Friday, February 29, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Our Finances & Money

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Our Finances & Money.

If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 2/29/08 and runs to Sunday 3/2/08 evening.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

Our host for this weekend is Catherine. Catherine is one of our regular visitors to this blog and provides a lot of good comments. She is encouraging and hopeful.

This is where we start. Catherine has posted the message below. These are Catherine's words which start our meeting on:

"Our Finances & Money"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few months ago I volunteered to cover the costs of our kids’ daycare because I make more money than my alcoholic. Two months later, the price went up; three months after that I lost my job. And yet I still kept paying the entire bill – out of my savings – for another FIVE months.

One of my past boyfriends borrowed money from me every week until, after five years, he owed me $10,000. Ten. Thousand. Dollars. Embarrassing!

So, in terms of my financial expertise, you can see that I have none. However, I do have these “credentials”:
* I am in a co-dependent relationship with an alcoholic
* I have used money to enable his behavior and to try and control him (and others)
* I have faith that my money issues can change by working the program

Everyone has emotional issues with money, and I think people have a hard time discussing them (I didn’t even tell my accountant the stories I just told you). I find that even trying to identify my issues is tough. I started by doing a little free association in my notebook around money, emotions and AlAnon concepts. Here are my top five things to think about:

5) The past is gone. In terms of money, it’s very black and white. Spent money just ain’t coming back. When I can accept that, I can move forward to reconstruct my financial life with peace and freedom from anger or resentment.

4) Use the mirror, not the magnifying glass. This vivid AlAnon metaphor helps me to face the truth about my financial situation and to examine how my emotions took me down that road. In my case, the reasons I use to explain my money problems, “I’m bad at math,” or “it’s boring,” or “it’s for the kids,” are not reasons, they’re excuses. And they’re not even true; it’s denial! I am in denial about my finances because the reality proves that I’m a mess. I have to keep using the mirror to catch this evasive thinking or seriously, I won’t retire.

3) One day at a time. I wish there were some formula or instruction booklet to get me out of this situation, but there isn’t. I have to think about financial enabling and financial detachment each day and work toward recovery.

2) Don’t do for someone what they can do for themselves. What a simple, little sentence that is, but financial detachment for me in daily life has been a huge challenge. I have worked really, really hard for my money and I deserve to benefit from that. So why do I cover for someone else? Because I feel sorry for him, because I have guilt and other negative feelings about myself, because writing a check is a great way to avoid confrontation. But when I cover for him financially I enable him to dodge his responsibilities. (And I free up his resources so he can spend them on alcohol.) So my challenge is to step away and put him in the position to shoulder his own costs.

1) Put myself first. Whose money is it anyway? (Suze Orman offers specific strategies on her show and in her writing.)

I have a lot of learning to do, so I welcome your shares and thoughts. Thanks for listening.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is where we begin our program and your comments for this weekend's meeting. Please comment on the subject or if you have a burning desire or issue, please comment and ask for help.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can never get our finances straight. Everytime I try to pay for one thing, something else comes due.

Why is it that alcoholics never work?

Ashley said...

Hi everyone,

I've missed you all this week, but have been out of town since Monday. Just got back to my house tonight and am trying to get caught up with all my regular blog reads.

Catherine, this is a great topic! I really like your top 5 things to think about. I'm writing them in my journal as I type this.

Money has been one of the biggest issues in our marriage. We live very much pay check to pay check and we have joint checking and savings accounts. We reached a point a few years ago where we decided to have separate checking accounts and he would pay half the bills, and I would pay the other half.

The problem is that he was CONSTANTLY bouncing checks and getting way overdrawn with overdraft fees etc. So it was costing him an arm and a leg to have a checking account. Unfortunately this also means it was costing me an arm and a leg, since I couldn't make the mortgage, daycare, health insurance not to mention groceries and electric/water/sewer, on my paycheck.

So we decided I would handle the money and give him an allowance. Just like a good mother, I doled out $200 every other week to take care of "incidentals". The problem is, he would spend all his money within a few days on cigarettes and beer, and then borrow more money from co-workers.

It reached a point where he was stealing checks out of my purse (both the original and duplicate so I wouldn't notice them). I would notice it alright when my checks started bouncing. I can't even count how many times we got into arguments over that. Him writing checks for the last time in September and then writing another one two days after our argument and his "promise" to not do it again was the catalyst for him going into rehab. I had reached the very end of my rope.

The hardest thing for me to deal with is the embarrasment of bounced checks. I'm trying to be seen as a respected member of our business community, and my name is on checks being bounced at every party store in town. Lovely!

I remember an ex-boyfriend who used to "borrow" money from me all the time. We split up and within 3 weeks, I was able to save $700. We got back together again, and within 2 days, that money was completely gone. Totally my fault, I could have always said no, but I didn't. I liked to be needed. Unfortunately, I was paying a high price for it.

So, the positive for me right now is I'm aware of my financial issues. There are boundaries I've set (all around my purse) and if they're broken, I will take steps to remove the problem like I did in September.

kadenate's mom said...

Hi all! I am really appreciating this blog, and everyone's transparency! Thank you!

On this topic, I'd have to say that my alcoholic husband (and, btw, I cringe to write that word...husband..it implies trust, safety, intimacy, etc.)does not fit the descriptions I see here, in terms of the way he handles money/finances.

Interestingly, though, finances have been a main 'issue' for us over the years. He is on the other end of the spectrum - a workaholic.

His work is where he thrives. I would describe him as a human doing, rather than a human being.

Lately, I have found myself grieving over so many loses within this 'relationship'...when I see families spending time together, taking walks, ENJOYING one another...sigh.

We have been together since we were teenagers, so our financial situation has changed significantly over the years - but he has NEVER had 'enough', even though we have PLENTY. We always lose out on time together, because there is always more work to be done.

I have been blessed to be a stay at home Mom, but have also paid a high price for that, as he says/said he wanted me to raise our kids, but also threw it in my face constantly. I can't count the number of times that I told him I would be HAPPY to 'downsize' our living arrangements if he would be HAPPY to be with US! I would live in a tent if we had love, joy, peace and RELATIONSHIP in our home! I got married because I wanted a relationship - a best friend with my husband, not a paycheck.

Anyway, on the flip side, though he works countless hours - whether he is at work or at home (he had to mow the lawn before taking me to the hospital when I was in labour) he refuses to have any accountability as to where the money is spent. I have tried to set up a budget for us, but he refuses. We are unable to have a chequing account because we can never be certain if the cheque would bounce or not, as we don't have a clue what our balance is. If we had a budget, it would be harder for him to lie to me about his drinking......

Where do I fit into this equation? Well, I am realizing day by day that I have been allowing this whole mess. It's 'easier' to just go along with things...but it gets ya in the long run!! Boundaries. Yuck. Sure hasn't been my favorite word - but now that I have reached my bottom (boy, I sure hope this is my bottom!!) I am getting better at setting boundaries, and keeping them. Guess what? They keep me and my boys safe! Keep in the good, and keep out the bad!

I wish you all a peaceful weekend!

Sonnie

Anonymous said...

I could really go to town here having been married to an alcoholic for 16 years. But I have been practicing all week looking into the mirror instead of the magnifying glass (huge thanks for this post!!!). So I am trying to be positive.

Our finances did not work for me until I managed to convince my husband to have a joint account just for the bills. Prior to this all of our money was in joint accounts.
We added up all of our bills for the year and then decided how much money we needed to pay each week to make sure we could cover the major expenses. The money is paid directly into the joint account from our pays. I have blocked ATM and eftpos access to this account for both of us so the money is used solely for bills.
Whatever money is left over from our pay is for each of us to do with what we want and it goes into our respective accounts (not joint)

It took 2 years of fighting and cajoling, having the telephone disconnected, money not being there for car insurance etc for him to finally agree, but since we have set this up, money has not been a problem, all our bills are paid and we each have money left over on the side.

I was positive he would be in financial trouble in no time without my money being readily available to him to bail him out.
I have been very pleasantly surprised. After many years of disasterous financial woes, I am happy to say money is not one of our current problems.

Skip

Joe said...

Hi I am Joe and I would like to share;

I wasn't sure how this would apply to me, then I reread #4. My excuse was, I didn't want to know how much was being spent, since it would only put me in a bad mood.

So, dumb me, gave her my checkbook and a credit card and she was supposed to just pay the bills. "Just pay the bills" is the key phrase. After 10 or 15 years of "just letting her pay" the bills, I took back the credit card and the checkbook.

I found out now there were late fees, unpaid bills and money missing.

My excuse - I didn't want to be put in a bad mood. What an idiot.

I am working #5 now. The past is the past.

I am grateful I found out she was drinking and abusing the checkbook to the point of fraud - if we weren't "married." Funny how her money was never spent.

Yes a little resentment.

She is now somewhat contributing. Paying her things and some parts of the bills like electric. She claims she is paying it all - throwing guilt out at me, which I am learning to sidestep and watch the guilt go by.

And to the first comment, anonymous, it is facinating to see how many alcoholics avoid work, or so it seems to me from this blog and in the Al-Anon meetings.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

This is a topic I could probably spend mny entire weekend sharing on, but thank god for you all I really have other things to pay some attention to,so I will keep it short.

My alchoholic took me to the edge of financial meltdown, both when she was in the hone, and now that she is out of the home.

She worked full time ( I mean when she was sober and not calling in sick. Her income was her income, thus I had no access to it, and her only responsability was the phone bill, that I always ended up paying for. Her money went to clothes, a new pair of jeans a week, (expensive jeans mind you), tanning, $100 tanning oil, blah blah blah...

When her money was gone, next stop was the bank of Kevin. Toward the end, I estimated $500-$750 a month just in bar bills, wine for the house, hair cuts, gas, the list goes on and on.

Once out of the home, I paid for her apartment deposit, each month's rent, groceries, gas, and averaged $500 a month in cash she needed "right now" you need to meet me "right now". Well, that was going toward $300 rounds of Petrone for her circle of friends, or who was in the bar at the time, maybe an Ipod for the man she was with that night, you know the routine, and enough said.

Finally, I said no more. I had to stop the insanity!!!!

She continued to try to extract as much from me as she possibly could, but to no avail. She doens't ask anymore. She lost her apartment, and to date I have no idea where she is at or what she is doing.

Final Note: She was expecting mail so I emailed her, expecting no return email, however surprise surprise.... I told her she would find it under the mat of the front door. The next day she called my office, thanked me, then began to drill me in regards to my Ford Expedition being outside and not in the garage. She wanted to know how I got to work. I explained it wasn't her concern, and she continued the drill down until I admitted I had purchased a new Chysler 300. That, did not go over well, and she said, Huh, must be nice to have all that extra money laying around....

Well, I told her, amazing what one can do without $500 bar tabs, $250 hair cuts, and designer jeans....

Thank you Joe, for the ability to share here.

Peace this Saturday.

KevinB

Catherine said...

Skip, that's an interesting solution; very smart.

Katenates Mom, I heard another share recently where the alcoholic was the breadwinner. The couple's struggles were around who spent what. He would give her grief about a new handbag and then she would say what about your bar tab? She finally threw in the towel and they decided he would be in charge of all the bills. The results? "Disastrous," she said. (Similar to what happened with Ashley.) Sometimes we just have to try things to see what works. Chalk it up as an experiment, I guess. They're both in recovery now, so I got the impression that it just doesn't matter as much.

A.J. said...

Well, the beginning of my story is the same as most of the other comments. When I was with the alcoholic he worked 7 days a week--and much like other workaholics, I told him I'd like to downsize just to have him there with us rather than working all of the time. I asked him to set up a budget, he said, "absolutely not". I also worked 40 hours a week, but he made double what I did. He was repsonsible for the house payment and I was responsible for everything else---plus anything extra we did.
One of the reasons I stayed so long was because I didn't think I could afford it on my own. I had so much credit card debt from our lifestyle, I didn't think I could afford rent, gas, groceries, childcare--I was not a single mom raising a child on my own. I didn't want child support, because if there was a chance he'd disappear from our daughter's life, I wanted him to have that option. (for her sake)

Well, I did and I CAN! Without him around--my priorities are back in order and I've even managed to pay off all of my credit cards and loans! I took the Dave Ramsey class--Financial Peace University--and I would recommend that to anyone! You can find a class near you at www.DaveRamsey.com This class gave me the tools to manage my money AND pay off debt when I didn't even think I could afford to pay my bills as a single mom. The last piece of debt is my student loan, after that, I will be able to say I"m debt FREE!!!!

Check out Dave Ramsey everyone--it's amazing the tools he will give you!

A.J. said...

that was meant to say, I was NOW a single mom......

Kevin B--nice reply on all the extra money laying around. :-) I do not want my X to ever find out I've managed to pay off things....because he'll think somehow ... he's entitled to something......

On another note--I will NEVER get into a relationship AGAIN without making sure we're on the same page regarding money. I make sure my bills are paid before everthing else. It's amazing how many people do not.

Anonymous said...

Right after I got married I discovered that my husband had given his best friend/best man at our wedding, 35K to invest for him. His friend was a con artist. That money dissapeared and my husband was mad at me because I discovered it.He hated me for discovering it. He just couldn't believe that his friend would do that to him. My husband spent thousands on get rich quick schemes throughout our marriage, each one putting us further into debt sealing the fate of our doomed marriage. I wanted him to quit his job and like someone else said, would have lived in a tent to make things change, of course they never did. The year before I left him I paid off 30K in credit card debt with my money and his truck so we could be debt free when I divorced his sorry ass.
When the ink was dry on the divorce decree I had paid him 10K in our settlement and 4000K when he bought a home. He quit his 6 figure job for a 40K job after I divorced him so his child support obligation was very low, but I had prepared for zero. Since then I have gotten all kinds of calls from debt collectors looking for him. Last I heard he was in debt up to his eyeballs. Some people just can't get it. And I am the one in recovery..he always pointed the finger at me because i was the self acknowledged Alcoholic. Well, he is too, but it was always easier to point the finger at me.
I struggle with committment because of financial fear, I am so afraid of losing what I have worked so hard to regain in my life and for my family. I used to be so angry about all of this. I am not very good at sharing anymore either and terrified to ever become dependant upon a man again just due to all the BS I went through in that marriage. It seemed when he was making the money he controlled everything, even though he was fiancially irresponsible, when I called him out on it I was being a nag. So I quit nagging, I quit complaining, I went to Al anon and I changed the things I could MYSELF...and life got different and then it got hard and then it got better and now it's good and my girls and I have been blessed and I went on to start a new career and buy my dream house,and accomplish all that I THOUGHT I could never do w/o a man on my own. Once again all my fears never came to pass.
SG

FrannyGlass said...

Thanks to everyone for their shares. I really didn't know how this topic would apply to me, until I started seeing myself in everyone's blog posts. Duh!

Catherine said...

SG, I can relate to your post. My mother is a textbook copendent, and when my dad broke down she picked up the slack, worked her butt off and kept everything together. When they divorced the judge ordered her to pay alimony (it was 1985 if you can believe it) to him even though she had custody of three kids.

There's a lot of shame around having problems with money. I would never talk to my closest friends about this stuff. I know that after I "funded" my alcoholic (and other addicts) I really felt stupid and I felt like a sucker. I'm not sure intellect had anything to do with it, though. My decisions were entirely emotional.

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