ADHD Impulse Spending & Credit Card Debt

I've mentioned a few times that I've been trying to work off some debt. Compared to others, I don't know if my debt is all that bad. I don't have any student loans left to pay, nor any other debts except for one credit card. I owe about $3,000 on it right now. I used it for all of my spending, especially since the company has a points system I can use towards buying groceries. I have it set up for several pre-authorized payments for my services like internet, mobile, etc.

For income, I get about $1,000 every two weeks from work. It's been a bit less than that lately because of cut hours. Rent is $1,000 a month. Every second paycheque is specifically for rent. Every other paycheque goes on the credit card. If I get a government bonus, like a GST cheque or the recent carbon tax rebate, it goes right on the credit card. I've never missed a payment and have paid at least the minimum amount. I have a very good credit score.

But it feels like I'm never catching up. I know I can be irresponsible with my spending. I'll buy comics when they come out. The odd game on Steam. (and only when it's very cheap). Sometimes buy or go see a movie. Every day at work, I'll hit the snack machine and spend about $6. I recently stopped going out for lunch and have been making my own meals. I cook more than order out, although sometimes I'll order something from Uber Eats.

But it just seems like I can never get that debt down. And I hate it because I feel irresponsible. With my ADHD, I often tap the card without really thinking about it.

I tried contacting my credit card company to see if they offer any kind of relief or debt forgiveness, but they didn't offer any solutions. The person I spoke with just kept asking "What are you asking us to do?" and I basically kept saying "I don't know! I've never called for something like this before, so I don't know what my options are!" and she never offered any options.

I have a second credit card that I honestly never use and have considered just cancelling.
 
It might be better to talk to your bank about getting a personal loan to pay off the card. You’ll get a much better interest rate, and can set a term so you know you’ll have it paid off in 2 or 3 years, or whatever works for you.
 

Dave

Staff member
Also, it might help to see if your landlord will allow you to do what i do. Instead of paying all of my rent from a single check, I pay 1/2 from the first check & 1/2 from the second. It allows me to have more money each check for things like food & whatnot.
 
I've mentioned a few times that I've been trying to work off some debt. Compared to others, I don't know if my debt is all that bad. I don't have any student loans left to pay, nor any other debts except for one credit card. I owe about $3,000 on it right now. I used it for all of my spending, especially since the company has a points system I can use towards buying groceries. I have it set up for several pre-authorized payments for my services like internet, mobile, etc.

For income, I get about $1,000 every two weeks from work. It's been a bit less than that lately because of cut hours. Rent is $1,000 a month. Every second paycheque is specifically for rent. Every other paycheque goes on the credit card. If I get a government bonus, like a GST cheque or the recent carbon tax rebate, it goes right on the credit card. I've never missed a payment and have paid at least the minimum amount. I have a very good credit score.

But it feels like I'm never catching up. I know I can be irresponsible with my spending. I'll buy comics when they come out. The odd game on Steam. (and only when it's very cheap). Sometimes buy or go see a movie. Every day at work, I'll hit the snack machine and spend about $6. I recently stopped going out for lunch and have been making my own meals. I cook more than order out, although sometimes I'll order something from Uber Eats.

But it just seems like I can never get that debt down. And I hate it because I feel irresponsible. With my ADHD, I often tap the card without really thinking about it.

I tried contacting my credit card company to see if they offer any kind of relief or debt forgiveness, but they didn't offer any solutions. The person I spoke with just kept asking "What are you asking us to do?" and I basically kept saying "I don't know! I've never called for something like this before, so I don't know what my options are!" and she never offered any options.

I have a second credit card that I honestly never use and have considered just cancelling.
If your ADHD brain works anything like mine, get yourself a budgeting app. Put everything you spend in it to track your spending, and let it display how much total you've spent every week. Once you've done this and can establish 1: how much you are spending, and then 2: how much you want to spend. It takes some time to get into the habit, so don't be discouraged if you don't immediately follow your own rules (for me, not quitting immediately is the hardest part) but if you can make it a habit, it can literally start to fix itself. Because the next time you go to the snack machine, you pull out your phone to input it in, see how much you've spent, and then decide do I really need it? Is there a cheaper alternative? Looking at your history you can see the things you've bought and ask, did I really need these? So I regret buying them?

It won't happen overnight, and you'll likely fall off and stop using it from time to time, but if you make an effort to get back on, keep recording and budgeting, it almost becomes like a game score. And then your start feeling good about not spending money.
 
If your ADHD brain works anything like mine, get yourself a budgeting app. Put everything you spend in it to track your spending, and let it display how much total you've spent every week. Once you've done this and can establish 1: how much you are spending, and then 2: how much you want to spend. It takes some time to get into the habit, so don't be discouraged if you don't immediately follow your own rules (for me, not quitting immediately is the hardest part) but if you can make it a habit, it can literally start to fix itself. Because the next time you go to the snack machine, you pull out your phone to input it in, see how much you've spent, and then decide do I really need it? Is there a cheaper alternative? Looking at your history you can see the things you've bought and ask, did I really need these? So I regret buying them?

It won't happen overnight, and you'll likely fall off and stop using it from time to time, but if you make an effort to get back on, keep recording and budgeting, it almost becomes like a game score. And then your start feeling good about not spending money.
Any recommendations? Preferably a free app because I just looked up budget trackers and most of them have a monthly fee. I found one called Spending Tracker that's pretty basic, but I think it might work.
 
I don't know if my debt is all that bad. I don't have any student loans left to pay, nor any other debts except for one credit card. I owe about $3,000 on it right now.
(less than helpful comment) Man, if you could only see how much I spend on credit card debt as a leftover from having a spend-happy wife...

(more helpful comment) That said, any amount hanging over you can feel like a stone around your neck if you never seem to make progress. One of the things I did was similar to another suggestion here: get software. I use quicken, but there are free/cheaper alternatives. I put in my monthly known expenditures as bill reminders--mortgage, utilities, etc. I put in my paychecks as well.

Then I push all the reminders to the ledger a month early. That lets me look ahead 4 weeks, see what all my outflows are going to be, see what my income is, and see what my lowest point for the month is. That's my 'spending capital' for the month. So, it doesn't matter if I have $500 today if 3 weeks from now I'll only have $75. It means I can spend 75 dollars this month (these are made up numbers for example purposes). Then I can mentally budget my monthly variable spending (groceries, gas, extra money on credit cards) and see if I have anything left over for fun stuff. If I don't, I don't buy it on a card, even though I have plenty of available credit for most any purchase I'd want.

I've made so much headway on the credit card debt that way in the last 24 months since getting divorced.
 
Also, I'm unsure if credit score works the same in Canada, but if it doesn't have fees, I wouldn't cancel the second card because it reduces your "available credit" and will lower your credit score.
 
Any recommendations? Preferably a free app because I just looked up budget trackers and most of them have a monthly fee. I found one called Spending Tracker that's pretty basic, but I think it might work.
I use one provided by by bank, so maybe see if your bank has one?

Otherwise even a simple one should work, anything to just put it into your mind what you're spending before you do it.
 
...it feels like I'm never catching up [...] like I can never get that debt down. And I hate it because I feel irresponsible. With my ADHD, I often tap the card without really thinking about it.
Hey there, Nick. I remember what living like that is like, and I didn't enjoy it one bit.
I can only tell you what worked for ME, so take this advice for what it is (advice), and hopefully it will help you to come out the other side only a little worse for wear. In my case, I didn't use any app or service because I felt finances were too tight even for that. I just used a couple of text documents on my computer.

The first is a budget/list I made of ALL the expenses I would have over the course of a year--insurance, rent, utilities, vehicle registration, whatever--everything that I expected I would have to pay at least once per year. For things like utilities that I knew would go up and down over the course of the year, I added up a entire year's worth and then divided by 12 to get the monthly average. I then grouped the monthly expenses together first, followed by the annual expenses, and sorted them by due date. So "rent," for example, would be due on the 1st of each month, so it got moved to the top of the list, all the way through to "natural gas" bill, which was always due on the last day of the month, so I put it due as "28" since that's the last day that every month has. Then the ones after that would be the annual expenses, so they would get due dates of things like "Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct" for the water bill (which was due once per quarter)...hopefully you get the idea here. For payments that had an interest rate OR stated late fee, I would also put that after the due date, just so I knew at a glance which ones would be the most painful to miss, if/when I was forced to choose to miss any. For things like groceries, I would figure out an average after a month or two and then add that as a "monthly" payment.

The second list is a running ledger of money, past and future. Start with your current bank balance, and then list under that (in a running ledger style) any currently pending (but not yet shown by your bank) charges under it. Treat that money as "spent" (because it is!) even though it might still technically be included in your bank balance. Then list any of the payments you will need to make before your next payday AND PAY THEM (and add them to the pending payments). Since any bills that are due before your next payday can't be paid with money you don't have yet, they have to be paid with the money you have NOW. The total you're left with is the total money you have available until your next payday. Draw a line with a date (On my computer, I just type a line of =====date-here=====) to signify the arrival of that next payday.

From here you just follow the system. You enter the upcoming known payments you will have to make between each payday line for at least three paydays in advance (so you will always have at least 3-4 sections separated by payday lines), and Then You Just Pay Them. You don't get to spend any "discretionary" money until all your known payments are done, and your extra money goes towards paying off your highest interest-bearing debt (usually your credit card(s)). If you get an unexpected expense that you can't actually pay, then it gets buffered by the credit card under the assumption that you'll make up for doing so on the next payday. If your credit card has a rewards program, then good for you. Use it for everything to max those rewards (assuming you don't generate extra fees for using that card) BUT know that you will have to pay off the month's accumulation in addition to your normal minimum card payment once the card bill comes due.

I apologize if the above is not clear. I was interrupted countless times during the few hours it took to complete. I'm more than willing to give actual examples or explain what I mean for each step if you need. I realize it's not an "express" kind of thing, but a lot of that has to do with the amount of money you have to work with. More is better, obviously, but there's only so much you can cut, so many expenses you can trim before you hit a kind of hard minimum on how much it merely costs to exist. Here's hoping that your country's healthcare system can help you succeed where I needed an actual windfall in order to get ahead.

--Patrick
 
Oh, and something I forgot to mention. Every month or two, do a rebalance/survey of things. Did your Internet bill go up? Did your interest rates or due dates change? Check everything over and make sure.

--Patrick
 
Hey there, Nick. I remember what living like that is like, and I didn't enjoy it one bit.
I can only tell you what worked for ME, so take this advice for what it is (advice), and hopefully it will help you to come out the other side only a little worse for wear. In my case, I didn't use any app or service because I felt finances were too tight even for that. I just used a couple of text documents on my computer.

The first is a budget/list I made of ALL the expenses I would have over the course of a year--insurance, rent, utilities, vehicle registration, whatever--everything that I expected I would have to pay at least once per year. For things like utilities that I knew would go up and down over the course of the year, I added up a entire year's worth and then divided by 12 to get the monthly average. I then grouped the monthly expenses together first, followed by the annual expenses, and sorted them by due date. So "rent," for example, would be due on the 1st of each month, so it got moved to the top of the list, all the way through to "natural gas" bill, which was always due on the last day of the month, so I put it due as "28" since that's the last day that every month has. Then the ones after that would be the annual expenses, so they would get due dates of things like "Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct" for the water bill (which was due once per quarter)...hopefully you get the idea here. For payments that had an interest rate OR stated late fee, I would also put that after the due date, just so I knew at a glance which ones would be the most painful to miss, if/when I was forced to choose to miss any. For things like groceries, I would figure out an average after a month or two and then add that as a "monthly" payment.

The second list is a running ledger of money, past and future. Start with your current bank balance, and then list under that (in a running ledger style) any currently pending (but not yet shown by your bank) charges under it. Treat that money as "spent" (because it is!) even though it might still technically be included in your bank balance. Then list any of the payments you will need to make before your next payday AND PAY THEM (and add them to the pending payments). Since any bills that are due before your next payday can't be paid with money you don't have yet, they have to be paid with the money you have NOW. The total you're left with is the total money you have available until your next payday. Draw a line with a date (On my computer, I just type a line of =====date-here=====) to signify the arrival of that next payday.

From here you just follow the system. You enter the upcoming known payments you will have to make between each payday line for at least three paydays in advance (so you will always have at least 3-4 sections separated by payday lines), and Then You Just Pay Them. You don't get to spend any "discretionary" money until all your known payments are done, and your extra money goes towards paying off your highest interest-bearing debt (usually your credit card(s)). If you get an unexpected expense that you can't actually pay, then it gets buffered by the credit card under the assumption that you'll make up for doing so on the next payday. If your credit card has a rewards program, then good for you. Use it for everything to max those rewards (assuming you don't generate extra fees for using that card) BUT know that you will have to pay off the month's accumulation in addition to your normal minimum card payment once the card bill comes due.

I apologize if the above is not clear. I was interrupted countless times during the few hours it took to complete. I'm more than willing to give actual examples or explain what I mean for each step if you need. I realize it's not an "express" kind of thing, but a lot of that has to do with the amount of money you have to work with. More is better, obviously, but there's only so much you can cut, so many expenses you can trim before you hit a kind of hard minimum on how much it merely costs to exist. Here's hoping that your country's healthcare system can help you succeed where I needed an actual windfall in order to get ahead.

--Patrick
This is pretty much what I do with quicken..just using a software ledger to make some things a little easier.
 
I allow the second text file to run for a full year before I start deleting the things at the start, too. Just so I know what I was doing or when that payment went out or whatever. Also it gives me the ability to recalculate rolling averages.

--Patrick
 
Even something as simple as a spreadsheet - Excel/Google Sheets/what have you would work.

I went through the same thing that Patrick did - make a list of everything and average things out for the year, then I have a tab for each of my paychecks (adding my wife's disability in monthly) and put in everything that fits under each paycheck and have a running total for it.

Biggest thing was to get in the habit of doing daily balancing against my spending/bank online, but now that I've been doing it for years, it's become second nature to me. Getting into the habit was the hardest part.

This also gives me a running balance for what is left out of each paycheck to be able to put money into savings and/or try to control my wife's impulse spending as much as I can with how much we actually have available.
 
I found this ... relatively accurate. Even more accurate for my wife than me, in fact.



--Patrick
LoL it me. Like exactly. Wow. I can't believe how much of it mirrors my experiences with life. I literally told my partner the other day about how much I wanted to harness five year old Frank's determination in doing something. That kid took his older cousin's bike and crashed it into the grass and gravel driveway at my grandparent's house 40 times teaching himself how to ride a bike, how come adult me can't make a single phone call or fill out a form without hours of war with myself.

The passionate fixations especially. Right now for me, even medicated which has lessened it somewhat, I still only care about counting calories, exercising and weighing myself obsessively several times a day. I can pry myself away from fixations now at least, it was basically impossible before. I didn't even realize it until recently when I was being tested for it how bad it was. Like I could obsess over Warhammer for months and then drop the entire hobby for years without as much as a thought. No wonder my Warhammer friends were always so frustrated with me. The guy who built the full sized fold out table and has terrain sets for multiple biome types hand made just walks away for a couple of years and then waltzes back into the club and acts like no time has passed. Bothers me that I'm at my happiest when engrossed in something like this.

I just got a new credit card after bankruptcy that I intend only to use for groceries and then immediately pay afterwards or for emergencies. No more bad debt.

Also back on ADHD because now I want to keep writing about it because that part she said was entirely too true, I'm starting to think (because of the genetic factors behind it) if my dad doesn't have the same shit going on and doesn't realize it. A lot of what made him an absolutely shit father is probably because his dad (who was always incredible to my brothers and I, but didn't really have much patience for me either) had zero interest in trying to understand him at all and was abusive in that way only someone from before WW2 could be and he had no interest or patience being a dad either. He gave up immediately when things got hard. He can't pay attention to a single word said to him by someone else. His temper is so sudden and out of nowhere. His brain is probably just as fucked up as mine is.
 
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For a free app, Every dollar has a free option that you have to manually load you spending habits. I have used it before. It is tied to Dave Ramsey so there is his Baby Step lingo associated with it. YMMV.

As for that video, that also sounds a lot like me. I really struggled in college to stay motivated and engaged in lectures. My daughter is also exhibiting this trait.

Thanks for sharing!
 
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