Ever felt your wallet is a mirror image of your racing, impulsive ADHD brain?
If your finances are as scattered as your thoughts sometimes feel, welcome to the dreaded yet enlightening dilemma of the "ADHD Tax."
Yes, I said enlightening because awareness is the first step to change, right?
Let's check out this financial quagmire—laying it bare, understanding its nooks and crannies, and arming ourselves with strategies to tackle it.
Buckle up because we're in for a ride!
What Exactly is this ADHD Tax? 💷
If you’ve ever found yourself drowning in late fees or impulse-buying stuff that later gathers dust, you're well-aquainted with the phenomenon we in the ADHD world call the "ADHD Tax."
But let's add some formal flair: the ADHD tax is essentially the unintended financial penalties and premiums incurred due to behaviours and symptoms related to ADHD.
Take, for instance, the time I booked the wrong ticket for a train down to London (I booked the day after).
The train company (not naming names!) didn’t care and whacked me with a £125 charge.
I was okay with it as it was my mistake, but the original ticket was only £48. Urgh.
In simpler terms?
It's all the extra cash you end up parting with because of forgetfulness, impulsivity, disorganisation, etc.
Imagine your hard-earned money being siphoned off like a sneaky cat swiping at your breakfast when you’re not looking—annoying, unnecessary, and somehow part of the routine. 😸
The Not-So-Obvious Financial and Emotional Ripple Effects 💸
Alright, folks, this isn't just about money being flushed down the drain.
It's also about the emotional whirlpool it generates.
You might think, “Okay, I lost some change, big deal!” But these small losses accumulate over time into a giant, stress-inducing financial mess.
This often triggers what you might already know as "ADHD burnout, where your finances and emotional well-being start to tank.
You're not just paying with paper and plastic; you're paying with peace of mind, sleep, and even self-esteem.
The guilt, the "I should've known better," and the "not again" are tolls you pay on the emotional highway of ADHD.
Examples of ADHD Tax 💰
So, how does this tax manifest in daily life?
Let’s illustrate with some painfully relatable examples.
1. Forgetting to Cancel Subscriptions
We all love a juicy free trial, but how many times have you remembered to cancel before your card got charged?
Suddenly, that 'free' streaming service costs you two months of subscriptions before you even realise it.
2. ADHD Tax on Food
Meal planning sounds excellent on paper, but the execution?
You buy veggies to become the next MasterChef, but a week later, they decompose in the fridge while you order takeout.
3. Fines and Late Fees
Library books, parking spots, bill payments—they all have deadlines.
And if your ADHD is anything like mine, it treats deadlines as mere 'suggestions,' resulting in a flood of late fees.
4. Impulsive Purchases
“Retail therapy” feels fantastic in the moment.
Who doesn't want that cute planner that promises to change your life?
But alas, two days later, it’s lying under a pile of equally impulsive purchases.
5. Hobby Expenses
Raise your hand if you’ve taken up a hobby, bought all the gear and then lost interest within a week!
The costs increase, from art supplies to musical instruments, and interest wanes.
6. Breaking & Losing Things
Your phone, your glasses, your keys—why do they always seem to be on a quest for adventure without you?
The replacements and fixes are another costly affair.
7. Medication Costs for ADHD
Ah, yes, the irony!
The medication designed to help you focus and manage your ADHD symptoms can often be expensive, adding to your financial load.
Currently, ADHD medication is difficult to get hold of, and costs are rocketing - for instance, I had to get two different strengths of Elvanse to make up my regular dose.
This resulted in me paying double the amount for the exact dosage.
Given that the UK NHS waitlist for diagnosis and treatment is 7+ years, it’s hard to avoid the cost of private care if you’re struggling with your ADHD.
You can help combat the fight for easier access to treatment by supporting and signing Leanne Maskell’s petition here.
Strategies to Combat the ADHD Tax—You've Got This!
Okay, enough doom and gloom.
Let’s get into fix-it mode!
1. Set a Ton of Reminders
You already own a mini-computer (read: smartphone). 📱
Use it to set reminders for every due date under the sun.
Multiple reminders for the same task aren’t overkill; they're a lifeline!
2. Cancel Free Trials Upon Signup
The moment you get that free trial, cancel it.
You'll usually still get to use it for the remaining free days, and you won't have to remember to cancel later.
3. Set Automatic Payments for Utility Bills & Rent
The fewer things you have to remember, the better.
Automate those recurring payments so they take care of themselves.
4. Request Fee Waivers
Mistakes happen, but so do second chances.
Many places will waive a first-time late fee if you ask nicely.
5. Keep Perishable Food in Sight
Use transparent containers for perishable foods and keep them at eye level in the fridge.
That way, they stare back at you, begging to be consumed before expiration.
6. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
You’ll mess up, and that’s okay.
Rather than sinking into a guilt trip, take it as a learning curve. There’s always room for improvement.
7. Set up a Body Doubling Sessions
Schedule a body doubling session with a friend or use an ADHD body doubling website.
Use it each month to cancel subscriptions, set reminders, and automate payments
Final Musings and Parting Wisdom 🧠
Life with ADHD is like riding a roller coaster with loops.
But what if we could learn to enjoy the ride instead of screaming in fear?
By being aware of the ADHD Tax and adopting strategies to minimise its impact, we're taking the first step towards financial freedom!
What is ADHD tax?
ADHD tax is the cost incurred due to ADHD behaviours and symptoms.
It often involves paying penalties and premiums for things you forget, avoid, or impulse buy.
What are examples of ADHD tax?
Forgetting to cancel a subscription, throwing away food that's gone bad, loosing stuff, paying for hobbies that don't stick, impulsive purchases, ADHD medication.
Is ADHD tax real?
HMRC and IRS might not collect it, but our bank accounts certainly do.
ADHD Tax is one of the most brutal battles regarding impulsivity and forgetfulness.
How can I manage the ADHD tax?
Set reminders, cancel subscriptions or even find an ADHD accountability buddy with our Deepwrking Community!