If you struggle when it comes to managing your money in a responsible way, you aren’t the only one. Not knowing how to manage money affects people from all walks of life no matter how rich or poor. Mastering the art of being financially responsible is an important part of the recovery process. Money can be a trigger. Not having enough money can bring anxiety and stress, and receiving a paycheck or large sum of money all at once can tempt you to abandon your hard-earned sobriety. Learning how to become financially independent and responsible will help you manage this trigger better.
Here are 4 steps you can take to be on your way to a more stable checkbook.
- Give someone you trust control of your money if you aren’t ready yet
This might seem like an odd suggestion at first, but giving someone you trust – like your spouse, close friend, parent, or sibling – control of your finances when you first enter recovery can be a good thing. If money urges you to relapse and you’re worried about self-control, don’t give yourself access to money until you feel like you are ready. This also provides you with the opportunity to gradually learn how to manage your finances rather than having to do it all at once. Have the person who is controlling your money let you know what they are doing, what bills they are paying, how much of your money they are saving, and more. Learning these tips gradually will help make the process easier.
- Create a monthly budget
If you are used to spending money spontaneously and haven’t thought too much about saving for a rainy day, creating a budget will help you think more about the future. It will also make you more aware of exactly how much money you are spending on everything from lunch with friends to your electricity every month. Setting a budget provides an easy-to-follow roadmap that sets rules for spending. Rules might not sound like fun, but when it comes to money, establishing boundaries for yourself will put you on the path to more independence and financial freedom. A budget can also make you feel less guilty about your planned spending, since you know it’s okay to purchase an item listed in the budget. There are several free apps that help make setting a monthly budget a little easier to manage. Here are some of our favorites: Mint, PocketGuard, and Clarity Money.
- Save for something you’ve always wanted as a sobriety reward
Setting a savings goal and reaching it will make you want to keep saving. Once you start setting money aside and budget for saving, it will make it easier to reach your goal . We suggest setting up an automatic transfer to a savings account that occurs anytime you get paid. This will help you not even miss the money you are saving. Setting a goal to save towards something exciting like plane tickets, a pair of shoes you’ve always wanted, or a concert that will come to town in a few months will be a perfect reward for all the hard work you’ve done in recovery. Having a set goal for that saved money will focus your mind and keep you motivated on that thing. Therefore, you won’t be thinking to yourself; well, what’s the point? You will have learned to reward yourself with something positive then instead of using drugs or alcohol.
- Spend time learning about money management
It might be easier for some people to get good money management advice than for others. If you feel like no one around you can give you healthy tips and advice for how to properly save and control your money, then we suggest teaching yourself. Even, if you do have good advice-givers in your circle, the more you learn the better off you will be. There are many resources that teach you how to become smarter with your cash. Might we add, you don’t need to make a lot of money to need to know how to manage it. Whether you make $500 a month or $5,000, the most important thing is that you are smart with it. Here are a few good books and podcasts that we recommend:
Book 1: You are a Badass at Making Money
Book 3: Your Money or Your Life
Podcast 1: The Dave Ramsey Show
Podcast 2: The Fairer Cents
Podcast 3: So Money
At the end of the day, no matter how stressful, boring or annoying we find thinking about money to be, we have to do it. As you go through recovery and gain more independence and confidence day by day, adding financial independence to your list of accomplishments will only make you feel better.