Most recovery programs have steps and a specific order in which they are to be worked. There’s a reason for that. Some things are more urgent and need prompt attention; otherwise, the thing you are in recovery for might be in jeopardy.
This post is designed to give you some insight into knowing when to work intensely on your finances. Additionally, I’ll share some small ways to stop the bleeding now with your financial life. Everything I share is spoken from a place of experience. I share what worked for me as well as any mishaps I’ve had along the way. As always, I suggest consulting God for his directives and order of precedence on your unique journey.
First Things First
When I got into recovery it was to maintain sobriety from alcohol, drugs, and destructive relationships. When I hit my bottom I was broken and cried out to the good Lord for help. I was willing to do whatever it took to stay sober and change. He sent me to a recovery program and that became my one thing.
As I’ve said before, when a person is seeking transformation, I believe it’s good to focus on one thing. Out of that one thing can flow a fountain of transformation.
As part of my recovery, I explored meetings and then settled in on a routine and surrounded myself with a group of women who had what I wanted. Additionally, I got a sponsor and accountability partners. Furthermore, I saw a psychiatrist and was honest with her as well. I began working the 12 steps, was honest with myself and others, and started to get right with Jesus.
These were all the prescriptions I was given as a result of committing to my one thing. And you know what? By putting this first, many other good habits started to form naturally:
- I started getting better sleep
- Exercised more consistently
- Was drawn to eating healthier because now I wanted to put good things in my body
- I shared my problems with others
- As I listened to other’s successes in recovery, I gained hope
- I followed the advice given to me from others who were further down the road of recovery
- My circle of friends changed to godly women
Stop the Financial Bleeding
Early on in recovery, I had no financial peace. I was waking up from years of bad choices and had consequences to face. Ugh! It was hard I’m not gonna lie! However, many of the lovely women around me advised me on some immediate changes I could make financially but told me the more intense work could wait. The early changes were to stop the bleeding.
What do I mean by that? Well, I had a mountain of debt and didn’t want to keep adding to it. So I made a few changes. Here’s what I did early on:
- Canceled cable & internet (after all, I spent most of my time working and going to meetings so why pay for this stuff. Plus I used the library when I needed internet)
- Consolidated some of my smaller debts with credit counseling service
- Stopped charging things on credit
- Starting writing down everything I spent money on
At the time, I thought it wasn’t much but looking back I think it was huge! I starting to make little sacrifices and learn delayed gratification. It was all a necessary part of my recovery.
What can you do right now? Do you have any subscriptions that can be canceled? Can you stop using your credit cards?
So When is it Time to Go Full Speed Ahead Financially?
The reason I believe it’s important to do so much of the other stuff first is that if one doesn’t uncover the roots of their problems, the other stuff doesn’t matter. For me, spending money was just another outlet of escape. I found escape in many things and I got into recovery because it became glaringly obvious, I had deep issues to work on.
Some of the most meaningful step work I did was taking my personal inventory. If you’ve never been through such a step, it involves looking at all past relationships and resentments. As I did that, for each one, I identified how I was hurt, what area of my life was affected, my part in the situation, how I developed unhealthy coping skills, and the character defects I formed. It’s a lengthy process.
For me, it was revelatory and a pattern emerged in black and white on my journals where I kept track of this inventory. You know what? I didn’t like the women I saw and was humbled to repentance.
The definition of repentance is the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse. Moreover, it means turning away from whatever action your repenting of. That’s exactly what I did as I continued on in my step work. I felt deeply sorry to God, others, and myself and so I worked to not be that woman anymore.
As I continued on with my steps, I eventually came to the step where I made amends to a great many people. This is often the time that others will work on their financial amends. Did you ever steal from anyone? This is the time to pay them back.
Personally, I didn’t dive much deeper into my financial life until several years into recovery. Why? Because I stayed busy working with new girls as I got healthier. It kept me in the game and gave purpose to my mess. However, there came a time when I really wanted financial peace.
When the Student is Ready the Teacher will Appear
I was in a women’s bible study when I met a friend who was willing to teach me a few tools to aid me in my financial recovery. She taught me how to budget and then shared what a debt snowball was. It was enough to get me going.
My point is that when you are ready in your journey, the teachers will appear. I recommend seeking multiple streams of advice before formulating your financial plan. Although, don’t seek too much advice that you get paralysis by analysis. When you are ready, just start!! You can always tweak your plan as you go.
Now, I do believe there are three very important things to start with when tackling your finances:
- Save an emergency fund
- Get on a budget
- Formulate a debt pay off plan. Perhaps a combo of the debt snowball and debt avalanche?
In summary, as you focus on your one thing and recovery program, you’ll find yourself forming healthier life habits all the way around. For me, that included stopping the bleeding with my debt.
Is spending an escape for you? Dig deep to uncover the roots of your spending habits. By unearthing the roots and healing, you’ll be less likely to go back in debt after getting out of it. Spending money is a common escape.
When you are making your amends, don’t forget your financial amends.
Finally, when you are ready to go deep, formulate a plan. Seek resources but don’t get overwhelmed. Pick a plan, start and tweak if need be but always see it to completion.