For most people money or finances, along with relationships and career, is one of those hot-button topics.
What comes to mind when you think about money? Stop reading for a moment, and take 30 seconds to write down all the words that come to mind.
If you are interested in getting a handle on your finances, you may assume your challenges with finances are due to the same executive function challenges that impact other aspects of your life. And, in part, this is true, for sure.
In fact, if you Google “ADHD and money,” you’ll find lots of articles on budgeting, planning, controlling spending – money management. This makes sense because these are the topics many adults with ADHD, and perhaps you, are interested in mastering.
But, though it may surprise you, I am not going to start this series of articles with any of these topics. Stay tuned. I promise to write about those next…
It Is Just Numbers?
What did you learn when you were first introduced to money in elementary school? You learned how to add, subtract, multiply and divide coins. And you learned how many dollars, quarters, nickels, dimes, or pennies equal a given amount. It was just numbers.
With that memory as our foundation many of us, whether we knew it or not, likely internalized an expectation that the conversations around money should continue to be just about the numbers.
And, if money is just about numbers, then the conversations about it should be logical, cool, collected, right? Has this been your experience?
For most of us, as we grew up, we experienced a disconnect between this internalized expectation and the reality of the conversations we heard and later participated in with family and friends.
Emotions and Money
For most of us the conversations became, well, emotional. Do these scenarios sound familiar?
- When one person spent more than a family member thought they should there were expressions of anger, sometimes unspoken seething.
- A raise or gifts of money elicited excitement.
- When somebody received less than they thought they were entitled to they might have been resentful. Maybe they told others, “I should get more.”
- Some conversations were ones of fear of not having enough.
- Other times you may have heard or uttered expressions of gratitude for having enough.
- Then there were conversations that had an apologetic tone because the person could not provide as much as they would like. They might have felt “less than.”
Yet, despite all of these experiences, many of us fail to incorporate a discussion about emotions when discussing money with those closest to us. If this is true for you, it may be because you still feel it is just about numbers…
And, when we don’t acknowledge how emotions are involved in our financial life, all sorts of unintended consequences may ensue.
One of the most serious we often point to is divorce. Sonya Britt, a Kansas State University researcher said that “Arguments about money [are] by far the top predictor of divorce. It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money…”
Another common source of financial strife in families are feuds over inheritances. I know of families where members don’t talk to each other anymore because of disagreements over what to do with joint property and other inheritance issues.
How about when friends or family ask one another for money as an outright gift or loan? When the request is denied or the loan is not repaid the relationship between the people may become strained.
What other examples can you think where people experience relationship problems because of finances?
Why do these conflicts happen?
It’s Not About the Money
Just as money is not about the numbers, discord and tension over money is usually not about the money itself, but rather the friction represents:
- underlying issues in the relationships.
- a disconnect between people’s varying perspectives of what money means to them.
So, for example, there may be a clash, if one partner wants to save because money represents safety and the other wants to spend it because money represents freedom.
Likewise, when one partner decides to go on a shopping spree after she agreed to spend less, the fight that ensues may be more about the broken trust than the money.
In the example of inheritance, kids may feel entitled to their fair share of their parent’s money. And, when they don’t get what they feel is rightfully theirs, it may bring up old familial issues. Maybe they feel their sibling always got more than them…
These are just a few of the many, many issues that come up for people involving money and emotions.
What are the issues in your life related to emotions and money?
ADHD, Money and Emotions
It is also important to remember that, as an adult with ADHD, you may have added challenges in this realm if you are impulsive and/or have difficulties regulating your emotions, both symptoms of ADHD.
First, if this article piqued your curiosity, learn more about emotions and money. A great book to start with is The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources by Lynne Twist.
Next, think about how your emotions are involved in your “financial relationships.”
And, when you are ready, discuss what you learned with the people closest to you, especially your family.
Are you ready to acknowledge the role emotions play in your life when it comes to money?
In the next article in this series I’ll dive a little deeper into money management for Adults with ADHD. So, stay tuned…