SACRIFICING ART FOR A JOB: HOW MUCH MONEY DO WE REALLY NEED TO MAKE?

Nov 11, 2015 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

One of the things that can really put a damper on your creative spirit is stressing out about money.

The pursuit of money has led countless artists, makers and creative types to abandon the very thing that makes them who they are so they can pursue a “real job.” I should know, after all, I’m one of them. I gave up writing fiction for years because I was concentrating on my “real job.”

Like many who must create, I could never abandon it altogether, though. Truth be told, it’s the only skill that I really have, so I had to get writing jobs.

The point is, many of us make sacrifices to pursue jobs that will allow us to live. It’s no small thing, either. I mean, you have to make money in order to buy food, shelter, clothing, and not everyone is going to be a Picasso or a JK Rowling - rich and famous because of their art, during their lifetimes. Many more of us are going to toil away in anonymity, maybe sell a few pieces, and have our creative contributions to the world be shown on Antiques Roadshow as good folk art.

Cynical much?

What I’m trying to say is we all need to work, and for most of us, that work will be in a job we may love, but may not, but it likely won’t be a job that is our creative outlet. And that’s OK. We’re all familiar with the stereotype of the starving artist, and the fact is if we don’t work day jobs, many of us creative types actually would starve. Even more than stressing out about money, starving is a sure-fire creativity-killer.

So while most of us need to work, I think many of us mistake just how much we have to earn. Like I said, we all need to pay for the basics – food, clothing, shelter. But do we really need to pay for a 2,500-square-foot house? Or 35 pairs of shoes? Or fancy bottles of wine and expensive cuts of meat?

We live in a consumerist society. Everywhere we turn, there are admonitions that we buy, buy, buy, and just because we’re creative types doesn’t mean we’re immune to the pressures. Maybe we overspend on yarn or paints or camera lenses. Maybe we try, just like everyone else, to keep up with the neighbors and so have a car we can’t afford.

As creatives, we’ll have another category in our budget for the tools we need to do what we love. But in every category, we should look at our spending and determine if it’s really necessary. If we spent less, would we be able to work less at our day jobs? Would that free up time to work on the things we love?

One little question saves me time and money

This is something I’ve just started doing, and while it’s difficult, I’m finding it worth the effort. I’ve started asking myself one little question. Every time I feel the urge to go shopping because I don’t know what to do, I ask myself “Could I be writing right now?” The answer, not surprisingly, is almost always “yes.”

This one little question has helped my productivity skyrocket. I’m writing so much more, just by replacing shopping time with writing time. It has also cut my spending by almost half in the last month. This has meant less debt, more saving and more time.

Just because we’re creative doesn’t mean we aren’t human. The pressure to buy is all around us, and it’s hard to resist. That’s why I write about simplifying and downsizing, because I want to help people pursue the things they love in our already-busy lives, without all the meaningless distractions. It’s a change I’m trying to make in my life, too.

Because all this stuff, all this spending, all these extra time commitments get in the way of doing the thing that really makes us who we are. If we’re working extra hours or two jobs to pay off our debts; if we’re spending time shopping when we could be creating, then we’ve got the same issues as everyone else.

Let’s really think twice about what we need before we spend our time and money.

What do you do to ease the stress over money?

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Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.