I am striving to be a financially literate artist.
I want to be able to devote as much of my time and energy as I can toward creating great theatre and penning strong writing. Pesky things like groceries and rent, however, do tend to get in the way. And while I am able to keep my expenses low, and I am currently on my first paying theatre contract, I will still be returning to my part-time Joe job in Vancouver as I search for more performing work. (I admit, I do have an awesome, flexible, Joe job, but it’s still not my end career desire.)
Since graduating last April, I have been able to perform in/stage-manage/direct/write at least 21 different plays or short films, working with brilliant companies ranging from Fighting Chance to the Metro Theatre, and with Festivals ranging from Victoria and Vancouver Fringe festivals to the UFV’s Director’s Festival, to (currently) the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. Almost all of these were unpaid opportunities (or break-even ones) that I’ve used to grow as a performer and introduce myself to the Vancouver theatre community. I’ve been able to use my time in this way because I currently live off less than a thousand dollars a month through a mix of careful budgeting and control of expenses. Here’s a sample month’s expenses for me:
- 200$ : Groceries
- 300$ : Rent (to live in officespace at the most southern tip of Richmond)
- 70$ : Professional development (theatre tickets, headshots, etc.)
- 80$ : Spending money
- 60$ : Transit
- ~20$ : Cellphones (pay-as-you-go plans in Vancouver and Victoria)
- + a portion of yearly budgeted costs for things like bike repair, clothing, dentistry, medical
- + 10% of earnings to Tithing
Adding it all together, I come up with something called my ‘freedom wage’, which is to say, the amount I need to earn per month, after which I can spend the rest of my time that month doing what I wish (which could include more active-work-for-pay, but doesn’t need to). Let’s somewhat pessimistically put it at 900$. At my current part-time minimum wage job, that amounts to about 12 full-day shifts, or three work days per week.
Earlier this week I picked up and read a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. While the latter part of the book seems out of date, what with its insistence on the stable nature of the American real estate market (yeah, that worked out well…), but most of the book focuses on the differences between income, expenses, assets and liabilities. As a quick rundown, income is the money you take in, expenses are what you spend each month, assets are things you own that earn you money (i.e. money that makes you more money, such as stocks, bonds, possibly real estate), and liabilities are things you own that cost you money (mortgage, car and boat payments, credit card debt). In the book, Kiyosaki suggests rather simplistically that there are money habits that separate individuals stuck in poverty vs. middle class vs. the rich. Essentially, the poor only have income and expenses – they buy food and shelter and whatnot and that’s all they can do. The middle class, he says, take their income, pay their expenses, and then purchase liabilities with what’s left over, such as a larger house, or a car, or that big screen TV. By contrast, he says the rich pay themselves first, BEFORE even paying expenses (to the point of creditors calling), and put that money in assets – in items that earn them more money.
That then creates a positive feedback loop as the passive or portfolio income from those assets provides more income, which allows for more money to be devoted to purchasing assets, until true wealth (not needing to work anymore based on income from assets) is attained. Which isn’t so radical, really, considering how many advisors suggest putting money into savings FIRST, before paying your bills.
Before I get angry comments, yes, I think he’s being rather arrogant about how easy he thinks it is to reach out of poverty. But I’m still earning more than much of the world, so I’ll consider myself rich enough. Besides, for Kiyosaki, rich is a mindset, not a current financial statement.
At the same time as I opened up this book, I started reading through Steve Pavlina‘s passive income series (which began here), where he’s coaching his readers on how to create a passive income stream. To Pavlina, passive income is NOT about being lazy and not needing to work… it’s about being generous. In ordinary employee work-for-hire situations, you create value once for your employer and/or customer, and that’s it. When earning passive income (income that continues to accrue even when you’re not actively working), you are instead sharing value with many people (say, from royalties from something written or recorded), or with the same person many times (say, with real estate rent).
Okay, long-winded but hopefully informative intro, over. What I’m saying is, I want to try to build that asset column and earn some passive income so I can devote more of my time to creating what excites me.
So I am accepting Pavlina’s challenge, and will be slowly reading through his series, following along, and sharing my journey with you.
I also have a side-goal with this series of blog posts, which is to encourage more conversation about finances and money. For whatever reason, while we live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, there is often a stigma against discussing such things in our society. I’m not sure why. Are we afraid of looking weak when poor? Of bragging when doing well? Are we insecure when compared to the Joneses? Worried about looking like we care too much about money?
Money is a tool to help us achieve our goals and to grant us freedom to pursue what excites us. Let’s talk about what we’re doing to make that happen.
Here is my goal:
I will successfully build a new stream of passive income by December 1st, 2012, that generates at least 80$ per month on average, and endures for a minimum of five years, and I will do this in a way that inspires hope and gives value to people anywhere in the world.