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Budgeting with Al-Anon Principles: Balancing Savings and Spending

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

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.

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