It’s Autism Acceptance Month once a year, so I thought I’d gather a compilation of chatting about autism so far on Save Like A Bear, so you can learn more about being autistic whether you are yourself or not, and what it all has to do with money.Listen to “057: What Autism Can Teach Us About Money” on Spreaker.
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Transcript of What Autism Can Teach You About Money
Bear: [00:00:00] Hi, Bears, it’s Bear. So I haven’t mentioned this for about five minutes, but I’m autistic. I’m not the only autistic YouTuber or podcaster, but I seem to be a minority within a minority in the personal finance niche. And I’m recording this in the run-up towards autism acceptance week, month.
Hm, let’s just make it an autism acceptance lifetime. It used to be called autism awareness. Just like before I got diagnosed as an adult, I used to think of disability as being a thing that happened to other people; I was aware of it, and now that I’m legally disabled,
I’ve had to learn to conceptualize myself all over again, and I should probably learn how to talk about that from within the community.
The only way that you can go beyond awareness and accept something is by understanding it.
Just like, we can’t hope to achieve anything financially if we have zero understanding about finance.
Friends and family kept asking me questions about money. So I started Save Like A Bear or that’s one of the reasons anyway, so that I could just talk about money to complete and utter strangers. And I thought I’d gathered together,
in honor of autism acceptance week, [00:01:00] month, life, a compilation of all the times I’ve talked about autism so far
for a number of reasons.
The first thing I had to understand about autism was that it’s not a hat or a scarf. You can’t take it off at the end of the day and hang it up. And why would you want to? Just like, I think the number one mistake… Hm, or is it the number 1.5 mistake? when it comes to money is trying to separate it from all our other goals as if it can be completely compartmentalized.
Of the following quotes, not all of them are about money on the surface.
I’ve included all the times that I’ve mentioned autism anyway.
Just as I can’t and won’t and would not choose to separate, if it was a choice, autism from myself,
Bear: we should probably stop thinking about our personal finances as something that’s separate from our fitness goals, our goals with our friends and family and relationships, our professional goals, or our goals with our hobbies.
Do any of us still have hobbies anymore? Are we just trying to keep the heating on?
You listening to or watching this right now could be autistic and not even know it. If you missed a diagnosis as a child, you just might’ve always had the sense that you see the world differently from the people closest to [00:02:00] you.
And you don’t know why some things are so difficult that shouldn’t really be difficult and other things are so easy. Why don’t other people find them easy?
I want talking about autism to be as easy as talking about money. A lot of us still struggle with the latter let alone the former.
But I hope today can contribute to the conversation. By all means, let me know if it changes the way that you think about any of the above. I think two common misconceptions about autism are that you’re either have learning difficulties or you’re obsessed with math.
Neither of those are true for me because every autistic person is unique.
there’s a misconception that if you’re autistic, you’re automatically antisocial. I’m, I’m very social. I just have a funny way of showing it mostly by avoiding social situations. And my idea of being social is to talk into a microphone when I can’t see you or hear you
The tagline for one of my YouTube channels is what does this button do? Because I feel like as an autistic person, when you don’t have any social intuition, really that a lot of situations are just like I’ll just press random buttons and see what comes out and you know what? It works most of the time.
And if the response isn’t good, you just [00:03:00] press another button and you solve it. So don’t be afraid of, of testing what does this button do? Like the quicker you can test things in life and have them go wrong, the quicker you learn as ever.
I really picked the wrong year to improve my social skills as an autistic person. Because supposedly I have a social deficit, although I think actually society has the deficit, but we’ll have to wait to test that theory
I think one of the reasons that I like Spiderman is because I have hypersensitivity because I’m autistic. So the funny thing, when I’m watching superhero stories and they’re like, yeah, I can notice and hear and feel and smell things that other people can’t, I’m like, oh, that’s actually really relatable.
I’m glad it’s not just me. I think it’s one of the reasons I like, werewolf fiction as well, because I’m basically like a werewolf anyways, but with more fur, I guess. I should probably have my own straw business because I use straws every day at the moment still until I quit coffee
Apparently it’s a sort of idiosyncrasy of mine that I don’t really like hot drinks. When I say I don’t really like hot [00:04:00] drinks, I’m autistic and I’m hyper sensitive. So actually what you would class as a hot drink I would class as like drinking the fiery sun. And I will literally burn my mouth on something that someone else thinks is just like a normal temperature for a hot drink.
So I like to drink iced coffee, ice tea instead. And so it’s just a real habit for me to always have reusable straws at home and on the go.
When I say I’m clumsy, I’m not actually clumsy per se. I’m autistic. And I think one of my traits, is just that I tend to, you know, drop things, bang into things, bang other things into other things all the time. So I’m not big on glass items around the house. But also one of my other kind of superpowers is hyperfocus. So that has its pros and its cons. On the one hand when you pair that with a special interest…
So like one of my special interests is making content for YouTube and my pocast and everywhere, but that means that you can also just end up in a bubble, kind of like in a Mysterio bubble for a very long [00:05:00] time. Hours days, weeks, months, sometimes, years and things that you really want to do, like watch a movie, just, they just keep going down to the bottom of the list.
Kind of like managing your money. I guess when you say you really wanna do something with your finances or that something is a priority for you to save up for and yet somehow just keeps sort of like going down to the bottom of the list and it’s all to do with where your attention is directed. So I love having hyper-focus because it allows me to do a lot of things I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
And I think you can replicate hyper-focus to an extent if you’re not autistic, but it just, it will never be quite as intense. And then the downside of that is that I do have to like moderate it a little bit to make sure that I still like work for a living, buy food, pay bills, talk to friends and family is good.
Try to keep track of like births, deaths, and marriages at a bare minimum and birthdays and Christmas.
one of the reasons I wanted to have a go at coloring was
actually to relax because
like a lot of autistic people I’m [00:06:00] prone to sensory overload.
And when I looked at coloring books in the past they just gave me sensory overload. Because you’re meant to create these like very vibrant multicolored pictures. And they would actually just really stress me out because
I would get like decision paralysis.
Or what’s it called? Decision analysis paralysis. Where you’re… you can’t decide like what color to use next, And so lines, dots and spirals coloring books are great for that, because if you want to, you can
color most of the pictures in only one color.
there were some coloring sessions I did that were like 90 minutes, two hours long. Which is how long you would spend if you were doing an Ultradian Pomodoro.
Because I’m autistic and I have hyper-focus, I’ll usually go into like a deep state of concentration and I will want to work on that thing for a few hours.
I just, did the classic thing when I can’t make a decision. I normally have either one of everything or nothing.
And there’s a YouTuber called Struthless Or he says like, can you go for like the 70% rule? So if you had 20 choices or something, could you just [00:07:00] pick one that’s would be in your top six and just have that be your choice. we just have this modern anxiety about making all choices
I think. I think today is very much a reflection of, I got a bit overwhelmed as an autistic person in the supermarket. Let’s just try everything it’s on offer anyway. that’s how we’ve ended up with Curry and pineapple spread. Not going to lie, tiny bit allergic to pineapple, but looking forward to my lips tingling when I have that one,
when you’re autistic, sometimes things can be very all or nothing, but quelle surprise. I am also a complex human being like most of us. There are other things that will not be all or nothing I don’t think you have to worry about trying to fit yourself into a box all the time.
coordinating things in the kitchen is not my favorite thing to do. That’s not true for every autistic person, but I’m not Jack Monroe. I’d rather be making this video.
Bear: So feel free to like it. If you find it useful. If something unexpected happens, I will either freeze and you will get no decision from me or I just nod and say yes, because I can’t kind of see the big picture of whether this new detail is going to be a problem.
I’m very quick once I’ve learned how to do something, but encountering a process that I don’t normally do, I sort of [00:08:00] start swimming at the speed of being underwater
with an anchor wrapped around you. I say again and again and again, that every goal is a financial goal. And that’s because I really do believe that that changes the way that you manage your money if you think that every goal is a financial goal. And I’ve also mentioned previously how journaling can be very useful for achieving your goals.
So I thought today I would talk through the hundred day goal journal, which is one of the few journals that I’ve ever spent hard cash on. Final thought of the day
Cause I am autistic I don’t deal very well with open questions. I need
Questions to be a lot more narrow in focus. One thing you could do there, if you’ve ever seen those journals that are five-year journals, the idea is you write a sentence or something for each date every year.
But all of the dates are on the same page. After five years, you can look at the 10th of April, every single year for the last five years and see if there was a massive difference in what you were writing from year to year. I mean, I think I would probably still just be writing about taxes,
but [00:09:00] that’s something you could do with that.
I also wanted to mention that if you’re autistic like me, then besides apprenticeship, some big companies have autistic hiring programs that recognize that autistic traits can be a huge asset in the workplace rather than an obstacle. So definitely look into that if it could help.
When I first started my podcast, one of the things I was doing was recapping series to see a few years later, if any of the information was still relevant, especially because by that point we were in the pandemic.
And everyone was talking about how our world has been changed forever. And we’ve had this debate about what does going back to normal look like. And so I found that really interesting to try and pull out the information.That was still relevant a few years later, which also was still relevant despite the pandemic.
And despite there being all kinds of changes. I guess, maybe because I’m autistic and typically that would make you quite resistant to change.
And yet lots of autistic people also love learning. So I’m always like learning and testing. And that does mean that I actually do change things quite regularly in my life
and then wonder why I’m stressed,[00:10:00] but then other things I’ll keep very stable to sort of try and balance everything out, I suppose.
I was watching the movie Troy recently. And it got me thinking about investing, obviously. In Troy, they have phalanxes. You’ll recognize them from most films about ancient warfare. A phalanx was a military formation where the dudes were packed really tight together, quite often with their shields all around the edges so that the enemy couldn’t break through.
The structure of the phalanx gave support to each soldier so that they were stronger together.
And that got me thinking because I’m autistic and have a spiderweb of a brain,
that when I was diagnosed, my assessor said the main thing I was missing was support and structure
in order to profit from having a brain that processes things differently from the majority of the population.
Without support and structure, any of us can find things difficult and stressful that other people find easy and take for granted.
Because I was an adult, it was my own responsibility to find support and structure
and turn being autistic into an advantage. And one of the places I looked for support was other creators.
who’ve done the research to getting me started on the way to doing my own research, or just let me know [00:11:00] that I’m not alone in finding certain new things
like investing scary, whether that’s because I’m autistic or just because a lot of us find change scary. It was spring 2021. my memory is a little fuzzy, unless you need me to remember useless facts like movie trivia or quotes from TV shows.
Was it fear of change that stopped me investing because I was autistic or just fear of change?
If you’re wondering, how did I do all these stressful things like travel around the world alone, keeping in mind I wasn’t diagnosed as a child, so there was no one to try and talk me out the risk on the grounds that I was autistic, I look at it the same way I look at investing now, which is that you’re allowed to be a complex human being, which means you’re going to have parts of you that are in conflict sometimes
and it’s finding ways to dial down the intensity on the parts that are keeping you from your goals.
I don’t use the fact that I’m incapable of looking straight at the camera for an entire as stopping me from uploading. So, you know, anything is possible.
The ultimate question is what do you want more? And which part of your brain are you going to let control your life?
And that’s not to say that part of my brain is autistic, and part of my brain is not [00:12:00] autistic,
but if you’re not neurodivergent you potentially have a lot more power in this regard. And also if your baseline like me, is that walking to the shops is stressful, and you don’t know any better, and you think that’s how everyone lives, then it all becomes much of a muchness. You might as well just bungee jump.
It can’t be any worse than going to buy a pint of milk. It’s a common autistic trait to have an almost insatiable appetite for learning. And I basically let that trait dominate any fears I had about doing something new outside of my routine.
And then as soon as I was abroad, I would try to find some recognizable rhythm to my daily approach to life on the ground.
I spend very little time on my investments now that I’ve actually got going. So most of the research was just at the start to learn the minimum that I needed in order to feel like it was something I could get going.
And then beyond that, it’s like anything in life. How long is a piece of string? If you’re autistic, is it going to be a special interest for you? If you’re not autistic like me, is it going to be a special interest for you? Or just something that you have a casual interest in enough to maintain your investments without feeling like you have to actually go and [00:13:00] work for an investment fund in order to be qualified to manage your own.
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