Coming Out on Top—Tips for Financial Recovery After Addiction

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December 4, 2017
budget, addiction, on track

Ask anyone who’s suffered from drug and alcohol abuse and they’ll tell you that overcoming addiction is no easy task. It requires strength, dedication, and unwavering willpower to pull yourself up from your lowest low and get your life back on track. Somewhere on the road to recovery you’ll begin to have a clearer picture of the difficulties ahead. Relationships with friends and family may be bent and broken, money might be scarce and bills will need to be paid. If you’re worried about getting back on your feet financially, here are a few tips to ensure your recovery also helps your wallet.

Finding a Stable Job

Unfortunately, most recovery survivors find themselves at the very bottom before they start getting their lives back together. For many, this often means unemployment. Once you’ve decided to change your life and take the vital steps to recover from your addiction, your first step will be to find a new job so that you can move forward and achieve your long-term goals. Getting back out into the workforce can be a challenge on its own, but it’s essential to getting back on the right track financially, and reclaiming normalcy in your life.

  1. Revisiting Your resume: Before you start throwing yourself out there, you’ll want to take a hard look at your resume. If you don’t have one, this will likely come into play as you start your job search. Having a strong resume can be your ticket to landing the best job possible for advancing your recovery and your life. Research different examples of resumes and use them as a model when crafting your own.
  2. Covering Up Spotty Job History: Many recovery survivors find themselves restrained in their job search due to a lacking resume. Gaps in your employment history can be a red flag to employers looking to find reliable workers. As you revisit your resume, if you find that there are stretches of months or years you spent without work, you will want to remedy this to ensure it reflects something a potential employer will want.
  3. Finding the Job that Fits Your Needs: As you search for work, keep in mind that very job is different: Each has different co-workers, bosses, expectations, and environment. As a recovery survivor, you need to consider how these variables might affect your recovery. If your first job thrusts you into a high-stress environment, it could compromise your sobriety. It is important to know yourself and your limitations when choosing your next job. The better suited you are for the job, and vice versa, the more likely this will be a steady, dependable source of future income.

Budgeting Yourself Out of Debt

Once the money starts coming in, nothing is more frustrating than watching it fly out of your bank account to pay off old debts. Financial repercussions for addiction often take the form of overwhelming debt. Over time, missed and late payments will result in penalties, fees, and increased interest applied to your outstanding payments. In your first attempts to really manage your debts, you may feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle. It’s important to act as soon as you can, and come up with a plan to pay off your debts.

  1. Get Organized: First thing you will want to do is take stock of all outstanding lines of credit. Which one has the most outstanding debt left to pay off? Which one is charging the most interest? Understanding what you owe and prioritizing your payments will help organize your budgeting, and ensure that you won’t have to pay more money than you have to down the road. It also helps to reach out to creditors to set up payment plans. By communicating with them, you’re making an effort that shows you want to fix the problem.
  2. Creating Your Budget: Once you know where your money is going, now you’ll want to incorporate that into the bigger picture: utility bills, gas, groceries and other expenses. After charting out your expenses, factor in your income; go through and portion away your income toward your expenses and credit payments. This is where prioritizing your expenses will come in handy, as you will set aside money for your most essential expenses first, then go down the line.
  3. Knowing Where to Cut: If you find that you’re not making enough to meet your monthly expenses, don’t panic. Chances are your budget includes some unnecessary spending. Go through and find out what can be cut. You may decide to cut anything from eating out to your monthly gym membership. If it’s not absolutely essential, then remove it so you can adjust your budget to make all of your payments, and protect yourself as you rebuild your credit.

It’s never too late to come back from addiction, and it’s certainly never too late to come back from your debt. You’ve already come a long way to face your problems and have taken active steps to reclaim your life. If you bring that same determined attitude to tackling your financial issues, then you will have no problem coming out on top.

Dorothy Watson

Dorothy Watson grew up with a single mother who suffered from bipolar disorder. Her mom wasn't properly diagnosed until Dorothy was about 12 years old. She became an advocate for mental wellness after witnessing how hard life can be for people whose mental health hasn't been properly addressed.

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