TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2017 (AP) When the new year arrives, many of us can’t help but be tempted to buy a new year’s present.
But a new book by a psychologist suggests there are ways to keep your finances in check in the months leading up to the holiday season.
In the book, “The Great Gambling Game,” psychologist and author Michael C. Miller discusses how to manage your finances during the early months of the new calendar year.
Miller has worked with clients in their twenties to help them keep track of their spending, including how much they’re making in the first months of 2018, how much cash they’re bringing home and how much money they’re saving for retirement.
Miller says his book will help people keep their finances in the right place.
Miller’s book is based on his own experience and insights from a career in psychology that spans the past several decades.
He studied gambling and gambling addiction for a decade, including a stint as an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Boston University.
He also spent a decade working with individuals struggling with gambling problems, including the father of a high school student who lost more than $100,000 during a gambling binge.
“We found that the key to gambling is a good understanding of the dynamics of the game and a clear understanding of how to respond to them,” Miller said.
“And so that’s where this book comes in.”
A gambling addiction typically starts with a gambling problem and lasts for several years, Miller said, explaining that the symptoms of addiction usually include gambling problems and loss of interest in traditional activities, such as gambling or socializing.
He said he also found that many gamblers are able to control their gambling with treatment, which can include cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral skills training and a substance abuse treatment program.
“It’s like a drug,” Miller told The Associated Press.
“It’s hard to understand what it is, but it’s addictive.”
Miller’s research found that gamblers who experienced gambling problems were often unable to get help or quit.
He has found that individuals who have gambling problems tend to have higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
“If you have problems with gambling, it’s very easy to get a hangover, or to have a bad mood,” Miller explained.
“So you’re more likely to get depressed.”
Miller also noted that some gamblers have developed an addiction to gaming that has turned them into gamblers themselves.
He explained that these individuals often become addicted to gambling in response to a challenge or a challenge-provoking event.
“This person, if they can get out of the situation, will go out and play and play,” Miller recalled.
Miller found that some of the gamblers he’s treated are trying to overcome their gambling problems by taking steps to reduce their stress levels.
He’s seen gamblers take on new gambling strategies to reduce the intensity of their gambling, for example, and he said he sees gamblers trying to cut down on the amount of alcohol they consume.
“When I get a person who’s struggling with a problem, I’ll say, ‘You need to do a better job of reducing your stress levels,’ ” Miller said of gamblers.
“Then I’ll give them some sort of a plan of action, such a cognitive behavioral approach.
I’ll suggest that they make a conscious effort to decrease the amount they’re drinking.
They’ll do that.”
While some gamulators struggle with their gambling addiction, others succeed, Miller found.
For example, a recent study in the journal Addiction found that people who had lost a significant amount of money during a binge were more likely than others to start saving money.
“A lot of gamsters have learned to manage their finances and get out,” Miller noted.
“Some of them have found success.”
Miller said he believes that many people who are struggling with their financial problems may be using alcohol as a substitute for gambling.
“Many gamblers come to me and say they don’t drink alcohol because they’re trying to get through their gambling problem,” Miller continued.
“They’re trying not to have too much money because they don,t want to feel guilty about gambling, and they don.t want the guilt to drag them down.”
Miller says he often sees gamters that are unable to stop gambling or are just too addicted to get out.
He advises people who feel that they are struggling to try to relax.
“Try to get in the car, take a walk,” Miller suggested.
“Go for a coffee.
Have a cup of tea.
Take a walk.
Have some light conversation.
If you have a problem with gambling and you feel like you can’t stop it, try to get yourself out of that situation.”