Posted by: breathliftlive | 22/01/2011

Protecting yourselves

When your partner or family member is gambling, it isn’t necessarily just with their own money. It can be yours, a family members, a friends, a co-workers. It could also be stolen or money they have received as a result of selling personal items (again, not necessarily their own).

It’s a good idea to ensure you protect yourself and your family from finding yourselves in financial trouble. Here are a few suggestions that may help out:

  • See if your partner/family member with the gambling problem will agree to having their wages put into either your bank account (if you have separate accounts) or another/new account set up that they are unable to access. Work together on a fair “allowance” that they can work with but let them know they receive this money only when your bills are paid, children are clothed and fed etc.
  • If they won’t agree to handing over all their money, try to restrict access by holding onto the keycards/debit cards/credit cards etc. Yes, they can still go into a bank and take out money from their account but this is more of a hassle.
  • Set up internet banking so when their pay goes into their account, transfer the bulk of it out into another account that’s not in their name.
  • If theft is a problem, gather your most valuable or treasured possessions and give them to a close family member or friend to hold onto for safe keeping until you feel comfortable with having these things back in your home.
  • Ask your close family members and friends (who are obviously aware of the problem) to not lend (the gambler) any money, for whatever reason (and they can give some great reasons to borrow money!). Reducing the number of people who could lend money reduces the amount of money you would need to pay back.
  • Keep track of any money they have. If you decide on the ‘allowance’, don’t give large amounts. Issue it in small amounts – this is easier to keep track of and not so much to lose if it does end up being gambled. If you feel a reasonable amount has been given and then squandered, you will need to have a discussion about where the money is going and if it’s fair to keep giving more.
  • Change pin numbers and passwords to your bank accounts and do not divulge these details to anybody.
  • If you are in the situation where you are unable to access any money at all as they control the finances (and won’t give that up) then you need to find a way to put a little extra away into your own account. If you don’t have your own account, set one up. If you can’t set one up, give your money to a trusted friend/family member to hold onto until you need it. Any spare money you have whether you keep all your change, put money away from your wage or if you receive an ‘allowance’ or do some tasks or jobs to make yourself some extra cash – put this away somewhere and don’t tell anyone about it. If you can do this and then find yourself in financial trouble you will, hopefully, have enough in your other account to get you by.

These are just a few ideas. It’s important to try and work together in this situation so they don’t feel like they’re being treated unfairly or kept in the dark. This could be a good exercise, for both of you, in trust. Try and work something out that will work for everyone. If you’re in the situation where this can’t be worked out rationally then you do what you can to protect yourself. Some of the ideas above may help.

The most important thing to remember is that you need to keep you and your family safe and not in a situation where you don’t know how you will buy food, pay rent/mortgage or pay your bills. Some of these ideas may seem over the top or ridiculous but it is important to make sure you protect yourself and your family.

It can be difficult too. We tried a few methods and in the end we closed Tim’s account and had his wages paid into my account which is solely in my name. Sure, we have argued a lot about what’s “fair” for him to be able to spend (remembering, he had spent A LOT in the past and was used to being able to do that) and yes, if he had days where he was desperate he would find money elsewhere. But, I am responsible for all money, bills, rent, groceries etc – anything our money is spent on I am aware of. It’s tiring sometimes being the only one responsible for so much but trust me when I say, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My bills are paid, we have food and clothes for our son and we’re doing ok. The more time that passes without Tim gambling makes me relax my grip on my purse a little more and Tim feels a little more confident to have money in his wallet. It’s a day-by-day thing and it’s still continuing now even though almost 2 years has passed since he gambled last. I will keep doing this until we’re both comfortable.

If you have any ideas like those above, I’d love to hear them. Add your comment below or email me at and I can post your story (anonymously if you like).

Kate x


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