In the beginning... there is debt.

I went to college and got an arts degree. But if there is one thing I know how to talk about, it is finances. Unless you’re in the 1 to 3% who are set for life (or at least the time being with certain jobs), or the other 1 to 3% who really don’t care about material goals, the rest of us have that financial cloud over our heads and in the back of our brains that whisper don’t forget about me. So I don’t.

There is this stereotype that exists that if you are an artist, your head is stuck in the clouds and you don’t worry about money. You’re too much of a dreamer to be “street” smart or logical with finances. That you will be poor for the rest of your life.

Yes, I will admit I have a tendency to sit and think a lot more about abstract things than my CPA-seeking friends. I didn’t get a skill-set from college that puts me safely in a cubicle and pays me $40k+ to start my career

I chose a career path that typically requires odd hours, endless “interviews”, and expensive headshots, equipment, classes, coaches, and renting apartments in cities that are the most expensive places to live in the world.

But I don’t plan on being financially immobile because of my chosen career path. In fact, I find that there are distinct advantages to being an artist and approaching the taboo money topic when it comes up at the bar with my friends:

  1. I am inclined to frugality. My career can be stagnant at times, so during times where I am making money, I tend to save more. Say hello to Netflix and chill. Every. Night.
  2. I am more responsible with financial deadlines. I take out rent and student loans from my paychecks immediately so I don’t get myself caught in a pickle.
  3. I appreciate the little things. Granted, I have always been this way, but I thoroughly enjoy sitting down with friends over hot cup of coffee than I am spending tons of cash in the club to get the World’s Worst Hangover Award the next day… and wake up broke.

If you’re an artist like me, and none of those things above seem to line up with you, we need to have one of those coffee sit downs/interventions. It is high time we ALL started talking with one another about our finances, so we can ensure that our generation (if you’re a Millenial) doesn’t end up the broke adults we are slated to be. So grab your java, and listen up.

There is this stereotype that exists that if you are an artist, your head is stuck in the clouds and you don’t worry about money. You’re too much of a dreamer to be “street” smart or logical with finances. That you will be poor for the rest of your life.

Where do I start? 

Honestly, there are a thousand places you could start. For the sake of time, let’s just go over the “high-concept” pieces and assume that you’re not needlessly spending your life away. I am also going to assume that you have a good mindset and relationship with money, because that is incredibly important! Let’s get started with your multi-year game plan, then we will break it down in more articles (so you can skip to where you are).

There are three major steps to planting and growing your money tree:

  1. Have an emergency fund. This fund is anywhere between 3-6 months of living expenses: loan payments, gas money, food, rent, etc. This is also the hardest thing to start and the hardest thing to keep.
    Once you’ve finally hit that goal, crock-pot that account and let it go. I know it’ll look tasty when you’re in lean money-making times. I know it’ll smell delicious when your friends are travelling the world. Do. Not. Touch. It! Financial set backs happen all the time, whether your car breaks down or your roommate needs to move out. Don’t be in that crowd where you’re left in the rain without an umbrella.
  2. Get out of debt. For some people this is going to be the longest stage of their financial lives, especially if you were a musical theatre prodigy who went to a private college and now bar-tends when not auditioning. List out all of your debts (yes, that includes car payments and credit card debts) and tackle each of your debts individually, because growing interest on your loans is crazy! Usually people end up having to pay off their interest for longer than they pay off their loans.
  3. Start putting money into a “401k”. Right now you’re thinking “I am going to have a 401k? I never thought I would/I thought those were for those CPAs we were talking about!” Nope. Even if you’re self-employed, you can still have an IRA, or Individual Retirement Account. But this step is last because if you’re still paying off debt and trying to invest at the same time, you’re going to spread yourself too thin financially. The interest on loans skyrockets faster than your IRA can grow.

So, what do you think?

Wow, that was a lot of big picture stuff! You’re right, it is.

This is kind of… depressing. I get that. But it is important to remember to have fun while you’re going through all of these steps because, as an artist, there is a high chance that it may take some years before we start to see serious money coming in the door… if at all. So do yourself a favor, and don’t run yourself ragged trying to make this stuff happen over night because it won’t.

I’m not suggesting you take a soul-sucking 9 to 5 because that won’t help your artistic game. Believe me, I have been there. It’ll be hard, and there will be nights where you’re wishing you could go out with your friends rather than re-watch Parks & Recreation for a fifteenth time.

But you’re not reading this blog because you’re dumb. You’re reading this blog because you know that you need to be a lifelong warrior and tackle the big problems, like finances, with a war-winning strategy.

I feel like I'll never be out of debt. RIGHT? But you're so wrong. Even if you’r’e starting from step one and have $70k+ in debt, you can make this happen. Know that in the world there are those (including myself) who are rooting for you, and most importantly: you're not alone. We weren't meant to stay in debt, so don't think you will be forever, because as along as you are smart with your money... you won't be.

Go ahead and pat yourself on the back right now because by reading this article (and many others) you are taking the first steps to seriously consider your financial future. It may not always be easy, and it may not be short, but with the right attitude... you'll be fine.

You got this!

x Alexis

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!