Continuing my journey through the book The Prosperous Heart by Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way), week one is all about reckoning with the truth about you and your money. It requires both an external and internal accounting of your financial personality.
The external accounting comes in the form of “Counting,” Cameron’s term for keeping a record of ALL of your spending, big and small. The internal record involves assigning a label to yourself in terms of how you spend your money. Her category labels are: The Big-Ticket Spender (people who over-spend in pursuit of status and security), The Bargain Buyer (people who take pride in shopping at sales and flea markets, whether they need the items or not), The Monetary Miser (people who hate spending any money at all, and their shabby possessions tell the story), and The Enabler (people who get themselves in trouble by over-giving to others and taking on other people’s debts and financial problems).
I don’t personally identify with any of these labels. I also don’t think people should label themselves at all, because identity shapes destiny (but that’s for another blog). Nevertheless, if I had to choose, I think I’m closest to big-ticket spender. I like luxury and high-quality things, but I don’t spend to impress people. I’d rather wait and buy something nice than have a bunch of junk around me. But, sometimes I fall into the category of miser, where I don’t want to spend any money at all, even if the purchase would benefit me in some way. Big-ticket spenders can fall into the error of magical thinking and denial. Misers run the risk of sending a message to themselves subconsciously that they aren’t worth much. Big ticket spenders can wind up in heavy debt and bankruptcy. Misers can wind up under-pricing themselves in the marketplace and having general low self-esteem.
Even if you avoid labeling yourself, it is good to go within and ask the hard questions about why you do what you do with your money. It may take a while. These behaviors are usually motivated by deep subconscious beliefs, which take time to ferret out. Sometimes you may never get to the bottom of WHY you do what you do. But if you see that what you’re doing isn’t working, you can make a commitment to stop it, even if you don’t know WHY you do it.
That’s where the Counting comes in. Like most people, I resisted the idea of doing a budget for years. My attitude was, I already knew I didn’t have enough money. There was no need to rub my own nose in it! But, I found an app to help me do it easily, and that’s what helped me overcome the resistance. Once I started doing the spending record, my opinion changed. It allowed me to know exactly what I could afford in any given month. The record has evolved into a monthly spending plan. The plan lets me prioritize my desires – and know which ones I can fulfill. The plan has also taught me patience and discipline with money. If I want something, I can just put it in next month’s plan instead of going into debt for it now.
As an example of how juggling within the spending plan can work, let’s say I want to buy something that costs $200. My spending plan tells me whether or not I can currently afford it. However, maybe I’m willing to cut $75.00 from my food budget, pause two of my recurring services that each cost $25.00, and work a few hours overtime to earn the rest of the money. Once your mind knows clearly what it wants, you create your own internal Vision Board. Clarity rids the soul of anxiety and fear – two emotions that creatives cannot afford to have.
Anxiety and fear damage – and sometimes halt – the creative process. You cannot make great work if you are worried about stuff all the time. Creatives have an obligation to make their lives as joyful and as comfortable as they can, so they can continue making stuff. You don’t want low-vibe relationships, crappy friends, or constant anxiety about money. Having a spending plan gives you clarity about your financial situation. Oftentimes, you are better off than you think! And, even if you aren’t, at least you know where you stand.
As an example, I know someone who once took a job that didn’t pay him nearly enough. He insisted to me that he had had a spending plan, but I know that was a lie to save face. His prior job was seasonal and the new job was regular. If he had had a spending plan, he would have known, by looking at the numbers for income and outgo, that the new job wasn’t a match for his lifestyle. He would have either turned down the job and kept looking, or reduced his lifestyle to match his new income. Either one would have saved him a lot of stress and unhappiness. Instead, he spent years complaining and feeling like a victim until he finally left. He still doesn’t have a spending plan to this day, and continues to have random “surprises” regarding his finances. To each his own.
But if you would like to live a life of financial peace and prosperity, you have to do what is necessary to have clarity first. Do the inner work to really look (without condemnation and judgment) at your habits. Review your spending record to objectively look at where you spend your money.
Does the way you spend your money align with your highest values? Do you know what your highest values are? Create a list of ten things that you value, and compare that list to your spending record for the past month. Are they a match? If not, what steps can you take to bring your money into submission to your highest calling and purpose?
I will be going through this book, and sharing whatever insights come up along the way. I welcome you to join me. Feel free to share in the comments any insights you gain from the process.
It is my hope that we start a revolution! We can become a subset of creatives and spiritual adepts who practice a new way-of-being around money. Creative people do not have to “sell out” or be broke. God is an artist who supports other artists if we let Her.
My art this past week was about perspective – linear perspective. We also learned in my mastery program, about how to draw large crowds. It was brutal because I never spent much time on these topics. Nerd that I am, seeing my weaknesses motivated me. I decided to double down and study perspective until I become fluent in it. I’m taking a master class, and I also bought some books on the subject, which are coming this weekend. To me, mastery means mastery, so if I’m weak at something, I need to get better!
Here’s my work since last time…