Money, Not Magic

I heard this expression for the first time yesterday and loved it. Boy, how true that is. When I hear about others’ miracles in DA, it gives me hope. As a newcomer, I had to have faith that miracles would happen for me. And they have.

But there came a day in my recovery when I was faced with the fact that money is finite. A day when I had no more money in a discretionary category, like Clothing or Entertainment, for the rest of the month because I had spent it all. A day that has repeated itself over and over in my four plus years of recovery in DA HOW. Days where I must sit with the pain of delaying gratification.

The Consequences of Living by My Spending Plan

I live by my spending plan, not by my bank balance. Because I do so, my bank balance has grown and my debt has shrunk.

I allocate every penny of income to a category. And I am rigorous about staying within my categories, even if it is painful. If there is an actual need, not a want, that requires some shifting of funds, I work with my sponsor or PRG team to do so.

But, and here is where the facts are clear, I do not do this in ANY discretionary category. In that case, I wait until the next month. Perfect example, last month I wanted to make an additional Discretionary purchase, but I was short by seven cents. Yes, cents. Did we move money around? Nope. I just had to wait it out until the next month. And I didn’t die, despite my profound self-pity.

And I’ve even forgotten what it was I wanted so badly.

Needs can Require an Adjustment

I previously wrote a post about how I spent too much on food last month when my family came to visit. I did so abstinently, but not looking at the big picture of the entire month. As the month progressed, it became clear I wouldn’t have enough food money, so my sponsor helped me figure out how to fund that category. I had an overage in a discretionary category that had accumulated. I made a decision with her to let the money go from a want to a need, so we moved $100 from that category into Food and the problem was solved.

Miracles VS. Myths

There is a big difference between the miracles that occur as a result of working this program and the myth that money is magical and will expand at will.

Examples of Miracles

  • Getting that job you wanted for more money because you became focused on your goal
  • Lab tests being part of a study so you don’t have to pay the $3,000 because they weren’t covered by insurance
  • Accumulating the money to buy a car when you couldn’t save enough to buy a cup of coffee before recovery
  • Paying off the last of your unsecured debt

Myth

It’s simple. The myth that money is magic is believing that you should have unlimited funds in every category at all times to buy everything you want the very second you want it.

I thought that by becoming abstinent in DA and working the HOW program meant that I would have no boundaries on my spending. Sure, I would be abstinent and wouldn’t debt. But I assumed my reward would be to have more than enough money all the time.

Shifting My Thinking

This pre-recovery thinking still haunts me at times. But today, I am aware that it is a myth, and allowing myself to wallow in self-pity or feelings of deprivation are just going to lead me back to debting. Far better for me to turn my thoughts to gratitude for all I have and learn to be satisfied with my life today than waste my life wishing for tomorrow or worse, wishing for a reality that isn’t.

It’s hard for me to wait and accumulate for big purchases. But I remember saving up for my passport. I just allocated a small amount each month and let go of it. I stopped obsessing about it, even forgot about it. And a year later, I had a passport. A year after that, I went to Europe abstinently. Now THAT is a miracle.

God: Help me to remember to be grateful for what I have when I am faced with not being able to purchase what I want when I want it.

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