In your initial stages of recovery, you might have heard a lot about emotions, self-awareness, maybe even about some sort of spirituality — and truly, recovery is a time of excitement, but sometimes fear as well. You’re regaining control over your life, learning how to change your thinking, establishing new, positive, healthy habits to rebalance and improve your life.
Something that’s often left out, though, but equally just as important if not more so, is how to manage your money both in and out of recovery.
The importance of budgeting
There are plenty of people who have never had an addiction in their lives, but still struggle with basic money management. It’s not something that many of us are taught; there’s a large number of people who have a general idea of the practice, but still rarely practice it, if even at all.
But budgeting, saving money and being conscious of where and how much money you spend is highly beneficial for not only your overall life, but your recovery as well. Depending on the substance and the severity of addiction, some people manage to be relatively functional and keep their finances in semi-order, while others quite literally spend their life savings to fuel the addiction.
Regardless of where you were on the spectrum of addiction and your finances, you’re here now. You’re on your journey of recovery, and one of the most important, empowering steps is going to be learning to manage your finances, and understanding the new role they play in your life.
Money as a relapse trigger
Just like any other trigger, the key to being able to resist and release the temptation to indulge is to become acquainted with and understand the trigger and learn to avoid it.
Addiction can destroy your personal finances before you’ve even realized what’s happened. Since addiction rewires neurological pathways in our brain, there’s a pretty good chance your brain has created a chemical association between spending money and instant gratification.
Even at this point where you’re probably not actively fueling substance abuse anymore, you might find yourself flying through your money in other ways. This might be through gambling, compulsive online shopping or buying an exorbitant amount of take-out food each week.
This often happens during recovery because your brain still associates spending money with pleasure, but since that pleasure is no longer substance-oriented, it’s seeking to experience that pleasure in other ways. Hence new potential addictions like indulging in fast food regularly or being unable to resist buying anything and everything you see that you want.
You may have been excellent at budgeting before struggling with an addiction, or maybe this is your first real experience learning money management. Either way, we’re going to help you on this next part of your journey.
Here are 4 tips for managing your finances going through addiction recovery.
1. Identify wants versus needs
When you’re actively addicted to a substance, your brain is constantly seeking out instant gratification. This becomes a habit, something your brain becomes trained to do, and it often carries over into recovery. Instead of buying every item you want, pause and ask yourself if you actually need it.
2. Be careful with credit and debit cards
Having such direct access to copious amounts of money can be too tempting for some people in early recovery. If you’re not yet at the point where you trust yourself to have the self-control to use a credit or debit card responsibly, consider eliminating these from the equation entirely.
3. Set up a bank account under someone else
Depending on where we’re at in our journey and how we’re handling our finances so far, we may need to set up a sort of safety net bank account under someone you trust. You can make contributions to the account, but you won’t have the ability to withdraw any money unless you first get permission from the person responsible for the account.
4. Set savings goals
When you aren’t actively fueling an addiction, you’ll be shocked at how much — even how quickly — you can save money. Create savings goals to inspire you to budget and keep your finances in order; this could look like finding a vacation you really want to take and committing to set aside $10 a week for it.
Reach out for additional support
If the concepts of budgeting, tracking your spending, having a checking or savings account or saving money overwhelm you, consider reaching out to our team here at Pyramid.
We are committed to providing you with the necessary resources and tools to help you along your journey with money management during your addiction recovery.