Neurodiversity

The ADHD Tax: Hidden Costs & How to Avoid (For Black Women)

June 23, 2024

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Living with ADHD can be a daily challenge

Living with ADHD presents daily challenges, often intensified for Black women due to societal pressures and systemic biases. As a project manager, podcast host Divine Enigma and Black woman with ADHD, I’ve witnessed the financial toll ADHD can take – the “ADHD Tax.” This refers to the hidden costs of late fees, overdraft charges, and missed opportunities due to ADHD-related challenges.

Let’s delve into what the ADHD Tax entails and explore strategies to minimise its impact.

Understanding the ADHD Tax

The ADHD Tax refers to the extra financial costs incurred due to the symptoms of ADHD. These can include:

  • Late Fees: forgetting to pay bills on time.
  • Overdraft Charges: Losing track of account balances.
  • Impulsive Spending: Making unplanned purchases.
  • Missed Opportunities: Missing offers and chances for promotions due to overwhelm. 

This affected me not only as a woman with ADHD but also as a dyslexic woman. A time that comes to mind is when I could not find the address of a company I had a job interview with; I walked up and down the street, followed Google Maps, the building images, everything, and could not find the location! I lost that job opportunity due to my difficulties navigating directions.

These financial pitfalls can accumulate, creating a significant burden over time for ADHDers.

Unique Challenges for Black Women

Black women often face additional layers of complexity.

Cultural expectations and societal biases can exacerbate the stress of managing ADHD.

  • Particularly the strong black woman trope
  • Being the eldest daughter (despite having an older sibling or brother(s), but still expected to take on the ‘second mother’ role)
  • And having to work twice as hard to prove their worthiness in business and the corporate world in comparison to their white counterparts and/or other minority groups.

The stigma associated with mental health in Black communities can also make it harder to seek help or talk openly about ADHD. Although, this is getting better and black people are becoming more open to therapy. With an increase of black therapists providing this service to their communities, black people are more happy to seek a therapist, and it is not being stigmatised as much.

I am personally still very sceptical about therapy due to a recent court case I saw in the news. Ella Janneh, a black woman who received therapy, has filed a High Court case against her ex-therapist, Michael Lousada, accusing him of assault. This makes me question whether there are truly safe spaces for black women to get support. There is a lot of nuance around therapy being a place where you can let your guard down, and this is my personal opinion, as for some, therapy is an extremely helpful tool to help express your feelings and emotions, but I’m still a bit unsure about it, but I digress, as we can have a whole blog post about this.

Strategies to Minimise the ADHD Tax

As a project/programme manager, I use various tools and strategies to keep projects on track, and these can be adapted to manage personal finances effectively. Here are some tips to help minimise the ADHD Tax.

Automate Your Finances

This ensures that you always pay all due dates and avoid late fees. So key bills like rent, mortgage repayments, council tax, utility bills and broadband are always paid via direct debit. I have two separate bank accounts, one for payments (salary & contracts work, etc) and one for direct debits.

Pay yourself first

This is so critical because people tend to think you need to pay your bills and other actions 1st, but you must pay yourself 1st as if you lost your job or something went wrong, you have invested in yourself and not other people. It also takes a mindset shift, as I think as ADHDers, we tend to put others before ourselves, particularly more so as black women. And this might be unconventional, and people might disagree with me, but I believe you should pay yourself 1st before your credit card debt. Yes! You might be in a season of having debt; however, paying yourself less is better than paying yourself last; once you get to your goal of clearing your debt, you will have a better sense of achievement as you have savings and you have also cleared the credit card debt. 

Budget or have a spending strategy.

I hate the word budget, so I rephrase it to spending strategy, and this means working out how much you are spending each month and looking at your finances each month. I utilise multiple accounts, each designated for a specific purpose. While I combine paper budgets with tech apps and spreadsheets, finding a system that works best for you is essential. Consider having a body double to help you stay on track.

Using Technology and  Visual Aids

Budgeting Apps are really helpful like:

I also use reminders or calendar alerts (Apple/Google Calendar) for bill payments and other financial deadlines. As well as this, I create visual cues.In my front room, I have a whiteboard that serves as a visual reminder of my tasks and financial obligations.

Seek Support and Resources

Access to Work Grants can provide you with free tools as well as access to an ADHD Coach; I am currently going through this process and will be potentially putting together a vlog/blog on this, so if people love this article and if people want to see me go through my access to work application, let me know I will put a vlog/blog post together.

  • Financial Advisor Consider working with a financial advisor who understands ADHD and can provide personalised strategies. This can be hard to find; however, here is a link to accredited financial advisors in the UK: https://www.unbiased.co.uk/advisers. Ask if they understand and if they can support you with your ADHD. Also, Karen Burke, who works with ADHD Babes, can help you manage your finances. Contact  ADHD Babes for more information.

I recently got into a bit of credit card debt due to business expenses & holidays, etc, so I am heavily prioritising paying that back, but at the same time, I’m building up an emergency savings pot for myself and my husband; however, I will pay 1st in the emergency savings (pot), and then pay more towards the debt.

I know I want to pay, for example, £100 per month towards my debt and then £50 per month towards my savings. To achieve this, I’ll prioritise higher payments towards my credit card debts while temporarily reducing my savings contributions. Once I have cleared my debt, I will increase my savings overall to £150, as I have cleared my debt. I will also work out how long it will take me to clear my debt. For example, if my debt is £1000, I know it will take me about 10 months to clear, paying £100 per month. Also, if I get extra money from contract work or self-employment, I make extra payments towards my debt. I will also consider that if there is interest to pay on the credit card, I will check for any balance transfer offers to reduce my debt as much as possible. 

The target is to get 12 months worth of emergency savings to take my foot off the gas of working so hard and have a cushion to kick back and relax in case I lose my job or my husband loses his job; either one of us gets sick, or my business venues do not work out.

My Debt Repayment and Savings Strategy

I’m prioritising paying off recent credit card debt while building an emergency savings fund. My approach involves:

  • Consistent Payments: Allocating a set amount monthly towards debt and savings.
  • Prioritising Debt: Focusing on higher payments towards debt while temporarily reducing savings contributions.
  • Increasing Savings After Debt Repayment: Once the debt is cleared, increasing savings contributions.
  • Calculating Repayment Timeline: Estimating the time to clear debt based on payment amounts.
  • Extra Payments: Utilisng additional income from contract work or self-employment towards debt.
  • Exploring Balance Transfer Offers: Considering balance transfer options to reduce interest payments.

Living by Faith: A Pursuit of Unconventional Dreams

As a Christian, I pray for success in all areas of life. However, nobody knows tomorrow, so I continue striving to trust God to provide my daily bread. “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭21‬:‭20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I live by that scripture, and it helps me not to trust in the world but in God and know I need to be a good steward of the things that God has blessed me with.

One of my goals is to be a homeowner, but on my OWN terms, I want to be essentially debt-free within ten years (no mortgage) and and embrace a nomadic lifestyle. I aim to have two children, despite being 40 years old, and have my children homeschooled and learn about the world with my husband.

This might seem impossible to others, but it’s what I dream of, and I hope, God willing, it will happen. I know others may have different personal religious beliefs and spiritual doctrines, but no matter how hard life can get, it is important to be hopeful and imagine a better future for yourself rooted in your personal beliefs.

The 48-hour rule

I am naturally impulsive, and one method that has worked for me is the 48-hour rule, which states that if I want to buy a product or service, I’m still determining if I want or need it. I will wait 48 hours, and if after 48 hours I’m still thinking about it, I will purchase it.

This happens typically when online shopping, for example, leaving items in the virtual basket for the next 48 hours before I decide to purchase them.

If not, There is another method that I believe Martin Lewis uses.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/

Do you need it? And can you afford it?

Do you want it? And can you afford it?

Do you want it? And can’t afford it?

Or do you need it? And I can’t afford it.

These are the questions you need to ask yourself, and be honest!

Building Routines

Schedule a specific time each week to review your finances. Make it a routine to review your budget, pay bills, and assess your financial health.

Accountability Partner: Find a trusted friend or family member to be your accountability partner. They can remind you of upcoming payments and help you stay on track.

I use the body doubling sessions with ADHD babes on Sundays; however, right now, I need to find an accountability buddy, so please holla at me, as I need a friend.

https://calendly.com/saraholaifa519/neuroboost?month=2024-06

Morning Rituals

Incorporate a quick financial review into your morning routine, like checking your account balances and any upcoming payments. I check my account daily in the morning and afternoon to ensure my bills are paid.

Self-Compassion and Advocacy

Understand that mistakes happen and forgive yourself when they do. Use them as learning opportunities rather than sources of self-criticism.

Don’t hesitate to call your bank or service provider if you incur a late fee or overdraft charge. Explain your situation and ask if they can waive the fee, and they do that sometimes. Also, if you forgot to cancel a subscription service when the 1st month was free, contact the company to get a refund. 

Remember!

You are not alone.

There are resources available to help.

Your dreams are valid and achievable.

Conclusion

The ADHD Tax can be a significant burden, but with the right strategies, it can be minimised. For black women, it’s essential to acknowledge the unique challenges faced and leverage resources and community support by automating finances, using technology, creating visual cues, building routines, seeking support, and practising self-compassion.

Coming soon! I will be working with the Black dyspraxic Tumi Sotire on Overcoming the Black Neurodivergent Tax: Financial Toolkit

If it interests you, click the link to join the waitlist

Membership: neuroenigma.com

Email address hello@divineenigma.org

Socials IG @divineenigma TT divineenigma Youtube 

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