ADHD, Money and Young Adults

Many young adults with ADHD have challenges getting a handle on personal finances.

Learning about finances (addressed in two prior blog posts – 1, 2) is one aspect of this.

As Anthony Rostain, MD, Director of the Adult ADHD Treatment and Research program at the University of Pennsylvania, said in an interview for CHADD, young adults can also have a performance deficit in relation to managing finances even if they learn about it. For example, some young adults “don’t exercise any real restraints on their spending activities” even if they are aware of the concept of budgeting.

The performance aspect of financial responsibility is where parents and coaches have a particularly important role to play with young adults.


In this regard, as in so much else in life, a sequence of instruction, guided support that is gradually phased out, sensibly-enforced limits, and practice practice, practice will prepare a young adult to confidently use appropriate financial skills.

Parents or coaches can assist young adults in developing routines and reminder systems around tracking their spending, paying bills, saving receipts and other skills such as saving documents for taxes. Some relevant practical suggestions can be found in an online article by Kathleen Nadeau

Practice sessions with a young adult can address budgeting, balancing the checkbook (even if online banking is used, this awareness is important), bill paying and the like.


At the same time, safeguards, such as limited capacity credit cards, can be helpful. Dr. Rostain also suggests written contracts and judicious use of rewards and consequences as part of a gradual learning plan.

Stepwise learning can be implemented by initial use of an ATM card, followed by use of a limited capacity credit card to teach responsible spending.

Parents might establish spending limits in phases linked to the young adult having increased responsibility for purchasing items such as gifts for others, school supplies, books, clothing, and so forth.

Consequences for overspending and rewards for demonstrating careful financial management or budgetary discipline can encourage a young adult’s wise choices.

A young adult earning an income can also be asked to contribute to household expenses.

Tackling the important skill of financial management in young adulthood will have big pay-offs as your child moves forward to increased financial independence.

Image courtesy of moomsabuy at

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