August 29, 2023

What Do Finances, Relationships, and ADHD Have in Common? with Financial Therapist Christine Hargrove

Christine Hargrove is a a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia whose primary focus is on exploring financial therapy and ADHD relationships – an important and rare combination! We very quickly realized one episode was not enough, so stay tuned for part two with practical tips.

Before we dive into money talk, Christine shares her own story about how she came to receive her own ADHD diagnosis. It was missed for years because people told her she was “too smart” to have ADHD. I especially love this part of the episode because I think it will click with a lot of people regarding the fear and feelings of defeat that can come with receiving or not receiving a diagnosis due to ignorant stigmas and misconceptions that have followed ADHD for years.

When it comes to finances, mental health experts often avoid the topic, deeming it too controversial or because they’re simply not money experts. And money managers are nowhere near equipped to support clients through the emotions, trauma and complicated feelings surrounding finances that many people have. 

As we’ve discussed throughout this podcast, so much of the work with ADHDers is in encouraging them to trust their own authority and ability to make decisions. This is one of Christine’s main focus areas in financial therapy – equipping adults to get comfortable with calculated risk and understanding that you don’t have to wait to make a decision until it’s perfect.

To follow Christine’s incredible research and work, visit her website at ChristineHargrove.com. And if you’d like to gain some confidence in decision-making with other ADHD adults, come join my group coaching program FOCUSED. 



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Kristen Carder 0:05
Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B.

What’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast. I am medicated I am caffeinated. I am regulated and I am ready to roll. How are you? How are you? It is so good to be here with you today. Thank you so much for pressing play on this podcast. Today on the show I have for you an expert in all things ADHD and finances. Christine Hargrove.

Christine is a PhD candidate at the University of Georgia in the couples and family therapy program. She supports the relational and financial wellbeing of individuals, couples and families with ADHD. Through innovative research and specialized clinical intervention. Christine works from a strengths based approach to living with ADHD without ignoring the difficulties that ADHD can present in daily life and relationships. And she’s here today with us to share her expertise. I’m super pumped for you to hear this episode. But before we get started here, I want to remind you to make sure that you have subscribed to this podcast. Now you don’t want to have to go looking for it in the podcast ethers every time you feel like tuning into an episode. So make sure you followed and subscribed. And if you want to give back to the show, which I would so so appreciate. I would love it, if you would hit that five star rating button. It makes such a huge difference. For me. I know it seems small, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it actually is a very, very big deal. First of all, it’s a huge dopamine hit for me. And then second of all, it does make the show climb the ratings and the charts. And it makes it more visible and more accessible and findable for ADHDers out there who are looking for help. So please make sure you’re subscribed and hit that five star rating if you love the pod.

Okay, now for my conversation with Christine Hargrove, I want to let you know that we’re talking about ADHD and financial therapy from a very deep perspective. Today, we’re gonna get into it. Christine has graciously offered to come back in the future for a part two, where she will have some more maybe practical tips. But you’ll know by now that there is no perfect five step solution for your finances or any other ADHD related problem. These are deep issues with a lot of nuance, and they’re complex. And that’s what we’re gonna get into today. So I know this is going to be encouraging to you. I can’t wait for you to hear Christine’s ADHD journey and her story because O M G, the fact that a doctor would speak to anyone that way is shocking to me and I can’t wait for you to hear it. Yeah, that’s gonna be good. It’s gonna be real good. So please enjoy my conversation with Christine Hargrove. Hi, Christine. I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for being here.

Christine Hargrove 3:34
Well, thank you for having me, I’m really excited to.

Kristen Carder 3:36
So you taught a class in focused a couple of months ago, and I remember listening to the class, I remember what I was doing. I was doing laundry and thinking we’ve got to get this woman on the public facing podcast because you had so much wisdom to offer our group. So just tell me a little bit about what you do. And kind of what you offer to the world.

Christine Hargrove 3:58
Sure, well, I am a final in my final year of my PhD candidacy at the University of Georgia. And I do couples and family therapy and I do research. So I do that from my sort of my scholarly side and I do presentations, but I also work directly with clients. And so what that means is I specialize in working with individuals, couples and families with ADHD on a whole variety of issues. And I also specialize in financial therapy, which is not just about diagnosing what’s going wrong with money, but what are we actually going to do to help our relationship with money and help that change? And so because I’ve specialized in those two things, I came to UGA knowing I wanted to specialize in working with ADHD. And then once I got here I was recruited by there’s a some just absolute Rockstar faculty that recruited me to they said would you please learn Would you be open to learning financial therapy because we’ve got a waitlist, and we want to make sure that we continue to offer this. And I said, Well, I mean, I actually think money is really interesting. And I liked the topic. So sure I can learn it. And so I learned it, I was supervised in my practice of doing it. And then I found that not only is it fascinating, but this is super applicable to ADHD.

So certainly, yeah, I started looking for resources about ADHD and money. And there’s not very many there. Stephanie Sarkis co wrote a book that was from I want to say, 2012, maybe 2010. And it’s good. It’s pretty sure about ADHD and money. And it’s got some, like practical advice. I’d love to see it be updated for more of the digital era. But she also wrote a chapter in a book, I think the book is called The distracted couple. And it’s about ADHD couples and money. In that book, she did a wonderful summary of research, and then some different sort of interventions about you know, how to help couples talk about money, but she, at the end, she said, there’s this thing called financial therapy, and someone needs to integrate these, because that’s actually where it, that’s where it needs to be, but no one was doing it yet. And so that’s what I have been doing in my public presentations, in my research in my writing, and my outreach is to help those either living with ADHD themselves, or in a family with ADHD, improve their relationships with one another with themselves and with their financial statements.

Kristen Carder 6:40
It’s amazing, there’s such a need, I can feel everyone just like listening to us. And just buzzing from what you’re saying. I am just so thrilled that you are taking this on because there are like you noted so few resources on the subject. And many of us and I see this in my clients all the time. We feel like we’re just floundering and kind of like, feeling our way through blindly just trying to figure it out. And there’s so much shame and judgment. And I think like trauma, which I would love to talk to you about eventually, like, what are the traumas in our early lives that kind of set us up to struggle with money, you know, not just our ADHD symptoms, but also like, family circumstances happening. But before we get to all of that, I’m curious about your ADHD story. So you’re someone who has ADHD? How did you come to that diagnosis? And what is that like for you? Now?

Christine Hargrove 7:40
I think that I came to that diagnosis, like a lot of adult women, actually. So I have four kids. And it became pretty obvious after a while that our oldest had ADHD, although, you know, we sort of tried everything. And we kept missing the diagnosis, because we were like, well, I mean, but she’s just like me, and oh. So she just needs to try harder. She just needs to understand how important it is that she behave in class that she not daydream, that she not sit there and read and wiggle and move. And, and I wiggled all the time. And I you know, I was super busy all the time. And, and so eventually, you know, we kind of chase down everything else. And maybe it’s a sleep problem. Maybe it’s we need to be better parents, you know, we did everything we could we did like nutrition exercise, put her on swim team. Oh my gosh, it was the whole thing. And so eventually, it was like, I remember going with her to the library, and I ended up checking out a book. It was a kid’s book about ADHD. And I handed it to her and she was in the backseat, I was buckling her in into her booster seat. And I handed it to her to read and I was really nervous that she would get the book and feel like something was wrong with her. Like what cuz she was like, What’s this book? And I said, Sorry, I said something about what’s a book about this thing called ADHD, a lot of kids who were the wiggle a lot and they talk a lot and they blurt out in class and kind of explained, like tied it to some of the things that she experienced. And I said in some of them have this thing called ADHD. And for those that have it, they take medication if they want, and that really helps. And, and I like I remember holding my breath and thinking that she’s going to look at me and be like, Mom, something wrong with me. What are you saying?

And you know what she said? She looked at me and said, You mean it doesn’t have to be like this. And I went, Well, I mean, if you took medication, she was like, so I would just take medication. And I and I wouldn’t have to be like this all the time. And I just like it, I was so taken aback by the fact that Don’t remember how old she was because this wasn’t right when we got the diagnosis. But I remember being so surprised. And it made me challenge my own internalized stigma, get that I just assumed that she also had, and she was more interested in what she would need to be happy and self fulfilled than anything else. And I thought, Oh, my goodness, like, what am I? What am I doing, we really need to look into this. Because if she, I want her to be the person that she would like to be, or at least have that as an option. And so, of course, ending up with the diagnosis, and I saw how much medication changed her life. Yeah. And I mean, it was it was pretty quick. And so then I went, and I tried to have somebody tried to talk to someone about whether or not I had it, because I was like, this actually, sort of fits. I’ve seen it. And now I’m starting to wonder, and the first person I talked to, didn’t really know much about ADHD and and she said, you can’t have ADHD, you went to Harvard. Oh, my goodness.

And I, I honestly, in that moment, was like, I guess I’m just lazy, like, I didn’t, you know, and she was like, Fine, I’ll give you an ADHD screener. And I took the screener. And then she looked at it, and she was like, well, that’s weird. I’m gonna refer you out. So she referred, so I went to like two other people. Basically, everybody was like, we don’t really know anything about ADHD. So I did a, I did some really good work with the last one, because my dad had just passed by the time I got to work with him. And so it worked on some other stuff. And I just tabled it. And then my third kid also has ADHD. And so it kind of become this like, as time went on this kind of like running joke. And I, when I went back for my second master’s, I specialized in that in in really understanding ADHD wanting to work with kids and families and adults with ADHD

Kristen Carder 11:50
prior to your diagnosis. Yeah, yeah. Wow. Okay, amazing. Well,

Christine Hargrove 11:58
it felt a little weird in the sense that then I came here to UGA. And of course, you know, when you say that, this is what you work on, like people around, you will be very open about like, oh, I have it. Yeah. So then people asked me if I had it, or they just assumed that I did. Sure. And they’re like, Christine, we’re around you all the time. You have it? And I said, Well, I’m a little afraid now of like, I mean, I don’t like I’m not gonna I don’t want to self diagnose, but I can’t talk about it with someone because of the last few times where they said, you can’t have it because you’re smart, not even asking about, like, how hard it was to get through that degree for me. And exactly, there was so many brutal aspects, like the amount of effort that it took me to get things done, compared to my classmates, and it wasn’t like an intellectual issue. It was like an executive function issue. Anyway, so I finally went and saw someone here, and was just very open about like, look at this point, I specialize in it, like super strong family history of it. But I don’t like I want to talk to somebody else. And so talk with him for a while. And he did a screening and like, pull more out. And then he finally was like, Okay, do you? Do you want to just know, because I’m just telling you, yes, you have it?

Kristen Carder 13:13
What did that moment feel like for you?

Christine Hargrove 13:16
A little surreal. Just in the sense of like, I think I had gotten so accustomed to hearing people tell me, I just needed to try harder, and just needed to manage my time better and just needed to understand how important it was that I adhere to a schedule. And then I don’t forget details. Like, I had gotten so accustomed to that feedback, that when he was like, Yeah, I think I’ve, I’ve heard enough. Yep, this fits. Like, if you want to try medication, I’m certainly supportive of that you want to just know, like, I can just tell you, this was still kind of during COVID. So I mean, I’ve seen someone in person since then. But it was a little surreal. And I kind of had to let it sink in. And then I did, I did try medication. And I remember being really nervous about it, even though my kids take medication. And it’s absolutely the right decision for them. And then feeling like oh my goodness, is this what it’s like for people who don’t have ADHD on a daily basis that Jay and I have gone my whole life. All of it was it was really strange, I guess, a really long explanation of my ADHD journey.

Kristen Carder 14:34
I think that it was so important, and I just really want to honor your vulnerability, because it would have been easy to give me a two second like I was diagnosed two years ago, and like call it quits. But what you just did was you reflected your story that so many people are going to see themselves in so many intellia Jen, people who are dismissed over and over and over in a clinical setting, and it is so demoralizing. It’s embarrassing. But I don’t know like what other words you would describe for it. But what I hear from clients and just fellow ADHD years is just, it’s so defeating, because it can often reinforce your biggest fear. Because the biggest fear is I am just lazy I am there is just something wrong with my character, I am just not trying hard enough, even though you’ve been trying so hard for decades. And so when that fear is reinforced by a clinician who’s like, you can’t have ADHD, you went to Harvard, I’ve heard that same sentiment from like, law, you can’t you can’t have ADHD or doctor, you can’t have ADHD, you’re a lawyer, you can’t have ADHD, I, I owned a tutoring company for a while. And I had one of my students evaluated for ADHD. And the evaluator came back and said, she can’t have ADHD, her job is too complex. And she wouldn’t be able to keep this job if if she did have ADHD. And right around that time was when I was really getting into like my ADHD research and just really learning about this disorder and just thinking, you have no idea how intelligent people can cope in these really difficult settings. But the behind the scenes is just a hot freaking mess. It’s so much harder, it takes so much longer, it takes so much more mental, spiritual, emotional energy to get it all done, and we are tired, so depleted. And so I just I appreciate you sharing that story with us. Because I know that listeners are going to see themselves in that story and maybe even gather up courage to go see one more clinician, just like you did, you know, to say like, if Christine was able to find one person that validated this experience for her, maybe I can be brave enough to go and find someone as well. So I think it was really important.

Christine Hargrove 17:14
Love that. Hope that’s true.

Kristen Carder 17:17
I think it will be true. I do write listener? Yeah, I do. So tell me, let’s transition now into what is financial therapy? And how do we all access it? Those are two very big questions. We’ll start with just like, what is it? It seems to me as soon as I heard you say the term I was like, oh, I need it. I want it. We all need it. We all want it. So what is like, how would you describe financial therapy? And if you want to give like an ADHD lens to that, that would be amazing.

Christine Hargrove 17:51
Yeah, so financial therapy is a form of therapy. It’s it’s kind of like a, I wouldn’t say a middle ground, but sort of a beautiful coming together of financial fields of financial planning, counseling, some coaching in there, at least when I go to these events, I meet with financial coaches as well. And then mental health background. And so what they did was they really put the two together. Because usually when you talk with like a financial planner, they might be comfortable with emotions, but they definitely don’t know what to do about like super problematic money patterns. And sometimes, like even just the emotions aren’t that comfortable, which I, I wouldn’t blame them. That’s not their job, and they need to make sure that they’re practicing within the scope of their competency. So then you’ve got mental health professionals. And honestly, in most of our training, we don’t talk about money that’s like that. We don’t talk about Bruna, we did not talk about money. Don’t talk about finances, we don’t want to know how much clients make. We don’t want to know like it, maybe it’s okay, if you talk about how you’re financially stressed, and we’ll give you empathy.

So we’re not going to like actually get into that. It’s something that you like we’d actually kind of prefer that you just not bring up. And a lot of finance. A lot of mental health professionals are actually in the money avoidant category themselves. Like there, there have been studies and so there’s this like weird, it makes perfect sense. But there’s this weird avoidance of money as like a lot of people who go into mental health also tend to like not really want to talk about money. But there’s so much stress about money. There’s individual stress about money, it’s couples that experience money, stress are much more likely to not only be depressed, they’re more likely to dissolve the relationship. They’re more likely to have a lot of fights and money fights and couples or experiences more intense and more destructive than other kinds of arguments.

Like it’s sort of like saying that, you know, mental emotional, physical well being and then financial Well being are separate is not true at all. And so there is now in the certified financial planning programs, one of their core areas for accreditation is a psychology, psychology of money or financial psychology. So you have to have some background in that. So they’re starting to really pick up on the fact that they need to be at least somewhat well versed in understanding that people have a lot of emotions and behavior surrounding money, that it’s not just about the numbers. Not all of it. But a lot of the work that has been done in that area is connected to UGA financial planning faculty. There’s also some amazing financial planning faculty at K State, Texas Tech, Golden State University. So there’s some Kentucky has one, it’s starting to become a real thing. So

Kristen Carder 20:49
yeah, that’s financial therapy is more

Christine Hargrove 20:51
about. So what do we do? What are the actual interventions? How do I work with you to work through the couple argument about fight? Sometimes, though, I’ve had a lot of I’ve had, I’ve definitely had a lot of couples, but I’ve had a lot of individuals doing financial therapy. And this is about a lot of stuff that happened when we were little. It’s very informed by systemic forms of therapy. So if you’ve heard of Bowen, or like the intergenerational types of family therapy, or even individual therapy, but it has that like kind of lens, so it’s not just about weight, the way you’re behaving now. But it’s like, okay, but what was going on in your family growing up? Yeah. And how do people talk to you about money? How did people talk about others with money? Or regarding money? In your presence? Like, what did you pick up on? How much financial stress was there in your home? How did that affect people? How do people dance around it? Or like delve into it, but maybe in a healthy way? Maybe not? It’s getting into, like, all of that background stuff that really informs how we behave? Because there’s the financial literacy. That’s what you know. And then there’s the financial judgment, which is like, how do you make those decisions in theory, right.

So there’s like the facts. And then there’s like how you put them together, theoretically, but the financial performance, like happens in the real life context. And what’s linking is actually like Social Security Administration, like definition of financial capabilities, I’m not making this up. And so there’s this so you’ve got your like, financial literacy, financial knowledge, the judgment, and then you’ve got the financial performance. And there’s this like box around it that says, like, context, and that means, like, real life, but the link right, there is also financial self efficacy. So that’s your belief in? Am I able to put into practice what I know, and what I know what I think other people should do? Do I believe that I can put this into practice and actually do it because self efficacy is a huge driver of behavior, which leads to outcomes. And that right there is where financial therapy can make a huge difference, behavioral matters, and behavioral informs how you like how you believe in yourself. But there’s a lot more right there in that emotional processing of like, where are my beliefs coming from? And do I have to repeat the same mistakes? Do I have to do things the way they’ve always been done? Am I allowed to be my own financial person? And now a word

Kristen Carder 23:34
from our sponsor? Hey, Kristen here, I’m the host of this podcast, an ADHD expert and a certified life coach who’s helped hundreds of adults with ADHD understand their unique brains and make real changes in their lives. If you’re not sure what a life coaches, let me tell you, a life coach is someone who helps you achieve your goals like a personal trainer for your life. A life coach is a guide who holds your hand along the way as you take baby step after baby step to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish. A good life coach is a trained expert, who knows how to look at situations or situations with non judgmental neutrality, and offer you solutions that you’ve probably never even considered before. If you’re being treated for your ADHD, and maybe even you’ve done some work in therapy, and you want to add to your scaffolding of support, you’ve got to join my group coaching program focused. Focused is where functional adults with ADHD surround each other with encouragement and support. And I lead the way with innovative and creative solutions to help you fully accept yourself, understand your ADHD and create the life that you’ve always wanted to create, even with ADHD. Go to I have adhd.com/focused to join and I hope to See you in our community today. I think that ADHD or is in general struggle with self efficacy, in general. And to apply that to our finances, of course, we’re going to struggle with making decisions that feel grounded, that feel autonomous, that feel authoritative, like I am a grown up and I get to choose.

So many of my clients approach finances from a very childlike stance of like, I’m not sure I don’t trust myself, I don’t know if this is the right thing. I’m afraid I’m gonna, I’m afraid I’m just making an impulse decision, I’m afraid that this is just my ADHD playing out, I’m afraid. And so we really often will hold ourselves back in making good financial investments, because we don’t trust ourselves to just like, stand in our own autonomy and authority and just make those you know, whether it’s like an investment in like, I need a new pair of shoes, and I’m allowed to go out and buy a new pair of shoes, because I need shoes. You know, like, this is something that I used to agonize over, like, is this a want or a need? And that’s where we could loop back to family stuff I’m in let’s be real, you know, like, Kristin, do you really need it? Is it just a one? This is just like, you know, you’re you’re being too needy, too dramatic? Whatever. You’re asking too much. And so those kinds of beliefs carry over into adulthood, when I am just questioning like, Am I allowed to have two pairs of sneakers? Or should I just have one pair of sneakers? Is it too excessive to have to do I have the money? How do I know if the money should be spent in this way? It’s just like, I only in the last couple years have felt like a grown up in the area of finances. But I know that like a large part of just work in general with ADHD ears is helping them to like stand in their own authority and trust themselves to make good decisions.

Christine Hargrove 26:57
I love it. It’s so true. I definitely. Oh, gosh, I definitely talk with clients about this. And I think there’s a few different elements that when we start working on it, that we dig into. One is it may be related to the rejection sensitivity. And the mean, just the overload of criticism. Yeah. But a lot of times there’s this I kind of I’ll joke with clients, although I think that like, I don’t know, I’m probably just getting old. But I’ll be like, you know, Talladega Nights and like, not yet, especially like, my college students are like, I’ve no idea what you talking about. You know, it’s that part where he’s like, again, and again, like, if you’re not first, you’re last necessarily. And he finally sees his dad again. And his dad’s like, well, that doesn’t make any sense. Like, there’s first there’s second, third, third, fourth, and fifth, like, you know, he was the one who said it. And it’s like, that doesn’t make sense. And he’s lived his whole life, in this extreme position of if you’re not first, your last. And I see that in finances, that if it’s not perfect, it’s wrong. Yeah. When my clients are talking about anxiety about setting up a budget about following a budget, honestly, like it’s not just about setting up a budget, it’s like that the entirety right. There is this centering of neurotypical perfection as well. Yeah. Well laid plans are great if they work. But if they don’t work, then it’s not the right plan. And

Kristen Carder 28:37
wait, I thought if it doesn’t work, then there’s something wrong with me. No, no,

Christine Hargrove 28:44
no, I, gosh, one time I had a client and I you know, when you say something, and you realize that you just said like, what you were thinking and you’re like, oh, I should have like really processed that before I set it like in the

Kristen Carder 28:55
in the middle. That’s never happened to me.

Christine Hargrove 28:59
I was with the client. And the client has a wonderful supportive mother who is very much like the executive functioning, support. And so there was a situation and she her mom had spent a long time on over the weekend working on perfect plans. And then, you know, brought it back to me and like this is the suggested, like whole system for how I’m gonna be organized in every area of my life. And I was like, Well, that sounds great. But it doesn’t work. Yep. And then, oh, shoot, I didn’t mean to say that about your mom. It wasn’t

Kristen Carder 29:36
what I meant. But like, I’m sure your mom’s great.

Christine Hargrove 29:38
But like, but like, does it work? Have you tried that? Well, yeah, I’ve tried it a bunch of times. So here’s the metaphor that I like to use. And, you know, I’ll try to remember to put the video on on my resource page and send it to you. Okay, so the picture the Hoover Dam. Okay, so that’s this like massive marvel of engineering that has, I think it’s the Colorado River, and it is stable and it is secure. And they can probably manage the water like to the inch, right. And then I watched this video on YouTube. And it was, I believe, in Guatemala. And it was they, they called it the trash River, what’s happened is there’s a landfill upstream. So it’s this ecosystem that is rather mountainous, they have predictable rainfall. So that makes seasons of, you know, heavy rain, light rain. So you’ve got these like, wide variations in the water level. So certain times of year, they know that it will come, they don’t know exactly when it will come. And they can’t really stop it from coming. But they know there will be this massive sort of flash flooding kind of thing when it finally you know, monsoon season starts, boom, and it will pick up this amount of trash along the way. That will then just decimate everything down river, all those communities now just have trash everywhere. And again and again. And so these engineers, this was their prototype, so you got to see them do it, they had made kind of like a net dam call away. And it was it was well engineered, and they were wanting to see if it would work and they had installed it. And their goal was not to try to control the water, their goal was to try to limit the damage.

And so it happened. And this is the video where you see like the you see it start to surge and you see this trash just coming down, you’re like there’s no way this is just going to blow the dam out off the edges. But it holds, and it lets the water through. And after a while they notice, like there are some spots where like it’s become less secure. And like a little bit of trash is going through, you see how the trash is being held, the water’s going through. And the engineers are ecstatic. They are so proud. And they’re so excited. And they’re seeing like, Okay, well this part didn’t work and this part didn’t work. Okay, next time, we’re going to do this better. And we’re going to we have some ideas already. But they’ve really started to winnow down, like, Okay, now these are details next time we’re going to, we’re going to shift how we do it. And when I think about that ecosystem, if you tried to put the Hoover Dam in that ecosystem, the trash would have blown the dam out. Yeah. And the dam would have then contributed to the trash and made it even worse for all the communities down river. But these engineers made sure that the fix that they had matched the needs of the ecosystem. So with ADHD, not only do you not need the Hoover Dam, you don’t want it yes, you don’t have the Colorado River County ecosystem. Yeah. And you have a beautiful, lush, amazing ecosystem with its own benefits and differences. You also have this predictable, yet unpredictable and slightly uncontrollable, like ebb and flow of hyperfocus or the inattentive or when you just like you are riding on two wheels, and it’s been three months and like you’re doing great if your kids are there to school on time.

And that that’s when like, you’ll have these surges of everything’s happening all at once. Yeah. And it is totally okay in your finances. To say, my goal with this financial system, or this approach is to limit the trash down river. I’m just trying to contain the damage. I’m not trying to aim for perfection and total control, I’m just limiting damage. And then as I go, I’m going to look for areas that next time if I can predict that there will be damaged that this spot got through, I’m only going to work on fixing that spot. I’m not going to try to reinvent the whole damn,

Kristen Carder 34:18
that was such a beautiful metaphor and such a perfect example of how we often just tried to stuff ourselves into a neurotypical box even after we know we have ADHD, we still assume that neurotypical solutions are going to be appropriate and not just appropriate but like optimal and correct and right and the the ones that we want and need instead of assessing like, where am I in my life? What can I actually handle? What are the biggest areas of need and how can I like you said tailor the solution To fit the ecosystem, rather than taking someone else’s solution for a completely different ecosystem and try to shove that in what I have, I, there was a time in my life where I wanted to get control of my finances.

But the idea of tracking every single penny was so overwhelming to me, I was like, I knew that if I made that rule for myself that I just wouldn’t do it. And so where where I started, was just getting a broad overview. Just just a big picture. That’s like, where I started. And where I kind of like dabbled was, can I just make sure that we’re earning more than more spending that we’re bringing in more than that, then it’s going out and not even tracking every single dollar and putting, like now with like, you know, you’ve got a 99 cent payment here and a one, nine, and it’s just like, it’s so much. And the little details were so overwhelming that I just started to look at big picture of like, Am I making enough? Like, is enough coming in? Do I need to limit spending somewhere, and that to me was just like it was, once I got good at that, then I could get I could go a little bit farther. And then once I like, got good at that I could go and so I really love what you’re saying where it’s like, we don’t need to make a perfect ecosystem to fit a neurotypical brain? Where do you start with your clients? What do you think are like the key important things when you’re helping someone to develop financial health?

Christine Hargrove 36:33
The first thing, realistically that I do is we start talking about emotions about money, when we try to engage in finances. What’s happening within us? How long does it take? It’s a lot of information gathering. What are the sort of not voices in our heads? But you know, that like self narration, like what are we saying about ourselves? I have yet to have any client when we start, they’re like, I don’t even know what your finances are yet. Yeah, I just want to know, how you are when you start to like, if you’re trying to check your bank account, or you’ve got to fill out your FAFSA or something, sort of what’s going on? How hard is it to get started? How do you feel at the time? Do you get in it? And five minutes into it, you’re out? Do you get into it? And next thing you know, it’s 3am. And you are in like an absolute anxiety spiral, like what’s going on? And I have yet to have any clients say like, oh, no, it’s fine. I just pull up. I’m like, do the numbers, I just need help with the numbers. Usually, it’s not comfortable. I don’t really want to leave folks in that space. Like this is not the same thing as like exposure therapy, or like drama therapy, where you’re trying to kind of re narrate the event. And this is more like I just need to gauge like, what’s the level what’s going on for you? Right? Because we don’t, we don’t try to have emotions happen to us. They just kind of like, boom, here they are.

Kristen Carder 38:13
Especially not shame and judgment and self blame and fear. Like we’re, we’re trying to avoid that, which is why we avoid our finances.

Christine Hargrove 38:24
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And normalize it. So you know, if you sit down, and suddenly, you’re trying your urine, your first page into the FAFSA to fill out your next, you know, and next thing you know, you’re thinking about your student loans, and you’re thinking about what am I going to do with my life, you’re thinking that my older sibling has always been perfect, and I will ever be a grown up, you know, like, these are things that just start happening. And like, I’m going to chain myself to this desk until I get this thing filled out. And then, for me, at least, as well as most of my clients, you read through that like gobbledygook language like governmental legalese. I’m sure it’s it’s not gobbledygook, but it feels like that in the most, especially when you’re feeling anxious. And you’re like, I am pretty sure I’m going to jail. Like, I don’t remember maybe like how much money my parents made two years ago. In fact, I never knew and I’m just right. But I’m pretty sure that I am like, going to pay $50,000 With up to 10 years in prison for you checking the wrong box, and so it spirals.

So then I shift into, okay, when there have been aspects of either something that makes you anxious that you’re able to pull out of maybe finances, but maybe not when you have to do something that makes you nervous or uncomfortable or sad or overwhelmed. What helps. Because I need to know, not just that it’s not a great experience, but I need to know Okay, so what are your resources? Yeah. How do you access them? What are resources that maybe aren’t being flagged mentally as resources So an example would be body doubling, having a friend come and sit with you while you do it, I have having the phone a friend option where you’re like, Look, I know someone who’s an accountant, can I just call you and read you this thing? And you tell me if I’m going to jail if I click the wrong box? And they’re like, No, it’s totally fine. Like, your answer is no, you are like a legal citizen. Don’t worry about, you know, finding if they don’t realize that body doubling, for example, is an actual resource, that is a good thing to use, right? They’ll say, Oh, well, my friend helps me but like, I shouldn’t have to meet that. I’m not interested in should I’m interested in tell me what helps. Yeah. And how can we make sure that you have those resources available to you? Yeah. And then I think we would, in the normalizing process, one of the things that we’ll often cover is, at least I don’t know if you see this, but what I see is that sometimes in that spiral, there’s, like I mentioned before, like, there’s this sense of like, I can’t get up until this is done. Yeah. And that’s because I can’t get up until the bad feelings go away. But then it, they don’t go away.

And so thinking more of financial anxiety, as something that you will step into, to get something done. And then even if it’s not totally finished, you can just step out of that room, like I don’t know, like, maybe your finances have to be done in a walk in freezer. So like, when I’m here, I’m not going to be comfortable, I don’t have to, like I don’t have to try to make the room warm. For me to put a limit on it. Like I can just say, I’m going to be here for 15 minutes, it will not be comfortable. And then something that helps me at the end is to, I don’t know, go for a walk, you know, I gotta kind of clear my head. So I’m not mentally in that walk in freezer for the rest of the day.

Kristen Carder 42:04
I just want to pause on that analogy, because it’s perfect. Like, if we’re willing to just open the door of the freezer and walk in for 10 minutes a day. And just look like the where I start with focus members is like, let’s just get comfortable engaging with the reality of what’s happening in our finances. Like, there are a lot of people and I, listener, if this is you like I want to normalize it, there are a lot of people who are just even avoiding reality, I don’t want to look at my bank account, I don’t want to look at what’s happening. I don’t even want to know, I want to know, I’m just gonna live like money doesn’t exist. But if we can just open up the freezer door and say, for 10 minutes, I’m going to come in here, because I’m gonna be cold. I mean, shivering, I’m gonna be uncomfortable, I’m gonna want to get out. But for 10 minutes, I’m just going to like, engage in whatever it is that I need to look at. And I’m going to allow the discomfort as a normal part of it. And then when the timer beeps and 10 minutes is over, I’m allowed to leave, go for a walk, self soothe, bring myself back to like a regulated state. And knowing that like tomorrow, I’m going to open the freezer door again, and I’m gonna go in and that’s okay. And like, the more that we can tolerate that discomfort, the more we get to step into the reality of like, what’s actually going on with my finances? And how can I make very small changes to improve things? It’s amazing. Love it.

Christine Hargrove 43:36
Where I don’t start is a like, bring me all your receipts.

Kristen Carder 43:41
Okay, so why do most financial planners start there? Or, you know, accountants, like this is why we avoid? Yes, why we avoid them, right? Like why? And I’ve seen people in focus, like we have a money channel in our, in our Slack workspace, where we talk about all things money, and, and there are people who are who are reaching out for support and trying to get the help of like a financial planner and accountant. And the first step is always like, let’s pull back the curtain immediately. It’s like, it’s almost like, like, you gotta get naked right away. Like

Christine Hargrove 44:16
exposing I’ve gone to the beach on a first date. I’ll tell you that. Yeah,

Kristen Carder 44:20
right. Like, we need to buy me a cup of coffee first, like we need to just take it slowly. And so many it each tears, I think, avoid those kinds of support and how because of the exposure that is required with it.

Christine Hargrove 44:38
Well, a couple things. So one, I do think that they do that, partially because that’s what they’re trained to do. And partially because the way that they provide value is by providing their expertise, and they can’t give you that if they don’t know anything. So I think there’s that like desire to be helpful as well as frankly the pressure that they I feel like I need to be an expert. I can’t be an expert on a rumor or on a feeling expert with numbers like that’s, that’s their training. That’s fair. The only thing I would say, I have been doing a lot of presentations lately to financial planners and educators, I did one for a FPC e in July about working with neurodiverse clients. A couple of weeks ago, I did a big webinar for E money about specifically understanding and working with clients with ADHD and I we had a little over 1000 people register, just under 600 Attend in real time and then a bunch more people watching like my video, because there’s our financial planners and counselors who are really wanting to know this. I’ve got another the AF PCE and CFP Board have a joint webinar every so often. And my webinar about ADHD working understanding of working with clients with ADHD is the October one. And so there are people in the field who are number one, recognizing that this is an underserved population number two, wanting to know what they can do to be more helpful and are actively seeking training in this area. And I actually know a number of financial planners who they themselves have ADHD and are trying to figure out, sort of, can I bring that side of myself into my practice? Is that unprofessional? Is that? Okay? So they actually do get it? Wow.

The other thing is that, so last year, I presented at the financial Therapy Association Conference, and this year, I’m presenting again in October. And there are a lot of financial therapists who are actively working on making sure that they are comfortable working with clients with ADHD, some of them have it themselves, some of them have family members with it. I mean, at some point, everybody either has it, family has it, friends have it, right, because there are more professionals than you would think, not only recognizing that this is common, but are also trying to find ways that they can be part of the support network for ADHD. When I do these things, I’ll reach out and say, you know, well, hey, who, who’s been to my trainings, and who’s who’s really doing this so that I can start to have a referral network, because I know, for right now, in the services that I provide. And so I’m developing that network. And so I’d be happy to share that with you later. But people are trying, people really are trying.

Kristen Carder 47:37
So that gives me so much hope. I really appreciate that. And I can see we’re running out of time, which is so disappointing, because like why can’t we talk all day, let’s just next time, we’ll just schedule all day, and we’ll just talk all day. But it really does give me hope. Because what that that reframes that for me, and I hope for the listener as well, where it’s like, you can interview your financial planner, or your accountant and ask them, Do you have experience working with people with ADHD? What is your approach? And how might you be helpful for somebody with a neurodivergent brain? And I think that, again, kind of circling back to the beginning where I said, we many of us feel kind of childlike. In our approach to finances. I didn’t even think about the fact that we could interview someone and ask a question and say, Hey, do you have experience with somebody with ADHD? And so that really puts us in the position of having authority and having some power in the relationship, which we’re not used to, which feels uncomfortable. But I think that that’s really encouraging. So I know you have a website, Christine hargrove.com. Is that what it is? And is are your resources on your website? Is that where you would recommend people go to find resources?

Christine Hargrove 48:57
Yeah, I think that that’s the best place right now to get resources. Some of them do say like, if you wanted to watch the E money webinar or something that you just want to contact me, I can’t like put the link, but I do have like a replay link that I can. But yeah, I’m updating that as a trainee, make a repository of the vetted resources that I know that I like, and here’s why I find them useful. And I’m adding to that on an ongoing basis.

Kristen Carder 49:25
That’s amazing. I just really want to thank you for the work that you’re doing. It’s really important work. And on behalf of the ADHD community, and just like the lay person with ADHD, we need you we need people like you, thank you for just all of the hard work that you’re putting in and thank you for training, the normies to understand how to work with people like us. I so so appreciate your work.

Christine Hargrove 49:53
I love hearing that. I appreciate that. And I’ll tell you as I’m slogging my way through my dissertation, which is all about ADHD and couples and money. I love the topic but I am drained just that, you know, the executive function and load and what keeps me going is feeling like this is an opportunity, where am I my training and my gifts and my interest can actually be useful for other people. So, it means so much to hear that I appreciate it so much.

Kristen Carder 50:24
Well, as you are slogging away, as you said, just I want you to think about the 20,000 people listening to this episode, cheering you on saying go go go because we need you in the world. So thank you for being here. I really appreciate your time.

Christine Hargrove 50:40
Thank you for having me.

Kristen Carder 50:42
A few years ago, I went looking for help. I wanted to find someone to teach me how to feel better about myself and to help me improve my organization productivity, time management, emotional regulation. You know, all the things that we adults with ADHD struggle with, couldn’t find anything. So I researched and I studied and I hired coaches and I figured it out. Then I created focused for you. Focus is my monthly coaching membership where I teach educated professional adults how to accept their ADHD brain and hijack their ability to get stuff done. Hundreds of people from all over the world are already benefiting from this program and I’m confident that you will to go to Ihaveadhd.com/focus for all details.

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