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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, June 1, 2015

Financial pit of despair...

During the days when Riley was drinking and we were together, often times more money would be spent on booze than the total amount of our utility bills. I tried everything I knew to make sure I got the paycheck before he had a chance to cash it. Because once it was cashed, it was basically gone. (That was before the days of direct deposit.) When he ran out of cash, he would write a check. I ended up closing the bank accounts to prevent paying return check fees.

Riley earned enough money to support our family. But, I worked two, sometimes three, jobs in order to keep food on the table. I don’t think he even knew how much money he was spending. He didn’t have to
because I managed the money. Trusting him with the task was not something I was comfortable with.

During the times when Riley was sober, we would sit down every Sunday and do the budget. He didn’t seem concerned that there was always something that didn’t get paid. We always paid our basic living expenses first, then we bought groceries and after that everything just got rotated around. If we paid on bill A this month, we would pay bill B next month we never got through all the letters in the alphabet when he would start drinking again.

If you are in the rare position of being financially solvent in spite of the alcoholic’s spending, I would suggest that you prepare now for a possible decline. How many times have you heard, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Or “You should always save for a rainy day.” Those statements are never truer than for someone involved with an alcoholic. If you live today as though you are already in financial trouble, maybe trouble won’t knock on your door.

Here are some things you might consider doing:

Make a monthly spreadsheet budget and for the next six months enter the estimated amount of payments and in the next column, enter the actual amount spent. After six months you will see if your estimations are close to the actual average amount spent. Now you know how much you should be entering in the estimation column. I keep my spreadsheet open on my desktop. That way if I need to spend money, I can easily check to see if I can afford the expense.

Pay yourself first. I don’t care if you use a piggy bank, a lock box, or a secret savings account. Put a little aside in case of an emergency or if you are planning a “get away.”  An emergency is NOT about keeping the alcoholic in booze. This money is to be used if the lights get turned off or if you decide to leave. But never use this money to support his addiction.

Learn to clip coupons and find out what stores double up. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer – just a wise shopper. It takes a bit of time to develop a couponing routine, but it’s worth it in the end. Motivate yourself by putting the “amount saved” in your emergency cash stash.

Buy clothing “off season”. You can shop for clothing and put them away until the time is right for wearing them. It’s not just clothes. Lawn supplies can be bought in the fall and saved until next spring. Watch the clearance sections wherever you shop. Go there first and see what they have that you can use.

If you are trying to climb out of the hole of despair, call the creditors or collection agents and try to negotiate some kind of repayment plan. Pay yourself first – as above. That’s more important than ever if you’re struggling. Consider bankruptcy. Get advice from people or places like your bank or a social service agency that offers financial counseling. Sometimes you can find a professional financial advisor to help for a reasonable fee. That advisor can help you decide if it is time to file bankruptcy or give you suggestions on how to get back on track.

My cousin recommended an advisor named Gina Mewes. She helped me clear up all my back taxes and removed the garnishments from our paychecks. I had thought that we would have to file bankruptcy, but as it turns out, with the tax issue gone, I can negotiate with all the other creditors and avoid bankruptcy. It has been a welcomed relief. She gave me advice on getting a business license and whether or not we should file joint or separate returns. I discovered that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did – that’s what happens when you think you know it ALL. With the garnishments gone, I could easily afford her rates.

Gina has offered to give special consideration to any of my blog readers who find themselves in trouble with the IRS. Her contact information is on her website http://www.taxandbusinessmanagement.com/. Be sure to let her know that read about her on Linda’s blog.

My point is, plan for a financial disaster even if you are not in one now. If you’re already in a financial pit, keep working towards climbing out. Seek advice and plan for the next disaster now, before the storm hits.


Grant said...


Your blog has been selected 7th in our Top 10 addiction blogs 2015.
To see the list please see:
We are a UK based addiction company and encourage all our clients to follow certain blogs that can be helpful.

Kind regards


Anonymous said...

Soooo true, I related to all that you said. While my husband waw alive and drinking, we never had enough money. He would write a check, knowing it would bounce, for his vodka. Two weeks later, I'd be at the store paying off that check. Vicious circle!! The day he wanted a $2.00 hamburger still stands out in my memory...$2.00 for the check, $20. for the bank, $20 for the bank the second time they ran it through, $45. for McDonalds. His response....he was hungry. Talk about killing off the brain cells!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog this evening and thank you thank you thank you! I'm in the "prepare for financial disaster mode" as my significant other of 3 years begins to show symptoms of end-stage. We are both in our late 40s no kids and both in our second marriage. I hate the Caretker person that I had become but lately I started going back to the gym to take care of myself while my husband acts like a fully functioning alcoholic. After a failed stint at detoxing, he proudly said he'd rather die of cirrhosis than be sober and not be "himself." I realiZe wow that nothing will change his behavior or choice, and I'm improving myself before the money gets used up. It's so sad, my father drank my college tuition away and I vowed never to be with someone like him.