Monday Money Check-in

Can You Be Financially Insane?

Maybe I’m just financially insane. Have we considered that?

This week I was waiting with bated breath to see which would land first: my $795 rent check in my $600 account, or the $400 from my freelancing client that would prevent the check from bouncing.

The $400 landed first, and I felt this rush of relief, and then that day I spent money compulsively, like, out-of-body experience compulsively. Oh, I thought, Something is definitely wrong with me.

 

Did I mention that guy with the ADD? I was interviewing one of the top experts on ADD in the country, and we got to chatting about distraction, etc, and he said, “It sounds to me like you have ADD.” He even offered to hook me up with a center in Seattle that diagnoses ADD. But of course the analysis is $260, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

 

On this Monday I might have to take money out of my Fuck Off Fund, because, per the ush, I set myself up to go on a trip that I don’t have money for. I’m going to try to lemonade stand it a little while I’m there. It’s a music festival, and I’m going to do portraits. But also, I don’t know. I’m going to feel it out.

I thought this blog would be a journey toward financial wellness. Maybe it’s just the observance of a disturbed individual living out her dysfunctional life. Ah well, it’s still pretty fun.

One of the reasons I feel insane is that career-wise, things are going well. I’m in Glamour and Cosmo this month. (Pay: $0) I found out I was in Feminist Fight Club. (Pay: $0) I have amazingly successful people in my corner trying to help me along and get me work. My book is sitting here right next to me.

And still. Bank account:

It’s the peak time of something, that something being the space between the growth of my career, in reputation and network, and the stagnation of my earnings.

I haven’t saved for retirement in almost two years. I’m hoping that what I’m putting away, in time, work, and dedication to this career, will pay off in compound interest.

 

 

Taking action is the most important thing. Yesterday I spent the entire Sunday setting up my Society6 store with the illustrations from my book (done in collaboration with Tony Ong.) I went to my favorite coffee shop and they gave me my tea for free, they were playing Pinkerton, and Ace Ventura was on the TV. I felt more hopeful.

Somehow, I’m most comfortable with less than $100 in my bank account. It feels like home.

I haven’t been using YNAB, even though I labeled all over my cards to do so. It’s just so easy to ignore, because it does exactly what it says it does, which is shows you what you’re stealing from.

 

Ok, let’s face the numbers.

I have $73

I have to pay $40 to eBay for selling a friend’s breast pump on there. (True story)

The guy who was going to go to this music festival with me couldn’t, and I sold his ticket, and I didn’t give him the money at the time, so I owe him $325.

I still owe $500 for my skin cancer surgery.

I owe my tax account probably $300.

I haven’t saved anything for taxes. This terrifies me. I swore I would never do this to myself. YNAB tried to convince me to keep my taxes in the same account as my other stuff. It seems like I’m not financially sane enough to do that.

My earnings thus far:

So according to this sad little income report, I owe $2,800 if we assume 20% toward taxes.

Also I’m on track to make just $33,000 this year. Not. Great.

 

What we’ve done here is taken someone who might be financially insane and put her in a low-earning, unreliable profession. Will she make it?

 

Yes dammit, I want to make it. I commit myself. To whatever padded room, whatever straight jacket I need to not hurt myself.

Jessica Moorhouse said she would help me with bookkeeping, which is a skill I’ve never learned.

Liz at Express Credit Union said I should get a business loan to build my credit for something I need (which I’ll tell you about later). She said she’ll watch it to make sure I don’t use it for anything else.

 

Shouldn’t I be able to do this without help? Sometimes you can’t, and trying to convince yourself otherwise only gets you in more trouble. You need those padded walls so you don’t bonk your head. An accountability buddy is a kind of padding.

This blog is a kind of padding. You just need to do what you have to do, and this is what I have to do: continually confess, to live in a state of confession, do my weekly washing of my weekly sins. Forgive me readers, for I have latte’d.

 

What is wrong with me? Something. But I can work with it.

 

 

 

 

 

Where Have You Been?: May 10th Not Monday Money Check-In

God everything’s a shitshow right now. An exciting, scary, pit-of-stomach, oh-my-heart shit show. Over the last month I’ve gone from San Francisco to New York, from the offices of The New York Times to free fancy dinners paid for by years of practicing writing to a housein the Catskills filled with badass women to my apartment wondering where I’ll get my next paycheck.

It was all “work.” Work in the sense that I was drumming up business, negotiating a raise with my steadiest freelancing client, brainstorming story ideas with two editors at The Times.

And none of it was “work.” It was not work in the sense that no one was paying me, except for the $500 speaking fee (poofed when I bought my flight and found a $50-a-night-room to stay in).

I finished my book on Tuesday, for which the two checks of $2,400 have long come and gone. I finished an essay I’ve been working on for months and submitted to Modern Love, but even if it gets accepted I’ll get $300 in, maybe, six months from now. Fuck Off Funds were in Cosmo and Glamour this month, for which I got $0.

I cannot cash my rent check on publicity, or connections, or exposure. They will pay off, someday. But I have $285 after my rent check clears (and I cannot, cannot bounce it again), and really no solid idea of where my next check will come from.

So today is spent hustling, and I will just keep bouncing back.

I so believe, more than ever, that I am on the verge. I will be paid well within the next few years. The book will give me a platform to make more money. Those stories will be published in The Times.

But damn, shit feels real right now.

One Day This Will Be Funny: April 10, 2018 Monday-ish Money Check In

“Guys,” I wrote on the Fuck Off Fund Facebook Page a month ago, “I had to turn down a really cool opportunity. A free ticket worth $1,000 to a conference, but it’s in San Francisco, I’d have to get my flight and hotel, so I had to say no. I feel responsible but crappy.”

Today, I write to you from San Francisco.

One of my favorite clients, Nir Eyal, is throwing this Habit Summit, where a bunch of brilliant people from places like Google are talking about how people form habits, information I want to use for my writer’s course to help people make writing a habit. Plus they’ll be teaching gamification, which I want to study to help people get through the course and actually enjoy it. In high school, I had a piece of software for studying for the SAT that felt like a game. It really helped me stick to a program, get a score good enough for entry into the University of Florida with scholarships. The more important a goal is, the more important it is that you make it fun to get there. That’s what I think.

But in a fit of responsibility, I told Nir I couldn’t make it. I couldn’t afford the ticket, the hotel. Then I thought about it for two days. Or it, rather, it thought on me. If you get what I mean.

 

I tried to find a free place through the Peace Corps couchsurfing Facebook to stay in San Francisco. Two people offered, but they were an hour and a half away by bus. So I did something I swore I would never do again. I signed up to sleep in a room with three strangers.

“My god no, I am too old for that shit,” I’d thought just a year ago. I was at the Lola conference in Portland, and Tanya from Our Next Life, on of the uber-frugal retire early bloggers, was talking about how someone had kept her up in her dorm. I just shook my head, thankful I’d never have to deal with that again.

I have done the hostels, the bed-collapsing, 2 a.m. drunk guys, 8 a.m. fart noises hostels, for many of the trips to the city when I was in Peace Corps. That part of my life had come to a close, I’d thought.

And yet here I am, in a (thankfully) all-female dorm at San Francisco’s HI Downtown. Because I said I would do the cheapest thing, and this is the cheapest thing.

If have the top bunk, if you must know.

Everyone was lovely. If anything, I was the jerk because I had to get up at 6:30. Luckily I was so worried about it that I anxiety-woke before my alarms went off. I’ve met a girl from Hong Kong, one from Brasil, and another from Spain. I met a dancer from Australia, who saved a year  and a half to come to America for three months to audition on each coast.

 

This morning, I went to the conference. My awesome boss/client Nir was, for once, not in email form. I got a free bagel and coffee. I got to sit in a very expensive room to sit in. I wrote 10 pages of notes for my future business plans.

 

This is how the woman next to me took her notes:

 

Back at the hostel, I realized the kitchen here is gorgeous and I’ve never cooked by myself in a hostel before. I really should. I finally know enough about cooking to throw something together. I probably won’t tonight. It’s 8:30, and I’ll do that thing where I get to uncomfortable hunger and think, Well now I have to go to a restaurant due to hangriness.

I keep promising myself this will all be funny one day. When I’m staying at the… I don’t know… I want to dream big… when I’m at the Hilton. With a room all by myself. I’ll look back on this and laugh and shake my head.

To make myself feel better, I keep reminding myself how funny this will be.

But what if it’s not? What if I stay a writer, and I just keep making this amount, and I go to conferences and I am in expensive rooms that I got with social capital, but I stay in very cheap rooms I have to buy with actual, god-fearing money?

That would be ok too.

I keep telling myself.

 

 

I’m not doing my Monday check-in list because A. I’m tired. B. I’m scared to look, which is why I’m pretending to be tired. I do have to pee though, so that’s a reason to go. I hope I don’t wake my roommate.

How Much Should We Be Planning?: April 2, 2018 Monday Money Check-in

I didn’t know about this thing called “planning” for about the first 25 years of my life. I’m definitely learning to love it. It’s like, Ooh, you mean I can plan for the future instead of letting it bat me in the face with consequences when it finally arrives? Tell me more. 

This year, I put up a laminated year calendar on the wall of the office I share, and it’s given me such a sense of control. I don’t write on it in permanent market, so if I need to change my plan, I just lick my finger and wipe off what I thought would happen, write in what will actually happen, no big deal. I think before I was scared that if I didn’t get it exactly right, I’d be screwed.

As Michael Gerber has said, “Businesses that plan always do better than businesses that don’t. But businesses that change their plans are always more successful than businesses that plan but don’t change them.”

So you have to find that happy medium. I started the earliest version of this blog with a weekly check-in. I’ve added a monthly and a yearly, but today I realized it’s the start of Q2, so I’m going to do a quarterly one too.

Am I allowed to use phrases like Q2, if I’m a creative freelancer? Yes, because you are also a business person. Everyone is a business person, even an employee. A person is a business. We all want to stay in business. This is especially true of freelancers.

Planning takes time. I spend almost all of my Monday planning, doing my executive meeting and this check-in. But it’s time well spent. Invested.

 

I’m not doing that well with money right now guys, and I forgive myself. I’m going to keep working hard. I’m going to zoom out to the year, the quarter, and not let myself get lost in the little failures. I’m laying a lot of foundations for things that I trust will pay off later. But I have to save my fuck off fund this year, and I cannot make myself financially desperate while I’m networking and going to conferences.

 

Review:
  • Earned last week: $839. Short of my $1,000 goal. And I need to make some serious money because I have two conferences coming up this month, one in San Francisco, the other in New York City. Not cheap places. 
  • Saved last week: $0
  • Personal Checking Balance: $0
  • Business Checking Balance: $3
  • Fuck Off Fund Level: $2,000
  • Weekly wins: I did not do well last week guys. Like, seriously, a musical montage of everything freelancers could do wrong. What did I do right? There must be something… hmmm. Oh! When I was on Nicole Dieker’s podcast and I asked her why her voice is so clear and amazing, she told me she took voice lessons. So I signed up for voice lessons!
Predict:
  • Look at all bills due this week: Rent, health insurance..
  • Update and review budget (I’m changing to YNAB): Done. I’m really learning that YNAB makes you see where you’re stealing from yourself. 
  • Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money: Thank god, I think I can keep it really low-key. 
Plan:
  • Transfer 10% of money received last week: Easy, didn’t make any
  • Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund: I’m not going to do this right now, but I have a $400 payment coming in I can do it with. 
  • Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account: Don’t need to. 

” 

What Is The Animal You Are: March 26, 2018 Monday Money Check-in

I said I wasn’t going to go to the writer’s conference in Tampa, then I went.

I said I wasn’t going to go to Key West to visit my best friends, then I went.

I said I wasn’t going to go to Beyonce, then I got my tickets.

I said I wasn’t going to go to the Habit Summit in San Francisco, then I emailed my boss back to say I would.

I said I wasn’t going to go to the lady and money retreat in upstate New York, now I’m going to that, too.

 

So.

 

I lie.

 

“I want you to remember something you said to me,” said my best friends’ mom, Jeri. “You want  a big life.”

Then Amanda Clayman said to me, “I feel like you’re trying to become someone you wouldn’t even like.

At the writer’s conference, poet Gabby Bates kept saying things about being the animal you are right now.

 

This morning, I got a confirmation of a meeting with a writer at the New York Times, so I said YES! as I shimmied and turned around to find my 150 sq. ft. apartment, in which I’m very happy for now. I’m so excited about the people I’ll get to meet at the Habit Summit, and, even though I told my boss, Nir Eyal, that I wasn’t coming, in the end I just couldn’t pass up the free ticket he offered me in exchange for volunteering (normal cost: $1,700)

I set up free housing in San Francisco using my Peace Corps network. I have a free place to stay in NYC, thanks to a tweet out to writer buddies. I’m taking these risks, these financial risks, because a risk-taker is who I am. I’m an entrepreneur, a creative, an adventuress. This is the horse I’m riding.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

For so long, I’ve tried to tamp down how much I like to talk, to learn, to go out and see. Now, I’m embracing it, and realizing it’s part of what differentiates me.

I have to stop pretending I’m going to let a chance to learn from the top people at Google pass me by. I have to stop pretending I’m not going to join in on a retreat of the top women working in my industry, or miss a session of worship at the high holy church of Beyonce.

You know what you want girl. Now just figure out how to get it.

I’m sacrificing, for now. The tiny apartment, the old car. I’m happy to do it. I can see, in the distance, as long as I keep this horse reined in, that we’re going to make it somewhere better.

 

Monday Money Check-in

Review:
  • Earned last week: $1,425 Hallelujah. I needed that to make up for the crappy weeks before it.
  • Saved last week: $200
  • Personal Checking Balance: $517
  • Business Checking Balance: $2254
  • Fuck Off Fund Level: $2,000 Woot Woot!
  • Weekly wins: I am not giving up learning how to use YNAB!
Predict:
  • Look at all bills due this week: Need to pay my insurance! 
  • Update and review budget: Done and done
  • Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money: I’m taking my guy out to dinner and going to see Charles Johnson this week!
Plan:
  • Transfer 10% of money received last week: EEEEEeeee can I next week?
  • Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund: Done!
  • Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account: Done for real

Oh Shit! When Will My Money Run Out?: March 19, 2018 Monday Money Check-In

Thank god I got Kristin Wong’s book, Get Money, in the mail this week. Because she pinpointed exactly where I am right now.

Next stop: Cursing myself. But Amanda Clayman actually did a pretty great job of helping me stop doing that. It’s been hard this week. Things are not looking that good. I made that $300 mistake with the flight, where I booked it under my first initial instead of my first name. This also cost me a lot of stress and 6 hours on the phone.

Then: I have $200 left on top of the money that’s in my account for my rent check. YNAB is hard! I’m still learning, and I somehow, in the fog of travel, performed my favorite magic trick that is turning money into not money. I have a $2,700 invoice for work I did in December, which I was told I would get the check for today. That check is not yet with us. (*checks email, sees that they sent the check to my old address and speak of it as if it will be sent (future tense) to the new one. Sends passive-aggressive email to please just paypal me the money for the love of god*)

Review:

  • Earned last week: $375
  • Saved last week: $0
  • Personal Checking Balance: $800 (with a $795 for rent out in the world. Cash it already you hoes!)
  • Business Checking Balance: $234
  • Fuck Off Fund Level: $1,800. This is the first week I can’t afford to send in my $200. I can only have two weeks a year like this or I’ll fall short of my $10,000. Maybe I can double it up one week!
  • Weekly wins: I really have done a good job of not falling into the shame spiral of hating myself for messing up. Just moving the f on.

Predict:

  • Look at all bills due this week: Phew, looks like none
  • Update and review budget (I’m changing to YNAB): did it!
  • Look at any social events where I might want to spend some of my Fun Money: I have to tell all my friends I’m in the danger zone and can do nada.

Plan:

  • Transfer 10% of money received last week: Done, because, you know, $0 received
  • Transfer $200 to Fuck Off Fund: I can’t, wah!
  • Transfer 20% of earnings to Tax Savings Account: $0

I can’t wait to read more of Kristin’s book and Get Money and Get My Shit Together.

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.