How to Become a Full-Time Writer: Finances

Everything about being a struggling artist boils down to this - How can I pursue my dream and still afford to live? It's no secret that authors, even published ones, rarely make a substantial profit. Most still work 9-5 jobs in order to pay the bills. It's a hard life for any artist. Between the near-constant rejection, bad reviews, countless disappointments, failed manuscripts, and many hours of working without pay, it's a wonder anyone chooses to become a writer. But the truth of the matter is, we don't chose to be writers. It chooses us. Some of us from a very early age.

I've been truly blessed to be able to pursue my dream full-time. I can write to my heart's content and edit my literary journal without the concern of finances. As great and freeing as this is, there are sacrifices that have been made to make this possible. Below is a list of tips on how to become a full-time dreamer.

  • In debt? Sell everything. Create and Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay account. As financial guru, Dave Ramsey always says, "Sell so much the kids think they're next." 
  • Cut up credit cards. Yes, I said it. I promise you can still book hotels if you don't have one. We haven't had any in years and have never had a problem.
  • Shop thrifty. You can save BIG by buying appliances, cars, computers, and big ticket items off the Internet or through Craigslist. (The iMac I've typing on right now was a fantastic find on eBay for half the cost of one new!)
  • Save all your change in a jar. It adds up over the year. Great for extra Christmas cash.
  • Buy Bulk. Go ahead and invest in that Sams Club card. Buying bulk keeps you from running to the grocery store twice a week, which saves you from impulse buys.
  • But Christmas gifts year round. Many of us think we're going to to this, but actually put some effort in it. You won't be sorry, and neither will your friends. We buy better gifts when we aren't trying to buy for everyone we know at one time.
  • Simplify. Both home and closet. Limit how many items you bring into you home. I, for example, try to buy staple clothing. We all need black pants, a good pair of jeans, and a killer handbag. If you buy staple clothing, you'll find you won't have the need to shop very often. 
    • Tip: If something comes in, something needs to go out. 
  • Invest in your future. If you're a single income family, like we are, you'll need to make sure to invest enough for both of you. 
  • Give at least 10%. Nothing increases your chances of financial success more than giving. It teaches us the real value of money. Money isn't evil, only the love of it corrupts. Giving it away keeps our greed in check, and to be perfectly honest, nothing feels better than to give. Giving is a great testament to your budgeting skills. If you have it to give, you're doing something right.
  • Speaking of the B-word, you'll need to create a budget and stick with it. We use the HomeBudget app to keep up with ours. A digital, synced budget tends to work best for most people.
    • Tip: Make sure to include entertainment, clothing, books, etc. in your budget. 
  • Shop rarely and focused. Writing lists and not wandering around the aisles helps with this.
  • Treat yourself. Go ahead a purchase that Dooney (on sale, of course), but make sure it's something you'll use a lot and for many years to come. Just make sure to budget for it.
  • Live smaller. For two years my husband and I lived in a camper when we were trying to get out of debt. We were happier there, without financial burden, than we were in our nice house. Now we live in a 2BR 1B fixer-upper that we purchased for $15,000. It's certainly not our dream home, but it is allowing us to save for it.
  • Save 10%. Last year the average American saved -1% of their income. NEGATIVE! If you can't save, then something is wrong. Your finances need overhauling. We lived paycheck to paycheck for years, but after making the changes I'm including in this blog, we are finally back on track.
  • Create goals for your money. We have goals for everything else, why should finances be any different? 
    • Tip: Make sure to set realistic time frames for meeting goals. 
  • Be willing to bend but never break. Needed to buy school supplies but didn't budget enough? It's okay to bust the budget here and there, but try to pull from other areas to make up the difference. For example, for that month you may need to cut out a movie trip or wait until next month to purchase those shoes you've been wanting.
  • Finance carefully. The ultimate goal is to not finance anything, but if you need to, try to keep it reasonable. Purchase homes with a 15 year mortgage (or 7, even better). Cars 4 years.
  • Shop house/car insurance every other year or so. We've found that we get the best rates this way.
  • Pay bills online. Saves on envelopes and stamps.
  • Make your own coffee. Sorry Starbucks!
  • Never buy new furniture. If you want something in a furniture store, bring lots of cash and ruthlessly negotiate. 
    • Tip: Always negotiate bit ticket items. 
  • Eat simply. Keep recipes 5 ingredients or less, so there's no waste. Also, less ingredients = less calories. Both your pocketbook and your waist will thank you.
  • Monitor utilities. Invest in energy saving bulbs, and if you're in the South like us, buy a fan!
  • Repurpose furniture instead of throwing it out, and check flea markets for salvageable items if you need something different.
  • Borrow. Need a drill for your next project but don't have one? Borrow it. It's always okay to borrow from friends and family. Just be careful to return it in good condition and full of gas! 
  • Be willing to be weird to be wealthy. 
  • Once your finances are in order, plan a vacation once a year. Everyone needs a break.
  • Fix what's broke.
  • Make being a home owner an actual possibility. 
  • Only buy cars you're willing to keep for five years or more. If the body styles change every other year, don't buy that car. You'll be sick of it no time. Instead purchase ones who have timeless designs and still look good after 10 years. (Prius, VWs, Tahoe, Jeep, etc.) A paid off car drives better than a financed one.
I hope you've found some of these helpful. It's not impossible to be a full-time dreamer. It just takes a bit of planning and sacrifice. Living below your means can not only help you attain your artistic dreams, it will also help you tackle your financial ones.

Have more money saving ideas? Share with us in the comment section.