One Day At A Time is a fantastic slogan for all of us to remember and apply to our lives. In early recovery it is a life-line. Staying clean, each and every day is the only goal that matters the most. So, at what point in recovery would be a healthy time to talk about money matters? Paying bills is one thing, and another would be to come to a place of readiness to really dig in and go over income and expenses, make a plan to pay back debts, and save money. Is the time now? If not, can you think of a time in the future where it makes more sense in your recovery. Talk it over with your sponsor, but set a date for the future.
NOW came for me when I was paying more in interest than my actual minimum payment due on my credit cards. I just had to change. I was paying my bills, but my debt was climbing. I felt so angry and frustrated because the money I made was barely enough to pay those minimum bills. I did not have any savings, so if my car broke down, I just kept charging…I had struggled every month with paying bills on time, and if I missed a day of work, then WOW, the late fees! I felt defeated, and my self-esteem was at a very low point. Being angry at myself did not pay my bills off any sooner…
Finally, I made some decisions that changed everything. I made a decision to work more hours, and send the entire extra amount that I made to my credit cards. I found a very inexpensive place to live with a roommate. I traded down my car. This empowered me, because I actually was paying my bills and paying down my debt. I did not look at how long it was going to take, I did not want anything to discourage me. I looked at everything I could do to save money, and I sent that money directly to the credit cards. I wrote several checks a month to the same card. For example, if I saved $50 on something like insurance or groceries, I sent the $50 to my credit cards right away, I didn’t wait for the due date. I wanted the money out of my hands as quickly as possible. It took me about 3 years, but finally, I was debt free! It was painful, I gave up many “things”. The habits I created then to become debt free, I have continued with… I had other financial challenges later on in life, because of this experience, I was able to get through another very difficult time later.
I wrote “…The End In Mind”, You Have To See It-to own it! AHA! YES! I SEE IT! , Know Thyself because for me, it was finally seeing it and recognizing that I was indulging in “rewarding” myself, (because I felt that I “deserved” it! Recognizing that trait in myself, was so important, because that is the reason I bought things I did not have the money for. I have learned through that experience that rewarding myself was actually sabotaging me!
That is part of my story, which is why I write about the “what” and “why” rather than the mechanics of making a budget. But what’s your story? Maybe it’s not at all like mine. Maybe working extra hours is a challenge, due to family responsibilities or family support. Maybe your bills are so high that a 3 year goal is not going to cut it. Maybe finding continuous employment is a challenge. I don’t know what your challenges may be… I hope to inspire you enough to sit down and look and see where a change can be made. If you are stuck, look for a non-profit organization and ask for counseling help. Talk to others in recovery that have walked your walk, but don’t give up! Look for ways stay positive and know that it is possible to change your heart of the money matters!