In the Laotian community, gambling is the norm. Everyone in my house gambled and I started in my early teens. I would go to the casino and try to make more money to afford the things I wanted to buy, but this put me into a broke lifestyle. Part of giving up gambling was letting go of that revenge feeling, like the casino had taken my money but I could outsmart them and get my money back.
My boss was the first to teach me about income versus monthly expenses. Because I realized I never had any money left over, I realized I needed to stop gambling. I had to find it within myself to quit. Every time I had the urge to gamble, I would talk it through with myself and ask, “What do I want in the future? What kind of lifestyle do I want to provide for my son?”
I set up an experiment. Instead of cashing my paycheck and going to the casino, I would cash my paycheck and put most of the money in a shoebox – pretending that I had been to the casino and lost already. I would live for that week on the $20 in my pocket. I did this for a week, then a month, then two months and I started noticing that I actually have money stored away to buy the things I really need.
I still have urges, but I think about how scared I would be if I lost the things I had saved up to buy. If I lost the car I bought or the house I could now afford. No one else was going to stop me if I wanted to take all my money and go blow it on gambling, so I had to learn to stop myself.