For those of us that don’t love numbers we often use the same words over and over to describe what we want with our money: more, less, and enough.
“I just want to have enough to live my life.”
“I need to make more money.”
“If only I could spend less, things would be much easier.”
But those are really hard things to do, and they’re made even harder because you haven’t given yourself any tools to actually solve the problem.
How much is enough? How do you know when you’ve gotten there? How much more money do you need to make? Are you just going to take every single job possible until it feels like enough? And spend less… on what? How much less? How much are you spending now?
Real Numbers Help Solve Real Problems
Putting real numbers on things is scary. It really is. Maybe you’ve experience that already by filling out the KNOW YOUR NUMBER worksheet or using THIS SPREADSHEET to map out your income for the year.
Maybe half way through those exercises you wanted to shut it all down.
The fear is real.
But on the other side of the fear is a tool. A tool for you to solve some of that stress that you’ve been feeling lately.
By putting thoughtful numbers on the way you live your life you can start to map out real opportunities for change. You can create a plan that lets you live the way you want and move forward on some of the big stuff.
Income Goals Can Help A lot.
Lots of us in the self-employed realm are what the internet calls ‘hustlers’. We take every job that’s thrown at us. We feel desperate to take every opportunity to earn income because you never know when all the work is going to dry up and the phone stops ringing.
Again… the fear is real.
A number that can really help in that war against fear is an income goal to aim for and there are a few different ways to think about making one.
- How much do you need to earn to cover your expenses: one way to build an income goal is to come up with your ‘breakeven number’. How much do you need to earn every money (or every year) in order to make sure all the bills are paid.
- Giving yourself a stretch goal: Let’s say you know your break-even number… but you want to go bigger. You can set yourself a goal that pushes you to grow more. I’ve been setting these kind of goals for the last few years and they can be really useful… and also terrifying.
Balancing the stress of earning with all the other stuff you’re trying to do
People who work more conventional jobs often don’t have the option to ‘make more’. Unless they want to negotiate a raise, they’re stuck earning what they earn.
But as always, with great power comes great responsibility.
When I talk to clients about making income goals, whether it’s to cover their expenses or a stretch goal, we talk a lot about what’s possible and what that might look like.
Remember, there are so many parts of work besides what we’re getting paid for it. Is it the kind of work you enjoy doing? Does it still allow you the time and energy to do the other important things in your life?
Yes, you can make more money, but is it worth it? Maybe it’s a better trade off to spend less in order to balance out your enough.
… I know that sentence is almost entirely useless to you. But if you keep rolling those questions around in your head and start replacing those words with thoughtful numbers… you’re going to start feeling way more control over your money.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org