Alright guys. Here’s a meaty one.
So. I have a pretty hard stance on Artists and Debt. There’s a great Blog out there called Mr. Money Moustache (if you don’t know who he is, look him up, and read him, he’s terrific) that basically tells its readers to “get rid of debt like your hair is on fire”. While he’s pretty harsh, I tend to agree. I’m going to say, flat out, that eliminating any and all debt is one of the best ways to ensure that you can continue on in your chosen artistic field. Lower overhead will make your life easier, and will make it possible for you to work in a lower (or barely) paying field for a longer amount of time than you would be able to with lots of bills and debts hanging about.
But, okay. You’re barely making enough money to survive. You wait tables, take odd gigs, and sometimes get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you think about paying the minimum monthly payment (yet again) on your credit card. How is it going to change? How can you ever get that ball rolling in the right direction, and pick up enough momentum to make any kind of difference? While it would be nice to just get the Broadway phone call, sign a $2,000 a week production contract, and kiss your money woes goodbye, I’m going to address this in a somewhat more realistic, maybe even somber manner. My friends- it’s rice and beans time.
No, seriously. It doesn’t have to be rice and beans. It could be sunflower seeds. Or Ramen. Or bulk bags of rice. Or frozen vegetables. I have a friend who spends $100 for AN ENTIRE MONTH of food. I know this is a little ridiculous. I tease him about it sometimes. But, we could all take a page out of his book from time to time. Sit down, look at your monthly food spending. And actually add up all the money you’ve spent on food. Grocery store. Random Chocolate Bar. Drinks at a Bar. Restaurants. Coffee Shop. And look at the number. Oooh, it’s a little bigger than you thought, isn’t it?
I’m not saying that you literally have to go down to eating rice and beans and peanuts from a ziplock bag EVERY day. I actually don’t think you should- I think that socializing with friends, and networking at bars, restaurants, etc, is a crucial thing. But- if there’s a day that you have some fruit and nuts and a yogurt in the middle of the day, rather than a stop at Chipotle, you’ve spent about $2.50 instead of $7. Do that 8 times, and you suddenly have an extra $44 to put towards your credit card’s minimum payment.
None of this is easy. Easy is quitting your artistic pursuits, working at an office doing something random for 40 hours a week, and suddenly having more money. And ultimately, you will eventually need more money to be able to support yourself long term- cutting corners is just the quick fix. But without the initial corner cutting, you’ll never be able to build the oh so necessary cushion- that extra $1,000 that makes you feel comfortable enough to take a week to work on a life changing gallery exhibit, or audition for that Off-Broadway show that might not cover your monthly living expenses, but could possibly launch your career.