Lately, money has been on a lot of people’s minds. (Truthfully, we suspect money is on a lot of people’s minds a lot of the time!)
Inflation has been driving prices up. Meanwhile, rising interest rates have made it more expensive to borrow money. There’s been discussion of student loan relief—and then delays in implementing a program to provide it.
We could go on, but we suspect we do not have to. After all, money—and the challenges and opportunities connected to it—can feel like it is at the center of almost everything we do.
But even though that is the case, an awful lot of people are not terribly good at keeping track of their money. And that can result in significant amounts of stress for a person who always seems to be struggling to make ends meet or who is faced with a sudden unexpected expense.
For a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, that potential increase in stress caused by money woes can be more than upsetting. It can be downright dangerous to your sobriety.
To keep the stress of managing your money from threatening your recovery, it is a good idea to create (and then stick to) a budget. That might seem like a daunting task, but the basics of budgeting are actually quite simple.
Let us walk you through the budgeting process.
First, Let’s Get a Handle on the Money Coming In
The odds are fairly good that you have a decent handle on how much money is coming into your bank account every month. But it is worthwhile to truly look at the details—especially if you have direct deposit and do not generally interact with your paycheck directly. There is a difference, after all, between knowing about how much money you have and knowing exactly how much money you have.
If you are part of the gig economy, your income may vary from month to month (sometimes substantially), and so having a clear understanding of what money you have and what money you are expecting by what dates is also an important part of budgeting. If you have to estimate your income because the details of what might be coming in are not finalized, make a point to underestimate. It is much better to be surprised by more money rather than less.
Next, Let’s List All the Expenses
The second step in creating a budget is making a detailed list of your monthly expenses. Start with things that don’t change month to month, like your mortgage or rent and your car payment. Then move on to the monthly bills and costs that fluctuate a bit like your utilities, your groceries, and gas for your vehicle. Make sure you figure in other recurring expenses like subscriptions or medication costs.
Ideally, the number you arrive at when you add up your monthly expenses is less than the number you arrived at when you added up all your sources of income. If your expenses are higher than your income, it is time to make some important decisions about how to cut your expenses, how to increase your income, or both.
Two Categories that Might Seem Optional…But Aren’t
In our list of expenses above, we left out two important categories that you should absolutely build into your budget. The first is savings; the other is recreation.
Saving some portion of your income each month—even if it is a small portion—gives you a bit of breathing room if emergencies arise. As you are able to save more, you can also start to think about your long-term financial goals and how they might be achieved.
Setting aside some money each month for recreation is also important. Things like engaging hobbies, meals with friends, or purchasing the latest book by a favorite author are important for your mental well-being—which means they also support your sobriety.
When money is tight, it can be easy to forget the importance of saving and holding back some dollars for recreation, but both are very important habits to get into whenever your income allows.
Remember: Less Financial Stress Equals More Support for Your Sobriety
Obviously, this is not a blog that is generally about money and personal finances. But getting on top of your income, expenses, and savings is an excellent way to reduce your stress levels, and that, as we have noted, has a positive impact on your efforts to maintain your sobriety. That means the advice we offer in this blog entry makes both cents and sense.
Regain Your Sobriety and Cross Drugs and Alcohol Off of Your Expenses List
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Indiana, our program of medically supervised detoxification, robust rehabilitation via individual and group therapy, and commitment to a continuum of care that provides ongoing support can help you reclaim your life. Part of that reclamation will definitely involve your finances. After all, you will no longer be spending money on drugs or alcohol, and substances will not be impairing your ability to succeed at school or work. Those are just a couple of the many reasons to get the help you need to get and stay sober.