Two Ways to Think About Making $30,000 a Year

Two Ways to Think About Making $30,000 a Year

When you don’t know a lot about health, ‘weight’ seems like a really good metric.

And maybe in lots of cases it is (I don’t know a lot about health)

What I find so interesting is that the same weight can feel so different in the body. The scale can show you the exact same number… but sometimes it can feel like a healthy version of you, and sometimes it does not.

I’m pretty sure, with my terrible understanding of how the body works, that it has something to do with the things that are making up that weight. To put it in the most binary way possible: fat or muscle.

It’s not just the number, it’s what makes up the number that plays a huge role in whether we feel healthy or not.

How $30,000 can feel completely different…

If I travel back in time 7 years, I was working at a young artist program and making a pretty decent salary – $1,000 a week for around 30 weeks in the year.

Okay. So it wasn’t a ton of money, but it felt like quite a bit at the time.

$30,000.

Let’s compare that to the last two years. I’ve been going through some transitioning, building up my financial practice, educating the old brain blah blah blah… it’s been a low income couple of years.

In fact two years ago I made around the same: $30,000

Two different years. Two very different feelings. But that isn’t even the half of it.

On the surface I remember very clearly that my first 30,000 felt like a lot. It was my first time making significant money as a singer. It was also paid out in monthly paycheques, which is unheard of in the arts business (at least it is for opera singers). I was taking people out for dinner, and buying all the fancy sweaters.

The second 30,000 felt completely different. Over half of it came from one and a half month’s of gigs. Which meant there were lots of months I was making no money at all. Even though I had a GOOD SYSTEM FOR MANAGING VARIABLE INCOME, going months without the validation of a paycheque made me feel way less positive about my money.

So there you go…. point proven…. income numbers are not created equal, there’s a lot to be said by how those income numbers break down.

And also, I don’t really care about that right now, there’s another level to this whole thing.

Let’s go deeper.

What can $30,000 a year buy you?

So to sum up – 7 years ago Chris felt rich, 2 years ago Chris felt like he was barely scraping by – but you know that I don’t care about how much money is coming in… it’s how we use it that matters. How we use it is a huge factor in how successful we feel about our money.

7 years ago I was pre financial renaissance. I had no idea how I spent my money. I lived by the old code: when you have money spend it, and when you don’t …. live off hotdogs and Mr Noodle.

I finished that year with nothing to show for it. Well… I’m sure nothing is a bit drastic, but since I hadn’t really made clear what my financial/life priorities were, only a small amount of money was getting through to the things that were important.

2 years ago I was in a different stage of my financial technique.

I was able to not only MANAGE THAT VARIABLE INCOME, but funnel it into the things that mattered I’m a little blown away at all the things I was able to do: put thousands of dollars into fixing my teeth, invest another couple thousand in financial planning courses, launch a blog, and buy a new computer and bike.

That’s the difference that a financial technique can make… not necessarily in the amount of income that you make, but the efficacy of every dollar that you have.

Changing everything about how something feels… while not changing anything about how something is

For someone who doesn’t know a lot about money, ‘income’ seems like a really good metric.

And sometimes it is.

But you guys know that income is a hard thing to depend on. And I’m here to tell you that if you’re expecting more income to make you worry less… it won’t.

What’s going to make you worry less is changing the make up of that number. Diving into your expenses and making sure that your money isn’t getting sucked down a black hole or into stuff you don’t care about.

There are a lot of ways to live a $30,000 life.

I’ve lived two options, and there are thousands more.

But the income alone doesn’t determine the possibilities.

You do.

Want to start getting control of your money? How can I help?

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

‘Clipping Coupons’ Takes Time (Lots of Low Income Earners Don’t Have It)

‘Clipping Coupons’ Takes Time (Lots of Low Income Earners Don’t Have It)

There’s a real tone of distaste and disrespect that people who consider themselves financially literate use to describe people who are struggling, especially with their cashflow.

Even in it’s best and most well meaning form – the ‘tough love’ approach – I really don’t like it.

Now, part of that is about me and my problems with conflict, but part of it is the way we pretend to know everything about some else’s life.

It’s funny how you can know something somewhere in your mind, but until you come face to face with it… you don’t really internalize it.

That’s been the case since I started to work with people who struggle with cashflow, especially those that fall into lower income brackets.

The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that my clients work so hard. They work multiple jobs and insane hours. They work and they work and they work.

And most of them don’t have time to clip coupons….

What happens when you’re short of time, money, and energy….

Cashflow problems are painfully simple when you cut down to the bone.

You’ve got to spend less or earn more.

But that simplicity really doesn’t do much to represent how freaking complicated that is… especially for people who have next to no time and energy to problem solve those things.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m super busy… it’s hard to find time to grocery shop, cook, and ‘bring a lunch’.

Clipping coupons, finding deals and ‘buying in bulk’ also go onto the list of things that are great ideas, but hard to apply when your short on major resources.

And if you try to make more time, or find moments to rest… that means you’re making LESS money. Not great for the cashflow formula.

I think wider scope is needed when we think about solving these problems

The cashflow formula is too simplistic, especially for people living in on a lower income.

Yes, it’s cold reality is one that needs to be recognized, but when trying to come up with solutions we all need to think outside the box.

It’s not just money that needs consideration. It’s time, and it’s energy.

Because every shift of a budget item creates a greater demand on one of the other two, and if you you have any hope of making a monthly financial plan that works… it needs to be realistic.

It will be harder to figure out, but I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone who’s actually living this reality.

They know it’s hard, but the vibe they get from the ‘financially healthy’ makes them second guess that.

Don’t.

It feels hard because it is hard.

The balance is more than just ‘spending less’ or ‘learning to be frugal’, and it’s going to take time and a whole bunch of energy that you don’t really have to change things.

It’s not impossible.

But let’s stop pretending there’s a simple solution.

Want to start getting control of your money? How can I help?

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

What I Believe About Money

What I Believe About Money

I had a conversation last week that really sent my brain humming.

It was about separating what we ‘believe’ about money from what we ‘know’.

That might not sound exciting, but the more I thought about what I believed about money, the more I got into some really vulnerable places.

It’s kind of crazy. As I was jotting them down today I had so much trouble actually putting them down in black and white. My hand didn’t want to do it. My heart started beating fast

I’m not sure what’s all going on, and maybe it’s just me. But there’s something about these beliefs that’s powerful.

And that’s what I wanted to share with you today, in a much longer than normal email, a few of these panic inducing beliefs and how they’ve shaped, and continue to shape, my thinking.

I’ll be curious to know if any of you will find them familiar…

 

I used to believe that making more money will cause stress in my relationships

Back when I was a poor student, so were many of my friends, and the experiences that we had in our shitty apartments scraping by from week to week were a huge part of our relationships. It was one of the big things we had in common. Everyone was struggling with money.

And so 7 years ago, when I started to face my money fears this was one of the first core beliefs I came up against.

I was so scared that if I wasn’t struggling… that I wouldn’t relate to my friends anymore. Maybe I’d find myself on the ‘outside of the club.’

What I learned: my experience with this belief has been largely positive. The better I got with my money the more I’ve been able to open up a conversation with friends who feel really isolated in their struggles. But there are friendships that I have lost because we have less in common, and I still struggle being open with some of the people in my life about the fact that I’m not struggling anymore.

 

I used to believe that money is a barrier to what I want to do

“If I had the money to go on all the auditions, then I’d be more successful”
“if I had the money to travel more, I’d be happier”
“If I had the money….”

But then when I got more money… it didn’t unlock all my financial struggles. I was blaming things on not having enough money, but the actual problem was way deeper than that.

What I learned: Slowly, I learned that the barrier was my fear of money. The barrier was my lack of tools to use my money effectively. Those barriers have largely been broken down, and these days I don’t see money as a barrier… I see it as a tool.

 

I sometimes still believe that getting paid for being an artist validates my ability as an artist.

There aren’t a lot of success metrics for opera singers. This business is so subjective… one person’s favourite singer will be hated by someone else.

So I turned to the idea of ‘making a living’ or ‘amount earned’ to measure whether I was successful or not.

I clung to the belief that as long as someone was paying me for the work I was doing… it must mean I was good.

What I’m learning: It’s dangerous to link artistic satisfaction with something like earnings. As I work in the opera industry less, I’m forced to make to set my own goals and define my own success. It’s hard, and I’m still struggling with it. But I know so many amazingly talented singers and artists that don’t monetize their abilities at all. It doesn’t make their ability less, so why do I think it should make mine less?

 

I sometimes still believe that I have a unique financial life and that the conventional rules of personal finance don’t apply to me

I’ve never felt like my values or lifestyle are particularity well understood by the financial industry. I know lots of you feel that way too. It’s one of the main reasons I started R2R to begin with.

The problem that this belief has caused me is that I’m quick to ignore or discount tried and true financial fundamentals. And then, after months of inventing my own wheel… I realize that someone else has already done it.

What I’m learning and relearning: Yes, my situation is unique, but there is a lot of tried and true wisdom in the world. I don’t have to reinvent everything. Often I just need to tweak it a bit.

 

I begrudgingly believe that I should be able to be 100% independent financially, and anything less than that is failure

Ugh.

I don’t believe this about anyone else, but I do believe it about myself.

We’ve got something in our North American culture that glorifies independence and demonizes the reliance on someone else or a community.

Financial planning for lots of people needs to include the strength of a group because the numbers can’t work on your own.

The flaw at the heart of this belief is that somehow independence is better than dependance. Intellectually I don’t believe that, and yet it seems to be something I insist on for my own situation.

What I’m learning: I am not independent. No matter how I paint the picture, I am where I am because of the privilege I was born into and because of the generosity of my family, my friends, and my mentors. My independence is a myth, and my ‘pride’ in it is a trap. I am not ‘doing it all on my own’… and that’s not failure. I know this… but I’m still working through it.

 

What do you think? Anything sound familiar? Got any other ones you’re carrying around. If something comes to mind leave me a comment or come talk it over in OFFICE HOURS.

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

More Money is like More Talent, it Helps, but it Doesn’t Define Who Succeeds

More Money is like More Talent, it Helps, but it Doesn’t Define Who Succeeds

Anybody that’s been in the creative world for a few years learns quickly that talent isn’t enough.

Sure, it’s nice.

But as you get older, you see more and more talented people get passed by people who have a host of other skills. Skills that might not have been as sexy as talent, but are helping them do some pretty cool things.

It seems like in the arts, talent should reign supreme, but we all know that the people who work all the time aren’t always the most talented.

They’re the people who have managed to take all the skills they have and leverage the crap out of them.

And we can learn a ton from those people.

 

‘More’ sounds great, but doesn’t solve anything

“If only I could sing high notes like *fill in the name of tenor A* I would be famous.”

I spent years believing stuff like that.

I wanted more ability, more talent, more skills, and I couldn’t seem to develop the way I wanted to.

What I wasn’t doing was looking at what I could do, and really figuring out the best way to leverage that into getting more work.

I thought there was no way I would be marketable without being ‘more’.

And I’ve fallen into the same trap as a financial planner. There’s so much to learn in this new field that it can be easy to say:

“When I know as much about insurance as *fill in the name of planner B* then I’ll be able to easily find clients.”

Surely more technical skill will solve all my problems.

Except that’s all bullshit, because getting ‘more’ doesn’t help me manage what I have that’s better. In fact, it can make the problem worse.

 

Everyone wants more money

There’s a general understanding that if we had more money things would be better.

That’s what I assumed would solve my financial issues coming out of school.

But it didn’t. When I started to make a steady paycheque, doubling what I had earned previously, my life didn’t change all that much. I ate better and I had more sweaters.
Having more money didn’t make me better at using my money. How could it? It’s a completely different thing.

That’s why this focus we have on ‘more’ is often misguided. It seems like the right thing to want, but the truth is that most of us aren’t ready to use more of anything.

 

I think it’s time to separate the idea of ‘having a lot of money’ with ‘succeeding with your money’

Having a ton of money or talent can make things easier… you just have more to work with, more of a cushion when things go wrong, but it’s not the same thing as success.

The task we’ve all been given is to take our resources, whether talent or money, and turn them into a life.

That’s the real skill.

And that’s the skill that you can develop and master no matter how much raw material you’ve been gifted.

And that’s the skill that can lead to success however you choose to define it.

(If you’re curious about how to start building those kind of skills, check out the HOW TO GET STARTED section of the site or sign up for an OFFICE HOURS session and we can talk it out.)

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

Doing What You Love is Payment Enough (and other crocks of shit)

Doing What You Love is Payment Enough (and other crocks of shit)

This morning I’m scared of my work.

It’s over there, in my computer, and I know as soon as I open it I’m going to have to face it. And that scares me.

And so to distract myself from the fact that the only thing which will actually help is actually going to open the damn thing up, make a plan, and all that good stuff… my brain has decided to bring up the ever helpful voice that says things like:

“If this was really what you loved to do, you’d love every minute of it.”

or this one…

“When you love what you do, you’ll never dread Mondays again.”

I dread Mondays sometimes.

There have even been weeks when I dreaded Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

I’ve dreaded them as a singer, as a writer, and as a financial planner.

The type of work doesn’t seem to matter… so is it me?

 

What we believe about work: your ‘true calling’ won’t feel like a job at all

Yup. I’ve got this belief kicking around my head.

It’s something that’s instilled in lots of artists. This feeling that you’re so lucky to be able to do what you do. That everyone else would kill for this opportunity. The idea that most people hate their jobs but YOU get to do what you love.

And doing what you love means never feeling like you hate it and want to stay in bed all day.

Doing what you love is what we should all aim to do, because it’s a perfect world of perfect bliss, and if you’re an artist you live in this world and that’s why no one has to pay you in actual money because you’re already paid in the glory of the moment.

*deep breath*

That’s a ton of baggage to put on ourselves.

I’m sure somewhere there’s a magic arts pixie who dances in the fountains of delight every day and needs naught of the sustenance of the physical world.

But when I was singing full time, that was not me.

And now that I’m splitting my focus between opera and planning… it’s still not me.

 

Hey artists…. other people love their jobs too

I’d just like to add as a note to the creative community… not everyone wishes they were an artist.

I know when we meet them at dinner parties they say: “at least you get to do what you love”… but lots of people do what they love.

In the last 2 years I have met people who LOVE financial planning. And those people say the exact same things that we used to say:

“How lucky are we to be able to do what we love everyday”

And they are. And so are you.

We don’t have a monopoly on ‘living your passion’ in the arts, and that means that we don’t have to live by some other set of rules.

 

Having a job that you love is not ‘all the compensation you need’

Can you imagine someone going up to a doctor, and after hearing her talk about how much she loves her work with patients and the intricacies of diagnosis and treatment, says something like:

“Man, you love it so much, we should be paying you less.”

No. That’s crazy.

Because we’ve already decided that doctors should make money, whether they love it or not.

We’ve actually decided that most career paths and ‘callings’ should make money, regardless of how much satisfaction they gain from the job.

But not the arts.

Nope.

In the arts, we’re lucky enough to ‘just be doing it.’

Well… bully for us.

 

The creative community has to change what we believe about ourselves

The hardest thing with a conversation about money in the arts world is that so many of us have adopted beliefs about the work we do and the people we have to be in order to function in this world and be accepted.

Lots of those beliefs hold us back.

And this is a big one.

For years I honestly didn’t realize that lots of other people love their jobs. For years I didn’t recognize the equal standing of a ‘calling’ to be an artist and the ‘calling’ to help someone with their finances.

Both are incredibly challenging and fulfilling lives that people live with passion, creativity and absolutely love.

But the fact that we believe one calling is worth paying for, and one calling is payment in itself is a major problem.

And no one outside of our community is going to change what they believe about us, until we change what we believe about ourselves.

Chris Enns

Chris Enns

Financial Planner/Opera Singer

Money never came naturally to me. In fact... I was a bit of a disaster. I remember (very clearly) what it feels like to be 'financially out of control'.

And honestly, I still get stressed about money... that doesn't stop... the difference is that now I have the tools to deal with that stress.

And those tools are what's made it possible for me to build a life full of the things I want: art, creativity, travel, family and more.

If you want to start getting control of your money I'd love to help. You can start with THIS QUIZ, visiting my GETTING STARTED PAGE or by checking out my SERVICES page.

EMAIL ME