Last Updated on Dec 20, 2019 by James W

Frugality includes all the other virtues.


It’s no secret that finances are a major stressor for anyone, but specifically those individuals in early recovery. Addiction is not only expensive, but the unmanageability makes it nearly impossible to maintain consistent income. Legal fees, neglected financial responsibilities, and the cost of treatment can add to unwanted debt. Financial insecurity, of any sorts, can be a major trigger for relapse. Fortunately, with a little balance, strong sober support, and perseverance, an addict in recovery can stay sober by any means.

Stepping out into the real world, taking on providing for a household and managing the cost of living can be a daunting endeavor. Similar to getting sober, this task can seem overwhelming but when taken step by step and one day at a time… anything is possible. Acknowledging that finances require management is the first and most important step, but there are other steps you can take to ensure this process is gracefully attainable.

  1. Make a list of all monthly expenses: How much are your living expenses? Rent, car note, insurance, food, electric, food, gas, etc.? Try to be sure to make the estimate as accurate as possible.
  2. Make a list of all of your debts: How much debt do you owe? Make a list (smallest to largest) of every debt you currently owe.
  3. Make a list of your income and assets: How much money do you acquire monthly? Do you have any money in savings?
  4. Make a priority list: How much money is left over after all of your living necessities are met? What debt do you need to pay off first? Do you want to put money into savings first? Do you have enough leftover income to have some ‘fun spending’?

Putting pen to paper, writing down every dollar earned/spent can really be the foundation from which you are able to see what you have to work with. It’s also important that you take the time to think about your financial goals. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to be free of debt? Do you want to improve your credit score? Do you need to focus on paying your current bills on time? Looking to buy a house or invest more money into savings?  Once you’ve had time to prioritize where your leftover income should go, make a list of goals. It would be wise to start with the smaller debts. There’s a sense of accomplishment that follows the ability to mark a debt off of the list.

Budgeting is the best way to ensure you maintain your financial goals. After a month of sticking to your plan, budgeting will help turn your financial intentions to reality. It’s important you track every single penny spent. It’s always important to be mindful that life happens, some months are better than others. Some months are more expensive than others. It’s important you invest in putting some money away, into savings, for times when life shows up. Overtime you will be able to pay off debts and watch your financial freedom manifest.

Managing the stress that financial burdens carry is most important. The subject of money, bills, debts can be a major trigger even for the non addict. Specifically, individuals in early recovery are particularly vulnerable. Ongoing and unavoidable money issues can often come with surprises, both positive and negative. Don’t forget, it is okay to ask for help. Oftentimes, addicts carry guilt and shame from their past experiences and refuse help. A major part of getting sober, is letting go of our old ideas. If we have resources available, we should be honest and willing to accept help where we can.

Acceptance, discipline, and action can help individuals in early recovery mitigate through financial stress. The more you practice these principles, in all of your affairs, but specifically in your finances the less likely an individual is caught by a financial surprise. For example, an emergency fund can serve as a safety net when an unexpected expense crops up. The goal of managing your finances is to achieve a consistent sense of control which ultimately produces a sense of peace when discussing money. The same way an individual prepares multiple tools and defenses against drugs/alcohol, you must stay vigilant in managing your money to avoid financial stress and harvest freedom.

Tricia Moceo is an Outreach Specialist for Recovery Local, a local addiction/recovery based marketing company. She advocates long-term sobriety by writing for websites like, providing resources to recovering addicts and shedding light on the disease of addiction. Tricia is a mother of two, actively involved in her local recovery community, and is passionate about helping other women find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.


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