Gambling Addiction and Debt Reduction
There are some things to keep in mind when you or someone you love is battling with a Gambling Addiction. Gambling debt is on the rise in the United States.
Approximately 85% of American adults have gambled at least once in their lifetime.
The gambling industry nets approximately $500 Billion dollars a year.
That’s right $500 Billion dollars. That’s an astounding number.
It is estimated that as many as 23 million Americans go into debt because of gambling.
That being said, we have to ask ourselves- are we “all in” or have we “folded”?
Unless you are a statistical genius, then the odds are probably stacked against you.
When the odds are against you, and your luck has run out, you may find yourself stuck with a pile of debt instead of a pile of chips.
If you find yourself in a similar situation the answer is not to “go all in”. The answer is to fold and walk away.
This may sound easier than it is, but we have to start somewhere. Just like any other addiction, a gambling addiction is no different.
Recognize We Have A Problem And Seek Help
Here are some ways to determine if you have found yourself without a “full house” and you may need help to reduce your “black out”.
First of all. ask yourself these questions:
Are you missing your house payment to bet on the game this week?
Are you charging your credit cards to their limits?
Are you cashing your paycheck at the casino?
If you answer YES to any of these questions you may be struggling with a Gambling Addiction.
We may have established that we have a gambling addiction so what do we do next?
How Do We Find Help
How do we find help, so as to not dig a deeper hole in relations to debt?
Well, here are a few suggestions that can help you find your “royal flush” and rise out of the hole we just dug.
Debt can be looked at as a wager, just as if you were betting on this week’s game. I’ll explain…
You have $1,000 this week and your house payment is due.
If you decide to place that bet on your favorite game this week your odds of winning are at best 50/50,. So if you take the $1,000 and pay your house payment, the odds that you can stay in your house another a month is 100%.
Looking at the odds which one sounds like a winning hand?
If you chose paying your house payment, you have just “doubled down” on the road to recovery.
A Gambling Addiction can throw a “joker” in your hand and strip you from those things that are most important in your life. Such as your marriage, children, stability, a job, self-worth, and last but not least ,confidence in your self.
With support, you can find your “ace”, by finding the winning combination from financial debt- to financial stability.
Steps to Overcome Debt Related to a Gambling Addiction
Here are some ways that you can help those odds when it comes to debt in regards to a Gambling Addiction.
Make the Choice to Stop Gambling
Make the conscious decision to stop gambling, and discuss your decision with your friends and family.
Know what triggers you have and avoid them at all costs. A Gambling Addiction is no different than any other addiction, but making this decision can help you recover your losses and gain your life back.
Only you can take control to make a change in your life and find financial stability again.
Cut Off the Ability to Have Access to Your Gambling Fund
If you find that you are charging your gambling escapades on credit cards, bookies, loan sharks, or taking out a home equity loan, then you need to find a way keep them out of reach.
Cut up any credit cards or close accounts that would enable your gambling.
Eliminate the impulse of gambling. Avoid using your ATM card and have a two-signature process on any withdrawals from the bank.
This will help to put a barrier between you and your money and will make it harder for you to give in to your gambling addiction.
Seek Professional Treatment
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has added Gambling Addiction to their new manual.
This opens ups avenues that make seeking help easier. Insurance companies are required to cover therapy for Gambling Addictions which is a win/win for you. Your therapist/counselor can help implement an action plan to help ensure avoidance to gambling. Your therapist/counselor posseses the tools you need, to help you become successful in your recovery.
Find a Support System
Just as professional counseling is a support to help beat the odds of relapsing, it is important to have support from your friends and family also.
Having a strong support system will improve your odds to be successful.
Let your support system know of your action plan to avoid gambling, and communicate your progress. We all want you to win against the odds of gambling.
Getting Your Finances Back In Order
Once you have established a game plan for seeking help, now it’s time to get your finances under control to pay or reduce your debt. Here are some suggestions of how to do just that:
List all of the Debts You Owe
This is an important step in knowing the impact that Gambling Addiction has had on your finances.
Make a list of all of your debtors, and keep track of what you owe.
This will help you know where you stand and help you develop a plan in order to repay them. Write them down in a notebook or a spreadsheet.
Keep track of the balance of each debt. This can help to get your finances paid down faster.
Each one you pay down is a win for you.
Once you have your list of who and what you owe, see what you are able to pay directly off.
Start by taking monies that you would have placed on the game, or in the slots, and instead, pay off a debtor.
This will help you start to eliminate your remaining debt. If you feel unable to do this, perhaps the next step should begin with a budget that will start reducing your debt.
Get a Budget
I’m sure we have heard this most of our lives about putting a budget together, but this time it can really save you.
Once you have your list of debts, (make sure your monthly living expenses are on your budget) you are able to prioritize them.
Know how much you have left over, so that you can pay down your debt, or even eliminate your debt. Having a budget and sticking to it can get you out of debt faster than you realize.
Paying Off High Interest Credit Cards
In debt 101, it is suggested you start paying down the highest interest credit cards first. Consumers don’t realize how much each year we pay in interest alone.
By taking the highest interest card, and paying as much as you can over the minimum payment, will reduce your debt faster. By only paying the minimum payment, you will stay stagnate and your debt will never decrease.
Make sure that your budget accounts for the minimum payments for all other credit cards that must be paid, while you’re paying the highest interest rate first.
Once you have paid off the first credit card, then combine the payment you were previously paying and apply that to the second highest rate credit card. This will help reduce the balance at a faster rate.
Continue to do this with the rest of the credit cards until you are debt free.
Obtaining a Loan
If your credit isn’t at rock bottom because of your Gambling Addiction, then it may be useful to apply for a bank loan to consolidate your debt.
You now have your expenses and list of debts and this can give the bank a better picture of what they are willing to loan you.
Combining all your debts into one loan will help save on interest and allows you to make one payment to one lender, rather than trying to juggle multiple lenders.
Be careful when applying for a debt consolidation loan. You do not want to free up credit cards that will give you the means and urge to gamble.
This would be a good point to close or cut up any cards or accounts that could give you access to your Gambling Addiction.
Stop Using, Start Living
I realize this is a lot of information.
However, by having a plan, creating a budget, and understanding your gambling addiction with your therapist/counselor, you now have the tools to become financially stable in the aftermath of a gambling addiction.
This is not the time to put on your “poker face” this is the time to “show all your cards”.
Here at Williamsville Wellness we have a motto : “Stop Using, Start Living”. We specialize in Gambling Addiction, and we are here to help find the best treatment plan for you.
All we ask is for you to “bet” on us to help you recover, and get your life back.
Written by: Dana Elzy