Monday, August 18, 2014

A Simpler, More Creative Life: Let's Talk About (omg) Money

I just snorted. Seriously: sitting right here, typing the title, I snorted. Not because money doesn't have anything to do with a simpler, more creative life. It does. But because I'm pretty much the last person on the planet who should talk about money, like, ever. So I'm *not* giving advice here. No way. I'm just going to talk about my own experiments and adventures around money.

I've interviewed Teesha Moore a number of times for a variety of things (articles, podcasts), and once she said that in her life, pretty much everything she's ever touched has turned to gold. Not literally, of course. But she's an entrepreneur, and a good one, and all the various things she's started have done well. I admire this a lot. I am not an entrepreneur. I'm the opposite of one of those, whatever that opposite would be. A nontrepreneur? The idea of starting a business doesn't fill me with excitement; it fills me with sheer terror. While others salivate at words like "spreadsheet" and "DBAs" (Doing Business As) and "profit" and "5-year plans," I break out into a cold sweat. It's not that I'm a financial idiot or a basket case. No. I have no debt. We have insurance for pretty much everything. But when one of my jobs ended last year, one that was roughly half my income, I had to really think about what I was going to do. Midland, Texas, where we live, is in an on-going economic boom. If I wanted to go out and find a job, I could. Not a job doing what I love, but a job. Teaching English or subbing or working in animal care. Something I've done before. Even though I'm Of A Certain Age (when it's tough to find a job), the businesses here are desperate for workers because so many have gone to the oilfields.

But I didn't want to do that. Here's a confession that I would have never, ever made even five years ago, but hearing a friend say it made it possible: I didn't want to work that hard.

Whoa. Talk about something making you sweat: admitting that, that I don't want to work that hard, is still tough. But it's the truth: I want to do what I love (writing, talking to people about creativity, stitching) as much as possible and not spend more time making money. Money is not bad, and I need money, just like everyone else. But what I realized I wanted to do was not to figure out how to make more, but to figure out how to need less.

What does this have to do with you and your creative life, you ask. Sure: if you work less, you have more time. But beyond that? If, for instance, you want to be able to attend certain fabulous art retreats and would like to be able to save enough to do that. Or you want to buy a loom so you can make bigger pieces and maybe start to sell them, but you need to save up to get the loom you need. Like that.

I started by really looking at the things I was spending money on. Granted, I wasn't spending a lot of money on them, but considering that I didn't make a lot, anyway, every bit was something to consider. I looked at my website, for example. I never updated it. I didn't like it. I didn't need it (since I don't sell anything). So I got rid of it. I think that getting rid of the website and starting to simplify my life at about the same time was a much bigger step than it sounds. The website didn't cost a lot, but it was over $100 a year, and the bigger deal was that it was a huge mental weight. I always felt guilty for not keeping up with it better, but because I didn't use it and didn't like it, I had no interest in trying to make it cooler or up-to-date. Getting rid of it was like having a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. I have a blog (free) and Facebook presence (also free), and they don't demand stuff from me like a website did (figuring out how to lay out a page, for instance).

Jazzed, I started looking at other stuff. I was already trying to get rid of stuff—clothes, shoes, bags—so that everything I own is something I love. That makes it much easier to stop buying stuff, even stuff that makes me go, "Oooooooo!" like acid green Keen's sandals, the waterproof hiking ones that are good for your feet and so comfortable and that you can really justify because—just stop it!


We have two vehicles, both of which are getting up there in years and mileage. The older one has 120,000 miles, and I had been thinking that when it finally goes, we'd have to replace it. But I hardly ever drive anywhere any more: I stay at home most days, writing and stitching. When I have to do errands, I can usually get my husband to combine them with his, or I can let them accumulate and then do them all at once, maybe once a month. If we have only one car, that will mean less gas, less maintenance, less insurance. We live within walking distance of the library, the post office, the bank, the fabric store, the pharmacy—pretty much everything except a grocery store and the veterinarian.

Anyway, you get the idea: I'm looking at everything, from what I own to what I spend to where I go to how I get there. It all began for me as it can for you: I started by thinking about how I want to spend the rest of my life. What's my passion? What's most important to me? I see other people my age working as much as they can for as long as they can so they can buy a retirement house and maybe a boat. Maybe for them, that's their passion. Maybe saving up to travel the world is their passion. Maybe, though, you're like me, and your passion is making. Looking at everything that takes you away from that and figuring out what you really don't need/want that much? I hope it's as eye-opening for you as it has been is (I think it's a never-ending process) for me.


Melissa Bolton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Bolton said...

I like what the post is saying- definitely food for thought.

Judy Wise said...

I was lucky enough to have been raised by two women (my mom and grandma) who lived through the depression and had a life long habit of thrift. My father made very little money due to a childhood misfortune and my mom took in ironing to help make ends meet. We never had a phone, TV or many of the things other families took for granted.

It was wonderful.

We were forced to use what we had including our imaginations. We put on shows with blankets on the closeline for stage curtains. We made sandals out of cardboard and torn sheets. We made paper mache and I drew for hours. We used the library constantly. I grew up reading with the luxury of endless time to daydream and play outdoors.

It was great training for getting by on next to nothing which is what I've done most of my adulthood as I sold my paintings at art fairs and lived hand to mouth. I could go on but I'm sure you get the idea. I love this subject and wish I were there when the people were stitching and talking.

Aunt Joycie said...

After retiring four years ago, I find myself in much the same position as you, Ricë. Our cars (11 and 12 years old) are paid for, our house (110 years old) is paid for, all the tools and equipment we need to do the stuff we like to do (restoring old cars and tractors, weaving, quilting, sewing, gardening, lapidary) are paid for. We have time to do our stuff. People ask me, "Where are you going to sell the jewelry you make (or the old cars, or quilts, etc., etc.)?" We don't need a lot of money to have the life we love, so we don't feel it necessary to market our stuff. Maybe, if some day we do have a need for funds, we'll have product up the ying-yang to sell. How blessed we are! PLUS, i can be entertained every time I go to the Voodoo Cafe!

Caatje said...

A nontrepeneur, oh, can I steal that word? It seems to describe me totally!
I think it's very important to figure out how you want to live your life day to day and what you really need to do that, much more than what you might want someday in the future. I can think of a gazillion things I might want, especially material things, but most of them aren't really necessary or ad anything valuable to my life.
What I don't want is to put my life on hold, work like crazy to 'make it' (whatever that means) in order to 'settle down' and enjoy the fruits of all my labour some day in the far future. I just don't have the patience or time for that. I get to do the things I love now. I have to keep a three day office job to do it, but I think I'm pretty lucky that the rest of my time is fully my own without any strings attached. Doing my art for money would put on all kinds of strings that would just cause me stress and take away the joy. I know it's not that way for everyone, but it is for me. As you say: I just don't want to work that hard. I'm such a nontrepeneur! ;-)

Lynne Suprock said...

Well, Rice....
All I can say is wow.... and... yup.
Really good food for thought piece art sister!

Scarlet Fields said...

I love everything you write and when you make me snort❤️

Liz-Anna said...

I really enjoyed (and related to) this piece.