I was 12 years old the first time I created a budget. The family disease of alcoholism had ingrained a scarcity mindset in my mother and me, and our financial situation left her feeling hopeless. To help, I took responsibility for our family’s budgeting.
I knew nothing about Al‑Anon’s principles of self-support, abundance, and balance then. I only knew how to control and isolate, so I tackled our finances completely alone. Not surprisingly, tensions arose between us as I completely neglected the opportunity for my mum to participate.
When I left home, I brought along my defects of scarcity thinking and extreme self-reliance. Always fearing unemployment and homelessness, I bought and collected “things” to ensure I would have enough. And I continued being overly self-reliant when managing the finances in my relationships.
What a startling experience, then, to participate in serene group conscience discussions about finances in Al‑Anon. When fears arose, longtime members reminded the group of the Higher Power upon whom we had each come to rely through the Steps, and of His presence in our group conscience as described in Tradition Two.
These experiences gave me courage to stand for Area Treasurer. Of course, my defects came right along with me. Still self-reliant, I presented my first budget at the Area World Service Committee without ever having discussed it with anyone. The Area Chairperson graciously reminded me of the importance of Concept Four—participation to achieve an informed group conscience. That lesson also taught me the difference between controlling and managing the finances in my home. Today, I can ask for help and share leadership in our financial decisions.
The scarcity mindset has been harder for me to let go. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down meetings, and the income of the World Service Office (WSO) dropped, I initially felt deeply fearful. Thankfully, the wisdom of Warranty One relieved my stress, reminding me that Al‑Anon members’ “contributions are willing and generous” when the need is understood. It also reminded me that prudent financial principles do not involve collecting money to the point of “perilous wealth,” but rather suggest the balancing of savings and spending to fulfill our primary purpose. As the WSO budgeting season gets underway, this is the principle I am now able to apply in my work here and in all my financial affairs.
By Vali F., Executive Director
The Forum, October 2021
Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.
Great Share. Again Al-Anon at work in all our affairs. It works if you work it.
I can relate so much. I am 56 years old, all my life I have lived with the financial fear. Passed it on to my daughters also. But thanks to Al-Anon, Higher Power and members. I quit my job seven months back after working out an amount I would get monthly from my savings. Today, I have no financial fear and thoroughly enjoying my retired life. Only the spiritual principles of Al-Anon have helped me to live a serene, grateful and satisfied life.
That was great to read. I had no idea about the “scarcity” mentality and “perilous wealth”. Thanks for writing this!
I so relate to this
Thanks for the share. I can relate to travelling solo and not including relevant others (especially my HP) in financial planning, proposals and decision making. I am motivated by my fears when I’m operating in this way. I feel grateful to have the Steps, Traditions and Concepts of Service to give me an alternative healthy framework to lean into. The impact of the alcoholic home environment radiates out into all my affairs including finances.
Thank you for sharing!