Act Your Wage! (a note on debt)
As a part of the ever-evolving process, there are things that we get to do that are awesome (creating!) and things that we have to do that are not awesome (paying off credit cards!). I decided to write about dealing with debt because I know not all of us were born with the gene that can resist a free shot glass from a credit card company on the first day of college, and if you're going to do anything professionally, you have to handle yourself like a pro, everywhere. And sometimes we have to do the things that suck in order to continue to do the things that rock.
That said, I sat down this weekend to do my taxes and figure out my finances to the penny. (See image, above.)
Now, one thing you should know about me is that I hate money. I feel like paying off debt is giving money away (newsflash: you already spent that quan) and every time I feel that squeeze on my resources I get constricted in other areas too. I can't create when I'm stressing about cash. Actually, I can't create when I feel like I owe anyone anything - money, favors, energy, an apology - debt is a major fucking drain, so own up to that ish so you can get back to business. Nothing knocks the muse off her horse quite like an unknown blowing up your iPhone mid-brilliance - really, who has random numbers from Minneapolis or Phoenix calling them midday? - and that shit's embarrassing to say the least.
If you're like me, then at times you may have gotten creative about how you fund your art - and I don't mean you got a custom credit card design with one of your drawings on it, I mean maybe you thought you knew more than you really do about imaginary numbers and string theory when it came to financing a project. What I'm saying here is get real about debt so you can get real (awesome) about creating. Money, favors, a thank you, a killer pair of boots you borrowed... OWN UP and GIVE IT BACK. You'll feel better. Truth.
So I made a list of everything I owe, and it was less scary than I thought. (NOTES: A number is way easier to deal with than a blob of WTF SO WOW DEBT! And I am not including my student and car loans on here because I'm focusing on the overdue small stuff that affects your credit and your ego.) When you're doing this, you need to be LIKE WHOA honest with yourself because, trust me, the dude who's going to blow you up about paying it off is going to have the real numbers. No sense in kidding yourself. Math is not creative. Numbers don't have a sense of humor (though my student loan is full-on comedy), and for what it's worth, neither do bill collectors / the IRS / whoever invented long division. --------------> (not funny)
Then I made a list of my non-negotiable monthly expenses - gas, rent, food, insurance, etc. - and wrote down exactly what I bring in a month, figured out what I have leftover to put toward my debt and how many months it would take me to pay it off. (MATH INCOMING)
If my salary is A, my expenses are B, what I have leftover to put toward debt is C and DEBT is D (duh) - it looks like this:
(Also: the only time I will EVER use Comic Sans.)
Still with me? Sick. So now I have a list of everything and a schedule for paying it off (JULY!) After which I can start in on saving and investing in the fun stuff. AND, everytime I get a paycheck instead of feeling all:
So while there's no easy fix and I wish it were way more fun, all you need to do is:
1. GET HONEST
- make a list of everything you owe. Everything. This is not the time for artistry, this is the time for honesty. You can lie to yourself all you want, but the guys calling you twice a day, they have the numbers and they better line up.
- add it all up. Circle that number.
2. GET CLEAR
- make a list of your (non-negotiable) monthly expenses. Food, gas, rent, car payments, etc.
- add it up.
- what is your monthly income? write that down.
- Subtract your expenses from your income, and what's left over?
3. MAKE IT RAIN.
Pay it. Pay it. Pay it. The rest is yours!