Well, I started on the Being Playful article and this is what came out instead... I promise to get back to the 3rd of the Creativity Recovery Tools in my next post, but this is clearly what is needed right now.
Money and the Creative Mind
Isn't it about time we got rid of the ditsy, starving artist myth?
As creative people we are gifted with the ability to see and extract beauty and meaning from wherever we choose to focus. We can fine tune our attention, focus one pointedly and execute with precision the line or the brush stroke.
We can do this for hours on end, ignoring the pain in the arm, the numbing legs, the gnawing hunger, the burning retinas. All this we are prepared to ignore for the simple pleasure of witnessing our creative vision take shape before our eyes.
Surely such ascetic tendencies in self discipline would be of use in the field of our personal finances?
The relationship with Money is without doubt an artists greatest challenge. In order to live off the fruits of our labours, we are forced to use two minds that seem to fight endlessly with one another.
The very ethos behind business as opposed to that behind art seems to create a bipolar schism in our minds.
Successful artists on the other hand, seem to have made peace with the argument;
In the world of the successful artist, Money Mind and Art Mind are working very productively together; sharing skills, finding common ground and harmoniously supporting one another. The result? Creative Success.
The steps to financial freedom are simpler and less daunting than we tend to expect. I am delving into the subject at length in the next few weeks so keep checking in.
Here are 3 pivotal changes that can start you off on the road to: Financial Recovery as an Artist
1.Recognising where your weaknesses lie
I recommend keeping a journal for this. Just do it for 3 days to start with. I like the 3 day approach as it always seems more do-able than a week, say, or 10 days. 3 days worth of data is enough to get you sitting up and taking real notice of your habits. You'll probably/hopefully want to do it for longer once you've started. 30 days worth of ' conscious attention' to your financial movements, would give you the best data and is what you are ultimately aiming at.
After 3 days , however, I can almost guarantee you will already be reigning yourself in and second guessing your previously impulsive spending. So: For 3 days write down every single thing you spend money on and how much you've spent. On day 4, tick off the items per day that you need not have spent money on. Calculate how much you could have saved and write it down.
2. Determining a budget
Money is there to be used, but in the right places. In determining a budget, you decide what is honestly vital in your life. Vital is a good term to use here as it literally means 'necessary to continued existence'. These are the things, services, experiences and basic necessities you require to live comfortably within the limits of your income right now.
To determine many of these you can ask yourself; is this a long term investment or is this instant gratification. Another way to say it; is this pulling me closer to my goal or taking me further from it. Your goal here being: Financial Control leading to Financial Independence. Write down each and every thing you have to pay for every month.
A comprehensive list will include things like rental,/bond, savings, fuel, groceries, water and electricity clothing accounts etc. Seeing that list will give you a clear indication of how much you should be earning to keep the lifestyle you are currently living.
If you are very attached to your espresso's, your lifestyle magazines or your gourmet cheeses, but realise that you can't actually afford them every month-you have a choice to make: Change your lifestyle habits or Earn more money to support them.
One thing you cannot do is ignore the problem by delving into more debt until you eventually hit rock bottom.
3. Applying the budget
It's one thing to write lists and have aha! moments-it's another entirely to take the action required by them. In my early days as a single parent with a tiny income, I was given a very simple yet amazingly effective way of putting a budget into practice. The 'How to' in a minute.
The reason it worked was because it replaced an old habit with a system. As with most issues where unconscious habitual behaviour runs on autopilot, change has to be easy to implement and revolutionary for it to really take hold.
The Money Drug
I compare unhealthy money issues to drug addiction. That was how my issues with bad money management seemed to manifest. If I had it, I was on a happy high and spent it as fast as I could on things that would make me look or feel good-in the short term. Instant fixes.
When I didn't have it- I was depressed and obsessed with getting more. Each time I would tell myself that I would spend it more wisely the next time I got it, make it last longer etc. Each time the same unconscious pattern of spending would result. I was in my early 20's at the time, when this type of behaviour isn't all that alarming, but I was also a single parent- so I could not afford to have food one day and not know what my son and I were going to eat the next.
A much older woman who had had her share of financial lessons in life, gave me the following strict system to put into place with my very next salary. It felt silly at the time and I felt embarrassed that it had come to this-but I recognised that I had a problem and was prepared to try everything to cure it.
The Ridiculously Simple Budget System:
1. Buy a pack of envelopes.
2.Take your budget list of vital monthly expenses and label each envelope with one item from your list.
3.Take your cash and divide it out according to the amounts on your list for each expense.
3. Place each amount into the appropriately marked envelope. What you have left (and you should have something left or you need to drastically rethink your lifestyle choices!!) you can choose to spend or save.
If you have nothing left, thank the Universal Goodness that you've got your vital needs covered and start working smarter, immediately.
This simple budget system was a total paradigm shift for me at that young age. Finally, I had control of my money and not vice versa.
It changed the way I thought about every cent I spent. If I was tempted to take money from the wrong envelope, I knew what I was in for at the end of the month. Any left over amount was incredibly precious and I spent it with caution or saved it with the greatest sense of satisfaction.
I also knew where to focus on reducing expenses and actually got excited finding savvy ways to do so e.g. buying bulk, car pooling, saying no to expensive dining out invitations etc. Instead I would have one goal for the end of the month to spoil myself in reward for saving, eg a new (inexpensive!!)handbag, a weekend away, a dinner, new skincare products or all of the above if I had been really good, because now I could afford it.
Suddenly, I went from avoiding to enjoying conversations about money and found myself fascinated by financial magazines.
The ridiculously simple budgeting system made me feel secure in that I knew every vital need had been provided for. It wasn't a guessing game and a gamble anymore. I no longer had those terrifying minutes in front of the atm or at the check-out till, wondering if my card still had money on it. If you've been broke, you know that feeling!!
As an artist, it took me a long time to look at money as a symbol for the value it represents. I had a love/hate affair with money, feeling alternately controlled and then set free by it.
What I know now, is that I control it's flow in and out of my life. Therefor, if I can create something of value and put it out there - I will get value in return. Period. Now I get to decide what it is I want to spend most of my precious time doing for that return on investment.
If I can't see art as having any real value, I am not going to make a single cent out of it.
So this is what I'm working on, changing the way I think about art and how I go about dealing with my art as a business.
Here's to your Good Financial Health!