Do you sink, swim or tread water?
To be perfectly honest with you, right now, for me it’s day-to-day. Some days I’m treading water and some days I feel like I’m sinking.*
That’s right, living mindfully and within my means is a tough job for me. Especially as my business is only 7 months old. It’s a little baby, it has taken large chunks of my money and I haven’t always made the best decisions. But my head is still above water.
I was asked recently to talk about my opinion on how to live within your means when it comes to being an artist or creative. I don’t think my post on living within your means was not for creatives or excluded them in any way. I was discussing this with some other creatives recently and I firmly agree with what came out of the conversation: if you can’t first begin to live within your means on a personal level, being able to in business is going to be very difficult. It is so tempting to buy stock and materials on the premise that someone will snap up what you have made right away. But often that’s just not realistic.
I’m not trying to be a downer here, for me it’s all about control. I understand as well as anyone how difficult it is to try to make money from something you love, especially when it is something creative. People don’t like to pay for creative, not in this society of cheap imports and fast fashion. What I have to do, as a creative (and it’s something I’m slowly learning to do) is put my foot down and not accept anything less than the right price for my products and services. If people want to buy your stuff badly enough they will find a way.
We need to get smart about pricing honestly and reasonably and I don’t mean a bargain for the customer ‘reasonable’ but actually be able to afford to pay the bills ‘reasonable’. Tara Gentile wrote a post on mindful earning a while back and it was this article that really got me thinking about pricing correctly.
If you price correctly and do your research, (something I’m taking a course in), you can find your right people who will pay for what you make and allow you to do what you love. If you don’t want to live off your credit cards, then find a way not to. I don’t have a credit card, I once did and gave it back – fully paid off – after 2 months. Why did I do that? It was too damn stressful wondering how I was going to pay it back.
Maybe, part time work is a way to live mindfully until business picks up. Or diversifying what you do. Maybe you’re good at something you don’t love but people are willing to have you do it until you can fund everything with your creative ability.
One good way, and a way that works for me, is to track what you are spending and once you reach what you have earned, stop spending. But, this is a difficult topic for me as I don’t know anyone else’s situation but my own. I’m just here treading water, trying new things to see what works best for me.
Before I lost my job and started on this crazy path, I already had savings. I was already living within my means. Some of that is gone now and I wouldn’t have been able to take this journey without it.
As much as it saddens me, money makes the world go ’round and it’s a game we all have to play.
We can try to play it smart and take control of it with long term plans and knowing exactly what we are spending and on what. Or we can let day to day spending get on top of us. It’s a decision. Not an easy one, but a decision.
Living within your means is a long term goal, a life decision, it doesn’t happen over night and it isn’t easy at the beginning. It’s up to the individual to decide if it’s what they really want to do. If it’s not for you, that’s ok, as long as it’s ok with you.
How do you feel you are going? Do you feel you are swimming or treading water? Any thoughts? Tell me in the comments.
* When I say sinking, I mean that some days are tougher than others. But I have to plod along through those days, where I think I’ll never sell anything else, and hope for a better day. It usually comes soon. It is my decision to try this the tough way, but I’m doing it my way.
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