April is the month of the dreaded tax filing deadline. For people in recovery, filing taxes can be simple or it can be hard but it is one of those things that just has to be done.
Whether you are filing a simple 1040EZ or you require an accountant to help you muddle through the details, tax season is a good time to do an overhaul of your finances and create some goals to get your financial picture into shape so you have more choices in recovery.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Building a budget takes time. It is essential to write out a budget, estimating how much you will spend in categories that include utilities, food, and entertainment, among others. Any regular payments you have should go there, as should health and medical costs. Once you’ve gotten it written out or input it into your app, you will need to then spend the next month tracking every dollar you spend. This will help you to identify spending patterns you may not have noticed, adjust your expectations for each month, and notice where you may be spending far more than you thought. Keep at it, continue making adjustments, and soon you will have a tool that accurately assesses how much you have coming in, what is going out, and how much “extra” you will have every month to put toward your financial goals.
- A financial advisor can help. Even if you work an hourly job, it can be helpful to meet with a financial advisor who can help you to create money goals, determine how best to allocate your funds, and get where you need to be financially. You may find that, if you have little or no debt, you can even begin to save beyond an emergency fund – for retirement, education, and more – and a financial advisor will be able to help you figure out how to do that according to your preferred level of risk.
In recovery, the primary goal is to stay sober, and the best way to do that is to foster stability in every part of life. Emotional wellness and physical health are often at the forefront, but it is important to pay attention to any part of life that is unstable. If financial issues are ongoing and significant, getting them under control once and for all can be a huge boost in recovery, providing a sense of control and safety while also offering more opportunities for continued treatment in sobriety.
What are your financial goals this year? How are you working to put things back together financially and increase your stability in recovery?