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Decision Made? Now Comes the Easy Part: How to Budget for the ADDA Conference
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By Matthew Cunningham

After attending the ADDA conference in Detroit, I realized I need this every year. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, ""Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” Once you decide to go to the ADDA Conference, everything gets easier. I was able to attend the Conference when friends who wanted to go stayed home. They couldn’t decide if they were going. They wanted to go, but felt they couldn’t commit if didn’t know how it would all happen… Could they get time off work? Could they afford it? Or could they find someone to share a room with? It was like they couldn’t start their journey until they knew all the traffic lights were green between them and their destination!

Everything about attending the ADDA Conference became easier once the decision was made. Since I knew I was going, I could figure the rest out. During the closing keynote, I looked around the room. I was thrilled to see all the people there, people I’d connected with, people I didn’t know before the Conference. I was so glad they had come… everyone I spoke with loved it, they described it as life-changing… but I thought of all the people who didn’t make it, and how much they would have loved it! How could I get more people to come to the ADDA Conference? How could I share the Conference’s positive impact with more people, and how could I help more people experience it themselves?

Everyone I’ve spoken with says, "Once the decision is made, things get easier.” Many people simply decide they’re going every year. That way, you avoid the debate, end your procrastination, act with confidence and things begin to fall into place. This doesn’t mean it happens magically… you need to put some structure in place, but with the decision made, that can happen more easily.

I had to put the pieces in place if I was going to attend the Conference. Like most people, I don’t have money lying around I didn’t know what to do with. If I didn’t want to get into debt or have to choose between the Conference and groceries, I had to save up and cut costs. As I started asking some of the more experienced Conference attendees, I discovered I’m not the ONLY person who needs to save up and get budget-wise to make the Conference a reality without suffering the rest of the year.

As I began to collect tips for saving money and creating systems to help prepare for the 2014 ADDA Conference in Orlando, I realized there are plenty of people who could benefit from the information I’m collecting. I’ll be sharing what I discover as the Conference approaches, and hopefully it’ll help many of you join me in Orlando at the ADDA Conference!

Since I live in Michigan, I have to fly across the country to get to the Conference. If you live closer, count yourself lucky! I knew I’d need over $1,000 saved up, and that was just scary, so I decided to put together a spreadsheet to break the cost of the Conference into more manageable "bites.” I prepared a spreadsheet (you can download it here and plug in your own costs to find out how much you need to save) that totals the cost of the Conference, and then calculates the number of days until the Conference. Dividing the total by the number of days tells me I have to put away about $6 per day or around $45 every week. That was more manageable (and that was a worst-case scenario)! I figured I could work on accumulating more money AND look for ways to reduce the cost of the Conference at the same time.

The beauty of a daily and weekly savings goal will not only keep the Conference top of mind (we do have a reputation of being forgetful!) but it will motivate you when you’re tempted to stay for one more round with friends at the bar or to go out to eat more than once in a week. You’re not just saving to save; you’re saving with a purpose.

I also had to get savvy with my expenses. I discovered some great tools to cut down on costs at the Conference. The simplest (but very effective) techniques include sharing your hotel room with people from your local support or Meetup group or keeping some basic groceries in your room for snacks and lunches (much cheaper than going to restaurants.)

If you’re close enough to drive to the Conference, look for people to drive with – you should always come to the Conference with a full car! ADDA usually has a great deal on rooms at the hotel where the Conference is being held (stay there if possible to get the full benefit!), but you can save money on hotels by checking for deals, and you can even look at for bed and breakfast-like accommodations at affordable rates.

If you’re flying to Orlando, check out tracks flights that drop below average prices for dates and locations of your travel plans. You can even set up email alerts to notify you when the airfare between your local airport and Orlando drops below normal. This is how some savvy consumers, for example, have been able to find what’s normally over a $300 flight for less than $100.

None of these great ideas for cutting costs will be of any use to you if you have not made the decision to attend a conference.

Why do you want to attend the conference? When speaking with past attendees, you’ll hear many answers such as "terrific information” and "invigorating to have access to so many ADHD pros.” However, the thing that’s most difficult to explain is the camaraderie and connection you feel with other attendees. As the leader of an Adult ADHD Support Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I often hear new members say they feel alone and "broken” because they don’t meet many people who think, work and communicate as they do. You’ll feel the exact opposite at an ADDA conference. Suddenly, you’re surrounded by hundreds of people who think like you, communicate like you do and ultimately understand you better than you’ve ever been understood. It’s like coming home!

Ask anyone who’s been there (your local ADHD support group will probably have at least one person who has attended an ADDA conference.) Once you’ve learned enough to make the decision that you’re coming, the rest is easy. We’ll even show you how. We look forward to seeing you at the 2014 Adult ADDA Conference in Orlando!

Matthew Cunningham, MSW, is an AD/HD professional and community organizer. He’s also an organizer of the Ann Arbor Adult ADHD Support Group, which you can find on or check out on Facebook:.

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