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Art + Finances

After reading several relevant articles and having some interesting conversations recently, I've been (as usual), mulling some things over in my mind. These thoughts are now slow-cooked enough to share in a blog post.

We all know about the problems of inflation combined with wages which are not keeping up. How does an artist, starting out professionally in the 2010s, manage an artistic career while staying afloat financially?

The answer varies, of course - people have varying levels of family/study/scholarship/grant support, for example. For those who have sufficient support and are in a position to focus intensely on a high level artistic career, great! I'm so proud of my friends who are doing so well and achieving so much!

More and more, however, the majority of performers I know are having to put their artistic goals on the back-burner in order to pay the bills. It has been this way for quite a while, but with student debt, housing, and general life costing more than ever before, it is becoming progressively more difficult to survive on performing alone. Not everyone wants to be a teacher, either, so for some, a full-time music job just isn't an option. Most of us have day jobs that keep us afloat.

If you are in the tough place of deciding whether to give up on your dream of being a career artist, I have 2 things to say:

1. You are not a failure.

2. Nothing is permanent.

There is more to being a human than being an artist; you will improve as an artist through improving as a human. There are some who have sacrificed their humanity for their artistry, and from what I've seen of that, it leads to terrible bitterness and a warped view of the world. Who wants that?!

There are always seasons in life, and though it may not be the time right now for things to come into fruition for you, there may be a time coming where you WILL be able to change focus again. However, if this time does not come, point 1 still applies.

Now, for a bit more about finances. I've been focusing on getting my finances into a better place recently, after a couple of years galavanting around France and Europe on an au pair «pocket money» wage. Time to get to paying off debt and saving for a while now!

I've learned a lot from Dave Ramsey's financial resources, and I think his  7 baby steps to financial freedom are very useful (you can modify them a bit if they don't quite suit you). This has been my starting point.

I knew already about budgeting etc., but that was put to the side quite a lot during my time as an au pair. In New Zealand, I had a very good system of bank accounts: several savings accounts for different purposes. If anyone wants to know more about how I categorised those, let me know.

Something I really need to learn more about is investing. I've done a fair bit of research, but still feel like I don't even know where to start. I almost bought BitCoin when it first came out, and thought about investing in Facebook when that first started gaining traction. I still regret not investing in both of those things at the time; finances did not allow for it, however!

My hope is that I will soon be more financially stable, and able to have the freedom to start setting up more artistic projects. 

What are your best financial tips? How do you afford to pursue your artistic goals? 

Here's to healthier bank accounts and more freedom for us all!

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