Wild shopping sprees, out of control investments, buying extravagant gifts for others, or gambling: One destructive symptom of bipolar disorder is the impulsive and excessive spending that happens during a manic episode. Here are ten tips for when your spending might be spiraling out of control or to head off any missteps before they happen:
#1 Recognize red flags
The first step is to simply be aware of thoughts and moods. It’s more helpful if the person with bipolar disorder also has the help of those close to him to pick up on the warning signs that suggest a shift in mood—and potentially, in spending habits—may be around the corner. Because red flags are individual to each person, recognizing these signs will have to come with experience and with intentional awareness.
#2 Plan. Plan. Plan.
Equally important as being aware of the warning signs is having a comprehensive plan in place to head off irrational money decisions before they even occur. For instance, if a person with bipolar disorder has an investment portfolio, it’s prudent to work with a trustworthy financial adviser and work out a detailed overview of financial goals; next, develop a plan and the reasonable steps needed to attain those objectives.
#3 Asset management
In order to protect assets, such as a house or other property, from claims of creditors, consider keeping the ownership of these assets in the name of the spouse or partner without bipolar. Another idea is establishing a trust that requires the approval of co-trustees for any spending. While this means giving up some control of these assets, it does provide you with protection from overspending when you’re unstable, assuming your co-trustee can recognize when you are manic or not.
#4 Family hold back
Many financial advisors with experience dealing with people living with bipolar and the effects of excessive spending , recommend that relatives not co-sign loans. Also, relatives and friends of those with bipolar should be aware that helping to pay off debts or loaning money may only enable the overspending to continue.
#5 Share your goals
It’s wise to map out a financial plan that gives your investment expert enough information as to your goals and what you’ve agreed to. That way, he or she can notice those instances when a certain sort of behavior may seem out of the ordinary for you. Although they are bound to carry out their clients’ instructions, consider giving your trusted advisor the green light to call you or a family member to discuss any odd behavior, like, for instance wanting to make outrageous trades.
#6 Record keeping
It is strongly recommended by financial experts to maintain a detailed record of spending, so that someone brought in to help knows what expenditures are expected and reasonable. Computer software or reliable online sites for tracking expenses can be helpful.
#7 Treatment contract
It may be difficult at the best of times to navigate the delicate issues around bipolar excessive spending. One option is to create a treatment contract or agreement with your loved one or family member who does not have bipolar that gives him or her instructions to handle any financial bumps in the road.
#8 Monitor or restrict Internet use
In this digital age of instant gratification and purchasing power with one mouse click, the temptations may seem ever too great when in a manic state . This allure can be intoxicating for many, and not just for online shopping, but also gambling and sex-related activities such as cybersex and pornography. One way to dampen this temptation is by restricting or monitoring Internet use—and there’s an app for that!
#9 Look for alternatives to credit
If you think you can manage it, go without a credit card or, as an option, one with a very modest credit limit. Another option is a line of credit, as these are tied to a bank account and can effectively limit spending to whatever assets are in the account. Also, most credit reporting agencies will, if requested, lock your account so that any requests for a new credit card or line of credit will be refused.
#10 Bank on it
Have one bank account for bills such as rent and utilities, and leave the checkbook for that at home. Consider setting up email notifications to a trusted person in case of any unusual activity. Establish a separate account for personal expenses and keep just enough funds in it for one month. If you opt for a debit card, make sure it’s set up to deny any overdraft spending.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community