After I mentioned coming up against some of my old money beliefs in a vlog, a lot of people came to me and asked how I deal with this kind of thing. It’s a valid question, because budgeting is good and well in times of a stable, secure income – but what happens if part or all of this income goes away, even temporarily?
Freelancers and other self-employed people have more experience than others of dealing with fluctuating streams of cash, but even those in permanent jobs can be affected. Unemployment, longer illnesses or otherwise challenging circumstances aren’t something I would wish on anyone, but they can and do happen.
In the following, I’ll give you an overview as well as a few detailed steps you can take in order to safeguard your living, and that includes your passions. I’m paying special attention to passions not just because this happens to be my area of expertise, but also because they’re often the first thing to fall by the wayside when things get tough.
Let’s dive in.
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It can happen to everyone
First of all, I want to invite you to take notice of this even if your income is stable. I hope with all my heart that you’ll never need to apply any of this knowledge, but having the tools and the ability to deal with eventualities never goes amiss, and as well, there simply aren’t any guarantees in life. Ask the people who recently had to flee perfectly normal lives in the Ukraine, who may have lost not only their livelihood, but their homes as well. Life can be unpredictable.
Those who are entrepreneurs or freelancers, know what I’m talking about in any case. Unless you’re in a particularly reliable industry, your income likely will fluctuate to some extent. In some industries, there are seasonal differences, others react to factors like world markets and the political situation. Again, it’s worth it to build the knowledge of what you’ll do if your income is suddenly much lower.
What needs to be in place
In order to sail through a sudden decrease in income, you need to prepare in advance. It’s the same as building yourself a shelter in the wilderness, in case it’ll rain – if you only start when the first drops fall, you’ll likely be soaked by the time your hut is finished! Therefore, it’s important to think ahead.
I’ll come straight out with it: You need to know exactly how much money you’re spending each month. Sorry, but that’s a must. You also need to create a budget. If you’re subscribed to Wild Spirits News, you’ll regularly get advice on the categories that should be part of your budget; for the full instructions, you could read money management books or consider my 1-on-1 Wild Money program which includes creating your own budget, tailored to your individual situation.
Here’s an abridged version. First, you need to track your spending for at least one month. Yes, it’s a pain in the neck, but it has to be done. Find out how much you’re actually spending. Then create different categories such as “house”, “bills”, “groceries”, “car” etc. One of the categories should be for “passions”! Another should be savings, divided into long-term savings or investments and short-term savings for larger purchases such as a house or a car.
The emergency plan to protect your budget
When I run into difficulties – and the last two years have been full of ups and downs, I’m not going to pretend they weren’t – I switch to emergency mode. This is why my Word document titled “Finances” contains more than one budget.
Your main budget should be based on your normal income and your regular expenses. As a freelancer or self-employed person with a fluctuating income, you should also have a budget in case your income increases. The easiest way to achieve this is by budgeting in percentages, rather than fixed amounts. That way, if you always save 20% of your income, the sum will automatically increase when you have a particularly good month in business or any unexpected windfall. Similarly, all other categories will automatically adjust.
Everyone, employed or self-employed, also needs what I call a bare-bones budget. This is the one you use when the shit hits the fan. It contains the absolute necessities, such as rent or mortgage payments and the non-negotiable bills, as well as the minimum amounts needed for food, provided you’ll shop only in discounters and don’t go to cafes or restaurants. Basically, this is the money you’ll need to not get in trouble with any debt collectors. Anything you don’t need to survive, such as clothes, books etc., gets cut out.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to know this number! This is your absolute minimum, and if you fail to reach it in any month, you need to take action immediately, even if that be getting a weekend job stacking supermarket shelves or waiting tables.
Protect your passions
Obviously a bare-bones budget won’t leave any space for your passions either. This doesn’t mean though that you shouldn’t do what lights you up during this month. If you need books, borrow from friends or a library. If you need materials, get creative – a client of mine whose passion is knitting had a bad month once and ended up asking her friends and the knitting circle she’s a member of, if anyone had any wool to spare. She got inundated with donations and ended up not having to buy any new wool for months.
You don’t need to become a hermit either. Simply meet friends at home rather than in a bar in town. If your passion is travel, take day trips to nearby destinations. You might even discover how much there is to see and enjoy close to your home.
Most of all, don’t compromise on the “three pillars” self-care, downtime, and passion time. Your mind and emotions need to be stable so you can recover as quickly as possible and start earning again, or look for new opportunities.
A bare-bones budget is a survival tool, not a punishment. It’s what makes you secure, and in the end, it protects your ability to live the life you desire to the full extend again as soon as your income picks up.
People who know that I support wild spirits to prioritise their passion and find their unique life purpose, are often surprised when they find out that I also have a program called Wild Money. They wonder how these things go together.
Those who do think they know what the connection is between passion and money, usually get it wrong: They think I must be working on getting people to make money with their passion. And whilst this is sometimes part of my programs, it’s not their main aim at all.
Your mission is to learn how passion and money really go together.
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Task 1: Against the grain
You’ll often hear me say that it’s fine if you want to make money with your passion, but you don’t have to. Your passion should play a central role in your life simply because it gives you joy. Even if you’re an amateur, a beginner, or bad at it, it deserves to be a priority – because it lights you up.
It’s not immediately obvious to what extent this goes against the grain in our society. We’re told to value money, worldly success, hard work and material gains. And here I am propagating joy.
Task 2: What passion has to do with money
The actual connection between passion and money lies in the truly revolutionary approach to life that I mentioned above. The focus shifts off material, outward success, and towards immaterial, inward things such as joy, passion, fulfilment and purpose.
What happens when you make that shift? As a rational person brought up with our society’s way of thinking, you’d expect that you’d be happy, but broke. Astonishingly, that’s not the case.
If you truly prioritise your joy, something strange happens in your life. There’s an expansion of space. Your heart opens, and so does your environment. Suddenly, there’s time. There’s also space for more love, luck, and success to flow in, and this includes monetary success.
Today, I’d like to write about one of the most taboo subjects around. No, not non-monogamous relationships; not politics or religion, either. I’m referring to… money.
For some reason, it seems to be more acceptable to talk about STDs than about money. My own experience mirrors this: Whenever I publish an article or video on the subject, it gets a fairly low number of views. Why, then, do I continue addressing it?
The answer is: Because it’s important and because you’ll never be able to truly prioritise your passion(s) unless you sort out your money mindset and the actual management of your finances and put them on rock-solid feet. Another reason is that it’s utterly ridiculous to shun a subject so mundane, one that’s so vital for our lives.
I’m going to look into the reasons why people resist the subject. Then I’ll give you rock-solid ways out of the taboo and towards a healthy, even joyful money management.
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Why is money (management) a dirty word?
I have googled it, read books and psychological articles, and talked to literally hundreds of people about the subject. It’s part of my Coaching programs, after all! From all of this, several trends have emerged:
– The first is discomfort. People are embarrassed to talk about money for manifold reasons. We don’t learn about money management in school, so most people don’t know the first thing about budgeting, saving, or investing. The older they get, the more uncomfortable they are about this, and end up avoiding the subject altogether.
– There also seems to be a remnant of an aristocratic arrogance in the sense of: “Money is something you have, not something you talk about”. This one is particularly baffling, because clearly the only people who profit from this kind of attitude are employers who pay their employees unfair or vastly different salaries. Nobody ever finds out because of the taboo.
– Related to the second point, but in contrast to it, is the view of rich people as bad and greedy. This attitude is widespread – just check out memes on social media! It’s not surprising that people should wish to avoid being seen as someone to whom money is important.
– The last reason is embarrassment. People feel vaguely ashamed for not having or earning more and don’t want to admit they don’t have money management figured out. Others are ashamed because they earn a lot, which feeds into the previous point: They are afraid to be seen as one of the “filthy rich”.
Reading the above, where do you fit? I have yet to come across a human with a naturally healthy attitude to money. We all fall into one, or even several, of the categories I listed. Knowing yours will give you an advantage in moving forward.
The effects of the taboo
I’ve already mentioned some of the effects: people being embarrassed about even having money, because it’s supposed to be a dirty and immoral thing. Injustice and inequality are being perpetuated.
On the personal level, however, the tragedy is that so many people never get educated about their finances and will always regard the subject of money from an emotional place of either fear, disgust, or avoidance.
Barring a move to an off-the-grid lifestyle in a functioning community where barter still flourishes, you’re going to be forced to deal with money pretty much daily for the rest of your days. When you look at the above three emotions, is this really how you want to feel about something so central in your life?
Might it be time to turn things around? Might it be time to face the subject, change your beliefs about it, and learn the joy of money?
Tackling your money mindset
You’ve already got a head start on this process by finding out what your negative beliefs about money are (see “Why is money a dirty word?” above). Now in order to get rid of a belief, you need to do the following:
Weaken the existing belief: Imagine your belief is a table resting on four legs. You’ll now proceed to break off these legs by finding tangible proof that your belief isn’t true. For example, if you think all rich people are awful, go and look up the amazing good some people do (such as buying up whole stretches of rainforest for the sole purpose of preservation).
Replace it with a new, helpful belief: Now find a belief that will take the place of the one you’d like to let go of. If your belief was that rich people are awful, find something true like: “Many rich people are wonderful people who do a lot of good. Money makes people more of what they already are.”
Of course there are many other facets to creating an abundance mindset. Once you tackle your beliefs, you’re off to a great start, though.
Learning money management
Now that you’re working on your mindset, you need to also learn the nuts and bolts of financial management. There are many books on the subject, and if you’re subscribed to Wild Spirits News, you also get regular “Money Corner” tips and advice.
Set up a monthly budget that includes categories for fun stuff such as you passions. There should also be a percentage of your money reserved to be blown on silly things. The joy you’ll feel upon spending this money will in turn fuel your abundance mindset.
You can do courses, or learn from the ground up in my Wild Money program. It’s a combination of teaching you the principles of money management and investing on the one hand, and Coaching for an abundant, joyful mindset on the other. You probably never imagined that you’d approach finances with a happy, even playful attitude, and that you’d be better off for it! Come and try it out.
Whatever you do, please break the taboo about money. It’s okay to care about it. It’s okay to like money and enjoy it. It doesn’t make you a shallow person, unless you start valuing money for itself, rather than what it stands for and what you can do with it. All the real negativity around money starts when people put money before people or the planet, or seek to achieve power over others with it.
As long as you don’t do any of that, you’re free to enjoy money, buy yourself some luxuries, play and also give to others. And don’t forget to finance your passion(s), generously but within a solid budget. Your life will take on a sparkle it never had before.
I keep pointing out that your passion(s) should be a priority, no matter whether you’re a pro or a beginner. The joy you gain is more than enough reason to put it front and center.
However, many of my clients do have a wish to turn their passion into a career or business. They want to do what lights them up and earn money from it. It sounds like a dream, and it can be.
Your mission today is to find out whether you should turn your passion into a business, and how to prevent your dream from turning into a nightmare.
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Task 1: Can you turn your passion into a business?
Obviously, this subject could (and does) fill volumes. Therefore, I’ll just give you a few questions to ask yourself to start with.
- Are you good enough? You should of course provide quality. However, the vast majority of people underrate the value of what they have to offer.
- Is there a genuine market for what you offer? Do people search for it?
- Are you secure enough? Meaning, do you have savings to tide you over at least the first six months?
- Can you perhaps start part-time to minimise the risk?
Task 2: Protect your passion and joy
Apart from all the nuts and bolts of business, there’s a huge pitfall that most people overlook: Can you protect your passion and joy from the harsh reality of business?
The truth is, business can be rough. I’ve met too many burnt-out artists, crafters etc. who have come to almost hate their passion because it got so entangled with having to make money. I make money with one of my passions too, so I know what it can be like.
It’s vital to preserve the joy in your passion. Create space where you can fool around with it, without any intention of producing something of value. Protect these spaces, and your business will never run out of its most important fuel: Your passion.
Money still seems to have an “ick” factor for many of us. We associate riches with being materialistic and unspiritual, and in many cases, with being unscrupulous and exploitative.
What’s it got to do with you? The thing is, money tends to enhance who you are already. In order to get more, it helps to make sure you’ll “become more of” something you like being.
Your mission today is to align your finances with your values.
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Task 1: What are your values?
I’ve spoken about this subject before, so I’ll keep it fairly brief. Unlike beliefs, which are learned and can be changed, values are the unchangeable core of your very being. They make you who you are.
To find your top 5 values, I recommend downloading this free worksheet. Begin by highlighting every value that you think applies to you, spontaneously and without thinking about it too much. Then go deeper and use the knock-out system until you’re left with about 5 top values.
Task 2: Align your finances with your values
Next, look at where your money is going and check whether this is in alignment with your values. This is of course unique to you and your values! To make it a little less abstract, I’ll give you examples from my own finances:
- One of my values is fairness and equality, and so I don’t invest in exploitative companies. My investments are in a “green fund” instead.
- I have almost completely stopped buying clothes from shops. I buy handmade things from individuals with a passion for sawing and/or knitting on Etsy.
Am I perfect? Definitely not. But even adjusting parts of your spending and investing to match what you believe in, makes a big difference. More examples are fair-trade chocolate or coffee, ecologically friendly cleaning products and local fruit and veg rather than imported varieties.
Feeling good about what you do with your money can make a huge difference. It shifts your entire attitude and makes you more receptive to more abundance at the same time.