Once you’ve gone through treatment for your substance use disorder, it will be important to get in control of your finances before you take the next steps to improve yourself now that you’re in recovery. Addiction can take a toll on your bank account, when you add up legal and medical fees, along with any back pay on imminent bills, it can add up. Settling your debts will be a part of your recovery progress that can set you up for a better future. It may seem intimidating at first, but there are steps you can take to manage your money, help alleviate stress and keep you organized.
Now that you’re ready to move forward, be honest with yourself and take a close look at your current financial state, including assets, debt, and current income stream. If you need help doing this, don’t hesitate to reach out and employ some financial resources at your local bank or credit union. There are also programs for people in recovery with volunteers who are experts in the field that would be willing to help put numbers to paper to help get you started.
Deal with Debt
Now that you’re in recovery, you probably dread digging up the past while you were dealing with your addiction, especially when it comes to money owed that you borrowed to support your addiction. However daunting or uncomfortable it may feel to face it, it’s important to take care of these debts before you move forward. Starting with a clean and organized slate will make managing money easier in the long run once you return to work.
Keep in mind that with every potential paycheck you earn in the future, the first thing you should do is put aside an allotted amount to pay your bills, but the next in line should be your debts. When you owe money, the sooner you pay things off, the better off you will be long term. Be sure to reach out to collectors that may be contacting you for payments as they are sometimes willing to negotiate a lump sum payment that is less than the initial amount owed. Make sure you are looking into all of your options when paying off debts; sometimes various agencies are willing to give you a break.
- List of debts: Who do you owe? How much? It’s much easier to write all of this information down than to attempt to memorize everything. Putting pen to paper will help keep all these numbers in order.
- List of assets: Even if you’re not yet working, or if you are, what is your projected income? Do you have any money in your savings? Are the things you own like a home or car helping your financial situation or harming it?
- List of Bills: Now that you’re back in the swing of things, bills will soon start piling up. Make an organized list of your monthly bills like rent, utilities, car payments, gas or commuting expenses, as well as living expenses like food and medical.
- List of Expenses: Calculate a monthly amount that you will need to earn to cover all of the regular expenses that are unavoidable. This includes things like groceries, gas, and other payments.
If you don’t already have one, open up a bank account at a local bank or credit union. The best kind of account will be decided between you and your banker, depending on your financial situation and needs. This will also be a good time to look into your credit score to see if you are eligible for any loans or payment services to help get you caught up on your debts. Improving your FICO score may take some time, but don’t get overwhelmed by the idea, but doing so will help your overall situation. As you begin to pay off your debts, your score will improve, opening more doors for you to better your life.
Work Towards Goals
While putting your financial affairs in order, you will benefit greatly from creating a set of objectives to strive towards. This can also help encourage you as you seek employment and begin earning a wage or salary. While everyone in recovery has different financial standings, there are some common ideas to keep in mind while striving to better your situation.
- Stick to a budget: Check out some free budgeting online tools to help get you started. Staying within your budget makes saving money easy. Once you figure out your daily, weekly, and monthly budget for your needs, you won’t have to do any guesswork.
- Prioritize: Look at your lists of things that require payment and put them in numeric order from most important to least. This will help keep you focused on having your bills paid on time while also taking care of any outstanding debts you may have.
- Organize: After prioritizing your planned bills and payments, it’s time to organize them and keep important payment stubs together where you can find them quickly. Use an accordion organizer and keep a calendar with important due dates somewhere handy where you can keep track. If you use a smartphone, set up alerts on your calendar apps to hold you accountable.
- Start a savings: Once you’ve paid off your most important bills and debts, make it a goal to set up an emergency fund of at least $1,000. Having this savings will make life much easier because you will know you have something to fall back on in case you have unforeseen expenses.
- Celebrate milestones: Don’t forget to treat yourself to something nice once you’ve paid something off or reached a financial goal. This doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant! Have a nice dinner or buy yourself something you’ve been eyeing. It will help ease the pressures of penny-pinching and catching up with your debts.
When taking control of your finances in recovery, keep in mind that you’re not alone in your experience. There are many networks for people who are looking to set themselves on the right path financially where you can seek help and advice. Whether you are considering getting a loan to take care of significant payments immediately or are looking to reenter the workforce as soon as possible, there are institutions willing to help. Financial stability is one of the leading causes of stress in people’s lives, so it’s important to approach this matter with some support. Maintaining stress is a big part of recovery, and it will be important to take on your financial goals in stride.