This piece is part of a series of stories about today’s sports-betting boom and how to combat a gambling addiction. To read the rest of the stories, click here.
DEBT STRESS IS a real thing (and may have gotten you here in the first place), but managing it is a key part of the recovery process. We asked Chris Browning, our Men’s Wealth money columnist, to weigh-in on success-based strategies to get your finances—and life—back on track.
Close Any Debit or Credit Card Accounts Used to Gamble
Cut ‘em up if you have to. This creates a buffer between you and readily accessible cash. Consider securing a True Link Visa prepaid card that can block purchases to businesses like casinos and sportsbooks.
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Assess the Damage
Write down the dollar amounts of debts to casinos, bookies, credit card companies, mortgage companies, banks, friends, and family. Then establish a baseline of how much you’ll need in order to pay rent, utilities, and other necessities, and make a timeline for repayment. Use this debt payoff calculator for help.
Meet With an Expert
Consider enlisting a financial advisor. (Check if you can access this service for free through your company’s401(k) plan.) Or you can talk with a non-profit credit counselor to get a debt-management program that will determine how best to pay your creditors.
Focus on High-Interest Debt First
If you’ve been accumulating debt on credit cards with high interest, that’s the first target.
Or Try the Snowball Method
If you owe multiple debts, you can gain momentum by paying off your smallest debts first. Just be mindful of the potential interest you’ll pay over time on larger, high-interest debts, which is why the previous strategy might work better for you.
Itemize Your Losses
If you win money, that’s taxable income. But if you also lose money, you can deduct that money from any winnings if you itemize when you file your taxes. Example: If you make $2,000 but lose $1,500, you can deduct the $1,500 in losses. You just can’t deduct more than you’ve won.
Embrace Side Hustles
Spending time making money in other ways will bring in that extra cash while relieving (or at the very least distracting) you from the urge to place a quick bet instead.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with a gambling addiction, contact 1-800-GAMBLER. Ready to take the next step? Book an appointment with Kindbridge Behavioral Health, and receive a 20 percent discount on your first therapy session using the code “MensHealth20.” Make sure to also include Men’s Health as the referral source on the intake form.
This article originally appears in the September 2023 issue of Men’s Health.
Paul is the Food & Nutrition Editor of Men’s Health. He’s also the author of two cookbooks: Guy Gourmet and A Man, A Pan, A Plan.