I recently came across a book in an Op shop by Noel Whittaker called “Making Money Made Simple” and thought for $1, why not? Expecting a dry old tome about financial markets for high income earners, the book was instead surprisingly easy to read and offered lots of good advice that can apply to anyone.
From experience, most artists survive from one sale/commission/grant/exhibition to the next by working in another industry, or having a supportive family. The previous post was about exploiting our own IP (intellectual property) as a way of making another income stream, but how about planning for the future?
Artists are great at making what looks like a large amount of money, and then nothing for long stretches of time, so it’s either feast or famine! Bills pile up in between so when the money does come in, it goes straight out again. This way of living isn’t conducive to putting money aside for emergencies, let alone for a comfortable future.
Whittaker starts by saying that it doesn’t matter how much money we make, everyone makes a different amount and still has trouble living within their means. So the problem isn’t how much money we make, but spending up to that amount. The problem with spending all we make is that there is no money for emergencies, and we end up borrowing to pay bills, which then sets up a cycle of debt.
Whittaker’s solution is to retrain our way of thinking. Set a percentage of our income aside for paying down debt, emergencies, savings and retirement as if we were paying a bill. Direct debit from our account as soon as we are paid, so the money isn’t there to spend.
Instead of just drifting from one pay to the next, we are told to set goals. To actually think about what we want to achieve financially and then follow the steps to achieve it, one at a time. He introduces the idea of growing your own money tree by starting small, for example 10% each pay, and then investing that amount as it grows.
He suggests prioritising paying down debt that isn’t a tax deduction as quickly as possible, then direct debiting the payments into a separate account as soon as the debt is paid so it is kept aside for saving. Any extra amount paid on a debt reduces the amount of interest and speeds up the term of repayment. The money that would have been lost over time is now working for you.
He talks similarly about renting versus buying a home. In Adelaide it’s still possible to buy a unit for under $200,000 or a house under $300,000. It seems a lot of money, but not when you consider the amount that disappears in rent each week that could be paying a mortgage.
There is another section on borrowing for investment but I thought the most useful advice was about how to pay off debt and save. There are chapters on various forms of investment and the advantages and disadvantages of term deposits, property investment, shares and trusts, all in easy to understand language.
Whittaker repeats throughout the book, that the amount of money isn’t the issue, but the discipline to save, even a small amount, each pay. He suggests drawing up a budget and taking on small jobs to make extra money, such as newspaper delivery or cleaning, to emphasise that every little counts. The book ends with advice to people at all stages of life, so the message is it’s never too early or late to start growing your nest egg.