I can hear the collective groan now…do we, as artists really have to think about finances? Well, first of all, we’re still people, too, so the answer is: yup (unfortunately). I know that money and art don’t necessarily go hand in hand (I’m there with ya). I would like to share some information and tips that I have learned in the last year or more to help my fellow artists (and anyone who’d like assistance) to better their lives by improving their financial portfolio. Now, I am not a financial advisor or a guru of some sort, so please get professional help if need be and look at your finances with an advisor. These are simply the musings of an artist trying to get by!
About two years ago I was financially flailing. My credit score was about 1-200 points lower than it is now, and I came to the realization that a low credit score was really harming my ability to pay off a credit card that I’d gotten when I was young (and how that debt got there: that’s another story filled with me having no idea about the repercussions, aka interest, of my actions when I was younger). This debt has followed me around for years. Since I had such a high interest rate that was forcing me to throw money down the toilet every month, I decided that I needed to start working on improving my credit so that I could better my situation gradually. I also knew that I’d be moving out on my own at some point and that my credit would need to be elevated. Ah, being an adult. IT WAS DAUNTING. So…I started researching ways to slowly incorporate better financial strategy in my life.
The first step…is the hardest one: grabbing the bull by the horns and combing through your statements to see where you can begin to curb your spending. For me it’s been my Starbucks habit (I now only go once a week and I’ve cut my spending down from about $200+ to $50-$60 per month, at most). So yay! I get a special date with myself once a week and I get to keep more money, too! I know, it’s painful, but you can do it, as well! Think about it this way: for me that’s about $1,680 in savings per year…that could definitely pay a few monthly bills! What do you do that slowly demolishes your pay? The second step: still pretty daunting, but very liberating once you face it.
The 2nd step is to find out if you’re eligible for a credit card. I recommend applying for a secured credit card if you’re ready because they are designed to help those of us who are re-building our credit health. The way they accomplish this is by only having a very small credit limit (mine with Capital One was $200) so you don’t go overboard with your spending. It’s a great way to practice changing your habits while having a safer system than a regular credit card. There are lots of offers out there, but I recommend using Capital One because it comes with an easy to use set of tracking tools. The app allows you to see exactly how much credit you have and have used. It also informs you about your financial health by consistently showing you your credit score, providing information about the factors effecting your credit, and giving you tips on how to improve your score. By following the steps suggested, you can start to build your confidence in your financial setup. I have come to find out through my own experience how important and beneficial this is. In the last two years I have grown financially and I’ve realized many things, but one of the most important things I came to realize is that it is very expensive to not have money. Having a great credit score means that you will be offered better deals on financial products, especially interest rates. Interest rates are where the bank gets your money. With high interest rates you end up paying the bank more money in the long run because you have a low credit score. With a higher credit score the bank gives you a lower interest rate, and you end up paying less money in the long run than you would have otherwise. Weird, right? It seems backwards, but I hope to inspire you to think outside the box and turn the cycle back in your favor as I am trying to do on my end as well.
These ideas are just scratching the surface and there is more to come. Stay tuned and have a great day!
Disclaimer: please do what is best for you financially. My tips and ideas have worked well for me, but each situation is different. For personal advice please go to a financial advisor and find out your options.