You’ve learned about the first two dimensions of wellness: emotional and environmental. Now explore the third dimension – financial. Financial wellness is a staple of long-term addiction recovery. Without financial stability, it can be difficult to stay on track in all other aspects of wellness.
The Impact Of Financial Wellness On Your Recovery
Financial problems can affect many other dimensions of wellness. Financial issues can lead to emotional strain, occupational problems, being forced to live in an unsafe environment, and struggling to have a healthy social and physical life. Getting your finances in order is a critical component of overall health and wellness. You must feel content with your current financial situation as well as have a plan for a stable financial future.
Achieving financial stability gives you the power to reach all other dimensions of wellness. You will have the funds to support a healthy living environment, good food, clean spaces, and stimulating sober activities. You will know exactly where you are financially and how to stay on budget to avoid serious debt and financial trouble. Gaining control over your financial situation can help you avoid getting into a bind that makes you feel helpless, stressed, or trapped. This in turn can help you avoid an addiction relapse.
The ABCs Of Financial Wellness
Finding and maintaining financial wellness is not always easy. If it were, no one would ever experience financial trouble. It takes work, education, commitment, and perseverance. With the right tools and knowledge, however, you can get on track to control your budget and achieve a financial space where you have some room to breathe. The ABCs of financial freedom can put you on the right path:
- Arithmetic. First, apply basic math to find out what you have to spend. Subtract your inelastic expenses, such as rent, bills, and food from the income you earn each month (or every two weeks). The amount you have left over can go toward your elastic expenses, such as seeing a movie or shopping – or it can go toward savings.
- Budgeting. Create a budget based on your earnings and stick to it. Check your bank account daily to keep an eye on what you are spending. Do not spend more than you make. This is the cardinal rule of money management. Take steps to help keep to your budget, such as cooking your own meals more often than going out. Eating in could save you thousands of dollars a year.
- Commitment. Creating a budget will not do anything if you do not commit to sticking to it. Ignoring your budget or assuming you have enough money to do something without checking first could put you on the path to financial ruin. Staying financially healthy takes consistent effort and daily bank account checks to keep you accountable.
Your objectives for long-term financial wellness should include living within your means, making realistic goals, preparing for emergencies, and having enough knowledge to make smart financial decisions. Know that every individual’s financial circumstances are different. Your budget and needs will depend on your unique situation. If you are starting your recovery journey with a mountain of debt, you may need to climb that mountain before continuing.
How To Get Out Of Debt
Financial freedom and related peace of mind are not possible if you feel smothered by your debts. As someone entering into addiction recovery, you may have dug yourself into a financial hole because of your substance use disorder. If you have hit rock bottom in the finance department, have hope. People have been in your same position and managed to come out on top. Use these steps to gain control over what you owe:
- Make a list of your debts. The first step toward becoming debt-free is understanding exactly how much you owe. Make a list of how much you will need to pay per month to get out of debt in three years.
- Lower your interest rates. Credit card and loan interest rates can keep you trapped in debt for longer than is necessary. Apply for a no-interest-rate balance transfer credit card, or call your bank to ask about lower interest rates. Consider debt consolidation or loan refinancing as well.
- Plan your debt-free strategy. Do not spend any more money you do not have. Commit to not using your credit cards. Allot some of your income each month to paying at least the minimum amounts on your debts. Put as much as you can toward your debts each month to pay them off faster and save on interest rates.
If your monthly debt responsibility exceeds how much you make, speak to a bankruptcy attorney for counsel. Declaring bankruptcy might be your only option in an especially tough financial situation. Although this may damage your credit score, it can give you a clean slate and a fresh start. Monitor and adjust your plan over time as needed to stay on the right track.
Achieving Financial Wellness For Life
Your version of being financially well is unique. Overall, however, fulfilling the dimension of financial wellness involves settling your debts, earning income, and cultivating savings. You should take the steps necessary to feel happy with your current and future finances. Think about your current occupation and consider a change in workplace. Stay on top of your account balances, spending, and debt payments. Open a savings account once you are in a financial position to do so, to start planning for your future.
The main principle to remember is to act in a way that fits your finances. Living beyond your means can drain your budget. Set realistic goals for your spending that match your income, and stick to them. Use resources available to you to lower your costs of living. This may include a sober living home or halfway house until you can earn enough for rent. Rely on public transportation, government aid, and other means to help you get through on a budget in your first months of recovery.
Get Help On Your Journey
Financial wellness is a key to successfully addiction recovery. Look out for our next installment in the Eight Dimensions Of Wellness series, on intellectual wellness. Continuum Recovery Center offers programs to support you on your journey through the dimensions of wellness. Contact us for more information.