Vast Wealth? I Just Want Enough For a Vacation!

By Rick Green

Money.

Why don’t we ever have enough of it?  And why does what we do have to keep disappearing?

Is it really the economy?  Or competition from China and India?  Or Wall Street playing fast and loose with our savings?  Perhaps.  Probably.  That’s part of it, I’m sure.

But here’s the thing, even at the best of times, when the economy was booming, before the sleeping giants of Asia had woken up, and Triple A rated Funds were worth the paper they were printed on, I never had enough money. No matter what my income did.

YO-YO INCOME

Working in show biz meant my income soared and crashed more often than Brittany Spears career.

It didn’t just rise or fall by 10 or 20 percent.

It doubled.  Even tripled.  Then did the reverse, dropping by half or two thirds.  My accountant actually looked forward to seeing me, because it was always an exciting revelation. T otally unpredictable.  Boom or bust?  Congratulations or condolences?

The only thing that was consistent was that my income was never quite enough.  It always seemed to get spent.  The question of what to do with ‘discretionary income’ was never one I had to answer, cause there never was any.

Putting extra money into retirement funds?  That was something happy people talked about in commercials.  Thankfully for me, the Actors Union and Writer’s Guild automatically deducted a tiny percentage of my income, so I may not end up homeless when I’m old and grey.  Okay, yes, I know, I’m already grey, but I’m not old.  Okay, yes, I’m older.  But hey, every day we are all older…  Sorry, I digress.

I’VE SEEN GOOD TIMES AND BAD

My prosperous years usually occurred during recessions.  (Apparently when things are tough people like to laugh.)  When the economy was booming people felt good.  So they wanted to watch drama, crime and horror.  If I wanted horror, I’d look at my income for that year.

What’s interesting is that despite having good years, I never got ahead.  Clearly it wasn’t a matter of income.  It was a  matter of where it went.  Or, if I want to take responsibility, it was a matter of what I did with it.  And what did I do with all that money?  Here’s the thing—I don’t really know.  Or I didn’t know at the time.  Sure, at the end of a good year, I could sift through the heaps of receipts and realize, “Oh, right, we sent our daughter to that summer camp.  And we bought a second car… It was a used K-Car, but still that was $900 right there…”

There were other factors beyond China and India and Lehman Brothers.  One of them was my ADHD.

One study showed that as adult with ADHD we earn less than our neuro-typical peers.  If you’re a high school grad, you earn an average of $4,000 a year.  If you’re a college grad, it’s about $10,000.  That’s a lot of money.  Over a million dollars if you had saved it an invested it.  Or if I had.

So it’s time to take on our finances.  We’re making this – February For Financial Freedom at TotallyADD.

And yes, I know, money isn’t everything.  It’s why we’re only spending one month on it.  (Though we may come back to it later in the year.)

But money is a bit like food–when you have enough, you don’t think about it, you can focus on enjoying life.  You can even sell the K-Car and upgrade to a Geo.  But when you don’t have enough it is scary. It limits you. In so many ways. (Not unlike ADHD.)

[ADHD specialist Dr. Stephanie Mouton Sarkis joined us for a 3 part webinar series on the financial challenges that ADHD folks deal with, and how to overcome them. Three! If this were a course in finances, which it kind of will be, you’d pay hundreds of dollars for it. If you had hundreds of dollars. You can find the 3 part webinar series here.]

I’ll blog about the highlights of this course in building wealth, because I didn’t just introduce the webinars, I did all of the exercises, because I know the value of her message.

Stephanie’s book, ADD and Your Money is available in our shop by clicking here.  If you can’t afford to invest in your retirement funds, invest in this book. It’s a quick read. So valuable! My copy paid for itself many times over. Unlike that Email I got about a huge inheritance from a long-lost relative that was waiting for me in a Nigerian bank…

IN THE MEANTIME…

… let’s start talking. What is the biggest money issue for you? How does your ADHD cost you, financially?  What would make a difference? What is missing? What would you love to change?

And what would you do with an extra $10,000 a year?

10 Replies to “Vast Wealth? I Just Want Enough For a Vacation!”

  1. I think I’m one of the “converted”.

    I used to spend every cent on impulse purchases, before I’d even earned it. And I had no clue what my credit card balance was at any given moment. Years ago, I had a high-paying IT job, and racked up so much credit card debt, my parents had to bail me out. Thrice.

    Today, I’m earning a quarter of what I earned in that IT job, but I have a nice, healthy bank balance, an RRSP, and I save as much as I possibly can. I get more of a thrill from watching those balances grow, than I did from impulsively buying whatever caught my eye. And I don’t put anything onto a credit card, unless I know for certain that I can pay off that amount in full, as of that moment.

    When I got a bit of an inheritance, last year, instead of blowing it all, I put most of it into my TFSA, and it’s still there and growing. So, if I had an extra $10,000 a year, I’d put most of it into my RRSP and TFSA.

    Yep, I’m one of the converted…most of the time.

  2. I too am among the converted. A little late but at least not never. And, better yet, we’ve done a fair-to-middling job of teaching our children to make better money decisions (and we didn’t raise consume-consume-consume kind of kids–whew!).

    I still slip a bit on the impulse purchases (beating myself up a little today for a weak moment) and I still buy things I can afford but don’t really need sometimes, but the improvements far away the mistakes.

    These webinars are a huge service to the ADHD community and who knows, I might even learn something. Anything is possible.

  3. I’m actually not an impulse spender – quite the opposite. I tend to over analyze each purchase with an excruciating decision process, unless it’s a staple item that our household needs… “Do I REALLY need to buy this? Do we have the money? Should I? Shouldn’t I?” Something that would take a regular person a few seconds to think about turns into 5 minutes for me standing there looking weird. And then my brain can’t let it go while I’m wandering the store in search of other things. I think this might be more of the anxiety than ADHD, but who knows. They are intertwined.

    I can see why ADHDers make less in careers for the obvious reasons. I think we tend to not push ourselves or just ask to *get* more in our paychecks.

  4. Moolah! How do I spend thee? Let me count the ways!

    First, i think it should be noted that many people out there just scrape by—for all sorts of reasons. This is not just an ADD problem. But clearly ADDers face several challenges.

    Making money:

    1) Education. Many ADDers don’t do well in the classroom. It’s just a fact that educational achievement correlates closely with income. Going forward, this undoubtedly will be even more the case.

    2) Social skills. If you work with other people—and just about all of us do—the ability to relate to and resonate with our co-workers is essential for success. People who always shoot off at the mouth, throw fits, and keep a desk that looks like a rat’s nest are bound to get dinged when promotions are handed out.

    3) Lack of productivity and attention to important details. If you can’t get your work done on time, stay up all night throwing together a project that should have been finished days before, or screw up an important spreadsheet, you’re going to have a problem—because your boss is going to have a problem.

    4) Lack of self-confidence. When you’re on top of your game, clicking on all cylinders, others can feel the positive mojo. Conversely, when you’re riddled with self-doubt, people can feel that vibe, too. If you don’t act like a winner, people start to think you might be a loser.

    And spending money:

    1) Impulsive buying/risk taking/ gambling. ADDers tend to be impulsive shoppers and gamblers. Not all, but many. In fact, I imagine precious few ADDers actually live on monthly budgets. Most people who have a large bank account are very careful to save and invest. They’re disciplined and adopt long-term financial strategies. Too, they don’t bet half of their salary on black 33 or on the Rangers+1. Moreover, ADDers are perhaps more prone than others to roll the dice on, say, a new business venture or home renovation without thinking it through. Or abruptly abandon a project they’ve already sunk considerable money into before it’s had a chance to succeed. Or try to do five things at once.

    2) Expensive ADD behavior. Stats show we’re far more likely to wreck the car, drill a hole in our hand with a power tool, or lose important stuff. That means expensive repairs, time off work, and costly replacements. It’s hard to save money if you’re always spending it on stuff you destroy or lose. ADDers also have a higher incarceration rate. That doesn’t do much for your portfolio or job prospects.

    3) Personal problems. I’ve heard it said (and can speak from personal experience) that ADDers have more than their share of problems on the home front. There are statistics everywhere to support the assertion that married folks generally have more money in the bank than single people. If you’re single—particularly a single parent—odds are strong that you’re struggling.

    What did I leave out?

  5. In fact, I imagine precious few ADDers actually live on monthly budgets. Most people who have a large bank account are very careful to save and invest. They’re disciplined and adopt long-term financial strategies.

    How do ya like that? Even among misfits, I’m a misfit!

  6. What Wgreen said. Especially for me the making money part.
    When I’m making enough to cover basic living expenses I’m pretty good at maintaining, but so often as soon as I get the promotion that pays well enough, or get the job that pays more than minimum wage, the rest of my world falls apart and I lose the one thing that was going well. Or I get bored with the new job responsibilities because I’ve been promoted to less laborious tasks.
    I’m usually better about not spending what I don’t have, but it’s hard to make the decision between diapers or rent. And if you (well, I) go to family who have more for help, I have to listen to The Lecture. The one that says I’ll never amount to much if I don’t learn to manage my money better. Because, you know, it’s not the $8/hr crap job that’s the problem, it’s that expensive new car seat I bought…because I could’ve bought the less expensive one (never mind that it had a lower safety rating).
    I would love to make $20/hr. That doesn’t even get me out of poverty level for my family, but it would help so much. I would be able to cover basic expenses and pay off debt. I could start saving for a home. I could pay for a tutor for my ADHD/Asberger’s (I know I didn’t spell that right) son. I wouldn’t have to wonder where rent was coming from. And when I did have an ADHD “oops”, it wouldn’t be completely devastating to my whole world. I might even be able to afford a financial advisor…

  7. I’m always quite amazed when anyone suggests to those in power, that raising the minimum wage would help people and (more importantly to those in power) help the economy—and the suggestion is immediately rejected as “socialism”, “communism”, “it’ll destroy the economy by bankrupting businesses”, etc.

    How quickly they forget.

    HENRY FORD (one of America’s—and the world’s—greatest capitalists) had the revolutionary idea that, if people are paid very well, and given secure jobs with a short enough work week to allow them enough leisure time to enjoy life, then they will buy & enjoy the products they make, and the products that other factories make. This will stimulate the economy, so everyone benefits, including the capitalists, who can invest the extra profits into product development and into services to make the workers’ lives better, which will make them happier, which will make them work more efficiently.

    Henry Ford’s ideas were so outrageously different, that most businessmen said he was crazy. But Ford’s ideas weren’t crazy. They worked extremely well, as the massive economic growth of the early 20th century shows (other than the Great Depression, which was caused by the kind of unregulated fast-and-loose investment banking & too-much-buying-on-credit that got us into the current mess).

    Henry Ford made a lot of mistakes, especially in the last few years of his life. But his idea of investing profits into the business and into the workers, has been forgotten. It needs to be brought back, because the current system of considering workers as disposable items and paying them wages too low to live on, while the profits all go into the pockets of the executives and shareholders, even when those executives completely screw up, ISN’T WORKING.

  8. 1) Not enough of it.
    2) and 3)Holding a job. I seem to find that even the low paying jobs are hard to hang on to when I can’t do the work because I’m so distracted by the details. Or I get overwhelmed by everything that is going on around me. Or just get board. In every case I have ended up sabotaging my employment, I didn’t even realize it for many years. In fact I didn’t know what was going on. I was hoping the diagnosis and meds would help but this is Michigan, and low income people don’t get help, but they don’t mind throwing drugs at you.
    4) Reliable professional help and coaching at my income level.
    5) Two things, 1st, I want to see the mental healthcare system in Michigan rely less on medication and more on real service at least for those who request it. 2nd, To widen the narrow view of employers who treat people that do things differently as nonconforming misfits, who would probably benefit from a person with ADD if they would just give them the tools they need and keep an open mind. I had a low paying graphic artists job for about 3 years -loved it- it started out perfect for me one week of intense work with long hours, then the next week we had off. They changed the format in my last year to working every week with shorter hours per day. I was meticulous with my work actually I was hyper-focusing, and getting lost in the details, but didn’t know it at the time. They said I was too slow. There were other unrelated family issues too, but the reason they gave was I was too slow. After three years? Yes I filed for unemployment and received it, But that didn’t help I couldn’t get another job doing the work I wanted to do. I tried starting my own Magazine but I couldn’t pay the help and I couldn’t sell ads. Yes an ADDer who is not a good sales person, go figure.
    6) Since I currently make less than that a year, I might be able to keep my house.

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