Financial Repair Tips for Problem Gamblers
Addiction can deteriorate many aspects of life, finances being among one of the most frequent especially for those facing gambling addiction. In fact, the average gambling debt owed is a staggering $50,000 per person.
To make matters worse, the National Council on Problem Gambling foresees exacerbated impacts for problem gamblers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This makes sense given the general stress and uncertainty that comes along with living during a pandemic, but also with the job losses and healthcare costs that came along with it.
As such, taking steps to repair one’s financial situation is extremely important during addiction recovery. Here are some tips you can use to help get back on track.
- Avoid Gambling
- It’s common for people with gambling addiction to realize gambling is a problem, but do not know a quicker way to alleviate the financial burdens gambling has caused. However, even if you were to win back all the money you need to pay off your debts, there’s nothing stopping you from riding the high of the win and persuading yourself that if you won big once, you can do it again. It’s a vicious cycle whether you win or lose. There is no quick fix, but not gambling further will make the task much easier to achieve.
- Organize Debts
- During active addiction, it’s not uncommon for many accounts to have been opened over many years making it difficult to remember and track them all down. Double-check through emails and documents to make sure you’re not missing any. This should include credit card debt, money owed to friends and family, overdrawn bank accounts, and money owed to casinos or riverboats.
- Once you have a running list of your debts, rank them in terms of urgency. We may feel more inclined to pay back debts to friends and family first, but if you have a debt that could cause you to get property repossessed or collection agencies harassing you, these are more urgent and need to be focused on first.
- Settlement Payment
- Some lenders will accept a fraction of the debt owed if you are willing to pay the agreed-upon percentage in full by a certain date (this also applies to medical bills). This can make it easier to fully knock out some of the debt and minimize collection agency harassment, and all it takes is a quick phone call to your lenders. Here are some tips on how to best negotiate a settlement payment.
- Consolidate Debts
- Condensing your debts helps make it so that you only have to send payment to one lender instead of five or ten making it easier to keep track of and ensure all bills are paid. This also minimizes any chances of “surprise” auto-pay withdrawals because fewer transactions are necessary to keep a mental note of.
- Create a Budget
- Whether it’s on a sheet of paper, Excel sheet, or using an app like Mint.com, set a realistic budget and stick to it. Mint is helpful because you can link your accounts to it which enables you to see how much you spend in different categories, your net worth, credit score, and much more. And it’s free! For more guidance on how to create a budget, click here.
- Credit Repair
- Gambling addiction can really do a number on credit scores. This makes it difficult to obtain loans when needed or can make the interest rates soar for those you are able to get approved. To help your score, consider getting a 0% interest credit card. It can be scary to do if you’ve racked up considerable credit card debt in the past, but even only using the card for a tank of gas once a month can help your score – so the credit limit doesn’t need to be high.
- Alternatively, if you are not ready to breach the world of credit in a healthy way, you can freeze your credit so there is a barrier in place if you find yourself wanting to open an account.
- There are also free services like Experian Boost that can instantly increase your credit score by giving you credit for paying off things like phone bills and Netflix subscriptions.
- Alternative Avenues of Support
- Depending on your situation, there can be a number of support options to help you get back on track. Government programs, personal loans, and/or finding additional sources of income (i.e. entering the workforce, getting a second job, or applying for a gig like DoorDash) can make a huge difference in how quickly you can pay off debts, and thus, how much interest you will spend.
- Speak with a Financial Advisor
- Guidance from a professional can help get you on the right track. They have experience with many different situations and can provide invaluable insight. It may not be free but can easily pay for itself.
- Seek Treatment
- Gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder. Depending on the severity of your problem gambling and your situation, getting professional help may be necessary for a successful recovery.
- If you have health insurance, your treatment can be covered. Some states will also cover the cost of treatment if your insurance doesn’t cover addiction therapy. Your state’s Consumer Affairs Office may have more information about state programs for gambling addiction.
- Williamsville Wellness is an addiction rehabilitation facility that offers treatment for gambling addictions. Call us today for more information: 804-599-4357.