In most 12-step recovery programs, there are amends to be made. This can include financial amends. So if you are at the beginning of your recovery program or if you are not in recovery, you may be saying what the heck is a financial amends?
A Financial amends can include many things like debt pay off, returning stolen goods, and living with more fiscal responsibility. This post is to describe in what constitutes a financial amends.
First and foremost here is step 9:
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Making Financial Amends in Recovery
Let’s start with the most obvious one and that is debt.
Debts may include money you owe to creditors, money owed to people (i.e. child support), and even to the IRS. Whatever and/or whoever you owe, settling up debts in recovery is just a way of life. Why?
Because in recovery, we are working towards living honestly, humbly, and with responsibility. I’m certain there are some people in recovery who don’t think this includes finances. However, I’m here to say that responsibility applies to all facets of life.
For me, I gained a whole bunch of peace by working the steps in recovery, reconciling with my past, and forming healthier lifestyle habits. Even after all of that, I recognized that I didn’t have financial peace.
So when I was ready, I poured my efforts into paying off my debt once and for all.
Get on a Plan
When deciding to tackle your debts, it is wise to either get on a plan or formulate a plan. The key is having a plan and sticking to it. I’ve written many blog posts about debt payoff plans and you can find any of them here.
If you have debts in collections your pay off may be a bit different than paying off debts that are in good standing. This type of situation may involve saving a bunch of cash and then making offers to settle your debt for pennies on the dollar.
Either way the idea is to learn to budget, pay back the people you owe, and manage your finances with intention of saving for retirement. Plain and simple.
Paying Back Stolen Money
This more times than not is a big part of people’s financial amends. Fortunately, the only time I stole was in high school when I had a short love affair with shoplifting. When I was caught, I was convicted to donate all of my stolen items.
However, I have heard stories of addicts/alcoholics stealing from their employer and/or loved ones. Sometimes the victims were unaware but it makes no difference.
When a person comes to their financial amends, they need to fess up and payback. This can be awfully humbling and perhaps even seem unnecessary but we must remember that we are to, make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
So yes, reach out to that former boss if you stole from them and schedule a meeting. Additionally, have the money with you to pay them back when you meet.
Furthermore, if you stole from loved ones, now is the time to fess up and ante up.
I suppose there could be instances where making a financial amends could harm someone in some way so if that applies to you I highly recommend you consult with your sponsor as well as a few others for confirmation.
Finally, pray about it and do what the Lord tells you. I’d rather be right before God than right before man.
Living a Fiscally Responsible Life
In recovery, we talk about making a living amends. Living amends can refer to a great many things and here are some examples:
- Allowing family the time they need to forgive you
- Extending grace and mercy
- Being there for your loved ones in supportive ways
- Extending forgiveness
- Being responsible
- Practicing fiscal responsibility
Finances are a huge part of our lives. As a person who has lived most of my life in debt and surviving paycheck to paycheck to now living debt-free and investing, I much prefer the latter. The keys to maintaining a financially responsible lifestyle are basic:
- Live on less than you make
- After God, pay your future self first by saving a % off the top
- Save for future goals
It’s not too complicated but it can seem impossible when your drowning in debt. I know it did for me and I could not imagine how I’d ever get ahead. Why? Because I was so caught up in the moment and not willing to make the sacrifices it would take to change my situation.
I believe by working the steps of recovery and finding my root issues, the path was paved to be able to tackle my finances. Once, the wounds of my past were healed, I had the focus and willingness to make the necessary sacrifices it took to change my financial life.
So please focus first on your recovery and the step work but when you come to your amends, make them and include your financial amends. It’s so worth it!!
Making a financial amends in part of recovery. It might include paying back someone you stole from or it could simply mean paying off debts. Either way, it’s a wonderful hedge against relapse.
When a person has financial peace in their life, they have one less excuse to drink, drug or consume whatever addiction got them into recovery.
A huge part of making a financial amends is living life more responsibly. Once your debts are knocked out, this involves some intentionality, a plan, and endurance.