Seeking addiction treatment is a huge decision and one with the potential to yield huge rewards for our personal and professional lives. However, beyond the boundary of a treatment facility, life is not known for standing still; bills still need to get paid. Choosing to take time to make much-needed changes is, of course, important. However, in a rush to get ourselves off to detox, we can’t forget to maintain personal matters independent of our addiction.
First Things First
Everyone has different financial obligations, from housing costs and utilities to child support, and everything in between. Depending on your situation, there may also be credit cards, auto loans, and other financial obligations, each requiring on-time payments directly impacting your credit score. You may also be self-paying insurances and retirement investments. Due to the finances you may be dealing with, it is important to get your money matters in order before heading into treatment and rehabilitation.
Why Is This Important?
Whether the number of financial obligations on your list is two or twenty-two, the key word is obligations. Unless other arrangements have been made, you must assume anything you owe must be met according to the contract terms.
Whether you attend full-time residential treatment or a more flexible program built to accommodate professional obligations, you have to assume that you will probably face new distractions in the near to mid-term, depending on the length of the program.
Now imagine completing the intensive phase of treatment only to be met with your utilities being switched off, your home being foreclosed, and your credit score dropping significantly. When you integrate yourself back to your regular routine, you want the other aspects of your life to have order. Dealing with a possible eviction, negotiating payments with credit companies, and having other nuisances could trigger a relapse from the stress.
List Your Financial Responsibilities
Sit down and list all your financial responsibilities for each month you anticipate being involved within the treatment program. Then do this:
- Next to the responsibility, write the dollar amount owed at each payment.
- Then, note the due date. It should be precisely the same every month, but check the previous bill or pull up your online account if you are not sure.
- Next to that, note whether it is an automatic payment from a bank draft, an online payment, or a good old fashioned paper check. In which case, do you have enough stamps? Do you need to order more checks?
- Add all your monthly payments up, jotting the full monthly total at the end of the list.
- You may need an additional page for each month.
- Feel free to add headings and make the list look good on a spreadsheet.
- Print your list and take it with you to the rehabilitation facility.
Making the Arrangements
Planning to prevent the potential for financial chaos can help alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress in your life. Whether it’s a hand-written list or a detailed spreadsheet, look at what you owe for the month or months ahead, then take an honest assessment of your anticipated income for the duration of the time you expect to be away from full involvement in your professional life.
Will you lose a portion of your income? Perhaps not if you can take time off for sick leave. However, if you are a freelancer, self-employed, or don’t have a job that offers sick leave, you may face income loss during periods of professional inactivity. This, of course, includes any side-gigs you have been engaged with.
Your health is essential; potentially life-saving detoxification and rehabilitation treatment absolutely come before anything on your financial to-do list. Auditing your situation is not meant to be discouraging or put you off. On the contrary, this is all about grabbing the handlebars before you steer downhill.
If losing all or a portion of your income is likely, contacting your creditors in advance may be the way to go. You might not want to disclose the specifics for any potential late payments, other than possibly a personal or family emergency. Some credit cards allow a pause on payments for one or two months without penalty. Check to see if this feature is available on your credit cards, and if so, take advantage of it. Depending on your situation, you may not even have to provide a reason. If not, ask if they would be willing to agree to a smaller amount with an agreed catch-up date later.
The point of this pre-problem solving exercise is to anticipate where any issues might arise and pro-actively investigate ways to head them off in a manner appropriate to your situation.
Power of Attorney
Before you clamp chains over your wallet and checkbook, there is more than one type of power of attorney (POA). An attorney would be the most appropriate professional to provide guidance. However, assuming there is a significant other or family member you trust, POAs can grant authority for specific matters only, such as bill paying. They may also be restricted to particular or limited periods.
You do not have to grant permission for unlimited spending sprees to include homes and auto buying, unless, you wish to! In any case, it may be an option worth exploring, depending on your circumstances.
Depending on the type of detox treatment you enter, you may have to pay specific bills ahead of time, or at least make arrangements for partial payment or a missed payment.
This is especially true if on entering treatment, you will be without any digital communication, specifically, access to online bill paying. If you do not prepare, you may realize midway through a detox that a bill was due and you didn’t pay it.
Regardless of your financial situation, preparing in advance to the best of your ability is essential. Some of the additional tasks following on from the list above may be as follows:
- Pre-write any checks, address the envelopes and provide a stamp. Ask a trusted person if they would be willing to mail the checks on a specific date before the due date. Be careful about sending everything all at once. A check might be cashed before the bill is due and your account may get overdrawn.
- If you pay your bills online, you can pre-pay ahead of a due date and check the calendar that often pops up alongside your payment authorization; click the date that best corresponds with the day you want the bill paid. This gives you a little bit of control, and so long as you know the funds will be available when the money is taken from the account, this may be a good way to go.
- If you make standard payments each month, such as utilities, cable, cell phone, mortgage, or rent, try to arrange automatic payments from your checking account.
One Last Thing
Having taken control of your financial activities in advance, you have now effectively removed any future stress you may have faced during or after your intensive treatment. Even if your financial picture is not as great as you would like it to be, that’s okay because you know that you have at least made any necessary arrangements to mitigate issues in advance.
Write down everything that you have done to help yourself up to this point. Keep copies of your list, in addition to any phone calls that you made, any person that you spoke to, and any payment arrangements that you made with the amount and date you made them.
Your record-keeping may come in handy should you need to dispute something in the future. It is amazing what we forget when we think we’re going to remember it. So having the paper or some sort of record of your financial decisions and relevant contact information and other essential details on hand may prove useful later on.
Making changes in our life is never easy, but it opens up a world of possibilities in terms of our health and well-being for the long term. By making your financial picture part of your long-term wellness, you could be removing any trigger for relapse later on.
Taking control of your financial activities in advance of entering a fully immersive detoxification or treatment program may help prevent future financial stress by taking the time to handle bill paying and other financial matters ahead of time. Options for deferring payments, advancing payments, and even making partial payments may be available depending on your circumstances. The point is to look at the situations beforehand rather than hope things will resolve themselves. Making a list of financial responsibilities can be an excellent start to preparing for your period of absence. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains’ inspiring landscape, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. No matter how far on your journey to substance abuse or mental health recovery, we look forward to helping you explore the range of supportive treatment and aftercare options available to you. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035. It may be the best thing you do for yourself today.