1.What were you doing for work before the pandemic?
My main income before the pandemic was as an arts educator. I taught extracurricular programs to children in Toronto schools.at lunchtime and after school, plus classes for adults in the evenings – but the adult evening classes were hosted in a TDSB school (“renting” the classroom under a community-use permit). I also earned some income performing and producing live performance events (e.g., a storytelling series).
All of this work has been cancelled by the pandemic and might not be returning, even when phase 3 opens. (I anticipate that in-person teaching of groups and live performances will return once the pandemic is actually over. But no one knows how long that will be. Two years?? Never?)
I have been able to do a very limited amount of teaching online (which ended in June). And also pick up some odd jobs work for neighbours (i.e., gardening).
2.What do you miss spending money on these days?
I miss eating out. (Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook – and I particularly love to cook for my family. But at those “it’s been a busy week, I’m exhausted, I can’t think what to make, and I deserve a break” moments, my family used to love to go to local restaurants – once every couple of weeks or maybe even as often as once a week. We miss our “cheap and cheerful” favourite eateries a lot.)
3.How do you think your spending will change after the pandemic?
Provided my income returns, we will spend more when the pandemic ends than we are spending now. We will go back to eating out occasionally. And we will be more able to spend on camping trips and day trips, which aren’t really possible now.
The pandemic is actually helping us to reduce our expenses right now, because we can’t go to restaurants or travel, because of lockdown restrictions.
However, if it goes on for much longer (which I expect it will), the effect on our finances could be quite devastating. I have been making efforts (so far unsuccessful) to pivot into a field I can work at from home. But if I can’t get this new kind of work coming in and the CERB runs out, we will be forced to increase our debt just to cover regular monthly expenses.
4.What are your tips on how to cut costs?
No brilliant tips. But we are struck by how much we had been spending on eating out, coffee, treats, and our CarShare rentals. Foregoing these expenditures, has helped bring our expenses down.
5.Do you feel that there is uncertainty about how your work will look after the pandemic ends? If so, what are you doing to cope with this uncertainty?
I do have a lot of worries about whether live-performance companies and performers will survive the pandemic. Teaching is more likely to make it through. But both teaching and performing are being profoundly affected (particularly as the teaching I do involves sitting in a group making music – closer than 6 feet is ideal for hearing the group sound – I don’t know how much the experienced will/would be diminished in a “physically distanced” form, or when wearing masks – and the group teaching also involves singing, which is still suspected of being a “super spreader” activity – so I don’t know if/when we can do this again).
I don’t know how much the cultural infrastructure and the people will be changed by the pandemic. But I know things will be different on the other side.
Not knowing what will happen and when things will be “back to normal” makes me anxious and makes it difficult to settle down to work on anything. The uncertainly is HUGE.
As to how I deal with it? Denial. Going for a run. Wasting time. Feeling bad about having wasted time. Finally doing something constructive (either in the house/garden or towards finding alternate work). A bit of gardening side-hustle. A little more denial. Another run… And so on.
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 email@example.com