Good Financial Health: Tax Season
By TTC Alumni, Christian McLaughlin
Tax season can conjure up thoughts of finances and hopes of getting a big return from the IRS. Part of getting sober is cleaning up the wreckage of our past. For many of us we have gotten into quite a deal of financial issues due to our using/drinking. It can be through running up credit cards, cashing fraudulent checks, borrowing money, or not paying due taxes. Now that the drugs are gone, we start having money again, and we receive our tax returns, it is tempting to want to spend it on ourselves and ignore what we owe. It can seem a daunting task at first, but just as we face those we have harmed and make amends, so must we do with our finances. Here are some practical tips to help you on the route to good financial health.
It’s important to lay out a practical plan. It may take years to pay back, but don’t ruin yourself now by trying to pay it back all at once. You may feel guilt with some of the debts owed, but it’s better to start remedying them than to ignore them. Speak with those you owe money to whether they be individuals or financial institutions. They will normally work out a payment plan based on your income and current expenses. Once you start paying it back, the guilt will begin to subside as you are now doing the right thing.
Try to write out a budget. Look at your all your monthly expenditures. What are your necessities? What are you spending on leisure? How often and how much are you spending on restaurants? What are your frivolous expenses that you likely regretted later? Once you know what you’re spending, it is easy to change.
Look at where you’re spending unnecessary money on things such as frequently eating out, shopping and other activities. See what percentage of your budget this is taking up and where you might be able to cut back. Go through your belongings and look at things you regret buying. Perhaps sell them through an app or a consignment store.
After paying for monthly necessities, try to budget at least one-third to one-half of your additional income toward repaying debt. You’ll still have the rest to enjoy life, but will also have the comfort of fixing your financial past.
Start setting aside some money for savings. Life is full of sudden expenses so it’s always good to have something in reserve to for when something unexpected occurs. Speak with someone such as a sponsor or sober friend who might have gone through similar financial issues and is now financially stable about how they did so.
Financial responsibility is an important aspect of getting and staying sober. We must be thorough in correcting the wreckage of our past, but also plan for the future, so as those tax returns come in, make sure to spend them wisely.