How to Save Money While in Recovery

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

You’ve decided it is time to get help for your addiction and get back control of your life. You could be attending a 12-step group, a treatment program or accessing other avenues of recovery. Courageously, you’ve taken this important step in your life.

But, life is going to keep moving forward and your responsibilities will continue. Like caring for loved ones, going to work or paying bills. Even though you are seeking help for your addiction, the rent or mortgage needs to get paid.

So, how can you save money while you are taking steps toward your recovery? How can you continue to meet your responsibilities and manage your money more efficiently? As a person who has dealt with money woes, but managed to “right the ship” and pay off debts, and then tried to help others with what I learned—I want to pass along some practical ways you can begin to save and manage your money while you are making the decision to get and remain sober.

Take inventory

It’s hard to make any evaluations without first collecting some data. The best way I know of getting a handle on your finances is to do a inventory of your finances. For one month (or a couple of weeks), track what is going out and coming in. Maybe you have a notebook you can write in or a calendar book to jot down your expense for the day. It’s important to know where your money is going so you can get control. There are  online sites that can help with this if you prefer to do it digitally. One I’ve used is Mint.

Check that cell phone bill

These are providers who “rent” space off of the big networks (AT&T, Sprint, ie) and then resell it to customers at lower rates.One of the best ways that I’ve found to save more on my monthly bills is by reducing my cell phone bill. Since this is a recurring charge, I don’t want to pay any more than I have to while having decent service for my needs. Because I can use WIFI most of the time and don’t use the cell phone to talk a lot, I went with an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These are providers who “rent” space off of the big networks (AT&T, Sprint, ie) and then resell it to customers at lower rates.”  While the coverage is not premium, it is good enough. The price is also hard to beat. I use Tello, which provides me with unlimited talk / text + 2GB of data for about $15  per month. That price alone (and the offering) is enough to have kept me as a customer for over three years now. (Learn more about Tello).

Save through your employer

There may be a few ways to save through your employer. Many of them have partnered with service providers in your area to offer reduced rates. At one of my workplaces, they offered savings on events, car washes and rentals. Also, if you are a manager and use the phone a lot for work, they may be able to reimburse or pay for your cell phone bill. Lastly, I would check to see what your withholdings are for your W-4. You may be able to reduce your tax burden each paycheck by adjusting the exemptions you take. Use the IRS’s estimator tool to find out what you should be entering on your W-4.

Some businesses automatically register their employees for retirement accounts (like 401k’s). While more of a “last resort”, you may be able to pause this paycheck deduction for a period.

Transportation savings

If you are living here in the Twin Cities area, and struggling to make ends meet, Metro Transit’s TAP (Transit Assistance Program) may be helpful. They offer rides for $1 on their lines. You will need to register and meet their qualifications. Learn more.

If you have a vehicle, I have discovered it’s best to find a reliable mechanic you can count on when you need repairs. It’s easier to work with a small shop vs. a dealership (who has more overhead). If you still have a car payment and it’s more than you can afford, perhaps you can sell for a less expensive / used vehicle? But I realize it can be difficult to sell when the vehicle is being financed.

Analyze those utilities

If you have your own home or are renting, another way to save on those fixed expenses is by reducing your utility bills. Are there ways to reduce your gas, electric and water use? Sometimes, we are paying more than we need to – especially when it comes to the water bill. One month my water bill went up unexpectedly and I wondered if I had a secret leak somewhere (here’s how to check if you do). With your electric bill, you can switch to LED bulbs or other energy saving appliances. Many utility companies offer free consultations to see where you can save.

If you qualify, Comcast’s Internet Essentials, may be a good way to reduce your internet bill. For $9.95/month they offer high-speed internet (25 Mbps) with no term contracts and in-home WiFi.

Drop the subscriptions

Many of us are using subscription services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime for our entertainment. While fairly nominal expenses, these can add up. Perhaps you can pause these or eliminate them entirely to provide quick relief to the budget. I know that some of these services will offer a “free month” here and there simply by asking.

Online savings

There are quite a few apps and websites out there devoted to online shopping. One of the best that I’ve found is Honey. Through the click of a button, it will automatically apply discount codes during checkout to ensure you have the best price. I’ve saved a lot of money by using this app which is easily be installed to your browser.

Other ways to save?

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to save while in recovery. We’d love to hear of other creative ways you have found to save more money in the comments below.


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Last Updated on October 2, 2020

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