A little help from my friends
So, I’m setting up my big cartel right now and I am getting anxious.
See, I know I don’t talk much about a lot of my personal life, especially my finances, but my boyfriend and I live below our means because, well, I’m a broke college student and he’s been paying off a 5,000 student loan debt to his uncle since we’ve been together.
What this means is, in addition to rent, he never has money beyond gas and groceries and being able to eat (at his job). As for me, my mom helps out here and there, and I am the general provider for our household. I have to keep my finances in check to keep us afloat.
Next month, when I have my surgery, I will be out of work for 2 weeks (or more). I am going to be on a 6 week liquid diet which means having to buy grocery items I typically don’t to get nutrients. Evan will be the only one working while our rent is due and my vacation hours barely amount to a decent check.
I feel uncomfortable asking people for things, because I have always had to survive and struggle and come up with my own resolutions. It does not mean I am above help, or do not need. I just feel like a burden.
So since I don’t have any funds set up, or paypal donations things, I want to open up a shop so that I may give while you do; have my nice things in exchange for some change to fill up my gas tank.
I would really, really appreciate any help with spreading this. I will be putting up shoes, dresses, sweaters, shirts, hats and belts/other accessories. All my prices are reasonable since I know no one has money to waste on things.
This is seriously so awkward because I genuinely feel guilty promoting this but I appreciate any and all help anyone’s willing to offer.
The shop is: siddharthasmama.bigcartel.com (same as my tumblr URL).
Please boost this for me :)
“This is the financial reality of all people's lives, and the burdens hit at all stages of the life cycle. They hit the 25 or 28 year old who may have gone to college and may have taken out a big debt, thinking, 'Aha, this is the ticket to a good financial future,' and is still living in his childhood bedroom because there's nothing but internships and dead-end jobs. It hits the middle-age parent who is still supporting that child, and who may be supporting an elderly parent...it's more expensive at all stages of the life cycle.”—
Catch Paul Taylor’s full interview on the state of retirement savings on CSPAN’s Washington Journal.
Our full report on the “Sandwich Generation” is here.
My Music Sales Income The Past 3 Years
Last year I published my finances so it helped other musicians, artists, and showed a level of transparency I wish most businesses had.
Anyway, I’ve been doing this idea for about 6 years, and the first 3 years were awful. In the first 3 years, 2007-2009, I made about $2,000 in total: In 2007 I made about $200. In 2008 I made $500. In 2009 I made about $1,000.
There have been other things I’ve done to survive, like write music for people on the side, collect unemployment when I was laid off, worked as a music instructor, cashed in my baby bonds, and made music tutorials on Youtube. Although the pay wasn’t much, it was just enough to get by so I didn’t lose sight of this ‘ForOrchestra’ goal. So now onto the past 3 years of my music sales:
July 2010 to July 2011 I made $4,766.64 of music sales
July 2011 to July 2012 I made $9,232.80 of music sales
July 2012 to December 2012 I made $11,862.88 of music sales
So it’s safe to say I’ve seen a 100% growth year over year. In that last picture above you’ll notice that I made more money in the last 6 months than I did in all of the previous year. Since I’m on track to make $22,000 this year, for the first time in my life I’m finally above the poverty threshold (which for individuals is $14,800).
Those stats are my gross income, so I still have to pay out royalties, taxes, etc. But still, that’s insane, and I can’t believe this. I actually feel like crying. Anyway, there are a number of reasons that explain why I’ve grown:
1.) My music sounds better every week
2.) The arrangements themselves are much more mature
3.) I understand the music catalogue, trends, and demographics much better
4.) I’m more focused than ever before
5.) I’m becoming more transparent and creating more rapport with my community
6.) Unlike the first 4 years, I no longer need a job to support myself - so I’m spending more time on writing music as opposed to having a side-job
7.) Update: as Vexarian mentioned: there’s a 7th point you missed, which is that over time your community grows by default the longer you stick with it (thanks for mentioning that. Yep -that’s true!)
In my tips tag I always say that being patient is the #1 thing. If I gave up on year 4, then I would have never known if this idea could work. I also talk about the importance of being on a schedule. It doesn’t have to be a weekly song schedule, it could be something like a tour schedule, or a merchandise schedule, or whatever. The important thing is to stay on point.
So to answer a few pre-determined questions:
Yes, it sucked every Thanksgiving for half a decade saying to my relatives “My music is going to work out, trust me.”
Yes, it sucked being $15,000 in debt a few years ago.
Yes, it sucked when my hands went numb from pinched nerves and over-working.
Yes, it sucked working weekends and 16 hour days.
Yes, it sucked having a failed Kickstarter at a time when this idea needed it most.
Yes it sucked at times not having a car, health insurance, a haircut, a house, or a steady paycheck.
Yes it sucked when I ate turkey gravy straight from the can because I had no money to buy food.
Yes, it sucked to break up with someone special because you were trying to make ends meet.
Yes, it all sucked. Everything. It sucked to the point of almost breaking down. And then something funny happens after a few years. Something magical. A tipping point sort of experience. And you think. You just think. You stop and realize for the first time you’re able to make ends meet. You start thinking that since you now have disposable income you can start making merchandise this week and other higher-margined items as opposed to a song that pays 40 cents. You even start thinking about how your own story probably isn’t much different than others you read about over the years.
You start getting excited at the idea of hiring real artists to make beautiful cover art as opposed to the ones you’ve been struggling to make in your room. You start thinking that you’re following your heart. You start thinking that all those days people said “don’t give up”, that they weren’t just words, at this very moment it was turning into advice from experience.
You start realizing the importance of how none of this would be possible without a community who kept you up when you were falling. Every comment, every share, every purchase - they were all like these little silent whispers saying “Keep going, we believe in what you’re doing for new orchestra music. You can’t stop now”.
So I want to say thanks. I’m so glad you enjoy my work and that this idea is creating a glimmer of hope in the orchestral repertoire.
To sum up this post, I want to say to other artisans - you have to keep on going. Your DeviantArt drawings, music, or unpublished books are meant to be read and experienced, and it’s more DIY-accessible today than it’s ever been in history. In fact, a lot of the ideas for my music are the result from all the amazing things I see online and offline each day. Art is a melting pot, so you need to create great work so we can all add to the brew kettle. Some people need to drink from it whereas others just want to watch it and experience it. But the point is that the kettle needs to keep being added to, or it will die. Every single thing you see in this world is here because someone brought something in their brain to life.
Fluency, mastery, learning, and overcoming obstacles take decades - so you can’t give up. You have to keep on going.
VFX Artists In Hollywood And Gaming
I’ve been completely glued to this story about how visual effects (VFX) artists are combatting globalization, compensation, and their lack of a union.
Reddit has some insightful comments about this. In 1974 if you wanted Harrison Ford as the star, then there was only one way to get him - by getting HIM. But today, the Visual Effects are the movie stars. So for the first time ever Hollywood can outsource their “talent” and have bidding wars for work. And there’s no VFX Union because computer VFX talent is global, unlike an actual human actor which can’t be ‘replaced’. It’s globalization, monopoly, and it’s destroying the industry, jobs, and families.
Movie Studios also set us these fake corporations to purposefully lose money per film for a few reasons (taxes, payroll loopholes, etc.). The whole thing is bizarre. More about that in this Edward Jay Epstein interview by NPR. Like, when a movie star claims to make $20 million, they actually only make a fraction of that, and the rest is based on contingency - which they rarely ever see. This is done on purpose, because they care more about inflating their salary to the public to create the impression to other studios that they’re making money, therefore the actors can stay competitive in negotiations.
So here I am, saying once again “How can Rhythm and Hues go bankrupt after their movie was a hit and won an Oscar?! Why has it gotten this bad? One reason is that the VFX houses are always crossing their fingers for a new client directly after the previous one is finished. It’s more like living paycheck to paycheck rather than having a cashflow positive influx of never ending work.
You can see how that line of work is deadly in a bidding war, because then it’s a race to the bottom. How do you keep the lights on and continually pay 700 people a salary between projects? The difference is that a high-end album can be recorded for a fraction of what it cost 30 years ago (and there were more of them), whereas a high-end movie or videogame can cost $250 million. This economic scale doesn’t allow independent filmmakers to just ‘reject’ the big studios… yet. The NY Times goes into detail about this.
There are so many other industries that VFX artists make a good living at (commercials, online videos). The work may not be as challenging, but since the beginning of time there has always been a compromise between work and play. I’m just blown away at the realities of what goes behind the scenes in the arts.
I imagine a lot of my followers are Deviant Art-types. Artists from all backgrounds, but more eclectic and adventurous (and quite intelligent too!). You should read this.
Check Your Credit Report for Free
You are entitled to a FREE credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once every 12 months. You can request all three reports at once, or space them out throughout the year.
Why It’s Important
It’s important to ensure that your personal information and financial accounts are being accurately reported and that no fraudulent accounts have been initiated in your name. Errors on your credit report can negatively affect your credit score.
What To Do If You Find Errors
Follow instructions on the credit report that explain how to dispute errors. If errors have not been corrected after you’ve disputed them with the credit reporting agency, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Get more information about disputing errors on your credit report.
“... We don’t need any more tax returns to know that Mr. Romney is an Olympic-level athlete at the tax avoidance game. Rich people don’t send their money to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands for the weather.”—Michael J. Graetz, former Treasury official under the first President Bush, in his op-ed piece: The Mysteries of Mitt Romney’s Financial Records - NYTimes.com
A lot of people have the misconception that if someone has nice things than they either 1. have rich parents 2. have a pushover husband 3. are broke 4. won the lottery. Unfortunately I never won the lottery but I’m going to share my tricks on being able to have nice things while also saving. If you’re able to save, budget and be smart with your money, you’ll be able to treat yourself to something nice every once in awhile. Now while I would die for every Chanel and Hermes bag there is, I’m not going to go in debt fighting for one. So…. my first tip is:
1. Be realistic financially. If you’re around my age (21 going on 22) you don’t need a drawer full of diamonds or a bunch of overly tight, expensive hooker clothing. Save your big spending for when you can afford it comfortably and realize that having future goals will help you work harder in the short term. So be happy with where you are at, set financial goals for your future (my goal-I will own a nice, luxury vehicle by 25) and don’t overextend yourself. Live comfortably. I would rather live comfortably with money in the bank then have a bunch of nice stuff I cannot afford at this age and live dime to dime. So Audi and Chanel…I’m coming for you in 5 years!
2. Save when you can. Alex and I went on a two week vacation which could have cost us 5 grande (yes really that much) if we weren’t smart about our money. But if you know Alex and I personally, you know that not only do we work hard for our money, but we spend that hard earned money wisely. There are websites like livingsocial.com where we scored a half off deal on our Vegas hotel!! If you’re going on a trip, livingsocial is where it’s at to find the deals on hotels, restaurants, events, etc. Plan a head of time like we did and you’ll be able to search for the best deal. ALSO we saved a bundle by purchasing restaurant certificates for literally a tenth of their price off of restaurants.com. We found restaurants in Vegas and LA and purchased about 20 gift certificates. You usually can buy a $50 gift certificate for half off but Alex and I scored the ultimate deal buy purchasing the certificates with a promo code that allowed us to buy $100, $50 and $35 restaurant certificates for $10, $5 and $2. Speaking of promo codes…. if I’m buying something online, I’m using a promo code. Either I want free shipping, 20% off or something fun. The one website I live by is retailmenot.com. There you search for promo codes for any website. Another way to save on retail is to sign up for stores’ emails. I’m on M.A.C’s emailing list and they frequently do free shipping which saves me $5 and a trip to the mall which saves me from spending more. So when you can, get a deal.
3. It’s not about what you earn, it’s about what you save. Alex has read a million finance books. Finance is a huge factor (in a positive way) in our marriage. Both our families are 100% savers. They never overextended themselves, they paid for what they needed and saved the rest of their money. My parents never bought anything if they couldn’t buy it with cash. We owned all our cars, never leased them, never bought one new. My parents paid off their mortgage at the age of 35. Alex’s parents are identical. They own everything…no payments on anything! They have taught Alex and I a lot. They have taught us to a. Buy with cash b. Purchase what you need before what you want b. Save, save, save.
4. BUDGET! I almost forgot about a key player here. Budget everything. Get a piece of paper….write down your current financial standing, add what you are forecasted to make and subject expenses. Anytime you make more money, add it in. Any time you spend money, subtract. You’re balancing your budget and by doing so you’ll be more aware of what you are spending. This may help you to cut out some unnecessary expenses like a weekly Starbucks run. I have a wrinkled up piece of printer paper shoved in my planner and it shows my monthly budget so I’m always aware of my standing. By balancing, I’m able to figure out how much ‘fun money’ I have so I can pay for the big guys’ lap dances.
I can literally talk/write about finance all day. Don’t get yourself into debt and if you are in debt then paying it off should be your top priority. Purchase what you need now and what you want later so you can buy your ‘wants’ comfortably. Treat yourself…key word is treat…so that means not every day or every week. It’s okay to get nice things but get them within reason and make sure that purchasing it isn’t setting you back financially. If it’s not going to set you back, then buy it in every color (kiddddinggg ;).
I really hate doing this but… The fact that my apartment complex is a money vampire has left me no choice.
I’ve added a donation button to my blogs so I can avoid panic attacks when it comes to my schooling throwing financial curve balls at me until I can get a job. Hopefully.
I don’t need my whole rent payment, but any aid to help me avoid 65$ in late fees, I will be eternally grateful. I will work really hard to improve and grow and do my best and prove that I am worth the aid.
Please and thank you and tons of love and candy!
Oh and panic….
It’s possible minisparks could be invited back to camp later this summer.
They have a system wherein they invite ‘all-stars’ back for one final week at the end of the camp
Several people warned me of this for her.
UHHH, that’s awesome and shit, but like, WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THAT?
We could barely pay for this week. My dad had to help send her! How the fuck can we pay for her to go back?
Of course, I developed an ulcer driving home, thinking about this. Then I thought about how maybe they won’t ask her back and then there would be no worries. And then I thought about how fucked up it is that I hope she doesn’t get asked because we’re poor.
Because those are the machinations that go on in my brain. I juggle food budget and paying utilities with mini’s success. I watch all the other girls at camp with iPhones and fancy shit and mini’s got her clothes from Savers and no phone and I just…I know she doesn’t care - she does what she loves and everything, but it’s so…
Through some sort of personal accounting snafu, I need to live on $18/day for the next 9 days. It’s almost 5:30pm today and I haven’t spent a dime so ROLLOVER HELL YES. This is dumb. I’m stupid. I know I can do it, I just hate how many dumb decisions I make. The only thing that gives me some solace is that I know most of my money lately has been going to delicious, fresh, unprocessed food and meat. But still. Stress. I think I’ll try to have a contest with myself to spend as little as possible. I should have that contest with myself every day. Sigh.
I need your help.
I have a week and three days left and we still have a little under $1,800 to come up with. You can read a little bit of my financial situation HERE.
God has made it clear to me so many times that He has me at Valley Forge for a reason. There has been so much grace extended to me and I know that it’s not in vain. So if you’re believing with me in the call God has placed on my life here at Valley Forge and if you feel led to help me out financially, it would mean the world to me if you would consider donating to me. If you’d like to donate, go to my page and click on the yellow PayPal Donate Button.
Whether you can donate or not, please keep my situation in your prayers. Again, there’s only a little over a week left and this is a bit scary but I know He will come through. Reblog to get the word out, thank you.
I'm going to be an adult for a moment and talk to you guys about An Important Thing
Namely, your finances.
OH GOD SO BORING I KNOW I’M SORRY.
But the thing is, I’m like, old. I’m 37. And I made a lot of mistakes when I was younger and I really wish someone had explained some stuff to me back then so maybe I can write a thing and help some of you guys out.
Okay so hopefully you know about stuff like having a job, getting money for said job, and you have at least a checking account. If you don’t know about these things you can ask questions. Seriously. I am not like an all knowing person but I have probably done some things you may have questions about and I can relay what I know.
Anyway, what I wanted to recommend are are two really important things I’ve found that are EASY and HUGE HELPS.
1) Please buy and read this book. UGHGH BOOKS AND IT MIGHT BE BORING I know. Really. But someone recommended this book to me a few months ago and I bought and read it and it was so extremely helpful. It was written for EVERYDAY PEOPLE of low (like, even down to minimum wage) to middle income ranges so quite likely, it is relevant to you.
For me, there were 3 parts to that book. Some of it didn’t apply to me right now but might in the future. Some parts were REALLY RELEVANT TO ME RIGHT NOW and basically revolutionized how I’m taking care of my money. And some of it was “Ugh I learned THAT the hard way and I realllllly wish I would have read this book 15 years ago” (long before it existed.) But if you’re like, 0 - 20 years younger than me there’s a lot of really good stuff in there that could really save you a lot of pains in the future.
Note that that link isn’t an affiliate link or anything. I just am recommending it because I think it’s extremely good and helpful and sincerely think a lot of people should read it.
It’s going to teach you how to divide your income to help you spend the rights amount of money on the things you need, the things you want, and how to save money, as long as you’re actually getting income. Even if your credit is terrible and you’re already in a heap of trouble financially it’ll help you get out of those problems and even talks about how to deal with creditors and the best ways to deal with your debt. If you’re barely scraping by, it’ll help you get on your feet and get some money put away. Or if you’re just starting out, it’ll help you stay out of trouble. Or if you’re like me and doing pretty well but don’t feel like you have a really solid plan and need to know WTF to do now that you’re stable and want to make sure you’re going in the right direction, it helped. The point is, seriously you guys, spend $10.20 on that book and it could really help with your financial future.
And life is really so much better when you have a plan. Even if you’re not where you want to be, even if you’re deep in trouble, having a plan to get out of trouble and/or to get where you want to be feels 100% better than ignoring it and hoping you win the lottery or it’ll all work out on its own eventually (you won’t and it won’t.)
2) Mint.com. Mint is a free site that basically organizes your financial life for you. You let it look at your accounts and you can very easily see how you’re doing financially with it. (It’s read-only, you can’t move money around with it, they use 128-bit encryption etc. It’s about as secure as it can be. If you’re worried about security, read here.) You can do budgeting, you can set goals for yourself, you can get alerts when you have major transactions happen or you get low on money in an account, all sorts of stuff. It’s kind of hard to explain everything Mint does, but it has a good explanation page here. Personally I have 5 accounts at 2 different banks for various savings and checking accounts, I always know where all my money is, and I can always easily tell what I’m spending too much money on with it.
If you don’t use Mint, then find another way to keep track of what you spend and how much you spend on it. Figure out what you spend way too much money on and how you can start getting yourself to save some. I can’t really tell you how to do this because I’ve been using Mint for many years and it works very well for me.
I could talk for a long time about all the dumb mistakes I made when I was younger. How I ruined my credit, how I paid over $4000 for a $1700 bedroom suite (and by “suite” I mean a bed frame, headboard and a dresser), how I ran up credit cards, how my parents had to bail me out, how my mom had to co-sign when I bought my house, and a lot of other really, incredibly stupid things I did. But I won’t, unless you really want me to. Don’t be dumb like I was. I know thinking about your finances is some how both boring AND scary but taking even just a few hours out learn, put some serious thought into stuff and start doing SMART things now can save you a world of hurt in the future.
Becoming an adult is really scary, and if you guys have questions or want advice about being an adult stuff, you can ask me. If this is at all helpful to you, and you want me to make more posts like this, mash like or something to let me know.
Oh, and speaking of pooey things, when I was at the aforementioned bookstore earlier, I had actually gone there to look for a specific finance book (which they ended up not having). When I asked a worker if he could direct me to the finance section, he asked “why?”.
At first, I thought this was kind of weird, because with the way he said it, he sounded less curious/helpful, and more amused and condescending, perhaps. I let it go, assuming I was reading too much into his tone, and told him I was looking for a book about personal financing and investment options geared towards women. I told him I was trying to educate myself so that I get on a good track, and can make the most of what I have.
Perhaps that sounded a little nerdy, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
He stopped and said,
“That sounds like it could be a nice hobby. It’s not something you’ll ever have to worry about though, because I’m sure your husband will take care of that”.
And then my brain exploded, blowing chunks all over the store. voihev w[wwye xvvxaj dpw9ur8y n„nou eih 3u42 wugd csv…