Talking to Your Parents About Money

Talking to Your Parents About Money

A few months ago, I listened to the Because Money podcast episode called “The One Where We Talk About our Aging Parents” (Season 4, Episode 10). It was a mini wake-up call for me…maybe not an alarm clock that beeps really loud in your face, but more like one that wakes you up with cool Jazz jams. I thought to myself “Damn, yeah. I guess my parents are going to die at some point.”

Obviously, that wasn’t a new thought to me, but I had never considered it from a financial perspective. It would be really stressful to have to scramble around the legal and financial components in that moment. It would be way easier to deal with their passing if we had already talked through an action plan. It’s likely to be enough of a shock in itself;I won’t need any extra stress. I realized by talking about it with them now, I can be even just a little bit more ready for the stress of that moment. Knowing what my mom’s wishes are if she ever needs to move out of her house, for example, would be very helpful to know in advance if that moment ever comes.

Both my parents are still working, so it’s helpful for me to know about potential retirement plans for them too. I definitely want to start saving now if my Stepdad is expecting me to support his living expenses, for example. The bigger head start I can get on that, the better.

Even though my parents are still so young, I want to broach all the things: retirement, illness, and death, since of course illness and death could happen at any time. I can check in with them in a few years to see if things change (my personal wish 10 years ago, was to have my body torn into small pieces and left in trees for animals to eat…sadly, I learned that’s not legal so I’ve had to replan). Maybe in 10 years, my parents’ wishes around death will change too.

After nerding out on the internet for a few hours and reading….*sigh* all right, scanning a ton of articles about this, here’s my plan of attack.

Think about who they are and how they want to be approached

My parents are not good at difficult conversations. The more personal a topic is, the less my Mom wants to talk about it (and the more I do!) You know that old saying (that I just made up): “the apple doesn’t fall far from the pineapple tree…” (get it? Because it does? Whatever. I think it’s hilarious.) Anyway, if you want to have a big conversation with them, you need to signal it as clearly as one of those neon-clad people on airplane runways holding orange sticks (“BIG. CONVERSATION. COMING. SEEEEEEEEEE??? HEEERE IT COMESSSSS!”)

My tactic is to write an email from me and my brother broaching the topic and asking if they want to have the big discussion through email or over Skype. We are all scattered across the country, so it can’t be in person.

My family copes with humour
For the most part, they like their serious conversations peppered with silliness, so I am making sure to include that in my initial approach. I also know that they like the morbid, so I’ll throw some of that in there as well.

So, my brother and I have decided to start with an email…a probe… Here’s my draft of it. I’ll write an update on how this whole thing goes. PS If they do suddenly mysteriously die, that post script assures my spot in the slammer forever, but hey, I’ll roll the dice…

Hey Mom and Jim,

I recently listened to a podcast episode in which they discussed how important it is to start talking with your parents about vital (but tough) things like retirement, aging, and the big D (no not dick, although if that’s something you want as a part of that process, I’m sure we can arrange something).

Ben and I have been talking about how we would like to open up that discussion with the two of you. I know you are both far away from retirement, and hopefully still really far away from the ageing and death part, but the sooner Ben and I can start to understand your wants, needs, and “hell no!s” around it all, the better.
We were thinking there are a couple of ways we can go about this discussion: we can do it over Skype, so we are all face-to-face, or we can do it as a series of emails. You guys decide. Here are some of the areas we would love to get a clearer understanding of:

Retirement:
I would specifically love to get an idea of what financial support (if any) you will need from us for your retirements, so that Ben and I can start saving for that (Ah, the magic of compound interest!).

Ageing/Illness:
I really want to get an understanding of what you would like your lives to look like if a) one of you is taking care of the other, who might be sick b) both of you are sick or c) only one of you is alive and that person is sick. Sorry, I know this stuff is rough to discuss! Ben and I just want to make sure we support you and love you in all these possible hard situations in the ways that you want.

The Big D
I would love a better understanding of how you want us to act when you guys bite the big one (I mean dick, obviously) in different potential circumstances:mental/physical deterioration, sudden attack by mutated giant ant puts you into a coma (because venom…obviously…whatever! It makes sense in my head!), etc. I could make an enormously fun list here of sudden ways to die, but I think you get my point. I also want to know things like what you would like assisted living to look like if we ever need to cross that bridge (would you prefer to live with one of us, in a nursing home–if so, what kind?). And then there is the technical shit like who is the executor of your will, if you get hit by an ice cream truck tomorrow, where do we find your insurance policies and financial information, etc.

I do have a list of questions I have drafted up that I could just email to you for your responses, but my thought is that a Skype call might be best.

Let us know what you think,

Love love love,
Em

PS We are not asking these questions because we are trying to murder you and take over your veterinary empires. I repeat NOT. Nope, nuh-uh, definitely not…

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Debt Diaries #3: Riding the Waves of Variable Income

Debt Diaries #3: Riding the Waves of Variable Income

 

Current Debts:

Credit Card: -994.25
Bank Loan4,892.45

Current Debt Total: -5,886.70

So…I kind of feel like I’m crushing it right now. Not really because of anything I’ve been doing, but mainly because it feels like I’ve been really damn lucky. Since the last entry, I have killed 2,042.93 in debt. It’s been just over a month.

It’s been a wild ride. I know what you’re thinking: a variable income earner having ups and downs? No way!

But seriously. I settled an Employment Standards Act case with a previous employer and used half that money to pay down my credit card bill. I saved the other half to build myself a bit of a cushion. Then, I got fired from a serving job, booked a voice gig, got a sweet tax return, and contracted Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. The last one has nothing to do with money, it just gives you an idea of the ups and downs I’ve been riding.

Some of these things are plannable, most are kooky dooky flukes. But I thought it might be useful to examine them to see which ones are repeatable or plannable.

  • Settling an Employment Standards Act violation out of court
    • This one isn’t really plannable, but I will say, when your (or other workers’) rights are being violated, speak the eff up. Even though it will certainly not guarantee financial gain, it will feel right.
    • Sidebar: if you feel you or your colleagues are having their rights violated, check out the ESA guide or speak to the Workers’ Action Centre or the Parkdale Community Legal Society. There are some badass folks at these organizations.
  • Getting fired.
    • I would say avoid this one…generally not great for income. But it does happen. And we, as variable income earners tend to have mega strong hustle. This one is easier if you have an Oh Shit! fund. I didn’t this time, so I called on my powers of hustle and networking to find extra gigs.
  • Booking a commercial voice gig
    • Oh man, if I could find a way to make this one a reliable source of income…well, that’s what I (and so many of you) are working on. Let’s just keep plugging away, folks.
  • Getting a sweet tax return/unlocking my tax savings
    • Finally, something that is actually plannable! I usually get a pretty sweet tax return because I’m meticulous about keeping my receipts. Also, as a financial literacy teacher/actor/writer/producer/server/French teacher/exercise teacher/childcare worker/administrator, you’d be hard pressed to find an expense in my life I can’t claim as a deduction. If you have questions about claiming deductions, check out this link. Save your itemized receipts, folks.
    • As for the tax savings, both Chris and I like to do what we call “fear saving” for taxes. Throughout the year, we set aside more than we need to on our self-employed income and put it in a taxes-only account. Once we have filed our taxes, there is usually money left over in this account that we now know we can use. Cha-Ching! To get an idea of what you might want to put away for taxes, check out this Simple Tax calculator:

Being self-employed is a bonkers journey, and we so many ups and downs. I’m still working towards regaining the sense of financial stability I had previously built for myself. But the waves will come, and when they do, our job is just to surf them, and plan as best as we can while we’re riding those gnarly A-Frames. This way, we’ll make the bombs feel like ankle busters. (PS I learned all my surfer slang here.

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Emily’s Favourite Stories from the Interweb

Emily’s Favourite Stories from the Interweb

Podcast Series: Nancy-Queer Money Matters series

It’s easy to feel like we’re screwing up because other people “get money” in a way that we don’t, but remember that not all people face the same financial challenges. When I was a kid, a lot of the models of people “doing money right” were straight cis able-bodied white men with conventional jobs. They were the ones who were “succeeding.” As a queer artist with an anxiety disorder, money was never going to work the same way for me. It would be unfair to hold up my experiences to their metrics.

Take a look at your own financial situation and have patience for the ways that your experience may look different than those traditionally “successful” models that you may have been presented with as a kid. Your money challenges are valid, whoever you are, and sometimes you’re working against systemic barriers that just make it harder.

In this series, Tobin Lowe and Cathy Tu (the hosts of the podcast Nancy) dive deep into the money issues that are unique to queer folks. They talk to a wide range of people in the community and present their stories with thoughtfulness and empathy–financial planners, parents, newlyweds, trans* folk, seniors living in retirement homes. There is a really wonderful mix of diverse voices. Although they are talking about the States, it is still very relevant for those of us not in the US. This series is both engaging and affirming and makes me feel super supported and seen as a queer person.

Podcast: Dear Sugars #69 “The Price of our Dreams”

Chris and I talk a lot about being a “real artist” and about how joe jobs (or survival jobs) are sometimes a necessary tool to make art. I don’t know what makes someone a “real artist.” My anxiety says the qualifier is earning 100% of my income from making art, but when I look at that metric it erodes quickly.

Do I really want to evaluate the worth of my art by how much people pay for it? I know that what people often pay most for is work that maintains cultural status quo. So my answer to that is no. This system of measurement also doesn’t allow for marginalized artists who may have fewer opportunities to make their art. Do I believe that queer, disabled, or artists of colour make less valuable work because they often have fewer opportunities? Hell no. And then there are the scores of great artists who rely on other income avenues. Composer Philip Glass was a plumber/taxi driver. Comedian Ken Jeong was a physician to support his comedy career. Writer Roxane Gay is still a professor at Purdue University. There are tons of reasons that an artist might need a day job that do not make their art any less valid.

In this episode of Dear Sugars, they take a very real look at how to make a life as an artist. Their
radical empathy-based advice is the best. I’ve listened to it several times and still feel challenged and affirmed by it. Warning: you will likely listen and then binge all of their episodes, like I have. Don’t get your heart broken when you discover that they finished making it in 2018.

“Aminatou Sow on Making $300,000 and Sending Money to her Family” by Maggie Bullock for The Cut

I would describe Aminatou Sou as a tech boss/content creator/hustler extraordinaire. She co-hosts the podcast Call Your Girlfriend and co-founded the network Tech LadyMafia, that aims to boost women on the tech-world ladder.

This interview is such a great reminder that as long as your spending is in line with your values, you’re doing it right. Aminatou Sou gives an invigorating perspective on spending. She also offers a much-needed Black female perspective on finance.

“How Tax Brackets Actually Work”

This video blew my mind. I totally get it now! I have heard this explained at least three times before this and just filed it in the “things I don’t get” brain folder. This rocked my world. In a really, really nerdy way. As per the poster in my high school stairwell, knowledge is indeed power. Want to feel slightly better at tax time or impress your parents when you casually drop your understanding of tax brackets? Watch this video.

“How to Successfully Work From Home Without Losing Your Goddamn Mind (Or Your Job) from Bitches Get Riches blog

This post is helpful and also a great introduction to the Bitches Get Riches blog. It’s got all the good things: silly gifs, recognition of ableism in the traditional workforce, and handy handy tips. I’ve been trying to work these tips into my own life. Specifically the one about keeping normal business hours, and it’s making my time feel more boundaried in a great way. The fern has yet to happen.

What’s your favourite? Any that we need to check out this month? Please send recommendations if you’ve got any!

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Debt Diaries #2:If You Don’t Have Any Grain, You’re Not Making Any Flour

Debt Diaries #2:If You Don’t Have Any Grain, You’re Not Making Any Flour

Current Debts:

My partner:
$130.00 for picking up my boots from the cobbler
Credit Card: -2,278.96
Overdraft on chequing account: $327.19
Bank Loan: $5,193.48

I like to think of financial literacy as a flour mill…

You pour the grain in the top, and flour comes out the bottom (I think that’s how a flour mill works). I say to myself that becoming more financially savvy isn’t necessarily about finding more grain to put in the top, it’s about improving the machine itself, so that whether you are putting in a small amount of grain or a lot of it, you know the machine is working as efficiently as possible.

I like this metaphor because (despite being oddly agrarian) it counters the trap of “I only need to learn about money when I make money.” See this and other kooky beliefs we artists hold about money HERE.

But recently, I have found the limits of this.

I’m currently hustling butt trying to get enough hours in at a couple new jobs while still keeping my time open and flexible for auditions. It’s meant I have a whole lot of no grain. I’m realizing that even when you have a real slick machine, it looks like “alright, that grain has been processed…” And then you sit there for a million years waiting for more grain to come in. Because if you don’t have any grain, you’re not making any flour, no matter how good you’ve made your machine.

So, onward hustle for me as I try to get enough money to live and also start to pay off debts. Wish me luck!

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

Artist Debt Diaries #1: Having Debt Doesn’t Make Me Any Less of a Badass

Artist Debt Diaries #1: Having Debt Doesn’t Make Me Any Less of a Badass

I’ve recently taken on some debt. I was on EI for a while, supplementing with my savings. Lemme tell you, trying to live off 60% of your pre-tip server income is not cute. They want you to pay taxes on your tips but are not willing to insure them. Oyyy, don’t get me started. The only way to make it through this period was to use my savings. And woah mama, was it a hard to convince myself to touch that money. But, ya know, eating, so I did.

I decided to use this period to shift to making all my non-acting money in film production. I know I will be doing more directing, so I want to get a better understanding of how the positions work together. I decided to apply for my IATSE permit status. I took the required courses ($$) and submitted my application in November.

I waited to hear back from IATSE and, after waiting a month and a half, was rejected. “Get more experience,” they said. Fair enough.

So I spent the next couple months volunteering my butt off on short films and industrial videos. “Great!” I thought. “Now I know the proper names of all the equipment AND the dirty names. I’m set!” I finish off my savings and decide to take out a loan from the bank. I feel confident about making the minimum monthly payments and I’m eager to push forward with production work. I’m determined not to go back to the serving/childcare/catering hustle.

With a shiny new resume, I reapply. And was rejected again. Alright, okay, alright, okay…So now, I’m out of savings and have taken on a loan from my bank. I had planned to be moving into production daily work by this time, but clearly that’s not going to happen.

SO. Option…what am I on…F? I’m going to get another serving job and hustle my butt off doing odd jobs. I’m going to keep volunteering on films, then reapply to IATSE, then hopefully change all my non-artist work to being in production until the point where I hope I’ll be able to make all my income as an artist. Are there any other artists out there who feel like their employment plan is mega complicated? If x happens, then I’ll do y, which will temporarily pay my rent until option z kicks in, which will tide me over until x1 occurs. I feel like I need a big board with pictures and coloured yarn connecting everything.

At this point, I’m out of savings and living paycheque to paycheque which I haven’t had to do for years. I have debt from a $6,000 bank loan. Oh, and $2,000 on a credit card, which I haven’t mentioned yet. And I’m still planning on finding a serving job…which is exactly what I was trying to avoid.

This is both a super stressful situation (I haven’t had money-related hives in a while-hello, old friends) and an opportunity for me to do this work and share it along the way. A chance for me to do an artist debt diaries. Which is kind of rad.

I’m trying to remind myself that being in debt does not make me (or you) any less of a badass. I took it on with purpose, so I feel good about that. I used the time that it bought me to make my first animated film, write a ton, and apply (and reapply) for IATSE. I have ideas for how I can make income, and even though I know I don’t want to serve, cater, and do child care indefinitely, maybe knowing that I’m using them as a short-term solution will help me maintain a good headspace. I am driven. I have the skills to dig myself out of this. And even though it feels like I’m free falling right now, I know that if I gather my internal resources (how can I make this much money? Can I realistically cut back there?), I will make it through and begin the slow journey of building back up. I am still a badass.

If you’re also on this debt repayment journey as an artist, comment. I’d love to hear where you’re at on this debt crushing journey.

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at emily@ragstoreasonable.com

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