Some Basic Tips for Handling Money When You’re Sober
Drug and alcohol addiction causes a person to end up broke at one point during the course of their substance abuse. Whether it’s mentally, emotionally, or the focus of this blog, financially, it can be frustrating when you were broke on drugs and now you’re broke off drugs, so I’d like to discuss some basic tips for handling money when you’re sober, to hopefully alleviate the stress and frustrations that comes from being broke.
Not every person ends up homeless and on the street but all addicts end up in situations, stressing about their financial stability. Where their next pay-check is coming from, and how the bills are going to be covered that month, can create stress and frustration.
As many recovering addicts can relate, you are typically broke while on drugs, and end up being broke to some degree while being off drugs. One of the top three reasons for relapse is financial stress; worrying about money, not having enough money, owing money, or just simply not knowing how to handle money.
It always may seem that you are never able to get ahead or the bills keep piling up and you are just unsure of what to do. Your job may not be paying enough, or you are making just enough to cover your basic needs of living. All of these different financial stresses, if not fully handled can only compound onto other problems that may be occurring in life, and this is really what can drive a person to relapse. It is just a momentary lapse where you may need to just escape everything and you end up using again to achieve that temporary escape. Here are some basic tips to help you handle money, and put some control in your finances.
Some Basic Tips for Handling Money When You’re Sober
- Write it down! Your monthly income and expenses need to be tracked. One of the very first steps to seeing what is being spent is to write it down and track it. Add up all your bills for the month, no matter how big or small; this will include food, rent, mortgages, vehicles, utilities, credit cards, and debts, anything that is being paid on a regular monthly basis. Also include your monthly entertainment expenses, anything that may be spent besides what is being spent to live and pay bills. This includes eating out, buying coffee everyday, and even making excessive purchases. Tally this all up and see what is being spent on bills and monthly living expenses and what is also being spent outside of that; add these numbers together and compare it to what you are making from work on a monthly basis. If you are spending more than you are making, it is time to cut back, especially if the entertainment column takes a big chunk of what you are making each month. If your bills are the biggest chunk of what is being spent, then it is time to look at consolidating your debt to bring some constancy and control to what is being spent each month. Many financial institutions have financial advisors that can help you with this, or you can contact private financial firms that help people put together, in Canada, a Consumer Proposal or in the U.S. file for a Chapter 13, to pay off creditors and other debts instead of filing for full bankruptcy. If you are horrible at tracking your finances or receipts, there is an awesome app for that on iPhone and Android called Receipts by Wave. It allows you to take a photo of your receipts with your mobile phone, categorize it instantly, and allow the app to track all your receipts. For the full version of this awesome accounting software, visit Wave Apps, which is an awesome, cloud-based, integrated software and tools originally designed for small businesses, but includes Personal Finance Software, too. Oh, and you can get started with their FREE version. It really makes the whole process of budgeting and tracking, fun. Yes, I said fun.
- Budget out each month and prioritize. If you are in the red at the end of every month. For instance, you spend more, than you earn, you need to learn how to prioritize. Yes this takes a lot of work, but you need to know how much you are pulling each month and what your monthly expenses are. What gets people in trouble with creditors, thinking you can let a bill slide for another month, even though you knew you had the money available at that point in time to pay the bill, instead you bought a new pair of shoes. This is an example of poor prioritization. Do not let bills slide, if it needs to be paid, pay it when you have the funds there in front of you. Use the priority system. This action will help get you ahead the next month, or will even help you cover any unexpected bills that may come up that month, because when you’re in the red every month, you need to make good decisions, and stay focused. The goal here is to stabilize. Stabilize by laying a solid foundation because once you have a solid foundation, then you can start looking at growing out of stable and into prosperity, but first things first. Get stable!
- Be Cheap! If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. It’s okay to be cheap. Focus on building your bank account so you have a nice cushion to fall back on. Being cheap, for the first bit of time, will pay off and you will see this when you are able to pay your bills on time and not have all the extra worry. During early days of recovery, our impulse control systems are still out of wack, and even though you are curbing the impulse to use drugs or alcohol, in many cases, this system with find another outlet, like over-shopping or overeating. If you are fighting compulsions to buy something, stop yourself, and ask; is this a need or a want? If it’s a want, then dump it, for now.
Money doesn’t have to be stressful. Just because you may have been broke while on drugs, does not mean you need to stay broke while you are sober and living a happy life off of drugs.
Put your financial life on auto-pilot, bring awareness to your impulses, and add some helpful tools into your life, so that you’re not constantly stressing about the flight.
Author: Nick Bruce Hayes
Broke On Drugs….Broke Off Drugs? ©