ADHD. It’s a condition which, among other symptoms, can reduce our ability to control our impulses. Since getting diagnosed, Abz has learned that his overspending is linked to his condition. He tells us about how ADHD impacts his money.
Abz was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago.
How does ADHD affect your spending?
I was officially diagnosed with ADHD in 2017, and that’s when I realised what was up. I was constantly making impulse purchases and buying things I didn’t need. But I couldn’t work out why.
If I’ve had a bad day or I’m angry or upset, I’m like, “I’m gonna buy this, I’m gonna buy this, I’m gonna buy this,” just to make myself happy. I need to get back on a high. And to do that, I need to buy something.
But in reality, spending just makes me even more upset afterwards, because I’m buying things I don’t really need.
Impulsivity is one of the symptoms of ADHD. Plus when I get upset and emotional, sometimes I end up breaking my phone, then I go and buy a new one. And I’m constantly losing things. I’ve misplaced a bag, a phone and a wallet, and I always end up buying new things to replace them.
I used to have a savings account with HSBC. I saved £3,000! But at one point I didn’t have a job, and I spent all of it in two months on nights out and having a laugh. I had a Monzo Pot and I locked it, but I’d always get to a point where I thought, “I need it, I need it, I need it.”
I wouldn’t like an overdraft. And one thing I’ll never do is get a credit card.
"One thing I’ll never do is get a credit card."
What do you find yourself spending money on?
I’ll get a £10 or £15 Uber for no reason, when I could have got the bus. I’ll buy a ticket for something that costs £50. Or I’ll buy people presents, and treat myself and not care. It’s like I’m not bothered. People think I’m buying these things and I’m happy, but deep down I’m broke.
I’ve realised that sometimes I buy things just so I have ‘the latest thing’, even though I don’t need it.
I spend a lot in M&S because I work in the food hall. I go wild and buy things for the house we don’t need, especially if it’s reduced.
I’m spontaneous with my money so I don’t really budget. I pay £60 a month for my bus pass and I don’t know what the rest goes on. I guess it’s food, my phone bill and the prescription for my medication, which costs £29 every three months.
"I spend a lot in M&S because I work in the food hall... I earn about £1,150 a month after tax, working on £9 an hour."
Tell us about your job.
You know what, I like it. My role varies. They let me use my creative skills at M&S. I do some things on social media for them and get involved in the charity work they do. We’re raising money for Mind.
I earn about £1,150 a month after tax, working part-time on £9 an hour. I usually do extra hours, so technically I’m full-time. But I like having the freedom of a part-time contract.
Does ADHD affect your work?
Sometimes I get frustrated or flustered when I’m doing a task, and I have to do another one quickly straight away. Now they give me a 10 minute break to clear my head.
I’m managing my condition. But one day I’ll be happy, then the next day something will trigger it, like the bus running late or not being able to find my bus pass. Then that’s it. My mood’s gone for the whole day.
He started taking medication to manage his condition because he was concerned about getting into debt.
Where do you live?
I live with my parents, I’ve never moved out. It’s the fear of not being able to live independently and manage my money.
I used to pay rent, but I’ve stopped. We’ve got a pay as you go gas meter, and I put in £10- £20 in every now and then. I buy food for the house as well as products like washing powder and toiletries. I don’t do it all the time, but when I can.
I like living with my parents and they don’t mind. They tell me to move out whenever I’m ready, and right now I’m not.
"I find managing money so hard."
Do your parents help you manage your money?
My parents make sure I’m not overspending and keep an eye on how many purchases I get delivered, like clothes and shoes. They’re separated and live in two different houses. I mainly live at my dad’s, but I go to both.
I’m always asking them for money, usually two weeks after I’ve had my monthly wages. I only speak to my parents about money when I’m in panic mode. Sometimes I leave it out. I don’t want to disappoint them.
They keep saying, “We can’t keep giving you money”, and I’m always coming up with excuses. I find managing money so hard.
My mum and dad are so supportive. They’re constantly there for all of us. There were eight of us kids in total, all living in a three bedroom house. We’re four boys and four girls. I was sharing a bedroom with my brothers. We were there until they separated and moved out when I was 18.
My parents don’t work anymore. My mum used to do foster care and my dad did tailoring until they had kids. They had to look after my brother who has autism, which was a full time job in itself.
I like being part of a big family, because you always have someone to speak to, have a laugh with or rely on.
Having a brother with autism was challenging, but we’re a loving family. Sometimes it was cramped and too much for me with only two bedrooms. But there was also a small box room where we could have time to ourselves. We could sit in there when we wanted to clear our heads.
I think my parents breaking up is what triggered my anxiety the most. I always thought families should be together. At first I was in denial about it, but I realised I needed to stop pretending.
"I started taking medication because I thought I was going to end up getting in debt."
Are you close with your siblings?
I live with my dad, brother and sister. Dad isn’t well at the moment and he’s relying on my sister caring for him. Two of my other sisters live with mum, and then the others have got their own places. But we all live within two minutes of each other! It’s a nice, close-knit community.
Do you do anything else to help manage your ADHD?
My medication has gone up to the highest dose in the last couple of months, and that’s helped me budget a bit more. I started taking medication because I thought I was going to end up getting in debt. Since taking it, I’ve been learning not to overspend and it’s helping me remember when my phone bill is coming out and when my wages are coming in.
I also do a radio show and some vlogging, which helps me focus. I listen to calming music and read a lot of books and positive quotes online. They help me believe in myself.
"A lot of people worry, but when you’ve got anxiety it’s x100."
Although I have the occasional outburst, I’m developing a better relationship with my money. I’m not being as excessive and I’m not panicking as much.
I’ve recently joined a scheme at work where £50 goes out of my wages each month to the M&S share scheme. I can’t touch the money for a whole year.
My anxiety will always be there, but I’m not worrying quite so much about the future. A lot of people worry, but when you’ve got anxiety it’s x100.
Want to tell us about how you manage your money? Email [email protected] and introduce yourself 🙂