For the longest time I swore I was struggling financially.
I was a student earning less than 9K (NZD) a year in my part-time job while studying, and I always swore that I was "broke"! Probably because I was! Yet I remember many shopping trips, many dinners out, many coffees consumed per day and many movies watched between classes. Someway or another, I had enough money, to have some sort of a lifestyle, and I was okay!
Then I graduated and landed my first full-time job. I was earning 50K (NZD) a year all of a sudden! Now you do the math. Compared to what I was earning as a student, I was basically now the Reserve Bank. Yet after 2 years in that job, I had no savings! Seriously! How unhealthy is that? And again I was under the impression that I needed to make more money, well because I had none!
Then came my second full-time job along with a hefty pay-rise. This time, I was more responsible and I saved a lot (purely because I was so disgusted with myself for being so irresponsible) but somehow I still felt like having more money would make my life easier.
And the story continues, each time with a substantial pay-rise and me feeling like I wouldn't mind making more money. But I was also increasingly feeling like the majority of what I did with my days didn't matter, that it was not contributing to my personal growth or happiness and I was just stuck in a cycle of dreading Mondays and saying the weekend went too quick!
Most importantly tho, I wasn't living out my creative dreams. I convinced myself that although I wanted to make music, it was something I had to do "on the side" because I had no other options. I couldn't possibly work less and earn less. I couldn't afford that! Not possible!
The joke is, I had lived on much less before, I had evidence that I survived on much less before, yet I convinced myselfI couldn't!!
When I finally saw the light (using the questions later in this post) I decided to cut down my working hours to 3 days a week, which came with a hefty pay cut this time, but you know what, after a little bit of adjusting to numbers in my bank account looking tiny, I felt fine. I actually started to feel grateful that I can work less, and have more time to invest in me and into doing what I wanted, music!
The thing is, creativity doesn't cost much nowadays. With some out of the box thinking, you can easily make a decent album/ music video/ film/ play/ website on an almost-budget.
TIME AND MONEY
So why then does money come into play so often when it comes to living out our creative dreams? The majority of people I have spoken to about getting started in their creative pursuit have cited money as one of the obstacles standing between them and their creative dreams.
They usually say;
"Time is money!"
And I say;
"Time is what we spend to buy money. Money is what we spend to buy time"
Yes, you can quote me!
The truth is, the majority of us are not only spending lots and lots of time buying money but we seem to be stuck in a cycle of feeling like no matter how much money we earn we never seem to have enough. It all somehow just "disappears", and we end up in a position where we don't control our money, it controls us.
"we tend to end up in a position where we don't control our money, it controls us"
I know money is important, there's no doubt about that, but do you think we've been giving it a bit too much power than it deserves?
To answer this question, let's look at money in the most simplistic and objective manner:
What is "good" about money when you are a creative?
- It pays our bills - almost synonymous with the word money! (Important)
- It gets rid of anxiety associated with paying bills (important)
- It's security in case something goes wrong (important)
- It allows us to buy pretty shiny things (nice but not important)
- It provides us with a certain lifestyle (nice house, nice car, nice school) (nice but not important)
You might disagree with the last two points. You might think "it's important to me that I have a nice house and a flash car and pretty shiny things". That's fine, as long as you realize that pretty shiny things cost more money; and the more money you spend the more you will need in order to replenish your spending #viciousspendingcycle!
What is "bad" about money when you are a creative?
- Money prevents us from having the choice to make a change whenever we want because we are slaves to the cost of our lifestyle.
- Money prevents us from having the freedom to explore new opportunities because we are slaves to the cost of our lifestyle.
- Money prevents us from having the ability to see life for much more than the all-consuming 9 to 5 daily grind because we spend so much time focused on how we can move up in this world. There's nothing wrong with ambition if you are happy when you move up, but if you are still miserable despite the shiny job title and the shiny paycheque then money is preventing you, it isn't enabling you.
By looking at money so objectively, we can start to see its shortcomings; since many of us tend to view earning more money in a positive light only. We tend to think it gives us choice, freedom and enables us to have more opportunities, but really it can do just the opposite if we let it (see above). Tell me if you disagree.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY ACROSS THE DIFFERENT SEASONS OF YOUR LIFE
I know we all work hard. But so many of us are not happy. We don't feel like we are living up to our potential, exploring our interests or that we are doing what "we are supposed to do". And we say we can't pursue what we truly want because of "money"
Your relationship with money will change depending on the season of your life. Maybe right now you have a dependent parent, or you have 3 children who need your mulla, or you are earning minimum wage and supporting a household. I take my hat off to you and sincerely hope that your generosity comes back to you multiplied by 5. I also sincerely hope that these tough seasons pass quicker than a perfect Summer. But if you are a high earner and you have become reliant on money to provide you with a certain lifestyle, I ask you to consider the following questions:
Would you rather earn more money but have less time to do what you truly want?
Would you rather earn less money but have more time to do what you truly want?
It's that simple! Again the answers to these questions will change depending on the season of your life, but I encourage you to press on and ask yourself a few more questions:
- "Am I really struggling financially or am I making yet another excuse to prevent me from taking the first steps towards my creative dream"?
- "Am I really struggling financially or am I just collecting more and more money"?
- If you are just "collecting more money", ask yourself "What for"? do you have a reason or a goal in mind that you are "collecting" towards? or are you just growing and growing your wealth for no particular reason?
You know just big confrontational questions, no biggie!
WHAT I DO WHEN MY MONEY FEARS COME UP:
I remind myself of the following:
1. I lived on much less money once, and I "survived"
Your challenge: Do you remember a time when you earned much less than what you earn now? What do you have now that you didn't have before? Do you feel happier for it?
2. I don't have to quit my job (and I didn't).
I found a part time role which allowed me to still earn money but free up more time to work on music.
Your challenge: If your job does not allow you to work part-time, does it allow you to be more flexible with your hours? work a shorter day on Friday? Before you say "no!" have you asked? The power is always in the asking. I had to ask to cut down my hours, it didn't just "come up"! If there's absolutely no flexibility, can you start looking for work elsewhere? just seek and you might find it, if you don't seek, you definitely will never find it!
3. I ask myself if I lose my job on a Tuesday, how will I support myself on Wednesday?!
Your challenge; Ask yourself the same question and come up with your answer. Do you have any savings you could use? if so, how long will they last you? If you don't what can you do to start building a safety fund to reduce your money fears? It may mean you need to work more in this season of your life to build that and reducing your expenses, and that's fine. Just have a plan so you are not aimlessly accumulating or spending money.
4. If I had a baby tomorrow, how will I take time off work?
This one is a biggie as so many people feel that they can not afford to work fewer hours, yet somehow when they have babies, they figure it out! I remind myself that my money fears are just that, fears. They are not rooted in reality or solid truths because if my financial situation was to change tomorrow I will be okay for a bit.
Your challenge; Answer the same question. If you were to have a child tomorrow how will you survive financially?
Finally, I leave you with this...
MY BIGGEST TIP TO SAVE MORE MONEY
Start Living Like A Poorer Version Of Yourself, Today!
Don't live within your means, live just below them.
Have that mentality when approaching any area of your spending. Chances are you won't really feel such a hideous difference if you went to a cheaper supermarket, or joined a cheaper gym or took one less holiday a year, had a cheaper phone plan, packed your lunch more often, or stopped buying things to make you "feel better".
"Don't live within your means, live just below them"
Author's note: hey it's me, the author! If you have made it this far, thank you. You obviously were not offended by what I have had to say! I just want you to know that I felt the biggest resistance to publishing this post because I didn't want it to sound like I was coming from a place of authority. My intention with these blog posts is to share the things that have helped me and hope it can encourage you to see things from a different perspective and to push you towards your creative pursuit, the way other authors have done for me.
Good luck friends, speak next week.