Organizing Your Finances: How to Create and Maintain a Budget with ADHD

organizing finances how to create and maintain a budget


Managing finances is challenging, but if you have ADHD, staying on top of budgeting can feel especially difficult. With the right strategies and tools, you can create and maintain a budget that works for you. Here are some practical tips to help you get started and stay on track.


Break down your project

There are many overwhelming parts to setting up a budget. First, you need to know how you are spending your funds now. A project like this can be intimidating, leading to procrastination. Break down your budgeting process into smaller, manageable steps.

  • Day 1: Gather all financial documents.
  • Day 2: List all income sources.
  • Day 3: List all monthly expenses.
  • Day 4: Categorize expenses into needs, wants, and savings.

Taking small steps each day can make the process feel more achievable. If you choose to do all these steps on one day, set aside 4 hours to accomplish this.

Use ADHD-Friendly Tools

There are numerous apps designed to help you manage your finances easily. Apps like Quicken, YNAB (You Need a Budget), and PocketGuard can help you track spending, set goals, and receive reminders. Choose an app with a clean, intuitive interface to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Use reports to synthesize information for you. Set this up on your devices to use every day. Set a time to check in daily to keep this top of mind.

Keep It Simple

Simplicity is key when creating a budget that you can stick to. Choose a straightforward budgeting method that doesn’t overwhelm you with details. One effective approach is the 50/30/20 rule:

  • 50% of your income goes to needs (rent, groceries, utilities).
  • 30% goes to wants (dining out, entertainment).
  • 20% goes to savings and debt repayment.

This method helps you categorize your expenses without getting bogged down in details.

Set Up Automatic Payments

Automate as many payments as possible to reduce the number of tasks you need to remember. Set up automatic payments for bills like rent, utilities, and credit cards. This ensures you won’t miss due dates, helping you avoid late fees and maintain a good credit score. If you have insufficient funds, set up the least expensive recurring payments like gas and electricity, and set a reminder to pay bills twice a month on the same day, such as a Saturday or Sunday.


Use Visual Aids

Visual aids can be incredibly helpful for people with ADHD. Here are some options.

  • Charts and graphs: Many budgeting apps provide visual representations of your spending habits.
  • Post-it notes: Write down key financial tasks and stick them where you’ll see them.
  • Calendars: Mark bill due dates and financial goals on a physical or digital calendar.

Seeing your progress visually can be motivating and help keep you on track.

Start a routine 

Schedule regular check-ins to review your budget. Set a daily, weekly, or monthly appointment with yourself to update your expenses and adjust your budget if needed. Consistent reviews help you stay aware of your financial situation and make you accountable to your intentions.

Build a team for support

Share your goals with a friend or family member to be your accountability partner. Sit with a body double while you are checking your accounts. It takes only one other to support you as you work toward your financial goals.


Be aware of obstacles

Staying on track with a budget can be the biggest challenge despite strong motivation.  If impulsivity interferes, implement a pause for purchases with a 24-hour rule before you purchase. If you get distracted or disinterested, reward yourself for following through with money management or choose a new location to check your apps. Identify triggers for emotional spending and find alternative coping mechanisms, such as exercise, hobbies, or talking to a friend. Consider setting aside a small, discretionary fund for occasional treats to prevent feeling deprived of fun or spontaneity. Feel less overwhelmed by money by breaking your money management into smaller steps. Being aware of obstacles and using strategies to combat these help you keep on top of your money management.


Creating and maintaining a budget with ADHD is entirely possible. By keeping your budget simple, using helpful tools, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and setting regular check-ins, you can take control of your finances. Remember to be kind to yourself and celebrate your successes, no matter how small. With persistence and the right strategies, you can achieve financial stability and peace of mind.



4 replies
  1. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    I like the approach you shared, especially the guidelines. Up here in the Northeast, I know many people have to spend more on their housing than is generally recommended. It is hard. There is little available, and it is all very expensive. Still, it is good to have some percentages to shoot for.

    My daughter looked into an app called Minted, but I think they are no longer around?

  2. Linda Samuels
    Linda Samuels says:

    As always, you provide such sage advice. Budgeting and handling finances can be tricky. I like your simple 50/30/20 formula. It’s possible that depending on where you live, the percentages might vary. But it’s a great way to begin and adjust from there.

  3. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    It’s true that not all the percentages apply to all areas of the country. Having a simple formula makes a difference. My clients love Simplifi which is a part of Quicken. It is hard to start but so important!

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