Money is something most of us are acutely aware of every day. Whether we are paying bills, buying necessities from a store, or spending it on our hobbies, we generally know how much money it is safe for us to spend versus how much we definitely cannot afford at that given moment!
Unfortunately for many of our residents, their relationship with money in their addiction has been dominated by the simple pursuit of getting more of it without managing it responsibly. Addressing this in a resident’s life is a critical component of our residential program, even though it is probably not the first thing that comes to mind as a necessary ingredient for successful recovery.
How the His Way Bank Works
Along with specific financial counseling and education, such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, our residents are required to be accountable with their money starting on their very first day by carrying out all their banking through the “The His Way Bank,” which we open every weekday morning and afternoon.
Any money the resident receives from work, friends & family, or other forms of income must be deposited with us. We keep a spreadsheet for each resident’s account detailing all their deposits, withdrawals, & program fees.
We write checks out of their His Way account to pay bills or legal fees. When they need money throughout the week to go to the store or buy food, they withdraw money from their account. They are then required to turn in receipts showing how they spent that money. This simple system teaches our residents several important lessons in accountability and responsibility.
Accountability in Spending
Our residents become more thoughtful about how their money is being spent, because looking back at how they’ve spent their money over the past week is usually an eye-opening experience. When a resident is reviewing his account balance and receipts, it’s not uncommon to hear him say, “Maybe I shouldn’t buy fast food for lunch every day at work.” (His Way provides groceries in each dorm house for residents to take for lunch at work if they take the time to prepare it).
We also have the opportunity during our Bank to offer simple advice like avoiding buying too much from convenience stores or starting to buy more items in bulk to make their money go further.
Even the simple act of keeping up with those seemingly insignificant receipts reinforces a fundamental principle woven into all aspects of our program — paying attention to the little things is important. Jesus said,
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much,
and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
And we see that principle play out with how residents handle their money.
Many of our residents are not used to paying attention to the details of their lives or being faithful in managing what they have control over, but that begins to change after a few months of practicing doing that with something so personal as their money. They learn the value of how small changes in spending behaviors can add up over time.
It’s always great to hear a resident say, “I really want to buy ____, but I know I need to wait” or “I’ve never had that much money in an account before!” Experiencing the tangible benefits of having His Way involved in their money makes our residents more open to us being involved in all areas of their lives. Some of our graduates even continue banking with His Way long after their graduation because they value this financial accountability in their lives.
Lasting Lifestyle Changes
Once residents gain a little financial stability some truly beautiful things can happen.
- They start paying back family members or friends who they borrowed or stole from to begin making amends in the very relationships which they desperately need to be successful in their long-term recovery.
- They start to make meaningful plans for their future which has generally never been a priority for them.
- And they can show generosity by helping friends in difficult times or by donating to worthy causes allowing them to share in the grace and joy of giving, exemplifying one of the core aspects of our mission statement: “Restore them to Christ-like service in the community.”
Money is important to all of us. But for the addict it is often an issue dominating their life and driving all their actions and decisions. Without real help it would be hard for them to ever make progress in their recovery.
Through financial education, accountability, responsibility, and the injection of Christian principles of good stewardship, His Way is helping them achieve one of our most important stated goals: “to teach our residents the skills and habits they need to live productive, independent, drug-free lives.”