Creative Insubordination

strategies for becoming an independent creator

Creative Insubordination - strategies for becoming an independent creator

Class Post: Saving Money

The first assignment in the “Strategies for Becoming an Independent Artist” project involved examining some websites containin suggestions about how to save money and live a more frugal yet satisfying lifestyle. Each student was asked to investigate at least one website and provide 6 or more links with their comments on why the link is important.

Alwyn Mothershed

So this post is about how this couple started an independent business in 2002, and were ravaged with debt and growing pains and general bad luck for many years, but eventually the business got into a steady rhythm and they started making profit. However, instead of using this new money splurge on things and maybe increase their standard of living, they continued to live as frugally as ever, because they were motivated by their long-term goals. Namely, paying off their mortgage. They said it’s easy not to spend when they focus on watching that balance decrease and they become closer to a life without a mortgage debt. This is important for us, too, if we want utter independence in our endeavors. Instead of getting ahead of ourselves, focus on eliminating the financial things holding us back.

This post is in a similar vein, but it gives tips on how to organize your money when you’re in debt. There’s a great piece of advice that is essentially, “put all the money for bills in a separate account, and if there’s any left over after they are paid, but it towards eliminating some debt.” Organizing the money into different accounts — for paying of debt, bills, cost of living, saving, etc. is pragmatic and seems highly effective.

Again, similar post but it has another nifty tip: track everything you spend from the moment you get paid. That way, not only do you know exactly how much money you have, but you can also find places to cut back spending. My dad once told me that when Bill Gates was a kid, he would record in a journal every single time he spent money or owed someone so that he always knew exactly where he was financially. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but this blog post made me think of it, and then added the information about knowing when the cut back.

This post chronicles an email back and forth between Frugal Babe and Kate, a reader who says that, “Just because you can pay for something doesn’t mean you can afford it,” and that she’s settling for a “good enough” house for a great life making memories with her family. Not only is this inspirational, but it makes such sense! Both women say they make around the same income as their friends, but live in much smaller houses and thus enjoy greater financial security. Frugal Babe makes a great point about how one day she wants to be able to work because she WANTS to and not because she has to to pay the bills. As independent artists, don’t we want to create because we want to and not because we have to?

I’m something of a packrat, so this fresh perspective on saving things made me rethink some things. Frugal Babe says to save things you KNOW you’ll need for the future, rather than things you THINK you’ll need that end up cluttering your house and wasting space. I think this is also a good perspective to help curb spending, so you’ll buy things you know you’ll need rather than things that you sort of want or will possibly need. Also, the more she talks about Goodwill and yard sales (things I love, for the record), the more I wonder why I ever shop anywhere else.

Frugal Babe and Frugal Husband started their own business over ten years ago, and eventually it became something they can depend on for a living. As someone who wants to start my own theatre company one day, the steps they took to start their business are so valuable to me. There’s the obvious — lots of money will be spent on marketing, stay honest, ease your way out of your old job, don’t have kids when you start, etc. There’s also advice I had never thought of, like incorporating and paying yourself first before worrying about savings or retirement funds (though she also says those are important and eventually need to be accommodated.)

Kyle Blank

Wise bread’s slogan is living large on a small budget, this is something that I feel is important for everyone not just artists. That being budgeted and being frugal does not have to be boring and does not have to be a true punishment. While this site does have articles about careers, home management, and life hacks, I will be mainly focusing on the food aspects of it. How people should shop and what how to make the most food for the least money.

Wise bread’s slogan is living large on a small budget, this is something that I feel is important for everyone not just artists. That being budgeted and being frugal does not have to be boring and does not have to be a true punishment. While this site does have articles about careers, home management, and life hacks, I will be mainly focusing on the food aspects of it. How people should shop and what how to make the most food for the least money.

If someone is working at an office or a job that requires a lunch hour most people spend money out. The amount of money spent on eating out builds up over time and one simply can’t keep eating out at work to truly earn their hourly wage. This list is simply an efficient easy to read list of items that require little cash and little time. The key here being time, as many who eat out simply do it out of convenience. How ever convenience can be a burdon on your wallet. Also the list gives you room to go for, as with the problem with many food sites is telling you a recipe and refusing to grow. While this one in a few of them links to other blogs to help you get more ideas. The key here is to grow a thought for food and to enjoy the food that you eat. Cheap ingredients and eating your own food will not only be healthier in the long wrong but it will take a burdon off of your wallet.

“Americans throw away 40% of the food that is produced in this country every year. While there is plenty of waste that happens before the food ever gets to our dinner tables, according to the latest reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American family of four throws away $2,275 dollars in food annually!“
This is simply an unacceptable statistic. In order to live a well budgeted or as some would say frugal life style the food we eat throw out needs to be looked at. If we are throwing out 40% of our food thats 40% of our grocery bill that is thrown out as well. Almost half of the food we buy we do not keep and this article helps with that. While its aimed more towards holiday items the theme transcends holidays. For example don’t waste money on expensive teas when you can boil an apple core and use that to flavor. Helping you get the most out of that apple and not have to waste money on the more expensive flavored tea. The idea is to get creative with your food, if you add a little imagination you can save a ton of money simply by reusing and not throwing out 40% of your money. Here is another article to help with the throwing out of food, and the use of left overs.

This article simply states things that are more expensive at grocery stores. While this in of its self seems very simple its more complex than that because it teaches you what else you should do. Do not buy meat for stews, plan for another meal then use the left over for the stew so that way you can save money. Milk is half the price at warehouse stores than it is at the grocery store. So while it may be more convenient to buy your items in one place, if you truly want to save money and be frugal with your food purchases you have to move around a little.

This is an article I feel almost aimed at the independent artist. They are quick efficient and cheap meals for one. After a long day of work, rehearsal etc its hard to get the motivation to cook but these are fast and easy, with the ability to be frozen. They also serve one, meaning no left over and excess ingredients to waste money on. With helpful cooking adviced mixed in the article its definitely a useful tool for someone living by themselves trying to pinch the most pennies. Such as cook a meatloaf in muffin tins so that you can freeze the single servings in the freezer for another day. The key here is little work for a lot of reward, allowing you to not take too much time out of your day to make a good healthy and cheap meal.

This article is a helpful almost educational collum on how to shop at grocery stores. That there are tricks in the business to get people to spend more money and how simply being aware of these tricks can help one save as much money as possible and watch out for these things in the future. For example 10 for 10$ does not mean that you have to get 10, you get the savings even if you only get one thing but the store normally does not specify that. Stores want you to spend money and our goal as starving artists has to be to not spend as much as they want.

There are so many tools and objects for cooking its unfathomable. This list compiles what you do need and what you definitely do not need and its actually pretty surprising. For example of the things you do not need the first example is a dish washer. That its something that people waste so much money on that is simply a luxury. As people on a budget we have to determine what is luxury and what is core so that we can avoid what is unneeded as much as we can. For example a high quality knife while more expensive in the long run will last longer and do a better job saving you money in the long run. To cook at home an investment is needed how ever the benefits are literally limitless for someone on a budget.

Charlie Napier

Homesessive  (on the blog it was listed as DIY but has since undergone a name change) is a website with several articles about how to save money around your house. I feel like this would be really helpful for an independent artist to learn, as it can teach you how to solve problems yourself.  You can be able to handle any problems around your home for cheap instead of spending more on professionals or products.
The term “manly” is used in this article as a joke, as this is for anyone who wants to save money and be a more ‘do it yourself’ kind of person. You would save money not having to hire someone to fix these problems and feel especially independent. Some of these tasks may seem daunting at first, but personally I’d recommend you and your friends helping each other at first on these projects. After you attempt these in a group enough times, you’ll eventually have enough experience to attempt these things alone.

One the opposite side of the spectrum is 10 projects you should not attempt alone. These are for various reasons such as spending more money fixing your screw ups, not having equipment that a license professional would have, or may risk possible injury. It is always important to know your limitations, and this list sets a good boundary.

Brightnest is a partner site of Homesessive that also have several home based money saving techniques. This shows how you can save some bucks on a money drainer we all do on a regular basis. It is a little more work, but end result of saving money can make it worth the effort.

When we need something, we usually go straight to store and pay full price. This shows some things we can buy used to save money. While we may not need exactly the 10 items they listed, it still gives a good basis of things you can buy used. These include, things you are not going to be using on a regular basis and sturdy equipment more based on function the appearance.

This winter has been especially cold, so as a result we all are probably spending more money on heating. This shows just simple things that can be done in the house that can keep you warm and hopefully keep your bills down. The key to this style of saving is preventing unwanted air the house and closing up unused area of the house (oh and don’t forget warm drinks and cuddling).

Much like previous article, this one list both energy and money wasters that you probably did not even consider. They may seem small but they can go a long say in saving money, especially if you makes these actions a regular routine.

Carson Funk

I picked “And Then We Saved.” I was immediately drawn to it by its description on the top 50 site: 

From the start, I thought that this related to a lot of the things brought up in your blog post “How Much Do You REALLY Make Per Hour?” Clearly, one of the major similarities was money. The macro in this blog post ( succinctly describes the intent of the spending fast. “Want too many things. Need to want less.”

It’s similar to the cute pair of shoes dilemma. You want the cute pair of shoes. But is it really worth the 11 hours of work it took for you to get that money? That’s what the Spending Fast is, but on overdrive. You really only spend money on the necessities. That means no movies, no eating out, no coffee at coffee shops, no fancy makeup.

The “About The Spending Fast” blog post (linked above) provides a comprehensive guide for debt payment – a huge reason that I picked this. As students, many of us have student loans that will need to be paid off before we’re 80 years old. And this woman paid off her 24k debt in 15 months, which is rather impressive! So she must have some good things to say.

Some of the advice in the post which I thought was most helpful was organizing your bill payments from rank of highest interest rate to lowest interest rate, and paying them in that order. Also, setting a time frame for paying off your debt. Although a year might sound hard – and there will be slip-ups, as she says – it will go by quicker than anticipated.

This blog post talks about urban myths about money. It gives practical advice about spending too! For instance, it provides a comprehensive list of debts that are not wiped clean when declaring bankruptcy… and there are a LOT of debts that are not wiped clean, student loans being one of them. Another knowledge nugget is that buying in bulk is not always a better deal. Generally, things that are packaged in bulk are made for parties or family gatherings. Like – do you really want that 100 can pack of chickpeas? Are you really going to eat that 20 lb bag of potatoes? Such pieces of advice help keep your spending in check, rather than allowing you to fall into common misconceptions such as more for your buck is ALWAYS better.

This post is about food – delicious food you can make on a budget! I love that this site is not just about where to pinch your pennies, but how you can pinch your pennies and not live a horrible and self-imposed-impoverished life. Although you probably won’t want to eat rice and beans every night, it provides perspective. Rice and beans are incredibly cheap ingredients, and with a little sprucing up can be made into something spectacular. For a budding artist who wants to live off of 180 dollars a week, using a little creativity with blase ingredients is a great way to save.

Continuing on the food theme, here is a list of foods that can be made for under $5. While some of them are a little lackluster (i.e. a bowl of cereal is listed under breakfast), some of them are really clever and sound awesome. In the same vein as the above post, it shows you that living to save does always mean you have to live poorly. You can eat deliciously and still pay off all your debts.

This is another testimonial from someone (not the owner of the blog) that did the Spending Fast. She provides a comprehensive rundown of her experience with the Spending Fast. She had more loans to pay off than the blog owner, and she did it with her partner.

Something that really stood out for me was #2 on her list: “Ask yourself what are your priorities?” She writes that she and her partner both made a list of what was most important to them. They both valued time with family and friends… travel… and nowhere on the list was fancy clothes or luxury goods. So they made a budget that reflected their values! Yes, they might miss luxury goods, but at the heart of things, they didn’t really care about them…

This is an important post because – if one of us were to undergo this Spending Fast in order to free ourselves of the shackles of debt and truly call ourselves Independent Artists – it’s important to see the end outcome.

The blog owner (after completing her Spending Fast) explains how it feels to be without debt collectors sniffing around her pockets. The assertion that most stood out to me was “What’s Yours is Yours!” Money is yours, which means your time is yours. You’re no longer giving away your hours of work to other people! That’s something to look forward to. And that really helps put into perspective the independence of the Independent Artist. You can’t be free if you’re in debt to someone else… you can’t create if you’re in debt to someone else!

Hannah Pollard

The 99 Cent Chef is a blog designed by a chef who decided to see how many recipes he could make with ingredients that only cost 99 cents or less. That’s pretty much it! The blog is all his recipes, various tips and tricks, and ratings of local restaurants (he lives in Los Angeles).

For example, I don’t know about anyone else in the class, but I adore breakfast biscuits. Even though they aren’t the healthiest thing on the planet, they’re really tasty, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. For people like me, who just want something quick and fast but want to save even more money, there are recipes like how to make a homemade Egg McMuffin with ham.

Even though you might think Egg McMuffins are cheap and simple, this blog shows how you can save money in ways you might not expect. Egg McMuffins are about $2 per muffin, but you can make about six of them for $4 with this recipe. On top of that, you don’t have to waste time or money in the McDonald’s drive through line on your way to work.

If you don’t want to make an approximation of McDonald’s food, though, there are other, actually pretty healthy recipes on the site. The chef lives in Los Angeles, so a lot of his recipes are based around prices that aren’t necessarily applicable, but he encourages readers to do whatever works best for them. And really, grocery stores aren’t all that different – every time he says Albertsons, just replace it with Food Lion. This recipe for beef and broccoli stir fry breaks down how to tell what is the best cut of beef for each price.

The site also has recipes like how to make a Thanksgiving/Christmas/general holiday dinner on a budget, including things like desserts and even homemade eggnog. He doesn’t mind linking to other chefs if he thinks they can do a better job explaining than he can, and he also tries to make sure that all the meals actually feel homemade and like real Thanksgiving dishes, instead of something you whipped up because you had the ingredients on hand.

But if you really don’t feel like cooking, he also does reviews of what microwave dinners are worth buying, and which aren’t. No one expects microwave dinners to be wonderful, but it can be really disappointing when you’re dead tired and you just heat something up and then it comes out looking and tasting terrible. Looking at his reviews can help you find what’s the best out of the frozen food section.

He’s also just stared a new series reviewing local redcurrants that are cheap. Again, this won’t be entirely helpful to anyone who doesn’t live in Los Angeles, but his first post is about Wendy’s, and I think it will be helpful to people who are trying to get something that tastes good for as little as possible. I don’t use fast food restaurants very much, but I’m not above it, and so I would like to know which are the best, even if none of them are not that great.

Lastly, a lot of people are intimidated by cooking. If you have never cooked before, it is difficult to know where to start or what to do, and so many people default to eating fast food, or microwave dinners. While that’s fine, especially if you’re tired, one of the things I really like about the 99 cent chef is that he never forgets that people who are looking at his blog could be beginners. To that end, a lot of his recipes have small stop motion animations that go along with them to better illustrate his points.

If you’re intimidated by making pork stir fry, this video starts off with all the green beans lined up in a row, and then the stems getting broken off and all huddling in a pile and running away, with the caption ‘remove stems.’ Steps like this are easy to follow, and make cooking available for anyone on a budget.

Maggie Wasielewski

This site is aimed toward improving finances and overall, you life. These are tips about saving money and how to inspire yourself to keep going.

Ten Pieces of Inspiration is basically ten quotes meant to keep you on track with a little boost. After reading them, I found them to be very helpful and if I were stuggling these quotes would get me back to keeping my goals in mind and encourage me to keep going when you don’t have someone physical to turn to for this type of support.

This is a simple idea that always turns out to be harder than it sounds. These are some tips on how to do exactly that–Spend Less Than You Earn. This is useful to always keep on the front of the brain.

This goes along with the idea of how much do you REALLY make and gives advice on how to spend time wisely and as a result you are a healthier person who has more time to make money.

As Independent Artists we are going to have to talk about our money problems so we can get to a solution. This link shows some steps as to who to talk to and about what and different ways to get to the solution or on your way to one.

Essentially, BE INDEPENDENT! Mike Wiley also talked about how he did things himself and this is a bit more general and detailed about what you can do for yourself, therefore not spending money to have someone else do it.

Relationships, friendships, connections. These are crucial to being an Independent Artist. Who you know can get you far and ahead sometimes and having that tree of connections is important. This link gives advice on how to create those relationships.

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  • Mark Lewis says:

    I live in Illinois, where can I find the funding
    to finance my venture? I have two semesters until I finish my bachlors in sociology but I am thinking of
    sitting out and starting my business. I have three children,single parent and good child care is always an issue for me to work traditional hours.
    I am always told I am good with children
    and my ultimate college and career goals is to work with women and children.
    Where can I find help to start a business and is
    this a good idea?.

    July 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm

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