ADHD and Frogs: How to Balance the Budget?

Santiago99Santiago99 Forumite
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Hello! This post is going to be a little long, but I wanted to be honest about how I ended up in this situation.

I joined MSE last year in the hope of making a fresh start, and then in the middle of moving house, I had a family bereavement. It’s had a knock-on effect on the rest of my life: the time that I’d allocated post-move to unpacking boxes was spent with family on the other side of the country; the Access course that I started, in hopes of attending university this year, I dropped out from because the college were unsupportive and the mental health team felt that an educational psychologist referral would help, but the waiting list was longer than my one-year course. I started self-employment and worked for four weeks, but since then, I’ve not had paid roles — although I have been participating on a course relevant to my industry that’s now paused due to COVID-19. This spring has been particularly bad for my mental health with a prolonged episode of depression.

And through it all, my spending was a mess. I meant to switch gas and electric supplier when I moved in, but only did that today. I splurged on fast food because it was easier than navigating my tiny kitchen. I set up payment plans for a couple of my debts, but mistakenly thought they were set up on direct debit and they weren’t, and I didn’t notice until it was too late. Most of all, I’ve had days that I’ve struggled to just do anything. The “I should” and “I want” voices in my head never seemed to agree, and even though many people are capable of making themselves do things that they don’t necessarily like doing — like doing the washing up — they do it because it needs to be done, but that “do” is missing for me. It’s like flipping a light switch in the middle of a power cut: the switch should trigger light, but it isn’t. And when I am productive, it’s like a power surge: I’m productive, but also not. I start washing the first dish and then decide to clean the draining board before I start stacking them, so I clean the draining board, and while I’m at it I’ll tackle the worktops too — but there’s so much clutter that I need to organise it, so I move it into the living room to sort through for later, and walk past the rubbish bin and it’s overflowing, so let’s tackle that before I forget — and at the end, I’ve done a lot of activity but achieved very little and the dishes are still soaking in the now-cold water.

I realised that I likely have ADHD last October, when a friend shared a social media cartoon drawn by an artist with ADHD, depicting how the symptoms of ADHD affected her to raise awareness, and every aspect of it felt so me. I went to my GP for a referral, and found out that in my area, the waiting list is two years (and that was before COVID, so I don’t want to think about how long it is now) so I looked into a privately-funded assessment. It took a while to organise due to various complications — one of which was me completely forgetting that I needed to reply to an email because I genuinely thought I’d already had (this forgetfulness is another symptom, and is affecting my chronic illness, because I should be taking medication to manage it and I can’t because I keep forgetting or getting distracted or having one of those “light switch” moments when I should go take it and... not doing it) but eventually I had an appointment booked for March.

You can guess what happened.

I don’t want to say that I have ADHD yet, because I haven’t received an official diagnosis, but a lot of the symptoms fit me and a diagnosis would explain a lot that I’ve been unable to explain myself. But I don’t know how long the lockdown will last, and I have debts that need sorting. I’ve been offered a part-time employed job and will start work once the DBS check comes back, which means I’ll be getting paid, and I want to manage my wages properly, not just haemorrhaging money because I’m in a perpetual stress hurricane. And I thought that perhaps being honest would help me find the right advice and the best way to move on from here, because in the past, I would overhaul everything in a single day and implement a new routine — because it feels like everything is now or everything is never — and then it would fail because it’s impossible for stick to a routine.

To start MSE Attempt #2, I’ve started finding the numbers I’ll need for an SOA (at least for May/June). My payments last financial year were haphazard, so today I set up regular monthly direct debits for council tax, water, and gas and electric, and switched my energy provider for gas and electric. There’s still a lot that I need to do, but I’m trying to take things step by step instead of overhauling everything at once and burning myself out.

Any and all advice would be immensely appreciated. :)
My Debt Free Diary: ADHD and Frogs: How to Balance the Budget?
Challenges: Virtual VSP (#23) 1,000 EF (#pending)

Replies

  • CreditCardJunkieCreditCardJunkie Forumite
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    Hey! Well done for taking the plunge and posting.
    Have you tried making a list of things to do? Break it up into small manageable tasks. For example you could take 'kitchen' over a month and break it into all the little steps that need done. Cross them off as you do them. Then it won't see so overwhelming... Make sure to keep on top of things as you do it. You'd be surprised at what even 10mins per day can do. I think once you have a nice environment that isn't completely overwhelming it may help your mind!
    Another suggestion is write out 3 goals, one to do by the end of the week, one by the end of the month and one by the end of 3 months. Then write how you will achieve each 😊
    Good luck! 
    Debt Free as of December 2020 👏

    Save 12k in 2023 #35: £4250 / £12,000

    Earn £365 on Prolific in 2023: £53.50 / £365
  • Santiago99Santiago99 Forumite
    33 Posts
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
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    Hey! Well done for taking the plunge and posting.
    Have you tried making a list of things to do? Break it up into small manageable tasks. For example you could take 'kitchen' over a month and break it into all the little steps that need done. Cross them off as you do them. Then it won't see so overwhelming... Make sure to keep on top of things as you do it. You'd be surprised at what even 10mins per day can do. I think once you have a nice environment that isn't completely overwhelming it may help your mind!
    Another suggestion is write out 3 goals, one to do by the end of the week, one by the end of the month and one by the end of 3 months. Then write how you will achieve each 😊
    Good luck! 
    I have tried this, but unfortunately lists are my nemesis. If I have a paper list, either I’ll lose the list and have to start again or spend time looking for it (or a pen/pencil to cross things off and add things on) instead of tackling the to-dos; if I have the list on my phone, I get distracted. And then during the times when I’m actively making progress, I find a lot of to-dos tend to multiply: eg “sort through post” becomes “call company A, email company B, pay company C” so I end up quite overwhelmed and either end up a complete anxious mess panicking about “so much to do, so little time” or utterly demotivated to do anything because “what’s the point?” and both outcomes affect my mental health, my physical health, and other aspects of my life (in different ways). Keeping on top of things can also be a struggle, because routines are extremely difficult to stick to.

    I love the idea of writing down goals and how to achieve them though. I’ll think about what I could maybe choose that’s realistically achievable. Thank you. :)
    My Debt Free Diary: ADHD and Frogs: How to Balance the Budget?
    Challenges: Virtual VSP (#23) 1,000 EF (#pending)
  • Santiago99Santiago99 Forumite
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    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
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    GOALS:
    Week: To sort out my computer ready for Zoom training next week. I bought it secondhand quite some time ago, but couldn’t set it up due to various reasons. I finally took it out of its box a couple of days ago, but a) the mouse is broken (battery exploded; not the store’s fault) and b) it’s asking me for a password for the store’s logon. Oh dear. I ordered a cheap mouse for £5.99 to tide me over until lockdown ends, since the mouse I need is out of stock, so I need to collect that today while I essential shop. I’ll also call/email the chain’s HQ, in case they have an idea of what the password could be. 😬
    Month: To sort out my house insurance. My old house was uninsurable, so I couldn’t take out a policy when I lived there, and when I moved here it was on my to-do list but never got done because there always seemed to be something more urgent that needed done.
    Three Months: To be debt free. I took the first step on Monday by calling the council and arranging to pay my CT arrears for 2019-2020 by card yesterday — unfortunately had an unexpected stress migraine, so hibernated in a dark room instead. (Thank you to whoever invented blackout curtains!) I can’t pay until I’ve activated my debit card at an ATM, so I need to do this today. Then I’ll be one debt down.

    In other news, I signed up for a couple of challenges on MSE. I want to try and build some good habits, especially as I have a start date for work. I’m going to need to sort my SOA out before mid-May, too — I’ve missed the cutoff for May’s payroll, so I’ll get paid 2 months’ wages in June, which is going to be a nightmare, but it’s something I can prepare for.
    My Debt Free Diary: ADHD and Frogs: How to Balance the Budget?
    Challenges: Virtual VSP (#23) 1,000 EF (#pending)
  • Santiago99Santiago99 Forumite
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    Today has been a write off. I drove to Mr S (not where I usually shop, but I needed the click and collect mouse and didn’t want to unnecessarily visit two supermarkets) and upon parking, realised I’d forgotten my phone at home. I needed it to pay for the groceries and also the collection code, so had to go back home to fetch the phone. Spent a small fortune on semi-necessary footwear (will post amounts tomorrow because I don’t know what I’m keeping/returning yet). Despite reminding myself that I needed butter every day this week, before I left the house, and in the car park, guess what I forgot to buy? Bu**er.

    Got out of Mr S at 5:03pm and rang the council to discover they close at 5pm so I couldn’t pay the CT arrears. Still need to get in touch with the old house council about their CT arrears too. (I’m not deliberately avoiding CT — old house’s council tax department were a nightmare to deal with and messed up my bill, which I couldn’t deal with until after I’d moved out because they refused to issue a final bill until after that date, even though I knew my move-out date in advance. Grrr.)

    I tried to create an SOA for May (two bills change in June, and my income changes then too, so it can’t be a regular SOA) but ended up stressed. I have one monthly income and one four-weekly income, which makes budgeting difficult. I’m wondering if two separate SOAs might be the way to go — monthly income for the monthly bills like rent and utilities, and the four-weekly income divided into four to create a weekly budget for food, socialising, petrol, etc. Maybe?? Has anyone in a similar position done this?
    My Debt Free Diary: ADHD and Frogs: How to Balance the Budget?
    Challenges: Virtual VSP (#23) 1,000 EF (#pending)
  • edited 23 April 2020 at 9:21AM
    CreditCardJunkieCreditCardJunkie Forumite
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    edited 23 April 2020 at 9:21AM
    Well done for posting the goals Santiago! I hate days like that, it seems when it rains it pours! Not sure about your question above as my income is the same each month! Hopefully someone knows the answer to that :) 
    Debt Free as of December 2020 👏

    Save 12k in 2023 #35: £4250 / £12,000

    Earn £365 on Prolific in 2023: £53.50 / £365
  • Santiago99Santiago99 Forumite
    33 Posts
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Forumite
    Wow, I didn't realise it's been a month since I last posted. So here's what happened:

    I realised that my debts have been weighing down on me and, while it's possible I could have saved a bit of money by offering full and final settlements, I'd reached the point where I just wanted them gone. So I dipped into my savings and have paid most of my debts. My biggest debtor is yet to be paid, because I couldn't find the debt management company's letter and couldn't remember their name, but they emailed me two days after I paid off my other debts. I don't know if it was coincidental or they somehow knew about my debt-paying, but that was eerie. Since it's been the bank holiday weekend, paying them is on tomorrow's to-do list. My savings feel pitiful now, but at least everything has been or will be settled in full.

    I finally got around to opening a credit union account (which I've been wanting to do since August... oops) and stuck a little money into it. The bulk of my savings are now in Premium Bonds, since interest rates are abysmal, but I've left a quid in my building society account to keep it open so that if/when rates eventually go back up, I can move it back without going through the hassle of opening a new account.

    With regard to the goals I set previously:
    Week: This was done! The council tax arrears are paid (and in fact I'm accidentally £160 in credit, but that's far better than arrears :yum:). New Goal: Look into prepaid cards for my weekly budgeting; if you can suggest one, please do let me know! I'd prefer one that's free and gives good rewards, but am flexible.
    Month: Oops. Not done. I did get a quote, but I needed to ring the insurers with a query (I've now forgotten what I wanted to ask) and never got around to it. New Goal: Sort out the home insurance ASAP.
    Three Month: Not complete, but on track. One, possibly two, debts to be paid off and then this will be accomplished.

    I need to sort out the SOAs, but this is so hard when my spending and income are both so inconsistent each month. Does anyone have any tips?
    My Debt Free Diary: ADHD and Frogs: How to Balance the Budget?
    Challenges: Virtual VSP (#23) 1,000 EF (#pending)
  • Santiago99Santiago99 Forumite
    33 Posts
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Forumite
    I've had a look at my bank statement and my four-weekly income is £332.20. Divided by four, this works out at £83.05 a week. I'm thinking this could be my dedicated "food and socialising*" budget; I estimate that I spend £40 a week on groceries (I need to track this spending) so £40ish for drinks at the pub or meals out feels reasonable. It would also include the odd car parking charge and cheap entertainment, possibly (eg cinema tickets). This could be paid into a different bank account to my other income so that income and spending would be kept separate. Pre-lockdown, I used to spend between £20 and £30 on one night's socialising, but it was sometimes the only fun socialising I'd get in the whole week, so... 

    *The socialising, of course, would be post-lockdown.

    I think it might be worth trialling, and if it turns out that I've underestimated my food budget, I can afford to spend the extra (that I'm not currently spending on socialising) and review my budget then. Even so, am I being too overambitious? Is it really feasible for £83.05 a week to cover food, socialising, and entertainment?
    My Debt Free Diary: ADHD and Frogs: How to Balance the Budget?
    Challenges: Virtual VSP (#23) 1,000 EF (#pending)
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