As a Millennial and a creative, I am no stranger to living paycheque-to-paycheque. Or contract gig to contract gig. I’ve never had consistent income and, for a long time, this made planning for my financial future feel impossible. What’s more, I wasn’t motivated by goals like being able to buy a house or even to save for retirement. Mostly, I just wanted to get out of debt so I could invest in my creative practice fully.
The only time I knew for sure how much money I was going to be making was when I worked for 6-months for a corporation while in Australia. It was one of those companies that got its employees to set personal, professional, and health goals in one, five, and ten year increments. I did the exercise—I am a Capricorn who loves to plan—but beyond the one-year goals, I couldn’t honestly tell you where I wanted to be in five or ten years.
Just a few weeks ago, I was listening to this podcast and the guest being interviewed said he started saving for an engagement ring while he was still single. Which got me thinking about the ways we use things to give structure to our financial planning. On top of that, we decide who we’re going to become and then build our financial reality to make that vision a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach and I know that for me, it doesn’t work. Regardless of who I plan on becoming, life seems to have other plans. I figured out I was queer in my late 20s and, not long after that, uncovered the driving narrative that was making it impossible for me to fully commit to my creative practice. Over the course of 12 months, I was given new information that completely changed my personal, professional, and financial trajectories.
As much as I love reading and listening to podcasts about financial planning, I get how so much of what’s being offered in these resources doesn’t resonate with creatives. Some of us just aren’t all that motivated by stuff or simply struggle to give a shit when environmental collapse seems imminent. And the paycheque-to-paycheque cycle continues. We don’t fit into traditional financial planning models so we just don’t plan.
As an antidote to existential angst, disdain for capitalism, and feeling unseen by the financial planning world, working with short timelines might help you to find your financial footing. Start with the next 12 to 18 months of your life. Set some micro-goals for yourself. Pair everything down so that it feels impossible not to succeed. Then start where you are with what you have. It might not be a master life plan but it is a plan. And that’s enough.
How far into the future do you set your goals so they feel possible?