Are People with ADHD at Higher Risk of Debt?

A stressed man worrying about debt
Are people with ADHD at higher risk of debt?


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterised by inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can impact various aspects of an individual's life, including financial management.

Recent studies and expert opinions suggest that individuals with ADHD may be at a higher risk of accumulating debt compared to those without the condition. This article explores the potential link between ADHD and debt, examining the reasons behind this increased risk and offering insights into how those affected can better manage their finances.

The ADHD-Tax: A Costly Reality

Living with ADHD can be expensive. Adults with ADHD often struggle with managing their finances effectively.

Behaviours linked to ADHD can lead to an average annual cost of £1,600 per individual with ADHD, according to a YouGov survey. With an estimated 1.8 million adults in the UK living with ADHD, the collective financial impact could be as high as £1.74 billion per year. This so-called "ADHD-tax" highlights the significant financial burden associated with ADHD.

Impulse Spending: A Major Financial Pitfall

Individuals with ADHD often have a lack of impulse control, making them more likely to engage in impulse spending. Impulsivity is a hallmark of ADHD, leading to spontaneous and unplanned purchases.

Research shows that 48% of people with ADHD frequently engage in impulsive spending, compared to only 12% of those without the condition. This impulsive behaviour can result in financial strain, increased debt, and difficulty in maintaining stable finances.

Additionally, impulsivity can lead to risky financial behaviours. This includes taking out high-interest loans, making big purchases using credit cards, and using "Buy Now Pay Later" solutions like Klarna without considering long-term consequences.

Missed Bill Payments: A Common Issue

People with ADHD are almost three times more likely to miss bill payments compared to those without ADHD. This is due to executive function difficulties, such as poor working memory, making it easy to forget bill due dates.

Consequences of missed bill payments include late fees, poor credit scores, increased financial anxiety, and poor mental health. It might also result in diminished credit access, making it more expensive to borrow in the future.

Setting up automatic payments or reminders can help individuals with ADHD stay on top of their bills and avoid missing payments. Utilising mobile banking features, such as instant notifications, can also provide added visibility and help with managing finances effectively.

Sticking to a Budget: A Significant Challenge

ADHD can have significant financial consequences, especially when it comes to sticking to a budget. Research shows that people with ADHD are three times more likely to find it challenging to follow a budget compared to those without the condition.

As a result, they may have difficulties staying on top of day-to-day spending, further exacerbating their financial situation. Struggling with debt can feel impossible to get out of, especially if other symptoms of ADHD are making it hard to stay on top of everyday spending.

ADHD Time Blindness and Its Financial Consequences

ADHD time blindness can significantly impact financial outcomes. Time blindness, characterised by an impaired ability to see time as anything other than the present moment, can lead to challenges in meeting financial obligations.

This can result in missed work meetings, forgotten appointments, and late fees on bills. The inability to plan and prepare for future events can also lead to increased spending on eating out and impulse buying. Individuals with ADHD struggle to prioritise long-term financial goals over immediate desires.

Lack of Support from Banks

People with ADHD often do not feel supported by their current banks. Less than 1 in 5 individuals with ADHD feel that their bank provides them with all the tools needed to effectively manage their money.

This lack of support can exacerbate the challenges that individuals with ADHD already face in financial management. Without the necessary resources and assistance, individuals with ADHD may struggle to stay on top of their finances, leading to increased stress and anxiety.


The intersection of ADHD and money management can pose significant challenges for individuals with the condition. Difficulty sticking to a budget, impulse spending, and a tendency towards risky financial behaviour can all contribute to accumulating debt and financial distress.

It is important for individuals with ADHD to seek support and develop strategies to effectively manage their finances and avoid potential negative consequences. By recognising the specific financial challenges that come with ADHD, individuals can work towards building a more secure financial future and improving their overall well-being.