Posts Tagged ‘expenses’

Lowering the Cost of “the American Dream” – Part II

(This article continues the discussion on lowering expenses found here)AmericanDream2

In our first installment two weeks ago, I discussed ways you could drop the cost of the American Dream by lowering your essential expenses such as groceries, car expenses and apparel. Today, I’d like to tackle lowering the cost of the “extras” that USA Today calculated are important parts of what many consider a happy lifestyle. We’re creative people….lowering the cost of creative activities should be easy for us, right?

USA Today assigns $17,009 to extras, and breaks them down like this:

Family Summer Vacation: $4,580

Entertainment: $3,667

Restaurants: $3,662

Cable, Satellite, Internet, Cell Phone: $3,100

Miscellaneous Costs: $2,000

Good news! All of these costs can be lowered without giving up any happiness. How? Let’s dive in!

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7 Great Money Moves to Sprint Into September

What is it about September? People walk a little more quickly. Long evenings under the stars with friends become nights at home in front of the computer. Kids go back to school. Client work picks up. Projects roll. The world shifts into gear again.

This is a time for productivity. It’s a time to set up a successful move for your art. If you’re going to celebrate a great 2012, this is the time to clean up your financial picture so you can focus on your craft, your clients, and your career.

1)    Write out your goals. In the book The E-Myth, author Michael Gerber points out that most small businesses fail because they don’t have set workflow practices. Don’t just jot down some 1,000 foot goals, get your hands dirty!

–       What are you going to do each day to reach your goal?

–       What milestones along the way will you set to stay on track?

–       How much is each goal going to cost?

2) Set up your budget and direct deposit schemes. By automating your financial picture you’ll be able to focus on your art instead of on a stack of energy-draining “to do’s.” If you have a side-hustle job to pay the bills, direct deposit this money into a savings account, then set up an automatic transfer of enough to live into your checking. Use online tools such as Mint or Yodlee to plan your budget parameters. Once you’ve written out your expenses, you’ll be much more comfortable in your financial shoes. (more…)

Beating the Summer Doldrums

Beating the Summer Doldrums

We’re in those beautiful weather days. Baseball. Festivals. Lazy afternoons. It feels like everyone spends the week waiting for Friday night…maybe you’re a little burnt out on your art. Maybe the creative juices are feeling the call of a little fun. After all, you have to live to be able to connect with your audience, right?

These can be dangerous days for your wallet. Time to tighten the belt.

It’s during times like these…the deepest part of summer, that people start seeing fall and rush to squeeze just a little more summer out. Often this means spending beyond your limits before the hard reset of Labor Day weekend.

I know people overspend in the summer because traffic at Abundance Bound and other financial sites like ours is MUCH higher in September than in July and August.

There are ways to finish your summer with a flourish and without worrying about your checkbook surviving.

Do you need some entertainment but don’t want to regret it later? Try out these ideas: (more…)

How to Price Your Craft

Whether you’re paid in dollars or with your audience’s gratitude, I’ve written here before that you should think of your craft as a business. Not in the Ebenezer Scrooge “let’s make lots and lots of money” sense, but in the “I value my work here enough to take it seriously” sense.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to value your own art, then the next question is “how much should I charge?”

How you answer this question could spell the difference between success and failure.

Why Many New Artists Fail

Here’s the thought process of many new artists:

  1. I’m new.
  2. I need work.
  3. I’m not as good as those who are more established in my field.
  4. I’ll charge less to “get my foot in the door.”

I’ll tell you where this leads: within months you’re finished.

Why? You were so worried about overcharging that you underpriced yourself right out of the market.

If you don’t make enough money to pay your bills, you’ll become discouraged. I understand that part of being an artist is learning to throw off discouragement…we’ve all been down that road. But in this case, it’s more fatalistic. You begin to tell yourself “I’ll never make any money doing this.” Sadly, the stack of bills piling up in the corner confirms your suspicion. (more…)

5 Steps to a Better Business in 2012

I have to admit, I’m a perfectionist about planning my business. While making dinner, my mind races through lists of ways to perfect my craft. When folding laundry, I’m usually strategizing about my next potential project. My mind seems to always be at work on the next “better” idea, even when daily mundane tasks rule the moment.

I was reading management guru Tom Peters recently, who stated that balance is baloney. Top people in any field don’t have balance. They obsess. They strategize non-stop. They’re always looking for the better idea, the perfect “new thing.”

As a bit of an obsessor myself, I mostly agreed with his statement, except in one area. You shouldn’t obsess about your money.

It’s actually easier to obsess about business if you’ve done a good job of setting up a sound financial structure. By taking care of some small details today, you’ll be able to focus all of your energy on your craft. (more…)

4 Ways to Cut Holiday Expenses

 

If I were forced to choose one time of year that was about making smart choices, it’d be hard to choose against this one. What should you wear to the next holiday party? Who should you invite to a gathering you’re holding? How much should you spend on gifts? Probably the biggest one of all is this: what should you eat?

I was out with a friend recently for lunch and as she perused the menu, I heard her mumble, “Oh, that looks good, but I want that cake!” I felt a bit envious because if I eat frosting at noon, I’m struggling to stay awake by 2:00 PM. But I was surprised when the waiter arrived and she ordered a healthy salad and water.

She never ordered cake.

I asked when the bill arrived, “You aren’t getting the cake?”

Her answer was surprising. This healthy, fit woman told me that she was on Weight Watchers. She enjoyed this particular program because it was less about diet and more about making wise choices. She hadn’t been talking about the cake from that restaurant’s menu. Instead, she was already thinking about the awesome cheesecake a woman was serving at a holiday party we’d both be attending later in the week.

In short, she was making choices today that would affect what she was going to eat in the future.

If you extend this type of thinking to your whole life, powerful results are right around the corner. (more…)

From the Mailbag

Miata,
I know I shouldn’t tell you this, but I really don’t have time to sit down and write out a complete budget! I know, I know, it’s horrible. Could you give me some quick tips to keep track of money without writing it out?

You probably know how I’m going to respond… The bad news is that until you take the time to write out your expenses, it’ll be impossible to make real, effective changes to your budget. There is a slice of good news, though.  We can speed up the process of budgeting to make it easy until you find time to attack your budget head-on.

  1. Use a website like Mint.com to help you budget on-the-fly. You can link Mint to your checking account so that it gives you a quick rundown of how you spent cash. The best news? Mint lets you set parameters to warn you when the checking account is worse off than you’d wish. Don’t want to use Mint or another similar site? Many banks are adding robust budget tools. Check with yours to see if this’ll make it easier to keep track of your spending.
  2. Communicate regularly with those who share your budget. If you’re married or setting goals with a partner, schedule time to review bills, investments and upcoming big ticket expenses. You won’t regret it. For many families, this single act allows them to effectively plan because everyone is on the same page regarding how money should be spent during the week.

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of creating your budget. But I promise it really doesn’t have to take that long. Check out Artist’s Prosperity 101 for a clear and affordable program that will take you step by step through the process of getting completely financially organized. You’ll create a strong financial foundation – including a budget – in just 4 weeks of extremely manageable actions!

Build Your Financial House of Brick

Remember the three little pigs? Sure you do. The moral of the nursery rhyme was simple:  build your house right the first time and it won’t be blown over.

In the arts, we’ve all heard this advice before. It’s the quality of our work that brings people back. We’ve watched suspiciously as performers with gimmicks shoot to the heights of fame for a few brief moments; but it’s only quality work that helps ensure a long, prosperous career.

Or in other words, using three little pigs speak:  If you’re building your house, make it brick.

I’ve often heard financial planning referred to by professionals as a house. A foundation laid on the sandy ground of debt and scattered income is bound to fall later. For the average person, building consistent, dependable income and paying down debt are jobs number one and two.

But we aren’t average, are we? (more…)

From the Mailbag

I was watching an extreme coupon clipping show last night. How easy is it to find these discounts and pay next to nothing for groceries?

-Julie

Hi Julie! It isn’t easy, but as the people on these shows prove, it’s not impossible. Before making a purchase, try a simple Google search on the item and you’ll be shocked to find how many discounts are available, often from the item creator’s own website!

True extreme couponing is pretty involved. First, find double and triple coupon shopping days at your local store (it may be best to shop on these days anyway, if you become a diligent coupon clipper). Second, search for coupons that allow other discounts to be tacked on. Third, hunt down several coupons on the same item to bulk purchase when you find a good deal. You’ll want to stock up on great buys to avoid higher prices later.

Track store sales. Here’s where the extreme coupon hunters score big wins. They’ll find a sale on detergent at a store and combine the sale price with a manufacturer’s coupon. On extreme couponing shows, these crazy hunters will use double and triple coupons plus store sales to create nearly-free shopping trips.

But do remember that coupon shopping can be dangerous. If you aren’t a careful shopper, you may end up with a basement stocked full of goods that you didn’t ever intend to buy. If you weren’t going to use it, don’t make the purchase just because you have a nice coupon.

Cost to Market Your Career

How much should you plan on spending to market your craft?

This is an extremely difficult question, because every business is different. Plus, because of the highly artistic businesses of many of our readers, the rules of thumb for most businesses don’t necessarily apply.

There’s a short answer and a long answer.

The short answer is a rule of thumb.Organizations use a number as high as thirty percent of the amount they expect to earn if they’re in the developmental years of the operation. This number can be reduced to ten percent once they have a full workload. For our audience, this may translate to thirty percent of income spent on any activities to gain new “clients” (bookings, gigs, sales, etc.) until you’re primarily earning your living from your craft. At that point drop the number to about ten percent to make sure people remember you’re around. You never know when suddenly a well-paying gig may come to an end. (more…)