At numerous points in my life, I’ve relied on credit cards to keep me afloat. Through times of feast and times of famine, taking on more debt allowed me to further invest in my creative practice and entrepreneurial pursuits. I have a high tolerance for risk and, at times, what I’m sure could be called a delusional amount of optimism. With no map or clear financial guidance, I did what I felt I needed to do to keep moving the work that mattered to me forward.
Beyond credit cards, student debt and personal loans have also helped me continue on the path that I’ve chosen for myself. Despite initial help from my parents, my art school degree still cost me $90,000 at the end of the day. Not to mention the somatic debt I also accrued. Later, I took out a personal loan to help me pay for my coaching certification through Integral Coaching Canada even though I still have about 15% of my initial student loan left to repay.
One of the challenges of being ahead of the curve is that sometimes the money isn’t there and the window of opportunity is closing fast. This was certainly the case when I became a yoga teacher and then a coach 10 years later. Both were sizeable investments at the time and both were worth it. I entered these industries right when they were becoming more mainstream and regulated but hadn’t yet been saturated by other professionals.
My ability to take on, pay off, and then take on more debt comes down to luck and privilege. I move through the world aware that I will always have access to financial support if I need it. And while financial independence is important to me, I have turned to credit cards and loans from family members on numerous occasions. I justified my actions with the excuse that it was in the service of my work. It was an investment in advancing my career.
When I turned my full attention to building out my creative and coaching practice earlier this year, I knew I had enough between my savings and a personal loan to be able to let go of my freelance writing clients. I thought that the project—my first online class—would only take me a few months to build. When it went way over my original deadline and budget, I once again found myself using my credit card to make ends meet.
This time was different, however. Because my way of being with money has changed. Building financial wellbeing means that scraping by in the service of my creative work is no longer desirable or acceptable. At the very least, I need to keep my head above water without taking on more debt. So I took on more coaching and consulting work instead. And unlike previous times, prioritizing making money didn’t feel like defeat.
Being able to focus almost exclusively on my creative work for eight months was a gift. It did a lot to heal my creative wounds from six years ago. And while I could have pushed harder to finish the project earlier, I’ve instead had the corrective experience of creating balance in my creative practice. So, even though the last piece of my project might take a bit longer to finish, I am relieved that my head gets to stay above water while that happens.
So, what do you need to keep your head above water financially?