Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ADD and Your Money - Book Review


I just finished the excellent book,  ADD and Your Money: A Guide to Personal Finance for Adults with Attention-Deficit Disorder, by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis PhD and Karl Klein, J.D. I became interested in the topic of ADD and money management after hearing Dave Ramsey speak about the special challenges people with mental health challenges face in their financial affairs.

In her book, Dr. Sarkis points out Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a genetic disorder which affects over 4% of the U.S. population. Symptoms include disorganization, difficulty focusing and following through with tasks, and avoiding tasks which require considerable mental effort. What I find interesting is while we often hear about the challenges posed by ADD to students and learning, it is rare to hear about ADD in relation to money management.

Dr. Sarkis points out such challenges are significant: People with ADD tend to earn less money than those without ADD, even with a similar education level. They are more likely to take risks that lead to a loss of money; and they have higher medical expenses. The first step to addressing any problem is to be aware of it, and in the first part of the book, we learn why ADD poses such a challenge in terms of personal finance.

In the second part of the book, Dr. Sarkis and Karl Klein provide a comprehensive financial guide to personal money management, covering such topics as Investing, Organizing Your Money, Spending, Loans and Debt, Bank Services, and Talking to Your Kids About Money. (Dr. Sarkis believes that much a person's behavior with money is based on how their parents handled money when they were a child).

Dr. Sarkis has an interesting recommendation: since individuals with ADD tend to be competitive, she recommends approaching money management as though it were a game. There is also lots of great practical advice. For example, one of my favorites was her recommendation to evaluate clothing purchases on a "cost per wear basis." She also discusses the importance of planning for emergencies, paying off debts, and avoiding status spending and gambling.

I found this book to be valuable in terms of gaining an understanding of the challenges ADD presents to money management, and as an in-depth and practical financial management handbook tailored to those with ADD.