I think my loved one might be ready to manage their own money, but how do we decide?

If you’ve been managing your loved one’s finances while they try to change their gambling habits, you’ve probably helped them far more than you know — but eventually, there will come a time when they’ll need to take their money management back and carry on independently.

Hopefully you will have decided on an endpoint when you first agreed to the arrangement, but if not: how will you both know when the time has come? They may want to take back control before you think they’re ready, or, alternatively, you might realise they’re ready before they do. It’s important to have a plan that you both feel comfortable with.

Here are some ideas to help you both prepare for the time when they will begin manage their own money again:

  • Explore the Money Smart website to help them improve their financial literacy.
  • Show your loved one how you manage their money to help them understand healthy money habits.
  • Slowly return the responsibility of managing your friend’s finances back to them, so they can practice controlling their spending without risking their financial health. If you hit a point where it seems like you’ve given too much too fast, you can always pause until they’re ready to move forward again. It’s ok to take one step forward and two steps back.

Over time, you might realise that your loved one has stopped gambling and is doing much better to the point that you feel they’re ready to manage their own money ahead of the schedule you laid out together. Even if you’re confident that they’re ready, it can be a difficult conversation to navigate. Some tips might help you have the discussion successfully:

  • Choose your moment: It’s a good idea to raise the topic at a time when they’re feeling reasonably calm and confident, such as when they have been particularly successful in managing their finances for the week or month. It’s also a good idea to raise the conversation when they’re in a time and location where they feel secure and relaxed.
  • Explain yourselves clearly: If you think they’re ready to manage their money, prepare a list of reasons why that you can share with them so they understand your thinking. Alternatively, if they think they’re ready but you’re not sure, ask them to explain themselves in detail. Try not to react until you’ve listened calmly to the answers.
  • Discuss the possibility of a trial: If you or your loved one aren’t quite sure they’re ready, consider defining a ‘trial period’ where they can try to manage their finances for a set time and hand control back if they realise it is too soon.
  • Remind them you are still there for them: Remind them that you’ll still be there for them, even if they’re not directly managing their money anymore. Explain to them what specific forms of support you might be able to offer. They might feel more comfortable if you agree to meet to discuss their progress weekly or monthly, or if they can call you to talk through any urges they might have.
  • Frame it positively: If you don’t believe they can handle it, they won’t either. This is your chance to let them know that you have confidence that they’re ready to take what may feel like a big and scary step to them.

Be prepared for your friend or loved one to be nervous. Having money to manage can be scary especially if managing money has been a trigger to gambling in the past. It can bring up all sorts of uncomfortable emotions, but it’s important to understand those feelings can be normal.

If you want to have a conversation about whether this is the right decision for you and your friend or loved one, or would like more support to decide how you want to approach this conversation, call the Gambler’s Helpline for free on 1800 858 858.

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