Four Cents

Yesterday, four cents was the tool the Debt Devil used to lure me back into disease behavior. Four lousy cents.

I was at the craft store using up the remainder of my discretionary money for the month. I had the chenille needles in hand for my current project and a $.69 piece of needlework canvas for fun.

Knowing I was limited, I humbly informed the young sales woman that my purchase couldn’t exceed $2.28. But I felt pretty sure I had enough money for both items, so I thought my willingness was really just for show (ego rears its ugly head).

She looked at me a bit confused, but proceeded to ring up my order.

$2.32. The total came to four cents over the amount I had available. We looked at each other, she puzzled, me panicked.

The devil sat on one shoulder, an angel on the other.

Living by My Spending Plan

Because I live by my spending plan, not my bank account, I consider it debting if I deliberately overspend in a category. Every single dollar in my bank account is assigned to a category. I do not have free-flowing money. If I go over in one category, even by four cents, I am unleashing a type of willfulness that could cause me to increasingly rob categories in an attempt to quiet my unceasing obsessions … until the demon of desire is fully unleashed within me and I run amok with spending.

But it’s ONLY four cents! Silly as this may seem to a “normal” spender, consider the fact that if you wrote a check that exceeded your bank balance by four cents, you would get charged a hefty fee when someone tried to cash it. The bank doesn’t consider four cents too lowly for concern. Why should I?

I stick to what is in my category unless it is a need, such as food or medication. And only after I work with my sponsor or PRG team would I shift money from another category to cover it, ensuring that the money I move wouldn’t adversely affect the category it is leaving.

And finally, I know we have a $5 overage in DA HOW, but that means, for instance, if I am at the grocery store and commit $25 for food and the bill comes to $29, as long as I have $29 available in the Grocery category, I can go ahead and spend it. It doesn’t mean that I pretend that there is money available in a category that isn’t.

Brambles and Recovery

I compare my abstinence and recovery in DA to the Prince in Sleeping Beauty, slogging through the briars and brambles on the Recovery path. The sword is my spending plan; the cutting edge, my categories. My money is sliced up in such a way that enables me to live without debting, to live within my means, ensuring both my needs and some of my wants are satisfied.  Those brambles are the situations that confuse me, the obsessions that cross my path, and the temptations that could lead me back to debting.

Four cents may seem like small change, but spending those particular four cents could ruin my life in recovery.

Willingness in the Face of Temptation

The salesperson tried her best to figure out how to add in another discount, but couldn’t.

I took a breath and said, “Please take off the canvas.”

She couldn’t help herself, and had to ask me about not spending the four cents. I told her that I have to live by a spending plan.

And you know what she said? “Boy, I wish I had a spending plan” (to which I said, “You can”) and “You really have tremendous self-control!” (to which I said, “I don’t”).

As we who are in recovery know, it is not our will that keeps us abstinent, but the Grace of a Higher Power.

When I left, she wished me luck with my spending plan.

I’m so grateful that I know today that it is Grace, not Luck, that kept me abstinent yesterday.

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