Virtually every major in college has a requirement for at least one economics class in order to graduate. And generally speaking, it is your introductory course, commonly referred to as Economics 101, or Econ for short. One of the fundamental concepts we learn in Econ is the concept of “Opportunity Cost”. Opportunity Cost is defined as the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. In Econ, we’re talking about money. We’re going to take this concept of Opportunity Cost, and apply it to our relationships.
This is a very tough pill for some people to swallow. Sometimes people get so caught up in their own lives, their own story, their own traumatic experiences, they don’t even realize what they have revealed about themselves that is a clear indication that it isn’t “yet” problematic enough for them. I want to emphasize “yet” because it’s coming. You can rest assured that any problem you face, until you do face it, will only exacerbate over time. It will get worse and worse until it either implodes or explodes, take your pick. Both result in a pretty nasty outcome.
With respect to Opportunity Cost, we have two main variables in consideration here; time and money. There are more, but these two stand out in a big way. In addition to Opportunity Cost, there is this concept of the time value of money or TVM. Basically, it stipulates that the same amount of money is worth more today than it would be tomorrow in its most simplistic form. We generally see this over time if you take simple items and evaluate what it cost to purchase them over time. The cost of gasoline is a prime example. When I began driving, the price of gasoline was about ~ $0.60/gallon. Despite fluctuations over the years, decades even, today it is approximately ~ $2.50/gallon (depending on where you live and the time of year). If I set aside $6.00 to buy 10 gallons of gas back then for today, I could only buy a little over 2 gallons.
Postponing, putting off, or suspending recovery options not only will not work, but will lead to imminent disaster. It’s like falling into quicksand, and the solution to getting out of it is to pour more quicksand in with the idea that more will help by raising you up higher. Yeah, that’s not gonna work. If you ignore it, if you do not face it, it is not going to simply just go away. It will always be that proverbial elephant in the room. But the elephant in the room will eat, pee, and poop. Eventually, the room becomes uninhabitable.
When it comes to excuses, we have heard them all. Here are some of the excuses du jour:
- We live paycheck to paycheck
- He doesn’t think we need to spend the money on it
- We just had a baby
- We can’t afford to pay our rent
- I/he/she am(is) unemployed
- “I can do this recovery on my own”
- His job is demanding and has strange hours so no professional could see us
- We already have too much debt to pay off
- We will invest in recovery when we save X amount of dollars
- Recovery is too expensive and we can’t afford it
- He says “I don’t have the addiction, I don’t need help”
We always seem to find ways to pay for the things that matter the most to us in much the same way we have time for what is most important to us. When people say “I don’t have time”, what they really mean is “it isn’t a priority to me”. When people say “I don’t have the money for this”, what they really mean is “it isn’t a priority to me”. That is the bottom line, because just like the cliche’ “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”, that’s where we invest our time, energy, and money. We service the squeaky wheel.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Here are some examples of where money can be found (sacrificed):
- Vaping/Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day
- Drinking a case of beer a week
- Starbucks every morning
- Haircuts/Hair styling/manicures/pedicures/Spa treatments
- Shopping at high end stores instead of discount stores where appearances matter more than product, retail instead of sale, coupon clipping, etc.
- Eating out as a matter of convenience (huge expense)
- Gym membership where equal exercises could be accomplished at home
- Subscriptions to Spotify/Pandora/Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/Vudu/Premium Television Programming services (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, TMC, Encore/Starz, etc.)
- Video Games, XBox, Playstation, Hardware, Online Subscriptions
- Tattoos ~ These are elective discretionary purchases
- Car parts/upgrades/wheels ($2K spent on wheels is not a necessity)
These all represent discretionary spending, and from just what is quantifiable, there is almost $10K worth of cost savings annually. Where shall we prioritize our spending? We pay for our health and well being first, our living expenses second, and whatever is left over, is our discretionary spending. We must identify the difference between what we need and what we want. And while some of those discretionary items may add comfort to your life at the moment, it will add discomfort to your life in the future if you don’t prioritize them. This is where you must resolve to live in your discomfort so that you can take care of yourself first so that you can live in comfort for the rest of your life. Otherwise, you’ll never get there.
Look, you can view this as a cost or you can view this as an investment. Yes, it costs, but you can invest in your future or pay for your future. Only you can decide. If you are intimately familiar with this message, and it makes you mad, then good. It means it spoke to you. It means that it resonates with you. It means that now you have a choice to either face it or allow it face you. What are you prepared to do?
Here are some examples of creative financing and spending options that is by no means complete:
- Apply for a new credit card with a 0% APR for the first 12 months, and then invest in your recovery and pay it off by the end of 12 months
- Sell personal assets, a car, a tractor, furniture/appliances to pay for his treatment to go to a sexual addiction treatment facility
- Have a big yard sale and declutterize in the process
- Withdraw money from your 401K/Retirement Plan
- Sell your recreational vehicle(s), boat(s), and toy(s)
- Sell your guitar, drum set, or painting
- Take an extra shift at work, overtime, or add a second job
- Ask for help from family and/or friends and if they insist on knowing what it’s for, that is a boundary you can set
- If you are a person of faith, and even if you’re not, solicit and seek out financial help from a church in so long as they are willing to help you on your own terms, not on any condition or stipulation of the church
- People are genuinely receptive to the idea of helping people in need, and don’t be too proud to ask for financial help on social media or elsewhere
As stated above, get creative. If/when someone can create a poster board, with their online payment app account number for a case of beer, and literally collect hundreds of thousands of dollars, certainly people would be willing to help a couple in dire need of help. People ask for, and accept, charitable contributions for all sorts of foolishness. This isn’t foolishness. This is realness.
The timing of one’s addiction and the other’s betrayal trauma couldn’t have come at a worse time. So you have to ask yourself this question: “when is a good time?” The fact of the matter is, no matter when it occurs, “it’s never a good time”. There is no time like the present. When we say “we can’t afford to do this right now,” I say “we can’t afford not to do this right now, for if we do put it off, it will cost us insurmountable times more later in the long run”. It goes along the same lines of people who claim they can’t afford healthy food options in lieu of processed foods at the grocery store. You’ll either pay for it now, on the front end, or you’ll pay for it later, on the back end, with much more time, money, and dire health consequences.
WE MAKE THE CHOICE
All of this boils down to choices. We all have a choice to make the right decision and do the right thing that is in the overall best interest of our outcome. Yes, it’s hard. It’s painful. It requires sacrifice. It requires you getting your hands dirty, your body battered, your mind screwed (not the word I would have chosen, but you get the point), and your soul drained. We all prioritize what’s important to us by the choices we make. Choose wisely. We don’t get to repeat this life of ours. Would you rather invest in your life today and have many years left to enjoy, or spend the next 5, 10, 15 years in the misery of active addiction and betrayal trauma.