Budgeting goes way back. When you think of Popeye the Sailor Man—and surely you do—you most likely think of spinach. You know his old line: I’m strong to the finish ’cause I eats me spinach.
But spinach is not the only food on offer in the Popeye cartoons. Indeed, a fellow named Wimpy is frequently in pursuit of a hamburger. Trouble is, he does not seem to have any ready cash that would allow him to purchase his favorite food.
“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” he is often heard to say. (You can hear him sing it in this clip from the 1980 Robin Williams movie Popeye.)
Why does Wimpy find himself in this situation so often? Our guess is that he could use a little help with budgeting. And he certainly isn’t alone.
A study from 2021 suggested that many Americans suffer from financial anxiety and stress. The study suggests that better financial literacy might help alleviate some of that stress—and that would include knowing how to effectively set and stick to a budget.
High levels of stress are a threat to your sobriety. If financial stress is part of your life, read on to learn more about how budgeting can help reduce that stress—which in turn protects your hard-won sobriety.
Here’s a step-by-step approach to setting a budget:
- Write down how much money you actually take home each month. Remember, this is not your total monthly salary or earnings. Instead, it is the money you have left after taxes and other deductions are taken out of your check. (Note that if you are paid weekly or bi-weekly, you could create your budget to align with that schedule.)
- Determine your monthly expenses by adding up all your recurring bills. Some bills will be the same month to month—like your car payment or your rent or mortgage. Some expenses will vary from month to month—like your groceries or your electric bill. For the purposes of determining your monthly expenses, you can use an average of the last few bills to get a usable number for your calculation.
- Do the math. Is your income greater than your expenses? Great! Take some of those dollars and “pay yourself” by stocking them away in a savings account. Use some of the other additional dollars for things you enjoy—like a nice meal out, or an addition to a collection, or some equipment for your hobby. Is your income less than your expenses? That is less great. You are going to need to either find a way to increase your income or a way to lower your expenses. Both those things can be challenging but getting your income ahead of your expenses is the only way to consistently lower your stress levels when it comes to money.
- Give yourself grace. It can be hard to stick to a budget at first. Heck, it can be hard to stick to a budget period. But as a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, you already know you can do hard things. There may be setbacks—an unexpected car repair or medical bill, for example, can upset the applecart—but if you stick with it, you can make your budget work for you. And when you do so, you are building a more financially secure future—and a future in which you are better equipped to hold on to your sobriety.
We Would Gladly Help You with Your Substance Use Disorder Today
Wimpy may want to put payment off until Tuesday, but when it comes to dealing with a substance use disorder, the moment to get help is always right now. At Bel Aire Recovery Center in Kansas, we are always ready to help you regain and maintain your sobriety.
The process starts with medically supervised detoxification, shifts to rehabilitation via group and individual therapy, and then shifts to a continuum of care that ensures you have access to resources and support in the early days of your recovery journey. We are committed to compassionate, personalized care grounded in evidence and expertise that addresses not only a substance use disorder but also any co-occurring mental health disorders.
Earlier in this blog entry, we encouraged you to “do the math.” That is good advice when it comes to deciding whether to get treatment for a substance use disorder. If you add up all the likely outcomes of choosing not to get help, you likely won’t be pleased with how things total up. But if you add up the benefits of treatment, you will see that getting sober totals up to a better life.