How to Budget for Life After Rehab and the Benefits of Financial Stability in Early Recovery
Looking forward to your life in recovery post-rehab may fill you with simultaneously conflicting emotions of hope and fear. Being new to sobriety means you will be vulnerable to life’s stresses, including triggers, cravings and urges, returning to a stress-filled job or a home environment that’s somewhat short in support for your recovery goals. Still, crafting a workable plan for life after rehab is an effort that can allow you to reap numerous benefits – including financial stability in early recovery.
MONEY PROBLEMS ARE A HUGE TRIGGER FOR RELAPSE
Everyone has money problems at some time in their life. When you’ve just completed drug or alcohol rehab, however, you may already have a mountain of debt for the treatment itself, as well as holdover debt due to your addiction. Loss of a job or a demotion due to substance abuse is high on the list of financial woes many recovering addicts must deal with. Indeed, money problems are a huge trigger for addiction relapse, especially around tax time. That’s why getting a handle on your finances, learning how to budget for your life after recovery and crafting a path toward financial stability is so important in early recovery.
BASIC BUDGETING TIPS FOR LIFE AFTER REHAB
Making a budget shouldn’t be anything new. You’ve likely saved for what you wanted before and have a grasp of the concept of setting aside and allocating household or personal funds to take care of your obligations. After rehab, though, you may lack confidence in your ability to do so wisely. You may also find the reassurance of a few time-proven budgeting basics tips helpful as you enter the early days of recovery.
Do an intensive personal financial inventory.
For any sound budget to work, you need to lay the groundwork. This means taking stock of your finances, what obligations you have, how much money you have coming in each month, the categories where you’ve spent money, where you’ve wasted money (likely associated with your addiction), and instances where you’ve been able to set aside money for personal goals.
Focus on the improvements you’d like to make going forward, not dwelling on the past and mistakes you’ve made. As you complete your personal financial inventory, highlight areas where you’re willing to put forth the effort necessary to reap the rewards.
Prepare a detailed budget.
The days of spending on credit cards and overdrawing the checking or debit account must cease. This is a case of allocating funds for every needs category, delaying gratification on the wants category for now. You can work toward what you want after you take care of your personal and household’s immediate needs. Don’t forget that ongoing treatment, paying for medications and additional therapies or other aspects of aftercare must also take priority. Your recovery is dependent on you committing to making it work – and some of this is a fiscal responsibility you must shoulder. So, get to work and create a budget now.
Commit to live within your means.
This may be tough to accept, yet financial stability entails learning to live within your means. Not giving in to the temptation to buy what you think brings you happiness is a key discipline to cultivate, especially since this may have made you feel better in the past. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from paying your bills and tending to your financial obligations that comes with financial stability. Learning to be responsible about using money is a life skill that will serve you well in early recovery and beyond.
GET HELP WITH MONEY MANAGEMENT SKILLS
Feel like you’re ill-equipped to deal with money, preparing a budget, living within your means and saving for goals? Help is available both financial workshops online and in workshops that may be offered in your community, through one of your 12-Step or self-help groups, your employer, church or network of friends and associates.
Key topics to explore include:
- Attitudes about money
- How to get out of debt
- Steps to rebuild your credit
- Differentiating between wants and needs
- How to take smart risks
SET POSITIVE GOALS
As you make plans for your future in recovery – a future where you’ll enjoy financial stability – be sure to include goals that are positive, motivating, rewarding and life-affirming. These are the goals you’ll be more likely to work hard to achieve. Lifestyle goals should be included as well, since setting aside time and money for things that help you enrich your mind-body-spirit are good for your recovery and help broaden your horizon at the same time. In fact, some healing practices such as yoga, meditation, exercise, spirituality and self-improvement cost little, yet yield priceless returns. In addition, you don’t have to wait for months and years down the line to enjoy them. Make it a point to engage in good self-care daily.
An added benefit to setting positive goals and acting to implement them in small ways is that you may identify opportunities to further your career, gain new allies, increase your expertise, share your knowledge, help others and gain measurable self-confidence, boost self-esteem, and begin to feel a sense of renewed purpose and meaning in life.
START SMALL AND INVEST IN SAVING
Setting aside money in an interest-bearing account or other financial investment may seem beyond your ability right now, yet you can certainly put the $5 you might spend on a coffeehouse latte in a savings account at least once or twice a month. It’s important to have your money work for you, not sit around the house readily accessible to spend and forget about. Once the resource is spent, it’s of no gain to you.
Another way to systematically save for future wants (and needs) is to earmark some portion of a tax refund for savings. This takes some of the stress and sting out of Tax Day and gives you something to feel good about relative to your financial stability.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING OR KEEPING A JOB
Successful recovery involves gainful employment. Not only does a job increase legitimate income, it also can improve standard of living – and both are important for recovery. Whether you’ve been fired or demoted due to your addiction or quit your job because of it, following rehab you have an opportunity for a do-over. While you may not be able to go back to the job you left or may not see it as conducive to your ongoing recovery, now is the time to get serious about getting or keeping a job. Being financially responsible entails having a steady income, so you can handle your bills without adding undue stress to your life.
Perhaps you intend to embark on a new career, yet lack the necessary skills, training or degree to advance, or get a foot in the door. Take some sort of employment so you’ve got money coming in and work toward getting the skills, training or degree you need to move up or move to a job more in line with your career aspirations. Also take advantage of employment support programs where you currently work. When you start seeing progress toward your goals (learning new skills, becoming more proficient at tasks, getting closer to your degree or certificate), you’ll be more self-confident and better able to weather daily stresses, minor disappointments and setbacks.
Learn to view mistakes and setbacks as opportunities, not failures. If you can learn from an experience, even relapse, it’s never a failure. The only failure is when you give up. Maybe the job you have today, or the only one you can get now, is not the one you want. Keep your eye on the future goal and act to make that dream a reality. This will help cement your financial stability in early recovery and all the days, months and years to come.