Recovering addicts have a lot to overcome. They have to deal with the physical and emotional side effects of withdrawal, along with the social stigma that comes from being labeled as an addict. But there are also financial challenges that come with addiction.
Addicts often spend money on drugs or alcohol instead of taking care of their finances. They may have been stealing from family members or friends for money to buy drugs or alcohol, or they may have racked up debt because they were using drugs or alcohol regularly. In either case, recovering addicts need to learn how to manage their money so they don’t fall back into their old habits.
Money Management Tips for Recovering Addicts
Addicts in recovery may occasionally require additional financial assistance in the beginning. Limiting someone’s access to money can be beneficial, especially if it has previously been a trigger for them. The patient might be instructed to entrust their wages and other sources of income to a responsible adult (often their mother), who certainly shouldn’t be abusing drugs. Because precautions cannot endure forever, the individual limiting access to funds must make sure they are simultaneously imparting financial literacy to the person they are assisting and gradually increasing their level of financial responsibility. The following are some elements of effective money management:
Identify wants versus needs
Many recovering addicts struggle with money management, and it’s easy to see why. After all, when you’re dealing with addiction, you’ve likely spent a lot of time ignoring your needs and focusing on your wants—and that can be hard to change.
But here’s the thing: if you’re not careful, this habit can continue into recovery. If you’re not careful about how you spend your money, there’s a good chance that your spending will continue to be out of control. And if that happens? You’ll find yourself right back where you started: in debt and struggling with addiction.
That’s why it’s so important for recovering addicts to take some time to think about what they really need versus what they just want. The best place to start is by identifying the things in life that are truly important to you—and then making sure those things get their fair share of your income.
The first step to good money management is to identify wants versus needs. This is a crucial skill that recovering addicts need to develop, because it will help them keep their spending in check.
A want is something you desire and enjoy, but do not necessarily need to survive. A need is something essential for your well-being and survival.
For example, say you want a new pair of shoes. You may love the shoes, but can you survive without them? No! A need would be food or shelter—something that keeps you alive! If you have a lot of wants but don’t have any needs, then it’s time to rethink your priorities!
Identifying wants versus needs is a great way to get started with budgeting. When you’re first getting clean and sober, it can be hard to tell the difference between a want and a need, but all you have to do is ask yourself “Do I really need this?” If the answer is yes, then it’s probably a need.
If the answer is no, then you’re probably just satisfying some kind of desire that doesn’t make sense in your life right now. This is a good time to take stock of what’s important to you and what isn’t—and then start making choices accordingly.
Importance of Budgeting
Many people struggle with basic money management despite never having an addiction in their lives. It’s not something that many of us are taught; a lot of people have a rough understanding of the practice but only sometimes, if at all, engage in it.
Budgeting, saving money, and paying attention to where and how much you spend are all very useful for both your overall well-being and your recovery. Depending on the drug and the extent of the addiction, some people are able to maintain a modicum of functionality and financial stability, while others actually waste their entire life savings to feed the addiction.
No matter where you were on the financial and addiction spectrum, you are now. Learning to manage your finances and realizing the new role they play in your life will be one of the most crucial and empowering steps you take on the road to recovery.
Use credit and debit cards responsibly
One of the biggest problems recovering addicts face is money management. It’s easy to get carried away with spending when you’re on a spending spree, but it can be difficult to rein in your spending once you’ve paid off the debt you accrued during your high.
One of the best way to avoid this problem is to keep your credit and debit cards out of sight and out of mind. Don’t carry them around with you unless they are absolutely necessary for purchasing something, and if they are necessary, make sure that you have enough money in your bank account to cover the purchase before making it. If there is any doubt as to whether or not you can afford something, don’t buy it!
Credit cards are a great way to build up credit, but they can also be a huge temptation for people who have had trouble managing their finances in the past. If you’re worried about going over budget, then it’s best to avoid using them until you feel more confident in your ability to handle it.
Credit cards can be dangerous for recovering addicts. They can make it easier to spend money you don’t have, which will only complicate your life and make you feel even worse about yourself. If you have a credit card, be sure to use it only when you absolutely have enough money to pay your balance in full.
Debit cards are even more dangerous because they function like cash—you don’t have any protection if someone steals them or uses them without permission (which is why they’re often used by scammers). If you do need to use one, then make sure that you only use it at an ATM machine or cash register when paying for goods or services.
Set savings goals
When you’re in recovery, it can be difficult to save money. You may have a lot of financial obligations and not a lot of money to go around. But if you don’t get into the habit of saving money, you may find that you have no money at all when it comes time to pay your bills. That’s why it’s important to set savings goals for yourself and work towards them every day.
A good rule of thumb is to set a goal that’s equal to about 10% of your monthly income, but only if your cash flow is healthy enough for this kind of saving plan. If you’re having trouble making ends meet every month, try setting smaller goals instead, like $100 or $200 per week until your cash flow improves. If you can’t save anything right now, then don’t worry about it—just keep working toward a better financial situation and put any extra money into paying off debt or building up an emergency fund instead!
Debt repayment with the counselor’s guidance
When you are recovering from addiction, one of the first things that you need to do is work on getting your financial house in order. This means paying off all of your debts and making sure that you have a solid plan for how to pay for expenses in the future. It is also important to make sure that you have a plan for getting back on your feet if something happens and you lose your job.
The first thing that you should do when trying to get your finances under control is to talk with a counselor about what types of debt you have, how much money each bill costs each month, and what kinds of things are most important for your recovery process. The counselor will help you decide which debts should be paid first so that they don’t keep coming up over time and taking more money out of your pocket than necessary. For example, if there is one credit card that has an annual fee associated with it but doesn’t charge interest rates or late fees then it may be best not to pay off that particular debt until later on down the road when other bills have been paid off completely (or at least closer towards being paid off completely).
Set up an auto-debit system – An auto-debit system allows you to set aside money from each paycheck automatically so that it goes directly toward paying off your debts. This way, you don’t have to worry about missing payments or falling behind because it all happens automatically!
Money as a Relapse Trigger
Financial education should be made available to those in recovery so they can learn how to manage their money. If this crucial ability is not taught to them, they will inevitably turn to bad money management. One of the major relapse triggers is financial concerns. Poor financial management can cause someone to go into debt and become unable to pay their payments, which can lead to stress. When someone is anxious or depressed, they may turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism.
Learning how to avoid money as a relapse trigger is the first step in conquering it. At the Gateway Foundation, we provide financial support to people overcoming addiction by teaching them how to manage their finances effectively. This includes saving money, creating a budget, and keeping track of their costs.
Money won’t ever again serve as a catalyst for relapse. Instead, it will be a means of guiding individuals toward healing. A great technique to prevent the trigger is to deposit money in a bank where it is difficult to obtain.
Money management is a vital part of recovery, and it can be a struggle for many addicts to manage their money wisely. Addicts of all kinds, including gamblers, compulsive shoppers, and alcoholics can struggle to control their finances in a healthy manner. It’s not always easy to track every single penny that goes in or out of your bank account. But just because managing money is difficult for you doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. These tips for better money management can help addicts recover and lead happier, healthier lives.