Posts Tagged ‘image’

How’s Your Plan Coming?

It’s August Already! How’s Your Plan Coming?

We’re at that time…back to school. The days of summer are nearing an end, and it’s time to evaluate your 2013 plan. Are you where you want to be? Are you going to finish this year with a flourish…both with your art and with your finances?

Now is when I begin tightening my calendar and managing the checkbook a little closer – finding ways to move farther on my career AND savings goals. Here are some priorities to consider for the end of the year:

1)    Start an automatic savings plan….or raise it.

Nothing makes savings easier than an automatic plan. Don’t try to save manually, telling yourself, “It’s important enough, so I’ll be sure to do it!” The fact is this: before you know it, the holidays will be here and you’ll be so busy you’ll forget to save.

Even worse, people who save manually often cut corners. If they start a savings plan at $100 per month they tell themselves, “I’ll save $80 now because I might have some big bills come up.” Do you think these people ever save the other $20? Rarely. Do yourself a favor. Pay yourself first.

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Challenge Common Money Asssumptions

Yesterday I was reading a piece about retirement planning. The author, a popular money guru, was making the case that before anything you should save toward retirement. I laughed when I read it because as an artist who also works with artists, I’ve learned to challenge assumptions. Most of the creative people I work with would like to retire, but they’re also into living a balanced life: they aren’t going to give up their art today to put a few more dollars in the retirement bucket.

I believe that we should naturally challenge some of the common assumptions when it comes to finance. Here are a few I could think of, and maybe you’ll have more that you can add in the comments.

“Good” and “Bad” Debt – I’ve heard these terms used too often. Let’s set the record straight: debt is neither good nor bad. A credit card isn’t necessarily bad and a mortgage isn’t necessarily good. Here are a couple of contrary examples:

Credit card as good debt – A responsible person uses credit cards to rack up big points toward airline miles, hotel stays, and other reward. She pays the card off every month and never pays interest. Sure, she owes the credit card company each month, but because she pays it off and earns rewards, I’d consider this “good debt.”

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Fighting the Summer Spending Spree

Fighting the Summer Spending Spree

Let’s admit it: summer is the time of year when the pocketbook opens a little easier. It’s nice outside. If you have children, they’re wandering around the house a little bored. Friends send invitations to parties out on the deck or maybe at the beach. Amusement and water parks seem to call out to you…and once they lure you in with pretty lights and big rides,  then you find that for just ten dollars more you can upgrade your experience at the whatever-that-thingy-is-you’re-doing-now.

It’s easy to spend too much money in the summer.

So how do you guard against overspending? Especially for those of us building artistic careers, overspending is dangerous. We have so much to offer with our talents, that every dollar we waste could have possibly been spent improving our craft. Here are my thoughts on controlling spending over the summer:

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Getting Off the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Carousel

It’s always fun heading to a theme park, but when you’re out of money, riding the paycheck-to-paycheck merry-go-round is frustrating.

When several financial experts make similar statements, it’s probably the truth. Dave Ramsey, Liz Weston, Jean Chatzky….what do they all have in common? They all say that if you just sock away between $500 (Weston) and $1000 (Ramsey), you can then get your entire financial life under control.

I know that when you’re balancing home commitments, your artistic career, and maybe a side job, finding extra money is difficult. That’s why most people stay on the merry-go-round. It’s easier to live paycheck to paycheck over the short term than it is to face the fact that you need to change. However, over the long term, you know it’s exhausting. Finding those few dollars to barely make a rent payment, clean up overdraft fees, or afford groceries makes it impossible to focus on the real struggle: doing what it takes to succeed as an artist.

The fact that saving an amount of money between $500 and $1000 is the key to your financial problems almost sounds too good to be true. Here’s why the $500 – $1000 is important. When you don’t have this money, you only have a few options. If you still have money left on credit cards or bank loans you can borrow. If not, you have to hit up friends, colleagues, or family for money. All of this cash has to be paid back. Then you find yourself the next month with extra money….and it has to pay for last month’s problems. You’re always solving last month’s problems, followed by any problems cropping up right now, and there’s never any time to look toward the future.

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Masterminds, Mentorship and Success

Masterminds, Mentorship and Success

You’ve probably heard the saying, “We are the product of our friends.” This is so very true. It shouldn’t surprise you that nice people who are knee deep in debt often have friends who are also debt-ridden. Perhaps they share feel good lines like, “I don’t need money when I have love.” While love won’t bring you more money, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

On the flip side, some of my most creative friends also hang around with very creative, motivated people. They help drive each other toward success. They visit each other’s productions and exhibits, deliver honest critiques and push one another to constantly better work. Consequently, everyone wins.

What Pack Do You Travel With?

I was reading about dolphins and wolves recently. Both of these creatures work together in teams to survive. While they may not be strong or fast enough to catch prey on their own, they outsmart their food to win. It’s the same for successful people.

In his classic book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill extolled the virtues of creating a group of like-minded people with which you could share notes and deliver success. Now, “who you travel with” is no longer an accident. You’re actively searching for people to be near who are going to inspire you, cajole you, antagonize you, and make you stretch mentally. They’re going to make you push for more. Like a wolf or a dolphin, they’re going to help you thrive.

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Plugging Money Leaks

Plugging Money Leaks

Our bathroom faucet drips all day if you don’t turn the faucet hard enough. I learned that the hard way, noticing the dripping only after a whole weekend away. Sigh. My only thoughts as I twisted the handle as hard as I could, were about all the money I’d let drip down the drain.

I’ll bet I’m not alone, though. How many parts of your budget are you letting drip away, into places where the money disappears? While that’s bad news, we can look at this from a “glass half full” point of view: there are plenty of money leaks that we can plug to gain a quick shot of much-needed cash. Even if you feel like things are going well, wouldn’t it be fantastic to have some extra money to save for retirement, a new house, your art, or even to gift to your favorite charity?

Here are five areas that you can attack today to add more money to your pocket book:

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Fighting Past “I Can’t Afford It”

How often have you caught yourself saying: “I Can’t Afford It”?  That’s one of the most disempowering phrases we can use in our creative lives. “I can’t afford it” is the financial equivalent of “I don’t deserve it” or “I’m not ready for it.” Of course you deserve it, and of course, you’re ready.

You just have to tell yourself that you are ready, you deserve it, and all you need is a plan.

Now perhaps there truly are some things you may not be able to afford. Like this yacht…

However, more often than not, you could (and should) be breaking down life into two columns:

–       I don’t want it.

Or

–       I am creating a plan to have it.

Let’s explore these two options: (more…)

Non-Conformists Are Born to Be Better Investors

Remember high school? Were you a person who wore what everyone else wore or did you stand apart?

I’ll bet you didn’t follow the crowd. That’s rarely the artist’s way.

Why do I bring this up? I only mention it because it turns out that creative people – those who are willing to go against the grain – should be great investors. Consider this: a financial company (Blackrock) sent out an email recently discussing the fact that many investors chase “negative returns.” Apparently, people try to guess where the market is headed; and Blackrock detailed just how horrible people are at guessing. In fact, it appears, when most people decide to turn right, the best decision was to turn left.

There’s Value in Turning Left

Everyone’s heard the mantra “buy low/sell high.” This even applies to your art, doesn’t it? Often I meet struggling artists who wonder “How come I’m not a sensation yet?” then they proceed to take the same steps as the herd.

It didn’t work in high school and it isn’t going to work now.

To truly get ahead, in your art and with your money, you need to turn left when everyone turns right. (more…)

Volunteering is the Secret

Need to be reinvigorated? Try this secret formula          

You know the feeling. You have determination, drive, and the skills to achieve your dreams. You’ve worked long, hard hours to reach your goal and it still seems miles out of site. You’re not letting go, but it’s starting to feel like you’re just spinning your wheels.

I learned a not-so-obvious solution for this common struggle, when I began studying productivity experts. I found it hard to believe at first, but they stressed that you’ll accomplish more by doing less at a time. If you plan regular breaks, you’ll work faster than if you maintain long, stressed-out hours. Because life (and your art) is a marathon, it’s better to work ten hour days and keep moving than it is to work a single 12 hour grind that leaves you fried for the next three days. That last two hours can put you in an early grave!

I found it difficult

Taking breaks didn’t make sense to me at first. I didn’t feel like I deserved them. When you’re on the road to success, you need to be at the wheel, don’t you? …and every pit stop slows you down.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that you don’t take breaks because you “deserve” them. You take them because you must have them to continue moving.

Ultra long distance runners—those crazy people who run 50 or 100 miles (or more) at a time–break regularly for food, drinks, or to chat. They know that the body is a collection of organs that all need rest. Even the winners of these super long races will break for ten to twenty minutes at a time, even though that’s putting them further behind the clock at that particular moment.

They’ve learned that by slowing down, they actually speed up in the long run!

Almost there…just needed a tweak

So, I began taking breaks while working on a new monologue, or developing course materials for Abundance Bound. They were good for me. I’d walk in the neighborhood, visit with friends, surf online, and let my mind wander. Still, the residue of my business and art continued to seep into these times. After a few breaks, I discovered that I wasn’t really taking a full “break.” I was using the walk for creative time to think about the work I was doing! While that was helpful over the short run, I was missing out on the key component of the break that makes it successful: I wasn’t completely away.

Then I discovered how I could escape AND rejuvenate. (more…)

Why You Need to Start Saving for Retirement NOW! …A Success Story

I recently received this email from an actor who just finished working through the Artist’s Prosperity Home Study System:

Miata,

I just have to write and tell you how excited I am to have found you! I’ve been an actor for five years, struggling along with everyone else, and I finally decided that enough is enough: I need to put together a plan so I can really focus.

All of this time, I thought I had already been focusing on my art, when in reality, I was part-timing everything: my job, my family and my craft. Now, you’ve put me on a path that I don’t think I could have accomplished myself. I have an emergency fund, a separate checking account for my business, and for the first time, real hope for the future. While I have yet to score that elusive “great part,” my auditions are much better. I believe this is because I come in focused and without worrying about “how broke I am.” Sure, I still worry about money, but not in the “OMG, I need this role” desperate way that I have in the past.

Thank you again for what you do. I just wanted to let you know there are people out there who appreciate you very much.

Jessica

It is rewarding when we hear from folks who have started to take control of their financial futures, because the unfortunate truth is that many people simply never will.

I was just reading some statistics from a group called the Employee Benefit Research Institute. While most Abundance Bound readers are self-employed (and not employees of others), we frequently fall into these same traps and the results of their recent retirement survey weren’t encouraging: (more…)