Money in Sobriety: Managing Your Finances after Treatment

Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Sobriety is about more than just putting the drugs or alcohol down. It is about getting your life in order – and this includes money.

Managing your finances isn’t easy, but it can be especially difficult in early sobriety.

When I first got out of treatment and landed my first job while sober, it was an extremely foreign feeling to have a paycheck that wasn’t going to be held captive by the drugs that fed my addiction for so long.

Despite owing $250 a week to rent a room in a halfway house, I wanted to buy everything – clothes, makeup, shoes, and junk food.

I had managed to rack up some serious credit card debt and had no savings account whatsoever, but none of this mattered to me at the time. Having money was new and exciting. After all, I had been in inpatient treatment for the last four months and wasn’t allowed to carry money of any kind.

It took me over a year to get my finances in order due to my irresponsible spending habits. I struggled to find an apartment because my credit score was far below 600 and I was living paycheck to paycheck.

Had I practiced these money management skills early on, the financial aspect of my recovery could have been a lot easier.

  • Ask yourself: Is this Optional or Mandatory?

    The first thing is first – to all of you in recovery, tattoos are definitely optional. Trust me, you can get all the tattoos you want in the long run. When you first get out of treatment, chances are there are more important things you need to spend your money on, like shampoo, housing, and food. Make sure to meet your needs before throwing money away at useless things that will only bring you temporary happiness.

    One addiction can easily be replaced with another addiction, and shopping can certainly be an addiction. However you try and justify shopping for optional things, it is merely a distraction from drugs or alcohol. Before just grabbing something and buying it, ask yourself whether that item is a need or a want. At the start of your recovery, focus on buying things you really need first. Otherwise, you will spend your money on things that make you feel good at the moment, then be forced to eat ramen for two weeks straight.

  • Write out a Budget

    The transition from rehab to sober living can be scary as it comes with a lot of responsibility. As addicts, we are impulsive people who push our boundaries and run from responsibilities. Budgeting means learning how to effectively stay within your spending boundaries. Since money management is an essential responsibility, try putting your finances on paper. Sometimes, writing things down makes it easier to understand.

    Make a list of your expenses. This includes halfway house rent, bills, food, and transportation. Then, calculate the amount you make each month. The remaining balance you have after your expenses shouldn’t all be spent on treating yourself. Try and put at least half of your remaining balance into savings, or make an extra credit card payment. You will be glad you did this when it comes time to rent an apartment or buy a new car.

  • Seek Outside Help

    Hopefully, you have begun to build some amazing relationships with reliable, trustworthy people in recovery by the time you leave treatment. If you find yourself struggling to maintain the budget you have outlined, ask a trusted friend who has more time sober than you to place your money into a secure bank account. In doing this, you are enforcing accountability upon yourself. Your trusted friend can help you save money, manage your budget, and remain on the right track financially.

    If you are skeptical about trusting another person with your money, there are other resources that can help. Try going to an accountant or find a personal financial counselor. This can help teach you tools on how to budget your money while still providing you with additional accountability.

  • Set Attainable Goals

    Now that you are sober, there are endless life opportunities in your future. Make a list of short term and long term goals. Set a goal of what you want your credit score to look like a year from now, and monitor it to see your progress. If you want to go back to school or take an online class, figure out how much that will be and when you want to do this and write it down. If you want to move out of your halfway house in 6 months or buy a car, do the same thing.

    When you begin to put money away for these things you will begin to anticipate these goals more and more. As your goals begin to materialize and become reality, you can begin to cross goals off the list. The rewards you will reap from these achievements will be bountiful as they will result from hard work and discipline. Setting and achieving goals will make you feel more confident in your substance-free life.

  • Treat Yourself

    If you are able to successfully adhere to your budget and begin working towards some goals, you deserve a reward. This doesn’t have to be extravagant and expensive, but make sure it is something that makes you happy. After all, what’s the point if we don’t have a little fun sometimes? Follow these suggestions and managing your money in early recovery should be a breeze!

Author BIO

Cassidy Webb is an avid writer advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.

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