Part of your recovery from substance abuse is learning how to manage the daily trials and tribulations of sober, drug-free life. From healthy eating and exercise habits, self-care tips, and accountability, building a foundation for a life above the influence of addiction is line between being in recovery and simply being abstinent. One important part of the recovery journey that we have yet to address could potentially be a cause of relapse: financial struggles.
Learning how to be financially independent in recovery helps to prepare you for the long-run. While finding and maintaining employment is a great step in the right direction, you have to have the know-how to go along with it to achieve financial independence. Start by learning how to manage a budget!
Budget: What It Is and Why You Need One
To put it simply, a budget is self-imposed check and balance system to keep your expenses within the limits of your income. Budgets are simple in theory: maintain the balance of income > expenses. In practice, however, it’s easy to lose track of a budget and find yourself in a difficult financial situation. That’s why it’s so important to actively stay on top of your finances.
Sticking to your budget helps prevent stress due to debt and gives you the opportunity to save money for sudden emergencies, thus avoiding potential triggers for relapse. The discipline and self-restraint it takes to stay in budget also enforces your dedication to a clean and sober life.
How to Manage a Budget
To determine your budget, start by figuring out your monthly income. Include pay from any jobs you may have, federal assistance, and other forms of income you may receive. If your income is not consistent on a monthly basis, find an average to work with. If your income isn’t where you need it to be, consider supplemental income using side jobs. There’s plenty of companies which allow for flexible self-scheduling:
- Etsy craft creator
- YouTube content creator, etc.
From there, calculate your monthly expenses: rent, utilities, phone bills, cable, gas, groceries, and other financial needs. Take into consideration when each bill is due and, if possible, schedule those due dates effectively; don’t stack bills on top of each other if you aren’t able to cover them completely. Setting up a bank account with automatic bill pay can help ensure you don’t miss due dates, but be careful to always have enough money in your account to cover those costs.
Most banks also allow you to see your transactions via an online banking service, but you also need to be careful there: keep track of your own spending to prevent situations of overspending. Withdrawals from debit purchases can take up to two weeks to show up in your account, and if you don’t keep up with them you can easily fall into debt.
Do you have money left over after your bills are paid? Don’t rush to spend it too quickly! To manage a budget includes saving money for rainy days. Making wise about your money decisions help to cement your financial future. Opening a savings account and setting goals for it can help you reach goals you never thought you could accomplish, such as buying a home or travelling the world.
Other tips include:
- Get a coin counting jar and save up your change.
- As you update your wardrobe, sell your older clothes to thrift shops.
- Have credit cards? Your balance should be no higher than 30 percent of your total credit limit.
- Know how to haggle: get the best deals available on your cable, phone bill, and car insurance.
- Traveling: the best prices on flights are found between one and four months before the travel date, on Tuesday, at about 3 pm.
- Drop unnecessary expenses: cutting back on take out, unnecessary splurge purchases, and take advantage of sales.