Today I am featuring an interview with blogger and freelance writer Krissy Brady.
Krissy Brady was actually a fan of the C2C first and it was through her comments on my blog and shares of my posts that I got to know her and her blog better. I very quickly became a big fan of her blog and was impressed by her posts which I found consistently well written, useful, and unique.
I especially found her posts about money-saving tips for writers particularly useful. That’s why I decided to have her over on the C2C to discuss a topic that many of us writers dread like the plague: personal finance.
It’s true that no writer likes to talk about their finances, but luckily Krissy is here to help.
(Note: Krissy’s advice does comes from a freelance writer’s persepective, but I think her tips easily apply to all writers.)
Ollin: Writers often have a conflicted relationship with money. I think this is because, in today’s society, an artist who makes a lot of money is often accused of being a “sell out.” Meanwhile, an artist who struggles financially is seen as somehow more “genuine” and “credible.” If you’re not broke and struggling you’re not a “real” artist. So my question to you is this: how can writers untangle themselves from these negative societal beliefs about their relationship with money?
Krissy: If anything, when a writer’s no longer burdened by debts and other financial stress, they become even more amazing at their craft because they’re able to breathe creativity all day, every day!
In my experience, the best thing I ever did to untangle myself from negative beliefs about money was to become very selective with who I share my passion with. We love our writing so much we want to shout from the rooftops and talk about our craft 24/7, and often what stifles our creativity is talking to the wrong people—those who, as you mentioned, have a base/stereotypical knowledge of what being a writer actually means.
I’m not saying cut everyone out who doesn’t understand or support your decision, but keep your plans within you while they’re around so they can’t poo poo on them. The select few who really do understand and support you will make up for the dozens who don’t.
Ollin: Although creative people feel confident in the creative realm, they may find personal finances intimidating. What are some tips you can give a creative person on how they can approach their money in a way that doesn’t inspire fear, anxiety, overwhelm, or stress?
Krissy: Knowledge is power. When you’re uncertain about things, figure out why, and what you can do to instill certainty within yourself. Whatever you don’t already know about the importance of where you stand financially—registering a business, sending out invoices, collecting late payments, paying your taxes, etc.—do all of the research necessary. Until you know the general process you’re supposed to follow as a freelancer, you’ll never be able to create your own system.
Also, take a look at your personality: are you someone who thrives on order, or are you a go-with-the-flow kind of person? Do you live on very little naturally, or are you known as a spendthrift? Do you love taking risks, or do they make you want to curl up in the fetal position?
As you make the transition from your current job to your dream career as a writer, your personality can either be your biggest asset, or your worst enemy. If you thrive on order, don’t start the transition until you have money squirreled away. If you love taking risks and don’t care about a financial cushion, by all means, go for it, but make sure you have a very solid strategy in place.
It doesn’t matter your method for getting there—there’s no formula to finding your comfort zone—all that matters is you’re there.
And finally: take the advice you receive and only use the parts of it that best suit you. There were many times where I took advice from “professionals” over the years that was so against my personality and my natural way of doing things that it set back my business in more ways than I can count.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Ollin: Do you recommend any resources for writers who want to begin seriously managing and watching their money?
Krissy: I am a HUGE advocate of Mint.com—without this website, I have no idea where I’d be financially! If you don’t have a Mint account, sign up. Right now.
Ollin: What do you say to those writers who make enough money to pay the bills, but they never seem to be able to have extra cash left over for themselves? They know it’s because they’re not spending their money wisely, but they just don’t know what types of services and products they should cut back on. Where do you recommend that they start cutting back?
Krissy: Here’s the process I went through:
Step 1: Collect ALL of your bills: monthly, bimonthly, semi-annual, annual.
Step 2: Look over your bank account and credit card statements for automatic payments you’re making to companies that require this—personal subscriptions to such things as Netflix and professional subscriptions to such things as writing membership sites. Do you REALLY use all of the services you’re paying for? Sometimes we get so busy we don’t take the time out to make the necessary cancellations (which I think is why so many companies promote free trial periods). The first thing I did was cancel every membership and subscription I didn’t use.
Step 3: Next, go over your home phone, cell phone, Internet, and cable bills. Do you REALLY use all of the features you were sold? If not, cut back to a smaller package (I cut back my home phone package and now save $30 per month!). Many companies offer packaged deals for phone, Internet, and cable for a discounted rate (I highly recommend this strategy!). Some people spend more on their cell phone bills than I pay in rent (seriously!), so I suggest being especially aware of your cell phone usage.
Step 4: Credit cards can turn into your worst enemy, but only if you allow yourself to lose control of your spending habits. A bad credit rating can stifle everything you want for your future. If your credit rating isn’t horrific (like mine), check out consolidation loan options through your bank. If that’s not an option for you, contact each credit card company and ask them about a lower interest rate. I had a family member who was kind enough (and trusted me enough) to help me consolidate my credit card debt, and it’s only taken me 8 months to pay it off, getting rid of over half a decade of spinning my financial tires. When it comes to paying off your debt, do what you have to do.
Step 5: There are “fixed expenses,” and “variable expenses.” Write out your “fixed expenses,” or expenses that you absolutely cannot change: rent, car payments, insurance, loan payments, etc. Deduct these expenses from your pay, and write down the amount of money you have leftover.
Step 6: Take the rest of your money, and make a budget for your “variable expenses:” hydro, groceries, etc., and do everything you can to stay within your budget. I incorporated small deposits to my savings accounts within my variable expenses budget, so eventually I’ll have a solid emergency fund to get me by if necessary.
Ollin: What is one thing you think every writer could easily do today that could help them keep better track of their money?
Krissy: Setup a bank account specifically for the funds you earn through your writing so it doesn’t get mixed in with your personal money.
Make sure the account features are minimal (i.e. you’re only allowed a certain number of transactions per month) to both keep the monthly bank fees low and prioritize how much you transfer to your personal account (and when).
After all, in order to know how much to transfer, you have to know what’s going on with your bills, and only being allowed a certain number of transactions per month will keep you aware.
Awareness is everything.
Ollin: Any last words of inspiration and encouragement to all those creatives out there trying to follow their passion?
Krissy: People’s uncertainty about your desire to become a writer is really them projecting their own insecurities onto you—otherwise, they’d be going after what they really want too.
Keep that in mind the next time someone questions your judgment, and you’ll never allow them to influence your decisions again.
Krissy Brady is a freelance writer from Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada. She writes for women, writers, and movie junkies. Not surprisingly, she’s all three. Like most women, she wants to have it all, but first needs to figure out what that means. www.twitter.com/writtenbykrissy