Alright, we’re midway through January. And according to Forbes, one in four of us has already broken our New Year’s Resolution. If we ever actually made them.
We’re continuing to set the groundwork for learning to put ourselves first and it is so important that we talk about how our finances play a role in helping us live the lives we want. And for so many people with ADHD, money can be incredibly overwhelming.
David DeWitt knows this relationship well. As a person living with ADHD who works as a financial planner, he’s using his expertise to help the neurodiverse community get a handle on our relationships with money. And he’s joining the Refocused community to share what he’s learned over the years!
Lindsay Guentzel (00:01):
Welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hosted and produced by me, Lindsay Guentzel. I’m a job hopping, TV and radio personality and producer, who was diagnosed with ADHD almost exactly two years ago, right before my 35th birthday. And last May I launched this podcast, thanks to the support from the team at ADHD Online, a telemedicine mental healthcare company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that provides affordable and accessible ADHD assessments and treatment plans, including medication management and teletherapy.
Over the last couple of weeks here in the month of January, as we kicked off our plan for 2023, we’ve been talking about the importance of putting our oxygen masks on first. Really, the whole idea behind that is working to acknowledge that it is so important for us to take care of ourselves, because we’re no good to anyone around us if we aren’t in a good place. And I’ll just say it, because if the plane is going down, you don’t have an oxygen mask on, you’re not in a good place, for a lot of different reasons, but I digress. I’m using the analogy, okay? And with the new year comes the desire to create New Year’s resolutions, and to dive into this idea of self-improvement and making changes. And we started out the month by talking about food, both with Dr. Marilyn James and with Becca King, the ADHD nutritionist.
And now, we’re going to move into another area of life. It’s actually kind of connected to food. We’re going to talk about money, and we’re going to talk about how we spend our money, and we’re going to talk about some of the ways that we can change how we use our money in our day-to-day lives, and what things we need to keep in mind when making those plans or making those changes. And I bet you’re wondering why this connects to food. Well, Dave De Witt, the brain behind ADHD Money Talk, it’s a podcast you can listen to wherever you get your podcast. He is also behind De Witt Capital Management. He’s our guest on today’s show. And one of the things he pointed out, was how surprised his clients are when they find out how much money they are spending on food each month.
I’m not going to go any further than that, but that’s my segue, From Food to Money. I’m super excited to have Dave on the show. We talk about everything from the debate on credit cards versus debit cards, car leases versus buying and owning, generational wealth and financial literacy. And of course, as I mentioned, we talk about food, and how much money we spend on it. So sit back, get a notepad. Dave’s got some great ideas on what we can be doing right now to set ourselves up for more financial success.
Like I do with every interview, I do some research, I head over to Google, which is the millennial version of going to the library, which I actually do remember as a kid, going to the library and looking up books by the Dewey Decimal system, and checking them out. And doing actual research, and there’s work cited, and all of that great stuff. And now, as a 36 year old with ADHD, so much of my research happens at very random sporadic times throughout the day, where I get an idea and I go down a rabbit hole. And that’s how we got to this conversation that I’m going to have with Dave De Witt. It’s all about finances and ADHD, and the connection between that. And when I say finances, obviously I’m talking about money. But for people with ADHD, it’s way more complicated than that.
I’m just going to go on a little tirade here. How can we make saving money sexy? And what I mean to say is, how can I make saving money give me the same feelings that spending money gives me, and has given me for my entire life? How do we make that the dopamine rush, the saving? And why was this never taught in a world where I took AP calculus, but wasn’t taught basic saving or investing strategies, and never learned how important it is. Actually very important for my future. And why on earth do colleges allow credit card companies onto campus? This is a big one. I don’t know that we’ll even get to it. I just needed to put it out into the universe, because no one told me the ramifications of a bad credit score. And I’m not going to say that had someone told me that things would’ve turned out differently, because let’s be honest, that’s how the ADHD brain works.
But there is my little tirade that leads into today’s guest, Dave De Witt, who was diagnosed with ADHD in high school and a lot of people who were diagnosed before this big welcoming hug that opened up for the ADHD community in the last couple of years, Dave didn’t want to embrace it or talk about it. And that led to a lot of things that probably would’ve been alleviated. Our society had created a more welcoming embrace for neuro diversity prior to his diagnosis. But fast forward, he graduates high school, goes to college, finds his hyper focus in finance, and now works for De Witt Capital Management, where he helps people with ADHD who are neuro-divergent. He helps them figure out how to understand money and savings, and move forward in life in a way that works for them. And I love that he gets to bring his own experience with ADHD into that conversation.
And I threw a lot in that intro, because I’ll be honest, money has always been something I’ve struggled with. I’ve either not had it and struggled with it, or I’ve had it and struggled with it. And I know I’m not alone. You Google ADHD and finances, or ADHD and money, and just like so many things in our world, it is very complicated. So first off, thank you for joining us on Refocused.
Dave De Witt (06:21):
You’re welcome. I’m happy to be here. I’m excited to talk about money things. It’s a very fun topic.
Lindsay Guentzel (06:27):
Well, that’s where I want to start. You’ve made money and finances your hyperfocus, and I want to go back. What is it about this line of work that attracted you in the beginning?
Dave De Witt (06:39):
Well, sure, so definitely helps that my dad is in the industry, and was a financial advisor and financial planner. So, that led me down the road of finance. But what got me really excited in the beginning of my journey, was the investing side. Really, I was fascinated by finding, and good investments, investing in companies and researching them, and learning how to understand balance sheets and income statements. And looking for companies that are doing cool innovative things and growing. And then, buying the stocks and learning how to trade stocks. That was where it started for sure was, my dream was to be a financial analyst on Wall Street, writing research reports on different stocks, recommending buys and sells, and holds of different companies. And that was my dream, so I pursued that through trying to get my CFA, which I passed the first level. But there’s three levels and it was such a bear, that I just didn’t even bother with level two. And I ended up going for with my dad, as a financial advisor. He comes from the old school stockbroker, stock picking side of things.
And so, I got to try what I wasn’t… Like enjoy, I got to do what first got me excited. There was actually through that experience that I also developed this attitude of I’m getting good at this, making money in the stock market thing. And then, I would get a little bit over eager and a little bit gambly, and since I was young, and we were in this big bull market and the stock market, that’s when the stocks were going up. It was easy. And so, along the way I learned some hard lessons losing money. And might be something to do with the ADHD, but nothing to do with my reawakening of the ADHD thing.
But ultimately, I realized that I was doing it wrong. If I’m going to be a financial planner, I need to take a holistic approach. I need to be looking at people’s psychology and attitudes, and helping people develop a relationship with money. I was someone who grew up understanding the money stuff. A lot of people out there do not. So, I’ve completely changed my practice. And then, now that I’m working with people with ADHD, it’s just been a blast because it’s like talking with old friends all day long. So, it’s very nice.
Lindsay Guentzel (08:39):
It is. And I want to ask, I’ve heard so many people who have ADHD ask, especially if they’re younger and they haven’t really chosen a career path. What careers can I be good at? And really, people with ADHD can be good at whatever they put their minds to. And I’m wondering if you see a connection between your success and the structure that comes from the line of work you went into. And what I mean by that is, there is a path for you to follow. All of my friends who work with money, I just say they work with money. I don’t understand it. But I know that there are tests you take, and there are different levels you make it to, and it’s very planned out and it’s very in a sense that structure. But then, I love that you touched on the risk and reward side of it, because that’s probably the dopamine.
Dave De Witt (09:24):
Yeah, 100% looking back, realized that I was taking larger and larger risks with my own money. And then, I would start spending profits I would make, more and more recklessly. And this was all without understanding the full scope of what ADHD meant to me. When I was diagnosed, I thought it was because I was just not paying attention in school and needed some help. I had no idea it was going to cross basically every life domain. It wasn’t until I read some books that I really… It hit me like a brick, like whoa. Okay, things are being explained now. I am completely chaotic mess and I need to figure something out. Big self-discovery, whatever.
But to your point about the career being structured, it is, but it isn’t, because there’s so many different ways you can get into this industry. There’s some ways where it’s very cutthroat, where it’s the companies are throwing spaghetti at the wall, and seeing what sticks. And you have to sell, you have to sell… And certainly, so many different ways to get in. It’s tough to succeed if you’re going to be in that more sales mode. But then, a favorite way is to focus on financial planning, do all the education to become a planner, find a small firm that does planning, and then be an associate planner so you can actually work on clients’ financial plans, and not have to be selling insurance to your friends and family, which is just no. And I couldn’t do that. No.
Lindsay Guentzel (10:34):
You know it’s so funny is, I’ve always been told I would be so good at sales. And I was like, do you know how much I avoid confrontation? Hearing the word no is not something I enjoy, and sales falls right into that. And some people are great at that. More power to them. I’m with you, not my thing.
Dave De Witt (10:49):
Yeah, for sure. You mentioned early on, how can we make saving money sexy? It’s hard to do that if you don’t have that inside of you developed from family history, and all about how you’re socialized with money, modeling what your parents did with money. A lot of people, the chains that you’re under money wise, have been bred for generations and generations. So, a lot of times it’s really interesting a lot…
And so, I give all of my clients and a lot of people that come talk to me, some assessments. It’s called Money Scripts. And there’s a bunch of money scripts, but one that routinely people score low on, meaning that they have this money script is the money avoidance moneys belief. This doesn’t mean that you’re avoiding looking at your bank account. This means that you’re literally avoiding money, meaning you subconsciously do things to keep yourself at the level you’re at, because you resent people that have a lot of money, or you believe that people with a lot of money are somehow corrupt or evil, and have this big scary thing. So, you subconsciously behave in a way that’s going to keep you stuck in your sort of socioeconomic rung.
So, it’s very interesting that a lot of people that I talk to score low on that. So, it’s something that we work on, understanding if you have a lot of money, it doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, it gives you the ability to do so many great things. It gives you the ability to create change in the world. It gives you the ability to give yourself self love, it gives you security and freedom. The ability to wake up one day and quit your job, and spend six months doing whatever you want while you look for a new opportunity because you hate your boss. You can’t do that if you’re paycheck to paycheck, and spending your money on crap. So, if you’re spending your money on crap, then you’re never going to be able to buy your first home and all this stuff. So, you have to change your mindset, if that’s what you struggle with. So, that’s what I would say.
Lindsay Guentzel (12:26):
Well, the one thing that I want to touch on that you mentioned is, I talk a lot about generational wealth. And I think sometimes we think generational wealth is just money being passed down in the family tree, but it’s also knowledge. And I love that you touched on, we are mimicking what was taught to us, or what wasn’t taught to us. And not to throw my parents under the bus, I felt growing up, my parents were very good with money, but I was never taught about that. And I was never held accountable when I wasn’t good with money. It was much easier to clean up the mess than to teach me.
And again, there is a lot to unpack there, because by no means do I want to just say the reason I’m where I’m at right now is because my parents never taught me about money. I’m an adult. I could have changed things a long time ago, but it’s not just that your parents had money and didn’t teach you about it. If your parents didn’t have money, you weren’t being taught about saving as well. It’s just this very overwhelming area. And I think sometimes we forget that where we are right now is most of the time just right in line with where we came from
Dave De Witt (13:33):
Yeah, for sure. It’s always the status quo, like father, like son. History tends to repeat itself, and change has to be made, awareness has to be created. An understanding of what could be, escaping the fear and the more fear-based mindset of being scared of money, being comfortable with having money in your bank. That’s what I hear all the time is, when there’s money in my bank account, it gives me anxiety. It’s supposed to give you a feeling of security and comfort, but they think it’s somehow going to disappear if they don’t spend it, so they spend it. So, these are the things I hear. So, it’s really working that mindset. A lot of times there’s mistrust of banks and mistrust of Wall Street. So, you have to understand that that’s just the nature of the beast. But you have to just understand, the more you understand it, the more you can be comfortable with it.
So, there’s a lot of education that has to go down. And then of course, we’re just always dealing with shiny new objects, and feeling like we need to buy them to get some sort of temporary fix, which usually leads to some feelings of guilt and shame, if it’s becoming a problem. And then, you start racking up credit card debt. And then, it gets stressful. So, you keep giving yourself these temporary moments of happiness. I differentiate between happiness and joy. I think happiness is very fleeting. You can be happy, but to get joy, you have to save and understand your goals, and create that meaning out of what your money can do for you. So, that’s what I do a lot with clients is getting to the deep root of what they really want out of life, and how money can help bridge the gap.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:54):
Well I’m wondering, what you suggest to people with direct deposit, and where money should be going and how they should be splitting it up. And I’m not asking for specific percentages, because that’s going to look different for everyone. But I think, one thing that holds a lot of people back with ADHD is like, you have to put these practices into action. And I resisted for the longest time just setting up automatic payment for my car payment. And I thought every month, I’m just going to force myself to remember it. And setting up that thing, let’s say it took an hour. It took an hour of my life, and now I never have to think about it again. But even going into your HR system at work, and setting up where money is going or getting a different checking account, it’s a lot. And I also think for a lot of us, if we aren’t told what to do, we’re left to our own devices. There’s too many options.
Dave De Witt (15:46):
I agree. I think one of the most valuable tools that exists for people, anyone who’s struggling with money is to, if you get direct deposit, you can usually split it up between different bank accounts. So, if you just have a few different accounts that you can label them different goals, then have money get split up and go to different places every single time you get paid, it’s very effective. It’s effective in the sense that you now have something that’s happening every month, that you can temporarily break it by stealing from your Christmas money account. But the next month it’s going to go back in there. So, the system’s always consistent. And the only thing that you have to do is, just try and stay within the parameters. And the way that I set this up for clients is, it’s very simple.
Let’s just make and make an example. If you have $15,000 of credit card debt, you have no savings, and you want to get off credit card debt, and you want to start investing at some point, and building wealth and all of that, what I would do is I would add up total amount of your bills, including things like Spotify and the subscriptions. What is the total amount of money that’s coming out of your bank every single month? Because we can get basically to the down to the penny. And then, we have a bank account that’s labeled like bills and fixed expenses. And you send that amount of money to an account where the only thing that comes out of that account are those things. So, you always know it’s funded, purely funded.
You have a second account… This is a three account [inaudible 00:16:59]. A second account that’s for your goal. And your goal, if you have no savings and credit card debt, is to first save a $1,000 before you even touch the credit card debt. Save $1,000 and have that sit in a savings account. And once you get the $1,000, you switch to credit card debts. You have say $3,000, go into the bills account, 500 go into the credit card debt account, and the leftover goes to your spending account.
So, you’ve already saved for the goal, you’ve already done the goal. Done. You already have the money in your bills, done. What’s in that third account? You never have anything automatic coming from it, it’s just purely your money to spend. Keep that account above zero. If you do that before the next paycheck, you know for sure you’re on track. You’re on track. And you can break it. You can pay off less at one month, but the next time you get paid, it’s going to start again, and you get another try. And you just keep going through that system, and I think that’s effective. So, that’s what I use with my clients, and it works pretty good.
Lindsay Guentzel (17:49):
So, do you tell them to sit down, open up whatever cards you’re using, find every reoccurring payment, cancel the ones you’re not using, make a list, go through that?
Dave De Witt (17:59):
Yeah. So, my planning software, we link all the accounts, we go through the transactions, we go one by one. Label them, like these are your fixed wants, these are your fix you need, see where we can cut. Everyone spends way too much money on food. It’s a humongous problem. So, we come up with a solution to lower the food spending. And we say, okay, this is how much you need every month for your bills. This is how much you need… We’re going to target $500 extra payments towards your credit card debt, starting lowest balance to highest balance. We’re going to have an account that gets that, and the rest is this. This is your rough amount for each category, but really I don’t care how you spend the what’s left over, as long as you just don’t go over. And I have most of my clients just switched, six months on debit card, just using the debit card. Get rid of the credit card. It’s psychologically a lot different using a debit card.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:44):
Credit cards are what really set me on a bad path with money. I’m not lying to you, I was allowed to sign up for a credit card at 17 years old in Cancun without my parents. And the limit I was given was criminal. And I get it, we’re considered 18. I technically wasn’t 18. I was allowed to just sign up, and got my free t-shirt, and then got mountains of debt after the fact. There is something to be said about credit cards and feeling like it is free money. It’s just not something our brains are capable mostly of putting together.
Dave De Witt (19:20):
And that sucks you got a credit card at 17. Yeah, that’s no good. How can a 17 year old be trusted with a credit? Let’s be real. It instantly feels like you have power, and you can get what you want, and then you just take care of it later. They don’t educate you when you sign up for that. They don’t say, “Hey, the interest rate’s 25%.” That means if you max a thousand dollars limit out, you’re paying 250 bucks a year, then we’re going to raise your limit every year a little bit, and you’re going to keep maxing it out. And next thing you know, you’re going to just be drowning in these interest payments. And then, you get started off with a bad credit score, and it’s just criminal.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:51):
And I’m curious, with your father’s background, were those conversations that were happening in your household?
Dave De Witt (19:57):
No. So, I was taught about investing my whole life, but not personal… So, I was lacking on the personal finance side, the budgeting, the saving, the waiting for what you want. I had a comfy childhood, if I’m being honest. I did. I always felt like I could get what I wanted before I really had earned the right to get what I wanted. I think I missed out on a little bit of the personal finance side, which I’ll be very sure to give my daughter, future kids if I have any. I have many ideas for kids, a good rounding and education.
Lindsay Guentzel (20:28):
Well, and I don’t want you to feel bad about it, because I’m in the exact same boat. And there’s something you said, wanting something and wanting it now, and the impulsivity of how our brains work. And I’m sitting in an office right now that needs to be cleaned out, because it is full of my quarantine hobbies. And instead of starting with one thing, I bought enough for the whole street to be involved in this hobby.
Dave De Witt (20:56):
We love to overkill our hobbies and buying stuff.
Lindsay Guentzel (20:59):
Yes, absolutely. But it reminds me of the moment in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when the girl is upset that she’s not getting a golden egg, and she’s stomping around. And I don’t think any of us behave that way, but there is this rush of deciding we want something, going and getting it. But then, the shame spiral that happens afterwards. I already know I’m going to have to work through some feelings when I start to clean out all of this stuff that I’ve acquired, that at one point was a dopamine rush, and now is just holding me back.
And I’m wondering how you work through some of that with your clients, because money comes with a lot of feelings. And it is very complicated, and we also don’t talking about it, we don’t talk about money, we don’t talk about how much we make. I listened to an episode of SmartLess the other day, and Kevin Bacon was on it. And it was the first time I had heard his story about being a part of the Bernie Madoff stuff, and how much money they had lost. And I was like, why aren’t we talking about this? These are things that we can all learn from, and it’s just because it’s so taboo. So, I’m wondering how you bridge that gap with your patients. It sounds like you’re [inaudible 00:22:02] as your clients.
Dave De Witt (22:03):
Sometimes I am.
Lindsay Guentzel (22:05):
Well yeah, because there’s emotions tied to it. It’s not a transactional, you’re coming over and balancing the books. You are working with them to create better habits.
Dave De Witt (22:15):
Yeah, I am. And it is by far the hardest part, because anyone who wants to work with me is doing so because they want to change. There’s a reason why they reach out and book a meeting, and pay me to help them with their money. They want to change. Changing behavior that’s been ingrained is very difficult. So, what does help though is, a lot of times we don’t stop and just actually think about our futures. We don’t actually take the time, because we’re so rushy, and so… We don’t actually sit and actually paint a vivid picture of what do we want our life to look like when we wake up in the morning in five years, and what do we want to see around us? What do we want to feel? What do we want to have? And what do we want our job to be?
Once you actually paint the picture, so it’s so vivid that you said, “Okay, I want that. I want that. I want that.” And then, once you show them the concrete step-by-step path to getting it, it just helps with motivation. Because now, instead of it being this nebulous thing that, oh, I can never happen, I’ll never be able to. I’m just going to be stuck. They can at least see the steps and the path. So, they have the vision, now we have the path. Because I think ADHDers, we’re good at vision, we’re very visionary, we’re like… But we’re not very good at execution. So, I help with the execution. And again, attitude, trying to change, slowly mold a better money relationship with how you think about money is very important, because otherwise you fall back into it.
But all of my clients, only few of them are perfect A students. Even me, we go two steps forward and there’s always steps back. I have clients that won’t talk to me for three months, and they finally are like, “Yeah, I spent a lot of money the last three months.” I’m like, “Okay, it’s fine. Let’s look at it. I understand, it happens. I also did, you should see how much money I spent on my golf clubs this past winter.” So, we just get back on the horse, look at the goals refresh, and we just keep trying. It’s just, keep trying, putting effort in, and it’s not going to be easy or pretty all the time.
Lindsay Guentzel (23:58):
No, it’s not. And no one likes to admit that we aren’t good at something, or that things are hard for us. And so, it’s so important when you’re trying to find someone to work with in any area of life, that you have a great working relationship with them. The reason that the gym classes I go to right now work for me, is because if I miss a couple of weeks and I come back, there is no shame. There’s no snide comments. It’s just like, “Hey, we’re so glad you’re back. Let’s get back into this.” Or I’ll get a text that’s like, “Hey, we miss you. Hope you’re doing well. We can’t wait to see you back in the club.” Blah, blah, blah. But it’s never this, “Well, where were you? What were you doing?” And that stuff for people with ADHD, it sends that shame spiral. It just magnifies it.
Dave De Witt (24:44):
Oh yeah, you’re so right. I have some clients that haven’t heard from them in six months, but every month I send them a nice little just like, “Hey, how you doing? Hoping you reach out and we can get back on track.” I never will disappear on a client. Nothing wrong with the other financial planners who disappear, but it’s just because their clientele is more straight and narrow, and figuring stuff out, and doing it. Whereas, I know my client base. I’m in the fight with them, to this day. I should honestly hire a financial planner for me, because I can give the right advice all day long. But doing it for myself is still very difficult.
Lindsay Guentzel (25:17):
Well, it’s like cleaning your house. I would rather go over to your house and clean it, than clean my own. And I don’t know why that is just a thing, but it’s like we’re always putting ourselves last, or the last to take our own advice. I don’t think that’s isolated to people with ADHD. I think that’s a human thing.
Dave De Witt (25:34):
No, it’s not. But just from my anecdotal observations, generosity is heightened, if I had to guess. If they read to do a study, I’d say generosity is much more heightened in people with ADHD. And I think one of the reasons when I dig deeper into these is, what I hear is the money is better off with someone who can handle it well as opposed to me, who’s just going to let it fly away. So it’s this, I’d rather give my money to my kids, I’d rather give them money to charity. They’ll take better care of the money than I will. So, let’s get it away from me, but really that’s being mean to yourself, at the end of the day.
Lindsay Guentzel (26:07):
And I also think there’s this idea that we’re all supposed to be perfect at everything we do. And a while back I realized, I think I will from now on always lease a car. Is it the most financially responsible decision? Probably not. But my partner and I own a home, and we have a mortgage. And paying a lease for a car that I take in when I’m told to, and they do the work on it, and I don’t have to think about it, and I turn it in three years and I get a new one. That peace of mind is something that I’m willing to take the loss on an investment. But I was hard on myself for a really long time, because we’re told that it’s an inconvenience, that we’re wasting money. All of these things. And it’s like, not everything in life is one size fits all.
Dave De Witt (26:49):
A 100%. I did a podcast on leasing versus buying, and I said that my preference is the lease, because-
Lindsay Guentzel (26:54):
Dave De Witt (26:54):
Yes, it’s personal decision. So basically, if the cost of the lease fits into your budget, you can still save for your goals and it works for you, it gives you peace of mind. Then what’s wrong with it? Personal finance is personal. As long as it works, as long as it fits and it helps you reach your goals, that’s fine. To be honest with you, I guarantee you there’s so many people with ADHD who own their cars, who don’t treat them well just because they forget to take them to the shop, so they end up being more expensive. Because the breakdowns are bigger, so you have bigger bills. And the cost of ownership goes way higher.
In a perfect mouth sense, if you’re taking great care of your car that you own, probably a little cheaper over the long run, but you have to take into account your situation, and you have to be honest with yourself. When I own my car, it’d be shaking for months before I take it in. I was like, I’ll get to it one day, until it actually breaks down. And then it’s like, your transmission [inaudible 00:27:43], but we could have fixed it. So it’s fine, I totally am okay with you leasing.
Lindsay Guentzel (27:47):
I didn’t think we were going to talk about leasing. I think it’s just a great reminder that what works for me, is not going to necessarily work for you, and everyone is going to be so different. And I love you mentioned, you’re paying a little bit more, but you get that peace of mind. And it reminds me of a saying that a dear friend of mine taught me, and it probably goes against some financial planning stuff.
But when we’re talking about personal finances, and where we are in life and what our needs are, the phrase I was taught is, when you can, throw money at the problem. And to me, cars were a problem. I was the same way. Never took care of them. Then I would get into this hole where they cost so much money to fix. Then you’re wondering, do I fix it? This is a moment where I can afford the payment. Someone else takes care of it. I literally get notifications to my phone, “You need to come in, you need to have this done. This is there.” I go in, I sit in a nice little massage chair, and I work for a couple of hours, and I go on my merry way.
Dave De Witt (28:47):
Yeah, it’s so much more convenient. It really is. And that peace of mind can pay you back in other ways, because you spend less time being stressed about your car. And who knows, maybe during that less stressed day, you have a better productive day and make a big deal or something. You never know how it’s all going to work out. So, it’s hard to value peace of mind, but it’s incredibly valuable. And getting time back is valuable too.
Lindsay Guentzel (29:08):
That was the one thing I think I didn’t realize was, at some point you have to decide what your time is worth, and what your energy is worth, and where you’re putting that. And that in a sense, does play a lot into your personal finances. Because if you’re spending time on something, when you could be doing something that is more beneficial to you, whether it’s financially beneficial or spiritually beneficial, or it’s taking your career to the next level, when you start to cut stuff out and you realize, oh, I cannot worry about this. It is very refreshing.
Dave De Witt (29:43):
Yeah, it is totally refreshing. I agree, it can become a problem if you start using every piece of mind tool that’s out there. And it goes well beyond your means. You have the cleaning person, you have the lease… Well, I really don’t have a problem with lease at all. I shouldn’t even say that. But you have the lawn landscaper, you have the ADHD coach, you have the ADHD financial planner, you have the therapist. That stuff does get expensive, especially when you’re then also… Statistically, be able to make less, because we’re not as assertive and not as confident to go out there and make as much as we should, which I think could be a lot more. You know what I’m saying?
Lindsay Guentzel (30:13):
Oh, yes. My entire career.
Dave De Witt (30:17):
So, you have to be careful, but if you choose where you’re going to get the most value for the peace of mind, and do some of that. But yeah, I hear you.
Lindsay Guentzel (30:24):
Well, I want to take a step back, because we got off, I’m leading this tangent camp through the wilderness, and we’re all over the place. And I love it because one, it’s happening organically and it’s very ADHD in finances, which is perfect. But I want to go back. You mentioned you suggest to your clients to use a debit card for six months, to go through all of your finances and figure out exactly what you need every single month to live the way you’re living right now. What are some of the other things that you suggest? And I’m wondering, how you also manage walking people through the idea of having to cut stuff out?
Because I imagine that that is something that comes up once you see a budget, and you know where people are spending things. You mentioned food. We spend way too much money on food. I’m going to go ahead and say that, I bet it’s not just eating out. I think we probably spend too much money at the grocery store, especially people with ADHD. Because we walk in, we have big ideas, big goals,.and think of how much produce on average we all throw out because we are overzealous in the grocery store. So, let’s start there.
Dave De Witt (31:28):
Sure. It’s bananas how much people spend on food. DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, this stuff is killing people. The average cost per meal is just absurd, with when you factory all the fees, and delivery fees, and everything. When I see that, that’s the hugest, biggest opportunity for change. And no one’s doing this, because they love the food they’re getting. It’s because they’re tired, or they’re exhausted, and they don’t feel like cooking. If you could meal plan sustainably, and everyone wishes they could do that, but it’s hard. So, we definitely work on that when that’s a problem.
So I often say, let’s find the meal kit service that works for you that you like. It’s still expensive, but it’s less expensive than eating five days a week at DoorDash. So, there’s so many different options. I’ve tried basically all of them. So, there’s ones that are pre-made. There’s ones that are very easy, that the ingredients are pre-prepped. There’s ones like, I’m currently on Tovala, which I love because they give you an oven, and then it takes a minute to prep it. It’s fresh chicken, it’s fresh whatever. You’ve scanned the card, you put it in the thing. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s at least consistent. And then, you can understand this is how much I’m actually spending on food. And you lose the desire to eat out, and you’re like, wow, I’m saving like 500 bucks a month on food.
And then, I would just say it, “Okay, let’s put in a 500 bucks per month at 8% for 20 years. Okay, you’re at like $200,000 in 20 years, if you just invest that instead of buying food.” So I’d say, “Would you like that? What would that do for you? Would that change your life? Do you want that more than you want the food?” And like, “Yeah, of course.” So that helps, but again, it’s a slow turning wheel, the changing and the cutting.
Lindsay Guentzel (32:57):
What’s one thing that we don’t think about when we think about ADHD and finances? And it’s something that you probably deal with every single day, but when you point it out to your clients or you talk about it, people are surprised by?
Dave De Witt (33:10):
How much money they give to banks.
Lindsay Guentzel (33:12):
Really? In what sense?
Dave De Witt (33:14):
Because a lot of my clients do have a decent amount of credit card debt that we’re working on. When you add up all the interest payments, and how much money you are lining the pockets of the credit card companies, it’s shocking to them. And they get angry about it, which is good. Because if you have $10,000 of credit card debt, and it’s 25% interest rate, which that’s basically what it is now, 2,500 bucks a year that you’re just giving to them. And it’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of extra money. It’s just crazy. And so, that’s a big thing, how much the interest rate costs. And then, I explain to them, if you pay off this credit card debt, it’s a guaranteed return of 25% on your money. Guaranteed return. That’s better than the stock market. Pay off in a year, you get 25% off your money, because you don’t have to give away that money every single month. So, that’s a big one.
But when we go through the transactions, and they are face to face with what they’re spending, no one ever does that. They give up quickly. But when they’re doing it with me, what happens is the client, we’ll go through and say, “You don’t have to justify it to me. It’s fine. We’re just looking at it. You don’t need to explain it. It’s totally fine. You can spend your money on whatever you want. Let’s just try and find what’s important to you, and spend it there. And these things that, or a lot is important to you. Let’s cut those areas, and then focus on what’s important to you, and then save the rest for things that are important to you that require saving and long-term health. Are you important to you? Do you want you to be happy in five years? Do you want you to feel good in five years?
It’s just constantly reminding them of why we’re doing this, what’s the point? And having their goals right in their face, this is your actual goal. You told me that you really want this, this is why you reached out to me. So, what are we going to do this month to keep going? I’m like the rock that doesn’t change, and they’re floating around, but I’m constantly trying to bring them back. I’m the steady foundation kind of thing.
Lindsay Guentzel (34:52):
I love that. It’s important. I think a lot of times, I know that I have struggled with opening up about things that I feel shame or embarrassment about. And we’ve all opened up to somebody where the response has not been what we’ve needed it to be. And so, then we’re like an oyster. We just close back up. We’re like, “Nope, not doing this. Not even going down this path.” And so, it’s so important to one, work with somebody who gets that, but also understands where you’re coming from. And so, I think that you offer such a unique perspective as somebody who admits you’ve had moments of being frivolous with your money, and… Yeah.
Dave De Witt (35:31):
Yeah. There’s no question. I don’t not have ADHD, because I do what I do. I have bad months. There’s no question about it. Well, I’ve become less ashamed of it, because I understand. And now, what’s really helpful is by understanding so well, is that when I find myself slipping, I catch myself quicker and get out of it quicker. When I really was in my worst moment, it was like four years ago. You wake up six months later and so much damage has been done, you never took a breath to realize what you’re doing. Now, I’m just hyper aware of when I’m starting to lose my grips a little bit, and I stop, I get on my budgeting app, I go through my transactions, I re-center myself. And I say, “Okay, this month I’m going to stop spending money on it. If I want it, I don’t need it, I’m just going to stop.” That’s what I do. You’ve got to stop, and so I stop. And I say, “Jill, my wife, don’t let me. Let’s just stop.”
But then, if she’s in a spending mode, then it’s hard because then I have to tell her to stop. And she’s like, “Well, you’re always spending money.” And so, relationships with money is hard too. So, that’s a whole different can of worms.
Lindsay Guentzel (36:28):
Yes, that is a whole other can of worms. And it also matters if you are in a relationship with somebody who also has ADHD or they don’t, what their understanding of financial literacy was growing up, what their family dynamic was. It gets complicated.
Dave De Witt (36:44):
And it can get bad, because it ends up being like there’s a parent, and then one person feels that they’re being controlled, usually one with ADHD, then there can turn into manipulation and stuff like that. So, there’s lots of things that can happen on the relationship front. So, getting on the same page money-wise is huge. Getting joint goals, like goals that you can work together that you really both want, and having a plan together to achieve something is important. Being on the same page, because bickering over money… And it’s one of the main reasons why people get divorced and break up. People avoid thinking about their money, but it is inescapable. It’s a huge part of life. You deal with it every single day.
Lindsay Guentzel (37:25):
And pretending it’s not an issue is not going to help. It just makes it worse.
Dave De Witt (37:29):
It’s going to lead to bad if you don’t take action and address it, because so many of the reasons why you even be going to therapy can be centered on money. I’m sure so many people are talking with their therapists about their money issues. So, just going direct to the source and opening up, admitting… No one comes to me in good shape, let’s put it that way. Those people don’t have a reason to come to me. But it’s fun though, because everyone wants to change, and we do it.
Lindsay Guentzel (37:54):
That’s awesome. I want to wrap this up by asking you, I know in one of the latest episodes of ADHD Money Talk, you talked about 2023 goals, money resolutions. What is one thing you are working on right now?
Dave De Witt (38:07):
What am I working on? That’s a good question. My biggest goal is to actually max out my 401k this year. So, have to spend less money to do that. And so, I’m trying to max it out. Get the full tax deduction of the 401K contribution. That’s what I want to do. And that’s basically my main goal. I’m also… And I don’t necessarily recommend this, trying to switch my credit card to a travel one, because I want to start traveling. But that gives me something to be excited about, by using this credit card mindfully. Not buying more stuff to get points, but just I practiced what I preached for a while, and had as many bills as I could, switched to my debit card. But now, I’m switching it back to the credit card for the points. Since I have better structure and habits, I feel like I can handle it, so I’m doing that. So, I want to go on some trips, and use points. So that, max out the 401k.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:00):
It’s so interesting is, I’m in a similar boat. This is the first time, I actually thought of this the other day, I have not paid a late payment in handful of years, because I’ve been able to work on things. But it was the same thing, I needed a credit card for work. We went with the travel one. And what I’m working on is using those points. Again, we’re not spending more to get points, but I’m using those as my dopamine rush, of being really excited every month that I pay off whatever is due. Not just the minimum payment, the full amount. And it has been a really good learning lesson. But again, I don’t know that I would be there if I didn’t have a partner who is also helping with that, because it’s a two-way street. And I know left my own devices, I would be like maxing that baby out.
Dave De Witt (39:52):
You’ve got to be very careful, hesitant to even say it. But having that something exciting is very helpful in keeping your mind on your money. Because I think one thing is, we just don’t check in with our money enough. The biggest way to actually stop spending, and curbing pulls of spending, is actually just to review your spending once a week. That’s all you got to do. Open up, get mint, connect all your accounts, and just scroll through it. Because you’re going to see patterns that disgust you. That’s a strong word. But I think it’s fair to say, that disgusts you. You add up how much money you spent that week on… If you check your spending for the last week, and you realize you spent 400 bucks on DoorDash or whatever, something crazy, there’s no way you’re going to do that in the following week, because you had just done it. It’s top of mind. So, you’re going to stop. And then the next week, you have to keep looking at it. That’s what solves it, and tracking.
People then know that they’re overspending, so they purposefully avoid looking at it so that they can get away with continuing to spend. We’re self-sabotaging all day long, and self-justifying. So, it’s like a muscle you have to train just to do it. It’s homework. You have to just look at it once a week.
Lindsay Guentzel (40:55):
When you also have to remember that pretending it’s not happening doesn’t mean that when everything goes up in flames, that you’re not going to be the one standing there dealing with it. Because we’ve all been there, in whatever capacity in life. The one thing that we’ve pretended isn’t an issue, that we’re just going to let go. We’re not going to worry about it. It doesn’t just go away.
Dave De Witt (41:15):
It does not. Nope. It doesn’t go away. And it just grows into a bigger ball of wax, the more you don’t look at it. Until it becomes so unavoidable, because you actually have problems where you have to reach out for help or address it, which is very stressful. So, the earlier you get on it, the better, and you’ll thank yourself later. But I don’t like how we’re assuming that everyone’s finances are bad if they have ADHD. It’s like some people out there, they come to me and they are actually in pretty good shape. And so if that’s you, then give yourself a pat on the back and keep it up.
Lindsay Guentzel (41:44):
I love that. Yes. Again, reminding this world is not one size fits all. ADHD is not one size fits all. If you have great money habits, call me. I want to be friends. I want you to rub off on me. Dave, thank you so much. I am so appreciative of this conversation. I think it sets a great groundwork for all of us on some things that we can get started. I’m going to set some time aside in the next week to go through my finances, which is going to be lovely, because I’m coming off of this work vacation trip, so I’ll be reminded of how much I ate out, and how much I need to eat in at our house for the next couple of months.
I appreciate your time and energy, and thank you for making this your little corner of the world. We need more people who have expertise in things like what you’re doing, but who also understand the neuro-divergent brain. And we’re really lucky that you have taken this on, because I know there’s so many people who just really are always looking for somebody who understands them. And that’s just such a huge part of making life better.
Dave De Witt (42:50):
People always ask me, why is your approach different? And I never have a really good answer, I don’t just say… I get you. I understand you. There’s nothing you can bring to me that will be shocking, or that will make me want to judge you. Because I’ve been there and I get it. And so yes, I’ve read books and I know let’s start with one goal at a time, and they keep focused, but I can do that. You could be late to a meeting and I just won’t care. I’m just understanding. Because I’m going to make mistakes too, so that’s basically the biggest difference.
Lindsay Guentzel (43:20):
A huge thanks to Dave De Witt for sharing his time and expertise with us on Refocused. To learn more about the work he’s doing and to find out how you can work with him, check out firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s D-E-W-I-T-T-C-M .com. And make sure to check out his podcast, ADHD Money Talk wherever you get your podcasts, as well as through adhdmoneytalks.com.
Refocused is produced and hosted by me, Lindsay Guentzel. Our production team includes Al Chaplin, Sarah Gelbard, Sarah Platanitis, and Phil Rodeman. Support also comes from Keith Boswell, Claudia Gatti, Melanie Meyrl, and Suzanne Spruit, along with the entire team at ADHD Online. The show’s music was created by Louis Inglis, a songwriter and composer based out of Perth, Australia, who is diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39. To work with Louis, you can find his email as well as links to his work shared in the show notes. And finally, to connect with the show or with me, you can find us online @refocusedpod, as well as @lindseyguentzel. You can also email us directly at podcast@adhdonline com.