Mother Effer, making $300 mistakes: March 12, 2018 Monday Money Check-in

Son of a trick ass bitch, I am here at the Silver Airways ticketing booth, trying to get to Key West, and as it turns out my reservation was made for P Perhach, not Paulette Perhach. Win: I was at the airport two hours early. Lose: The ticket agent told me that it will take 24 hours to re-issue my flight, It’s nearing an hour before the flight, and the last hour that I was supposed to spend giving my mom my full attention at a nice meal is spent with both of us on the phone, me snapping at her out of panic, and a Category 5 storm of self-hatred brewing in my chest.

You dumb fucking…

When are you ever going to learn to…

This is why you’ll never

And I was feeling so good too, after a few days of hustling and networking at the writer’s conference here in Tampa. I’d met my goals, met 5 possible people who could license my writer’s kit, and an editor of Poets & Writers who offered me to send in a chapter of my writing book for her to review as a possible contribution to the magazine.

I’m so glad this writing thing is working out, because I’m terrible at everything else. This whole issue, all the stress, the time, the cost, is because I didn’t check carefully when booking my ticket. Sigh. I accept this wild creative mind. It is not always the easiest thing to go through the world with.

Review:
  • Earned last week: $350 
  • Saved last week: $200
  • Personal Checking Balance: $800 ($5 above the rent check that’s about to cash)
  • Business Checking Balance: $291
  • Fuck Off Fund Level: $1,800
  • Weekly wins: Felt like a did a kick-ass job networking at the writer’s conference I went to
Predict:
  • Look at all bills due this week: T-Mobile
  • Update and review budget (I’m changing to YNAB): Ugh kind of. Still struggling. 
  • Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money.
Plan:
  • Transfer 10% of money received last week: Negative.
  • Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund: Yes
  • Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account: Negative. I’m totally screwing myself

 

 

Get the Numbers: March 5, 2018 Monday Money Check-in

One morning last week I woke up thinking about the skin cancer on my chest. I wasn’t thinking about my health, though. I was thinking about my bills. I assumed, since it feels like insurance companies just want to bankrupt us all, that this cancer would bankrupt me. I have a $4,000 deductible, even though my insurance is $400 a month. So I thought I would have no less than a $4,000 bill.

I even turned down a weekend with friends, citing that number and saying I would probably be facing it this year.

Then I realized: I really have no idea. To find out how much something will cost seems so freaking complicated. Do you ask insurance or your doctor? What’s the procedure code? How many calls will you have to make, and how long will each one take? I made myself face it, and found out. I made two calls and discovered that, while they couldn’t give me a definite number, it would probably cost between $400 and $600.

Oh. I had to laugh.

I can handle that. It’s like how I had my 20-year-old car broken down on the side of the road for more than a week. I didn’t want to take it to the mechanic, because I was sure that they would say this is the time to put her down. So I kept finding excuses of why not today, today, today. Then I had her towed, for free with my Geico roadside assistance. They found out that the battery the replaced this year was defective, and replaced it. Bill: $0. Car: fixed.

Hell yes.

I have to keep asking myself: with retirement, with buying a house, with any dream or dread, am I responding to actual numbers, or nebulous fear?

Right now I’m feeling afraid. I haven’t had much paying work for the last three weeks, I’m headed to Florida for a conference and week with my friends, and it just feels like the ramp-up to a nosedive. So I’m going to get on the phone with Lindsey from YNAB, and hope she can help me figure it all out, get the actual numbers.

Review:
  • Earned last week: $730 (Not as bad as I thought, but not great.)
  • Saved last week: $200
  • Personal Checking Balance: $586
  • Business Checking Balance: $2,061
  • Fuck Off Fund Level: $1,600
  • Weekly wins: Really trying to get educated on YNAB so I can keep my stuff straight. 
Predict:
  • Look at all bills due this week: Done
  • Update and review budget (I’m changing to YNAB): Done
  • Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money: Ahh! Too many. 
Plan:
  • Transfer 10% of money received last week: Not doing this, sorry future self. 
  • Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund: Done!
  • Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account: Ummmmm….

Let Them Eat $1,500 Cake: February 25, 2018, Monday Money Check-In

What exactly, I wondered, as I watched a cake auctioned off for $1,500, are all these feelings?

The feelings were a lot, that’s all I knew for sure. I stood volunteering at the auction for Artists Trust, an organization that supports us artists, an organization I hope will one day support me, surrounded by tables of people who paid $250 a plate to be there.

I had fancied up, borrowed a $200 necklace from a jeweler friend of mine, done all the hair curling, put on a blazer. At a certain level of income, it becomes very easy to seem. Before the event, we mingled around the art with just our name tags betraying us. I ran into people I hadn’t expected, the novelist I knew, an artist who I think doesn’t like me, the poet Quenton Baker, with whom I had, just a year before, sat on a patio drinking beer and talking about pirating movies due to the condition called brokeness.

The next morning, I would read in my buddy Ross’s novel: “Art was never pure. Hadn’t ever been. Even cave drawings from thousands of years before made audiences swoon, and as a result, relationships and goods were won.”

Our words, our paint, opened the same door for us that $250 had opened for other people. Currency.

Then the auction began, and our places were set. The attendees sat, and I stood, working here. The auctioneer, a pisser in a big red bow, thanked them effusively. This is what they get out of the exchange. Not the cake, not really. They funded a Gap grant, $1,500. They kept an artist going. The distance between me to them, just a few feet, just a few million dollars, I’m sure it looks the same from the people I pass peeking out from grimy blankets. If I give them $1, I get to feel better. I don’t want it to be guilt, but that’s what it often is. That dollar is a payment, in some ways, to myself.

The auctioneer laid it on, because, of course. They are passing over thousands of dollars, she is passing back sacks of the feel goods. Grade A, luxury Feel Good.

Then here comes Quenton Baker, recipient of the Arts Innovator Award, with the Feels Bomb. Describing how Artist trust never made him feel like his stories were less than. How art is the way to tell the stories that need to be told. We can feel what they’ve done for him. Made a difference, and here he is. The hair on my arms raised and tingled. I looked over at a buddy who works at Artist Trust, saw him “Whoo” out some air as if that was the only way to stop crying.

 

The people at the tables seemed fun, nice. I was right near the Boeing table, near some men known by name, even from a distance of 100 feet, by the auctioneer.

Mostly what I feel is wanting to be them, and then the shame of wanting to be them. I think there are people who have gotten over this. I hate myself for caring. I hate myself for wanting, wanting to be the person to raise the paddle to go to that arts center in Bali, the hills of Tuscany. I wanted that glass sculpture, that painting, that photograph.

Lately, my art has been making me feel powerful. I’ve been investing in my account, each deposit of practice, each deposit of reading, of classes, retreats, degrees. It’s been happening like they said it would, giving me returns. I’ve been comfortable in that, confident.

But her, I feel weak. I picture myself among them.

We humans, we just want and want and want. Evolution didn’t give it an off switch. How small of a world we can hold in our mind at one time. We were never meant to calculate much about what we can’t see. My machine isn’t meant to feel globally. My machine calculates how I’m doing in this tribe, and in this tribe, I’m losing badly.

So what do I do, in general. I stay away from it. I don’t watch Rich People TV. I don’t follow celebrities on Instagram. Because I’m just not strong enough.

 

 

Review:
  • Earned last week: $500 (Half of what I need, damn!)
  • Saved last week: $200 
  • Personal Checking Balance: $732
  • Business Checking Balance: $178
  • Fuck Off Fund Level: $1,400 (YAY!)
  • Weekly wins: I set up a weekly $500 “paycheck” to my personal checking
Predict:
  • Look at all bills due this week: RENT! AHHH!
  • Update and review budget (I’m changing to YNAB)
  • Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money: My friend Liam is playing in town to night, and I’m going to Spokane. So I have to cut any little stuff and save. 
Plan:
  • Transfer 10% of money received last week: I can’t afford it this week. I’m scared. 
  • Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund: Done!
  • Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account: Transferred $118

 

How to Fail: February 19th 2018, Monday Money Check-In

Have you ever heard of Jim Rohn? He’s like the cutest little 1960s inspirational speaker, the granddaddy who spawned everyone from Dave Ramsey to Tony Robbins. You can find all his old, blackboard-backed talks on YouTube.

One of the things he said that stuck with me is that most people think failure is one big event. But it’s actually the product of little failures, repeated. This week, I failed. I failed to make enough money (I made $800 out of the $1,000 of gross income I need to make per week to keep my business running.) I failed to stay within my budget. I ran out of fun money on Friday and refused to miss out on the submission group I go to, held at a cafe, the dinner party I got invited to last-minute on Saturday, or the mastermind group I go to on Sunday evenings. Both the later required a bottle of wine be brought, and because the dinner party was a few miles away and I knew I wanted to enjoy that wine, I Ubered for a total of $22.

Here’s how I would have handled it before my Amanda Clayman month: I would have sat down for a PowerPoint presentation with myself about why I am the worst. You suck, I would have said. You’ll never get better. Here’s an infographic about how much I hate you and hate being you.

None of this, you may notice, would have actually helped the situation.

So here’s what I’m doing instead: re-examinging and adjusting. Adapt and overcome.

With fun money, I make the transfer on Monday of $100. This gives me a chance to screw myself over spending over the week, and leave myself with zero dollars for the weekend, when there are more tempting opportunities to spend. To respond to this situation, I changed the automated transfer from $100 on Monday to $50 on Monday, $50 on Friday.

You have to examine your little failures, stop them in their tracks, so they don’t become that big failure in the future.

Review:
  • Earned last week: $800
  • Saved last week: $200
  • Personal Checking level: red 
  • Business Checking level: red
  • Fuck Off Fund Level: $1,400
  • Weekly wins: Got a sweet gig for a travel company, negotiated for more $$$ and got it! (Always negotiate!)
Predict:
  • Look at all bills due this week: Shit, my bank account is $253 and I have $205 worth of bills due in the next week. Gonna be tight! 
  • Update and review budget (I’m changing to YNAB): Still working on this. 
  • Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money: Lots of little things throughout the week – a show, writing workshop, writing event, so have to keep it minimal at each one. 
Plan:
  • Transfer 10% of money received last week: Got no money last week!
  • Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund: I did, even though it only left me with $200. I’d better get this big check I’m waiting on for work I did in December!
  • Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account: 0% of 0 is $0. Wee!

 

That Old Out-Of-Control Feeling: Feb. 12 Monday Money Check-in

I imagine it’s a bit like a potter, who’s sitting there spinning into life a perfectly round pot, until that first little shift, that tiny excess of pressure on one palm, a wobble, right before everything caves in and goes to shit.

That is the feeling I’m having right now about finances, and it’s one I know well. I’ve been spending, spending, spending. Granted, it’s for my business, a podcast transcriber here and a Hootsuite account there, the hosting for my book’s website, but all accounts flow back to Pauli P.

Plus, I found out last week that Bon Iver and Ray LaMontagne are playing the Sasquatch music festival, which means, no question, that I am going to Sasquatch. I have no regerts about this. Why didn’t I go see Prince the last time he was in Seattle? Because the tickets were $200. Anyway, Sasquatch is $325, camping is $50, plus, there will be beers and burritos. It’s an expense. But Beyonce and Bon Iver. I will never not see them, if they’re coming to town. Sorry not sorry.

Plus, I now have to deal with melanoma right in the sun valley of my cleavage. I have surgery this month and a $4,000 deductible (deductible: n. the amount that will be deducted (taken away) from you before your insurance will do anything). This means that I will probably be dealing with a $4,000 medical bill this year, which makes me want to puke.

As an experienced ostrich, I want to shove my head farther and farther into the sand. The reaction I’ve had to this feeling in the past has been to procrastinate as long as possible looking at my balances, my bills, the facts.

But I aspire to be more like a meerkat, standing as tall as possible on the rock of facts to look out, survey the horizon, and face whatever is coming.

So here I am at my Amanda Clayman-prescribed enjoyable money date with myself. Cost $4.34.

Review:
  • Earned last week:$1,191! Woot woot! I needed this because I was $400 short the week before. Please note that this is pre-tax, pre-expense money. In fact, I should change this label. What is this, gross? (gross: adj. without deduction of tax or other costs. Gross!)
  • Saved last week: $200 toward Fuck Off Fund, 20% for taxes.
  • Personal in red, yellow, or green zone (<$500, $500-$1,000, over $1,000): Red
  • Business Checking red, yellow, or green: Yellow
  • Fuck Off Fund Level: $1,000!
  • Weekly wins: My Fun Money card is working really well. The steps were to open a new account, order a debit card, set up a recurring transfer, and make a fun label for it that says Fun Money. Not too tough and totally worth it.
Predict:
  • Look at all bills due this week: Just my little Freedom and Microsoft ones for my SharePoint site. Less than $20. Ooh, actually, I need to also look at how much the transcriber and other freelance help are and budget for that.
  • Update and review budget (I’m changing to YNAB): Ugh I neeeeeeed to do this. I’m switching systems and having technical difficulties. So I’m sure that’s part of my confusion.
  • Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money: I’m meeting a friend for a work time at the cafe tonight ($10), I want to celebrate a story coming out in The Stranger on Wednesday with a friend at a breakfast ($20), I have my standing Friday Fiester slumber party with my bestie ($15 for beer and ice cream), I meet up with a group of women to submit writing at a cafe ($20), and I really want one of these t-shirts from Oddfellows. Maybe I’ll try to save some $$$ for that this week.
Plan:
  • Transfer 10% of money received last week to Betterment: Just set up my account and need to verify, but I will send $120 next week.
  • Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund: Done!
  • Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account: Done!

I have to make sure I have enough money to plan, to move all these funds toward my future. For me, that’s meant really making sure I make money. This seems obvious, but as a freelancer, you can work all day and not make a dollar. Pitching, organizing emails, following up on payments, though these move you toward money, they are not actually making money. So I’ve been counting carefully the hours I work at a per-hour rate, the stories I actually sell, and the writer’s course sign ups I get. These have to be my metric.

And I’ve been working my butt off. It’s The Year of the Grind. I spent last Saturday night watching a Sex and the City marathon and setting up 100 automated emails for my writer’s course. Almost every social activity is in some way wrapped up in my work. I do not want to fail, because failure sucks.

Thanks all for this week. Please enjoy this baby meerkat.