Chapter 1: Riches to Rags

Chapter 1: Riches to Rags

rich-310707_1280So I’d finally made it.

I’d moved out to Toronto a few years previously, survived Opera School, and was heading to a real job! Well… as real as a job wearing a costume and shouting Italian across a room will ever be.

Not only was I going to be performing in a world class hall, and working with world class performers and teachers, I was going to get PAID!

For being an artist.
Living. The. Dream. (more…)

Chapter 2: Rags to Re-evaluation

Where do you turn to at a time like this? Well, like most of you, I turned to the one sure thing in my life. Google.

“I need a budget”, I told it in faltering keystrokes. I had heard the word before and it seemed like a good place to start for a person in my situation.

“You need a budget?”, it responded. YES! I clicked on its question and that led me to my first step.

You Need a Budget (YNAB)! A wonderful website for people exactly in my situation.

Right away, YNAB did wonders for me by bringing attention to my spending. Ah, the wonders of having to physically see what you’re spending money on. It’s amazing, by the 20th time you’ve recorded a trip to Subway in a month, you are forced to ask yourself… do I actually like Subway that much?

At the same time, I started working with an accountant on my tax problem. I was luckily recommended to a wonderful accountant who works primarily with artists (although the real reason I hired her was the presence of a Crokinole board in her office … 1000 menno points for anyone who understands why that’s a deal clincher.) (more…)

Chapter 3: Re-evaluation to RRSP

So. I finally figured out I have yet another thing in common with Murphy Brown. I want it all. All the variety of an artistic, self-employed life, with all the security of a regular salary and a retirement plan.

Seems impossible.

Well, it probably is. But let’s be honest, when every commencement address, every visiting lecturer, every professor’s first class starts with “You will probably not make it” … you learn to block out people telling you what’s possible and what isn’t.

The budget was the first step for me. Like getting your hands in the dirt and realizing that’s what a potato plant looks like… I started to figure out what my money looked liked. What I was using it for, and re-evaluating every choice to see if it was still a good one. Changing my habits has not been a quick transformation. It’s been years and I still can’t seem to get my grocery spending down … I really like food.

One of the toughest challenges was how do you budget when your income stream is insanely variable. (more…)