Tina Mathams: Managing Your Budget and Finances with ADHD
May 30, 2022
This is episode four. And today I'm talking with Tina Mathams. Tina is an accountant and money coach with ADHD. And she helps people overcome their unhelpful spending habits and manage their money. Today, we talk about all things finances with ADHD, including budgeting and educating your kids on finances as early as you can. Stay tuned for some great financial strategies.
Links and show notes:
- You Need A Budget app
- Ergodox EZ split keyboard
- The Dropout (podcast)
- The Dropout (docuseries on Hulu)
- The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (documentary on HBO Max)
Tina Mathams: Whilst everyone can impulsively spend, I'm not saying it's just an ADHD issue, but I find a lot of advice kind of skips over that. It's like, well stop doing that, and then do this. Well, we need more help in, you know, the first bit before we can start doing the external stuff, like the budgeting and following through with that.
Jesse: Hey, my name is Jesse J. Anderson, host of the ADHD Nerds podcast. The show where we talk about living with ADHD. And have some fun along the way.
Jesse: This is episode four. And today I'm talking with Tina Mathams. Tina is an accountant and money coach with ADHD. And she helps people overcome their unhelpful spending habits and manage their money. Today, we talk about all things finances with ADHD, including budgeting and educating your kids on finances as early as you can. Stay tuned for some great financial strategies.
Jesse: But first I'd like to thank our sponsor Thunk Notes, the modern daily thinking tool. This is one of my favorite new writing tools. I use it for journaling in the morning and planning out my day. It's got a beautiful interface and a lot of powerful features like bi-directional linking, templates, daily notes, and a gorgeous graph view. I think you'll really enjoy it and you can try it for free by going to adhdnerds.com/thunk that's T H U N K. And if you sign up, you'll get a 20% discount for your first year. I think you're going to love this tool, so check it out. Now let's get to the show.
Jesse: All right, Tina, it is great to have you here today.
Tina Mathams: Thank you so much for inviting me on.
Jesse: Absolutely. I'm really excited to kind of dig into what you know about finances and money. Obviously, that's a really big topic for people with ADHD. But first I'd love to hear your origin story with ADHD. If you're officially diagnosed, what that process has been like, when you first realized, hey, maybe there's something else going on.
Jesse: Yeah. What did that look like for you?
Tina Mathams: Yeah, sure. So I got diagnosed after my son did. He got diagnosed with ADHD and autism. Uh, and that's really common for parents to be diagnosed after a child. So that's my story as well. I had a lot of issues around anxiety and I got, um, diagnosed with high functioning anxiety. So I was kind of getting treated by a psychologist for that, and it did help.
Tina Mathams: But the things that I thought would go away when it was being treated, um, didn't. So in my body I just felt like there was something else that just wasn't the end of it. And you know, when I started looking into ADHD to help my son, I came across a whole lot of information that just made a whole lot of sense to me. Uh, so I sought out, um, a psychologist that had experience with ADHD.
Tina Mathams: Uh, and I got, um, yeah, got assessed and got diagnosed. Uh, and then down the track, I also got diagnosed by a psychiatrist as well. because I had, I wanted to sort of explore, um, medication and things like that. So I had to do it all again. So just in case I have any doubts that I have ADHD I've been diagnosed twice, so.
Jesse: Right. Right.
Jesse: And what, after that diagnosis happened, like what, how did that change your life? Where did things go, kind of, from there?
Tina Mathams: Yeah, it was, it was interesting because, you know, being an accountant, it just made me think, well, are there any accountants with ADHD? Like, is that going to affect my career? Do I need to now go do something else? So it was a, it was a process of, um, you know, really digging deep and figuring out what that meant for not only me personally, but also my career.
Tina Mathams: And you know, if I could still do what I wanted to do. And um, yeah, so it was a big process of just finding out a lot of information.
Jesse: Right. So did you, did you feel stuck in your career? Like, I guess what I'm trying to say is like, did it feel like, you're like, oh no, I have to do something now. Or did you feel like you could adapt? Was, did you feel like there was a strength to it what did it change in your perspective of your career as an accountant?
Jesse: Like where, where did you go from there?
Tina Mathams: Yeah, so I definitely did feel stuck, and I had felt stuck for a while. I, um, you know, I felt for a really long time, like I just didn't fit the career, which was a big pain point for me because I really enjoyed what I did. So I was like, well, why am I not suited to being here, being in, you know, I worked in a lot of accounting firms and I thought, why am I not suited to be here if I actually do enjoy what I do?
Tina Mathams: So, you know, yeah, once I got diagnosed and I found out, how people with ADHD operate at work and, you know, things like that, then I was like, okay, this makes a lot of sense. You know, being stuck in an office is not for me. So it was, it was a bad choice of career for the type of environment that it was.
Tina Mathams: Um, but my brain just loved it. So I kind of came to a crossroads, of well, I need to do something I need to get out of the office environment, and perhaps, you know, take my skills somewhere else. So, um, yeah, then that was the process of figuring out what that was.
Jesse: Right. Right. So how, how did you do that? Like what, where did that move you towards when you kind of decided maybe this, maybe this environment wasn't the best for the way your brain worked like.
Tina Mathams: Mm.
Jesse: How did you kind of progress from there and get to what you know, what you're doing now, which we'll talk about shortly.
Tina Mathams: Yeah, so I, I just took some time off. Um, luckily I, uh, got to the point where I was in a position to be able to just leave my last role and, um, take some time to figure out everything. If I was going to do something completely different or, you know, what that was going to look like. And at that point I was getting contacted by a lot of, um, adults with ADHD, wanting some help, you know, around their ADHD in general, or around their money.
Tina Mathams: So that kind of made me go well, okay. Maybe there's something here. Maybe I can help other adults with ADHD in some way. So I went and did a life coaching certification and I sort of explored that. Um, I had some life coaching, with other adults with ADHD and that was good. Um, but then I just, I kept getting asked to help other businesses with their accounting.
Tina Mathams: And I kept getting contacted by business owners with ADHD going, you need to help me with this. And then that sparked that idea. I was like, okay, this I'm starting to create a path now. My brain is starting to realize where I can, where I can take this, um, which has led me to where I am now.
Jesse: Right, yeah.
Jesse: I find entrepreneurs seem to be more, more likely to have ADHD. I don't, I know I've seen stats that say like 10 times more likely. I don't know if that's based on studies or anything. But it's, clearly that a lot of people with ADHD are drawn to the entrepreneurial life and like starting new businesses because they have all these great ideas they want to pursue.
Jesse: And maybe they find that, like you said, the office environment isn't the best fit for them. So they find some other way to make it work. And then they get down the road. And, I've run into this myself where like, suddenly, the financial issue becomes a real problem, where they might seek out someone uh, like you.
Jesse: So what sort of service do you provide when someone's coming to you and saying like help, I have this business, it's, it's a mess. I can't track my finances. Like what, what kind of work do you do with them to kind of help figure that sort of stuff out?
Tina Mathams: Yeah. So, basically, so I have sort of two avenues that I can help those people with. And I do help, uh, just individuals as well, not just ADHD entrepreneurs. So I do a lot around money coaching. So, you know, that often involves helping people overcome, uh, impulsive spending and unhelpful spending patterns and just generally trying to get them to manage their money better in a way that works for their brain.
Tina Mathams: You know, there's a lot of money information out there that is for, you know, it's not meant for our brain. We have to sort of figure out how to manage our money, that, uh, where that makes sense for us. So I help people do that. And whether that's, you know, personal finances or their business finances, it can work for both.
Tina Mathams: Um, because a lot of, you know, principals and things, crossover, uh, and then there's, accounting as well. So, yeah. So I do a lot, in the accounting space, helping business owners with ADHD, again, just try to help them manage their business finances.
Tina Mathams: So whether that's teaching them about profit and loss and cashflow and things like that, I do a lot of trainings for, uh, business owners that have um, you know, memberships and things like that for ADHD entrepreneurs. And, but also helping them, you know, set up systems in their business and all that kind of fun stuff.
Tina Mathams: When uh, you know, people just go, what am I doing with my business finances. It doesn't make any sense. And that's when I come in and help them help it make sense.
Jesse: Right, right. I know you kinda mentioned earlier, like a lot of financial advice is kind of meant for a neuro-typical brain and it doesn't really always make sense for us.
Jesse: Um, I know that's like similar in just kind of the productivity world. Like a lot of people are all about like getting things done, you know, the GTD philosophy.
Jesse: And I finally, for me, figured it out like that just doesn't work for me, that doesn't work for my brain. Kind of had to find that, hey, a lot of this advice, even if people are pushing it as the answer, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the answer for me. And I might need to find my own way of sort of approaching those problems.
Jesse: Um, are there any like particular, in the financial world, like any particular advice that you think is common that doesn't really work a lot of the time with an ADHD brain?
Tina Mathams: Yeah. So I find a lot of financial advice out there is, you know, use this particular app, use this spreadsheet, you know, get your finances all in order. And for our brain, that can be really, really overwhelming. You know, often, as I said before, an ADHD brain is often stuck in overspending and impulsive spending.
Tina Mathams: So then when we try to do all this external stuff, like create a budget and things like that, we can't follow through with it because we can create an amazing budget. That's no problem. But it's the follow through is how am I going to stick to this? How am I going to, you know, overcome those spending habits that are keeping me stuck and keeping me spending way too much money?
Tina Mathams: And I find that there's a lot of information that skips over that because, you know, whilst everyone can impulsively spend, I'm not saying it's just an ADHD issue, but I find a lot of advice kind of skips over that. It's like, well stop doing that, and then do this. It's like, well, we need more help in, you know, the first bit before we can start doing the external stuff, like the budgeting and following through with that.
Jesse: Right,right. Yeah.
Jesse: That's definitely been my experience where I feel like, uh, it's fun in the right, like in the right mood. It can be really fun to create a new budget. I'm like, yeah, I'm using this new app and it feels all great.
Jesse: And I'm lining all the things up. Like I've used YNAB before, You Need A Budget. And it's got all the pretty buttons and all the things that can lay it all out and then like, adding, you know, updating my transactions every day and then like a week goes by and I forget a day and then I forget two days and then I want something and I don't want to check the budget to see if I can get, I just want to get it.
Jesse: And then everything sort of quickly falls apart. I feel like I'm sort of in a cycle, it's just sort of this continuous cycle. So like, what are, what are some practical tips that you would give for breaking out of that cycle? Like how, how can I practically make a budget or some other solution, like work for me for getting out of that, like thinking I'm going to solve the problem with this new system or this new app or whatever it is, and then not, you know, not getting that answer and getting back stuck in those same cycles.
Tina Mathams: Yeah. So, the first step would be to, you know, recognize that that's what happens and that's completely okay. It's valid. Um, and you can get help with it. Uh, I find a lot of people that I speak to kind of don't want to recognize that, they don't want to talk about that yucky stuff. They just want to go straight to the fun stuff, like help me create this budget and do all that.
Tina Mathams: But you really need to come back and look at what you're struggling, that is making you not want to check your bank account and not want to follow through with your budget and things like that. And yeah, it's often those habits that we're stuck in with, um, with the spending and, you know, feeling like, we don't know how to manage our money.
Tina Mathams: Often we pull things that we either haven't learned in childhood, like how to manage money or things that we've learned through our parents. We pull that into adulthood and it's, you know, it's all that internal things that we need to bring to the surface to be able then to move forward.
Tina Mathams: But you know, apart from that, there's other things like, um, gamifying your finances, um, can really be helpful for a lot of people, you know, creating little challenges for yourself, um, no spend challenges or, um, you know, setting a timer to be able to, um, look at your budget or look at your spending or something like that. And visual, visual aids as well, are really, really good because often we forget, we forget what we've spent.
Tina Mathams: We forget how much money we have. We forget that we've even made a budget. Sometimes I know I've been there, I've made a budget, I'm like, well, that's right I remember two weeks later that, um, I was going to do all this stuff.
Tina Mathams: So, um, putting things like visual reminders where you're going to see them, um, to remember, to remind you to, uh, you know, go into your bank account, have a local look at your budget or something like that.
Jesse: Right. When you, so like for visual reminders and visual tools, are you talking about like whiteboards, uh, like what, what sort of things do you have in mind when you talk about that.
Tina Mathams: Um, I'm a massive post-it person. I love my post-its they're everywhere. Um, so that works for me and I know it works for some other people as well. But yeah, having white boards where you can write things down, stick it on your fridge or wherever you frequent next to your workspace or whatever it is. Um, and then you can just sort of write down, you know, say you've bought something and you can just quickly jot it down.
Tina Mathams: I bought this, don't forget to, you know, account for that when I'm looking at my finances or something, or, you know, putting bills on there that are coming up soon. I've got post-its near my laptop of like business expenses, yearly business expenses that I forget are coming up. I actually write when they're due so I can constantly see it.
Tina Mathams: So it's, it's always there, even though I get reminders in my email about it, but how easy is it just to swipe through, and just forget. So having something that you can see day-to-day is really helpful for a lot of people.
Jesse: Yeah. I know. I know one thing that is a struggle for me personally. I'm married. My wife is neuro-typical and we sort of butt heads a lot, trying to figure out finances, like we just sort of come at it from different angles. Uh, I'm curious, do you sort of run into that when you're helping people.
Jesse: and like how managing finances with a couple and like ADHD couples versus like, you know, kind of that mixed, how all that works together.
Tina Mathams: Yeah. Um, and that can be, that can be really hard, especially, you know, I think there's pros and cons to both, whether you do have a um, neurodivergent partner. We have a neuro-typical partner that, you know, you both gonna run into problems. Um, and I think just trying to, communicate with your partner, you know, if you've got some goals in mind, or if you really want to start working on your finances. It's, it's like anything in a relationship you really need to be open and have that line of communication.
Tina Mathams: And you know, it may come down to just sitting down together and coming to a compromise. I know in my relationship, I definitely think about money differently to my husband. And that's just because we, um, we tend to manage it in a different way. We both have the same goals, but we are, it makes sense to our different brains to manage it differently.
Tina Mathams: So it's just about coming to a compromise on what that's going to look like. And, yeah, that may, that may take some time to sort of work through that. But I think just being completely open and having that honest conversation about, you know, what your finances look like and working together and having that accountability as well.
Tina Mathams: Um, often people in relationships, it really works because you've got that accountability with each other to sort of keep each other on track.
Jesse: Right, right. Awesome. And you mentioned, having a child with a diagnosis. Are you trying to, I don't know the age, but are you trying to kind of instill financial management ideas, early. And do you have any tips for that?
Tina Mathams: Yeah, I absolutely am. I've got, um, I do have two kids and they both have ADHD. Uh, it's probably gonna look a bit interesting trying to teach them about, about money. But absolutely, if you've got kids, it's one of those things to really start talking about it early. You can, it's not, it's never too early to start talking about, uh, finance to children, obviously in a way that they're going to understand.
Tina Mathams: So mine are seven and eight and it's just a little things like, you know, if they want to, if they constantly ask for things like all kids do and you know, I try to tell them like, well, we can't really do that because we've got this coming up. Or we've got to pay for something else, you know?
Tina Mathams: Um, we've just had school holidays here. So it was a conversation around, you know, we can't go and do something that costs money every day, because we're going to run out of money at some point.
Tina Mathams: You know, there's a certain amount that we have and, you know, we need to fit things into that. Um, my children often, cause we pay a lot of stuff by card, um, and they're just like, oh, just without the, without the credit card.
Tina Mathams: It's okay. And I'm like, well, That's not an, you know, it's not an unlimited amount. So it's just about talking to them, in ways that's going to make sense to how old they are. And then you can kind of build on that as they get older. And I always like to direct people to, financial advisors who put information out about that kind of stuff.
Tina Mathams: There's books out there that you can read, by financial advisors that really, um, let help you to understand how to talk to kids about money. If somebody really has no idea how to do that.
Jesse: Yeah, I know, I know a book that I've been reading recently. It's not specifically for kids, but has really kind of helped my wife and I rethink our finances is called Worry Free Money. Uh, and it's really, it kind of takes the idea of sticking to a budget and it blows it up a little bit. Like it still is about having a budget, but it's kind of about separating your overall budget into big categories.
Jesse: Like hey, maybe like having a separate bank account all for your fixed bills. And there's some other ideas in there, that really sort of takes away. Cause I know, my own struggle is often I'll like, we'll do our budget and it's like. Yeah, yeah, technically we have a budget, but I don't really look at it a lot.
Jesse: And then what ends up happening instead is I just like check the check the bank balance. And I'm like, oh, the checking account has this much money in it. So I probably am fine. But in the back of my mind, I'm always kind of worrying, like, is there going to be a whole bunch of bills that come due that I didn't realize were coming in right now?
Jesse: So I always kind of having in the back of my mind, anytime I spend money, even if it's money that I, that I have available, I feel like there's just that sense of always kind of feeling bad about spending money. And it never feels like okay to do. And then, and that just kind of creates that negative relationship, which is no good.
Tina Mathams: Yeah. Yeah, that is really hard having that sort of negative feeling around money.
Tina Mathams: You know, one good thing that people could try is having a certain amount allocated. So exactly what you said about having the different bank accounts, you know, you have a bank account for your fixed expenses, have a allocation of money that you can just, spend.
Tina Mathams: It doesn't, it can just be a small amount that, you know, even if there's an, even if there's a bill coming in that you weren't expecting, you've still got a small amount that you can use for those, those impulsive, those impulsive habits that we do have.
Tina Mathams: And I think that's really important to not push too hard against that. Yes, we need to work through that. So it's not happening all the time, but us having that little bit of money, put it in a separate account and you know, you know that when you spend that money, it's completely fine.
Tina Mathams: So those feelings, hopefully, uh, don't come up.
Jesse: Yeah. Cause I, I find that without having that, I, I, because there's kind of that negative association, what ends up happening, is it just kind of say, well, heck, heck with it all. And then I get myself into trouble, cause I just like blow a bunch of money that I don't really have. And then we're like trying to fix the situation.
Jesse: Yeah. So I like that, that idea of having kind of like, well, this is, this is my safe money to kind of waste a little bit on whatever, whatever I want. It's not wasting, just like my own sort of, uh, fun reserve or whatever you want to call it.
Tina Mathams: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And then hopefully, you know, once you've done that, that satisfies, um, that dopamine and that, that need to impulsively spend, and then once you've done that, then, you know, you can you've, you've got those other accounts that you can, you know, you don't have to touch because you've had that satisfaction of being able to just blow that money.
Jesse: Right, cause sometimes that's what you want to do. You just want to, like, I want to be a little frivolous and I just wanna kind of spend, you know, it's the, uh, retail therapy or whatever they call it, get you into trouble. But sometimes that is kind of just, just hits you just right. Um,
Tina Mathams: Absolutely.
Jesse: Yeah. So we mentioned, the right app isn't necessarily the solution, but I wonder if there is any like specific apps or, uh, more specific types of budgeting techniques, there's like the zero-based, or anything, anything in particular that you recommend a lot to different clients and stuff.
Tina Mathams: Yeah, and this is, this is hard because, it's it's different for everybody. You know, what works for one person isn't going to work for another. So generally, um, I give people the option of whether they want to use an app. They want to use a spreadsheet, or they just want to use pen and paper.
Tina Mathams: Pen and paper great for people with ADHD.
Tina Mathams: And I find that again, as we were talking about the uh, you know, neurotypical advice. A lot of, advice out there is, oh, I don't use pen and paper because you know, it's not the best way. But for our brain, often it is because having to write it down rather than just open an app or a spreadsheet helps us process that information.
Tina Mathams: So if you pull out a pen and paper and you go into a bank account, start writing down exactly what you've been spending, it's going to help your brain process that a little bit, a little bit better and be like, okay, this is what's actually going on. But you mentioned, um, You Need A Budget app before that's actually really, really popular with people with ADHD.
Tina Mathams: So people can look into. Um, there's also an app called mint and pocketbook. I think Pocketbook might be Australian only. I'm not sure I have used that one before. and then, yeah, obviously you've got, um, templates for spreadsheets and Google sheets and things like that. Um, and yeah.
Tina Mathams: I, I am a fan of zero-based budgeting because it's, um, the idea is that every dollar that comes into your bank account has a job. , but often I work with a lot of people who, um, wouldn't even be able to do that because A, they're not budgeting to begin with and they're not having enough money to the next payday.
Tina Mathams: So it's about, you know, um, not necessarily at first looking at whether you're going to do zero-based budgeting or another thing. It's purely again, bringing it back to basics and actually having a look at what's being spent and what's coming into your bank account and starting there, and then all those different things like zero-based budgeting can come down the track.
Jesse: I'd love to transition to doing, shiny objects, right now. Shiny objects is just a chance to share something that is, you know, grabbing your fancy lately.
Jesse: Something you've been enjoying and having fun with. I'll go ahead and go first. Uh, so my. my job is I'm a front end developer. And so I'm typing on the keyboard a lot. And so I've sort of invested in having a really nice keyboard, but it's called the Ergodox EZ and it's a split keyboard.
Jesse: And most people that look at it, they think it looks like it's, I don't know, out of something science fiction because it's two different pieces and it's got it's, it's just, it doesn't look like any sort of normal keyboard. It has like a different thumb pad with like six keys just for that. I'll, I'll post a picture for in the show notes for this, but that is something that helps me to engage with the work I do with software development and just like, I love setting up all the little shortcuts and all those things with that keyboard.
Jesse: So that's, my shiny object for today.
Tina Mathams: Okay, my turn, I, um, a long standing, it's not shiny object, but a long standing interest of mine is fraud. Not committing fraud, but learning about it, Um learning about, you know, stories about it and why people do it and things like that. And my current story is about the story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos.
Tina Mathams: Have you heard about one?
Tina Mathams: Yeah. So I've just become completely obsessed with it. My husband got me onto watching the documentary because he watched it one night and he's like, you've got to watch this and I watched
Jesse: Is that the one, there's there's a documentary and there's like a sort of fictionalized version? Is that correct?
Tina Mathams: Uh, yeah, kind of, yeah. So it's, it's the, it's the documentary. And then they made a docuseries, um, about it, which is based on a podcast. So I've been making my way through all of these it's, you know, I'm learning, I'm hearing the exact same stuff.
Tina Mathams: But it's in medium, and then I'm on YouTube and I'm looking up YouTube videos about it.
Tina Mathams: And it's just, it's my current obsession. I'm just loving hearing the story what the outcome of that is going to be.
Jesse: Yeah. That's so wild. That's the, where this billion dollar business was built on nothing basically. Right. They were just sort of like faking the technology the whole way.
Tina Mathams: Yeah, yeah. Pretty much. Yeah, so it's an incredible story and just, the investors, the kind of investors that were putting money into it and, you know, um, yeah, just all the people that were working there and just basically not doing a whole lot. So it's an incredible story. If anybody's interested in that kind of thing.
Jesse: Awesome well I'll definitely have the links to those in the show notes. So if you want to uh, check out some fraud, not committing it, seeing what other people do with it. We'll have some links to check that out. Um, yeah. And awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here and sharing some of this, uh, financial advice for the, for the ADHD brain.
Jesse: Uh, where can people, if they want to find out more or follow you in the work that you're doing, where can people go to do that?
Tina Mathams: So the best place to go first is my Instagram. Uh, because that will have links to everything else. So my Instagram is @theadhdaccountant. Uh, and from there, you'll find links to YouTube and Facebook and how to work with me and all that stuff. And then there's obviously information on my Instagram. Um, and if anyone's on Facebook, I also have a group called ADHD Money and Finance, um, and you can pop in there and have a bit of a chat.
Jesse: Awesome. And I'll have links to all of those in the show notes. Thank you so much, Tina. This was awesome.
Tina Mathams: Great. Thank you. It was fun. Thanks for having me.
Jesse: That's our show, thank you for listening.
Jesse: I especially want to thank our VIP patrons, Erich Tompkins, Luce Carter, Richard Stephens, and Todd Barnett. It helps me do this show and all the other work I do, so thank you so much.
Jesse: If you want to support the show, you can go to patreon.com/jessej that's J E S S E J. Don't sign up if it causes you any hardship or difficulty, and you can support the show for free by leaving a review in Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or, hey why not both? Full show notes and transcription are available at adhdnerds.com.