What Can I Do with my Stimulus Check if Cash is a Trigger for me?



Congress has just recently passed legislation approving another round of direct stimulus payments to Americans, providing many with a much-needed financial lifeline so they are able to put food on the table and keep the lights on. For those of us in early recovery, this payment could either provide us with some additional financial security or a catalyst for a relapse, depending entirely upon our actions and decisions. If cash is a trigger for you, you should take some precautionary measures in order to ensure your ability to access and use the funds to purchase your substance of choice is limited, adding a level of accountability for how you spend this money.


If you are receiving your funds in the form of a check, the last thing you should do is convert this check to cash on hand. Cash tends to slip through a person’s fingers, and for an addict or alcoholic our instinct when we have an excess of cash on hand is to partake in our substance of choice. If you have not already begun the process of restoring your financial fitness, this money can help you get started towards that goal. Rather than cashing this check, use it to start a new relationship with a bank, opening a checking and savings account in your name. Bank accounts are virtually a necessity in this day and age, so the sooner you establish an account in good standing the more quickly you will be able to restore your fiscal health.


Perhaps you have already taken steps towards restoring your financial stability and will be receiving your stimulus payment via direct deposit. This sudden influx of cash into your account could still prove to be a strong temptation for you, but there are several steps you can take to mitigate any untoward influence this money could have over you. First, you should transfer the funds to your savings account, turning off any features which automatically transfer money to your checking account should you overdraw it. Hopefully requiring an extra step to gain access to the funds will give you pause before making an unhealthy decision. Additionally, you should give your sponsor or another trusted sober support insight into your financial situation, allowing them to randomly review your account and inquire about any questionable cash withdrawals they see. This added layer of accountability should dissuade you from acting on an impulse to relapse, as you will surely be found out.


Money can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we decide to use it. With the passage of the latest fiscal stimulus legislation, Americans are receiving another round of direct payments in order to help them through this difficult time. Those in early recovery need to be especially wary of the decisions they make regarding this influx of cash, both in terms of how it is stored as well as their ease of access to it. We do not get sober to run from responsibilities, as this is akin to running from growth. Instead of handing over your cash to someone else and absolving yourself of this responsibility, make some healthy, common-sense decisions regarding how the money is received, stored and spent so that you can begin forming positive behavior patterns and improve your fiscal health!



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