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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pure $$ and ¢¢….

There comes a time in most alcoholic’s drinking career when the money may run out.  If he/she is not old enough for Social Security or hasn’t retired from some entity that provides a monthly income, the alcoholic will eventually cease to be financially solvent. And even if there is an income, most of it will, in all likelihood, become booze. There may be a check, but that same check will surely morph into a bottle.

The best thing that could happen now is to go buy that lottery ticket. It’s really easy. Just make sure you buy the winning ticket and you’re set. And don’t go after those namby pamby ones for a few hundred dollars – go for the millions or even billions! You just have to plunk that dollar down on the right ticket and waah-laaa – you are set for life! How hard could that possibly be!?!

Now that we’ve taken a fantasy trip to lottery land – let’s get back to the real issue at hand in the real world. Because pinning your hopes on a lottery ticket is like depending on an alcoholic to be responsible – it’s just not likely to happen.

I can’t tell you what is right for you, but I can tell you some things I have done to make mine and Riley’s financial life a little easier. While reading this, remember that I have no small or dependent children at home. It is just the two of us that needs to eat and have a place to lay our heads at night. Things get complicated when there are children involved.

Control of the money is solely in my hands. While I include Riley in financial decisions and he participates in “budgeting time,” really I am the one with the control. It has to be that way. Riley will prioritize booze and porn above food and electricity. It’s up to me to make sure the bills are paid.

When Riley came back to live with me, I had him sign a Power of Attorney for his financial matters and one for his medical issues. I then contacted all his creditors and provided each of them with a copy of the POA. That meant I could now act on his behalf in negotiating payments in financial situations. I also opened a joint checking account so his military and social security retirement checks could be directly deposited into an account with which I had access.

I had no problem surviving financially for many years prior to Riley coming back to my home. I know how to support myself by myself and I have the means to take care of ME. Now that HE is here, I need his money to meet our joint expenses. So I must be sure there is, in fact, money to manage. Fortunately, I’m in an unusual situation for a family dealing with alcoholism – I have guaranteed income as long as Riley is alive. Most don’t have that luxury. But when he dies I will only have a small portion of what I get from him now.

So the question becomes – could we survive if we didn’t have his retirement pay? And how would I do it? Of course we would survive, but it wouldn’t be pretty. We would do without a lot of things and I would be cutting corners to the point of creating a hostile environment. That’s really not a big change in our present living conditions.

Currently, I give Riley small amounts of cash. What he does with it is his business and he seldom has enough to do much with – certainly he couldn’t buy much vodka with it. He does spend it on beer – his newest attraction. I take care of his priority list in as much as I can – new shoes, new printer -- those things are taken out of the household budget and not his pocket.

My financial goal is to get as much paid off and gone as possible so I only have to contend with the basic living bills. I want to pay off the car. I continue to stock my pantry and freezer to the brim so I have good healthy food to eat during really lean days. I’m building up my video library so I won’t be tempted to get pay-per-view or go out to the movies. I check out the dark end of my closet before I buy new clothes or shoes. I try to learn how to fix things myself before calling a repairman. I look for ways to get a few extra bucks. I try to put away just a few dollars a week – it almost never stays in the savings account, but at least I make the attempt.

In short, I’m preparing for the inevitable. I’m preparing for the day when Riley takes his last drink and my income is more than cut in half.

Thank God, I don’t have children in this house because that would make things so much more difficult. Those of you with children are truly blessed and I admire that somehow you find the means to keep it all together.

I got one of those chain e-mail things the other day. I thought I would share it with you.

Dear Congress… Last year I mismanaged my funds and this year I cannot decide on a budget. Until I have come to a unified decision that fits all of my needs and interests, I will have to shut down my checkbook and will no longer be able to pay my taxes. I'm sure you'll understand. Thank you very much for setting an example we can all follow.

I don’t know who the author was, but I am giving him/her a standing ovation!!


Gabriele Goldstone said...

You speak so rationally. It really helps to know I'm not alone in such a situation. My husband is 9 months away from Old Age Security - I'm going to try and hold on to the last of his money and dole it out like an allowance so he can buy cigs (supervised store visits - I WILL NOT buy those for him). He doesn't understand why I've decided to control his money - but if it keeps us together, he says he'll try it. Thanks so much for this blog - you're a God-send - truly!
Thinking of you and Riley.

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

Greg took out £8,000 loans to fund the habit!

Anonymous said...

I love what you write and I empathise conpletely. I know what you are saying makes sense and I recognise your honesty. I'm still not comfortable with the idea that you benefit from nurturing Riley. That is his money that you are relying on...that said, he is darn lucky to have you.

As a person looking after a hopeless case with no means, I envy you. And wish you good luck. No judgement intended.

Linda said...

I understand that you don't mean to be judgmental and I appreciate your comments, but there's a big jump between nurturing and caretaking. I don't benefit financially from having him here. I do force him to contribute in providing an adequate place for us to live by controlling the money. There is NO free lunch. I have my own career and can easily provide for myself. Also -- in a community property state -- if he dies in debt that debt becomes mine. I'm taking care of the problem before it happens. Like a good Girl Scout -- I'm prepared.

My mother could turn rocks into coins and she gave me a tiny bit of that talent. Maybe I'll post some tips on a page on this blog. Is anyone interested?

Gabriele Goldstone said...

I feel so good having made the decision to take financial control.I went to the bank this morning and transferred the money. He's surprised, of course. I only wish I'd done it sooner. If he wants a divorce, he can have it - and the money - but he knows he's lost without me. Am I taking advantage of him? Perhaps.

Sure. give us your rock to coin tips. I'm always ready to learn.

NorthernTeacher said...

Much better to have control of the finances, Linda. It took my father a long time to realise this as he couldn't accept that his wife (my mother) is a gambler who, basically, cannot be trusted with money.

Thinking of you.

Cadan Henry said...

sounds like you are very sharp and organized. always be prepared. be prepared.

Cadan Henry said...

Two friends reunited sitting at a bar:

"How did you go bankrupt?"

"Well, slow at first then rather all of a sudden."


Jennifer said...

My mother-in-law recently had a stroke after finding herself in the role of caregiver to my father-in-law with alzheimer's. When she talked to me about the stresses of taking over the finances because he could no longer manage them, I told her with no insensitivity, "welcome to my world." She understood. She was going to alanon and changing the locks on her son (my husband) when I married him 20 years ago. He inherited the alcoholism from her father. She knew before I did. She knows what I suffer and appreciates the fact I took over his care. Watching her care for her husband is so familiar to the way I have had to live my life as the breadwinner and peacemaker for an only parially aware participant throughout "our" life together. I am struck by the similarities.

Syd said...

We are fortunate in that we both have a good income and my wife never drank away the money. Now that we are retired things are still good financially. I realize that we are the exception. Having No children is beneficial.