Being a Budget Minded Writer
Being a writer is hard before you start making money. You’re probably working a day job to supplement, which seriously cuts into your available writing time. Making money writing takes some dedicated time every day, which you probably won’t have until you have the money to not work a full time job. Fun, yeah?
To fix this, you might consider cutting back on your hours at the day job. That might not be a possibility for you right now. That might, in fact, be a suggestion that makes you really pissed off if, for instance, you have kids or a student loan. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t make a lot of money from my writing at all. I make about $35.00 with my writing a month right now. I have a job where I work 35 to 39 hours a week.
Here’s the thing, though, this was a downgrade for me. I was working a job where I worked from 47 to 53 hours a week. I got a better job, that paid more money an hour, but with far fewer hours, and I took a pay cut. I could not have done that without a very understanding partner, and a rock solid budgeting system.
When we decided it was time to make the transition from retail manager to writer, we knew we needed to make some financial cutbacks. If being a full time writer is something you want from your life, some solid budgeting is an important step. Here’s what we’re doing while I’m still making double digit paychecks.
What can you live without?
Make a list of everything you spend money on every month. Take a good long look at what’s on that list. What is on that list that you could get rid of, if it meant you could cut back on your day job hours and spend more time writing? To put it another way, what do you need, and what do you want? Now, look at your want list. Do you want a writing career more?
Find a budgeting system that works, and stick to it.
Really, this is something that you should do once you’re the one responsible for keeping the lights on, anyway. Map out how much money you make, and where it needs to go. Now, everyone’s needs and habits are different, so I hesitate to say that my method will work for you, but it sure as hell works for me.
I estimate my monthly income at the start of the month. I take out savings first, and then I pay bills. Food budget comes next, then paying for any special fun things I’m doing with the kids, followed by anything we need to buy like clothes, shoes, dish soap, pens, flea shampoo. You know what I’m talking about. The things you need to buy to maintain your life. Everything left goes into the slush fund, also known as the ‘life happens’ fund. Some people love the envelope method, but I’ve never been a fan. But hey, if it works, that’s the important part.
Get out of Debt.
Get rid of it. Debt costs you late fees and overages and interest. Get out of it. Cut up the cards, pay things down. Look up Dave Ramsey’s Snowball debt method. It’s taking money you don’t have to waste, and it’s causing a lot of worry you can’t afford.
Remember your reasons to save.
I understand that this is hard. But for me, it’s continued to be worth it after a year of work. I’m working more on the thing that I love, and I am starting, just now, to see some light at the end of the tunnel. A pinprick of light, but when I first started this wild journey, I made no money at all on my writing. So, this is a start.
What’s gotten me through is the reason why I’m doing this. I want to be a full time paid writer, so to me, it’s worth downsizing.