Problem Gambling

Problem GamblingThere are few things that can negatively affect one’s financial life as much and as often as a gambling addiction. I do counsel some folks who are dealing with gambling addictions but I don’t counsel them for their addiction– I just counsel them in regards to their finances; and when I counsel those folks, I tell them straight out that all of the work that we do together, from learning about proper financial management to developing awareness to making smart money choices, etc., is not sustainable without dealing with their gambling problem first (or, at minimum, simultaneously.) In fact, The National Council on Problem Gambling says that, “problem gambling experts recommend that a gambler’s financial problems not be addressed until the gambler recognizes that he or she has a gambling problem, has abstained from betting for an appropriate period of time (usually, at least 30 days), and has begun to address the underlying psychological disorder. Otherwise, efforts to recover financially will probably not succeed, and may even prove harmful.”

As I said, I’m not a licensed addiction counselor. In just about two weeks, I’ll finish a Master’s degree in counseling, so I do like to think I understand at least a fair amount about addictive behaviors and some of the common treatment options– but I’m still not a licensed counselor. I’m still not qualified to treat someone for their addictions. That being said, this post isn’t about how to treat a gambling addiction, anyhow. Rather, this post is about learning to recognize whether a gambling problem exists and where you can get some help if you’re ready to confront that issue.
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Maybe It Won’t Happen to Me (But What if It Did?)

identity_theftNorthern Communities Credit Union has a brand new product that debuted at the beginning of this month on all new checking accounts: IDGuard Checking with IDProtect. If you are an NCCYou member already, you’ve probably received some mail about it because all of our existing checking accounts will also be converted to IDGuard Checking accounts as of June 1st.

With this new product built in, all checking accounts at the credit union are now going to have a $2.95 monthly fee associated with them. Anyone who has ever worked at a financial institution knows that introducing new fees to your members or customers usually goes over like a lead balloon. I’ve heard some of the feedback from the membership, myself, and when you combine the fee with what seems to be a misunderstanding about the product and its importance, the end result is a small percentage of unhappy members. In the best interests of those members (as well as the rest of our membership base), I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about identity theft and how important it can be to have some protection against it in today’s financial world. A big part of protecting your identity equates to protecting the financial life you’ve worked so hard to build for yourself.  Though I totally understand the natural aversion to fees, I really believe in the importance of this product and the value that it provides to our membership. So let’s talk a little bit about why I think the protection of IDGuard Checking is a great thing to have. Let’s talk about identity theft.
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Getting Out of Debt 101: Improving Your Rates

Erasing DebtDebt is a major financial problem for many, many people. I’ve spoken before about my own past financial issues and massive debt was certainly one of the ingredients in that not-so-tasty dish. If you have debt, you’re definitely not alone. Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about some of the ways that you can help yourself as you are trying to get out of debt.

The average American consumer has at least six credit cards. Think about that for a second. Six. If you have a $5000 limit on each of those cards, that means you could potentially have $30,000 worth of credit card debt(!) Yikes. But that’s just one possible example of troublesome debt. Let’s go a step further and take a look at some numbers:
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Goal Planning and Motivation

smart-goalsThis week, I read the journal publication of a study regarding a particular financial counseling strategy. The researcher was looking at a Transtheoretical Model from counseling psychology and seeking to adapt it and apply it to financial counseling. I thought it was a very interesting read. Yes, I am that nerdy. 🙂 Psychology is very interesting to me and I’m always looking for ways to try and improve myself and my ability as a counselor.

Reading that study got me thinking a lot about a particular idea: Motivation. Motivation is one of the biggest precursors to both change and success. So, if we don’t feel motivated to change, are we lost? Is there no hope for us to turn things around? I think the answer is yes and no.
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