57: Stephanie Sarkis on Money and ADHD

Stephanie Sarkis on Money and ADHD

57: Stephanie Sarkis on Money and ADHD

Guest Stephanie Sarkis, Author, PhD, Coach

Author, PhD, and counselor Stephanie Sarkis discusses how to deal with finances and money alongside ADHD. With most financial tasks concerning detailed multi-step processes, they can be hard to manage for those with ADHD; Stephanie provides a number of tips, tricks, and suggestions to help deal with taxes, financial planning, budgeting, and more.

About Stephanie Sarkis:

  • Stephanie is an author of a number of five ADHD-related books covering subjects from money, financials, non-medication management, accomplishing goals, and a student’s guide for college students.

  • She is both a PhD and NCC (National Board-certified Counselor).

  • At Florida Atlantic University, she is an assistant professor and clinical trials sub-investigator.

  • She is also a psychotherapist, coach, blogger for both the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

  • Her ADHD finance book was co-written with a legal finance expert and attorney, with her representing the ADHD perspective and her co-writer representing the financial perspective.

Money and ADHD:

  • A lot of people with ADHD have problems with impulsive spending, keeping track of financial paperwork, money management software, taxes, etc.

  • If you’re just now starting on your taxes and have issues with feeling guilty or ashamed of your finances, now is the time to put that aside and focus on completing what needs to be done.

  • Stephanie: “Asking for help is a strength instead of a weakness.”

  • Nobody does this by themselves; even people without ADHD go to accountants.

  • Stephanie: One of the symptoms of ADHD is having problems paying attention to detailed multi-step processes. Money management is all about detail and is handled through many multi-step processes.

  • Many money management programs will provide data visualizations in graphic form, like displaying pie charts.

  • Making use of direct deposit and automatic withdrawal services can also help to cut back on late fees and help with organization.

  • Accountants can help you make use of what laws, rules, exceptions, and benefits you may be able to take advantage of.

  • With the help of accountants and financial planners, those with ADHD are able to align themselves on the right track and stay on it. When you have ADHD, you can get on the right track, but staying there can be tough.

  • The more one has success in money management, the more confident they will build going forward, and the more successes they’ll likely have going forward.

Financial Planners:

  • Seeing a financial professional, whether a planner, accountant, or bookkeeper, to keep track of your money. This may cost money, but it will likely save you more compared to not paying your bills on-time.

  • Bring all of your information, receipts, tax forms, laptop, or whatever else you may need.

  • Though you don’t have to specifically mention ADHD, it might be worth mentioning your chronic disorganization issues. Further discuss your financial situation, however complex it may be.

Tips  and Strategies:

  • Eric: Before my wife began to manage our finances, I had automated all of my payments and would leave a constant buffer of about $1,500 in my bank account that wouldn’t be touched, just in case there wouldn’t be enough money to pay.

  • Stephanie: Setting up a system where you automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck into savings is a good way to go.

  • If you own your own business, it’s important to pay quarterly taxes so you don’t owe a big lump sum at the end of the year.

  • Pick one day per week where you sit down to review your financial status as a whole and make sure it all looks how you expect it to.

  • There are ADHD-friendly budgets that break one’s finances down into easily-digestible categories.

  • Separate your expenses into those that are fixed and those that are flexible. Fixed expenses would include mortgage or rent payments, while flexible expenses may include what you spend on entertainment, recreation, or non-essential foods.

  • Call your cable company, tell them you’re looking to reduce your service package or thinking about switching providers, and see if they will give you a discounted rate.

  • Many service prices may be somewhat negotiable; all you need to do is ask. For many, moving past the social anxiety of asking.

  • Consider cancelling unnecessary services, which may include your cable service in light of the availability of streaming internet-based content and other television surrogates.

  • Some companies offer free financial management software that can help to display and organize your information in an efficient way, if not also analyze it and provide you with feedback of sorts.

  • Check online reviews for software and services you may use to see if fits your needs or if there are any privacy concerns.

  • Remember your essentials: You need food, clothing, and shelter. Beyond that, most other additions are optional. You may need internet connectivity, but few need a high-tier fast connection for most uses.


  • About half of those with ADHD also have learning disabilities, including ones pertaining to math, which can make it hard to deal with the numbers side of budgeting.

  • Stephanie suggests creating a ballpark budget. When spending or saving, round the numbers up to a little higher in order to make sure you have a little money left over.

  • Budgeting can be a very individualistic endeavor. Working with mainly cash, for instance, may not work as well for a business that needs to keep track of its spending, while for certain individuals, it can be part of a strategy to organize and limit their spending.

  • Test out different strategies and find out what works for you.

Organizational Tips:

  • Stephanie: One way to become more organized is to become as paperless as possible.

  • Scan documents, including receipts, into digital formats. Many portable scanners can also read the letters and numbers on scanned documents and embed that text into the files they output.

  • Hiring an assistant to help with your organization can be a huge help. The benefits of being well-organized will usually make the expense worth it in the long run.

  • Eric uses Evernote in conjunction with its camera functionality to save, tag, and label receipts

  • When Eric buys an item with a receipt, he takes a picture of it right away in the store.


  • Eric: Some now are questioning the value of college education because of the expense involved.

  • Stephanie: Some schools are better value-for-money than others. If you’re looking to attend a more expensive college, you need to weigh whether or not its classes are that much better than cheaper options.

  • Some states offer pre-paid college programs that lock their tuition rates at the time one starts saving money into the program.

  • It’s not so much whether you should attend college or not, but which college you should attend.

  • Many are choosing to study at smaller community colleges for two years before transferring to a larger school.

  • Stephanie: Starting at a community college and transferring to a larger college later can be great for those with ADHD because of the tendency for smaller class sizes and more individualized attention.

  • For those with ADHD, looking into what accommodations are offered, like priority registration for smaller classes.

  • Keep in mind whether you’re being taught by professors or assistants.

  • Apply for as many scholarships as you can.

  • What amount of money are you willing to pay back?

  • Many may not realize how much money they will need to pay back each month before they begin.

  • In rare cases, some people can have some of their loans paid back through volunteering to the peace corps. or providing service to an underserved area, but those programs are in high demand.

Random Question Round:

  • If you could create an invention or improve upon an existing design, what would you make?

  • If you had a pet monkey, what would its name be?

  • Predict the lottery numbers for the Powerball.

  • If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

Products, Services, and Other Links:

Contact Stephanie Sarkis:

Other information:

  • Go to to let Eric know if you’re interested in joining the next ADHD reWired Coaching and Accountability group, which is most likely starting in early May.

  • Eric is collecting videos describing people’s experiences with CHADD. If you are currently involved with CHADD, record a video however you wish (horizontally, please!) of you describing your relationship to ADHD and what CHADD does for you. Send it to Eric via Facebook, Twitter, or email here: [email protected].

  • Help CHADD, an ADHD organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with ADHD through useful research and support, by donating to their fundraising campaign here:

  • Visit for Carolyn D’Argenio’s list of her top audio-book picks, complete with preview links.

  • Connect with people virtually using Eric’s favorite video conferencing and connectivity platform, Zoom, by visiting – the basic service is totally free.

  • If you want you hear your question or comment on a future episode, go to and look for the comment form, or click on the yellow button for either “Be a Guest” or “Record your question”.

  • Are you looking for a coach? You can schedule a free 20-minute consultation with Eric. Go to and click the blue “Schedule an Appointment” button


  • Northern Illinois chapter of CHADD

    • Third Monday of every month at 6:45 PM

    • Grayslake, Illinois

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