You’re tempted to ignore this post because you don’t like to think or talk about money. That would be at your peril. If you want to make more money as an artist, you can’t ignore the unpleasant stuff. Read on if you dare take care of your financial health.
Don’t rely on a spouse to take care of all the financial stuff for you. YOU need to know how to do it. You need to be aware and able to take charge if, heaven forbid, something should happen to your spouse. And I hate to even bring it up, but I’ve heard so many stories recently about people being duped out of their life savings by their spouses who made poor financial decisions. These weren’t in the paper or a television exposé, these were artists I was talking to. (“You’re in charge” is one of the 6 principles guiding my book.)
Value your work. Don’t ever discount what you do and the contribution you make. No one will value your art until you understand and embrace its worth (emotionally or financially). As much as you may despise pricing and talking about money, the fact is that art is a thing and things have an attached value (rather real or perceived). Figure out a way to get comfortable with this idea.
Keep up with your accounting each week. The further in time you get from a financial transaction, the more
likely you are to forget details, which you may need for tax purposes. Don’t let receipts stack up and bills go unpaid. Set aside a regular time that you spend with your financial records. Input your expenses and income and send out invoices, receipts, and statements. Know how much debt you owe at any particular moment and what the balances are in your checking, savings, and retirement accounts.
Use QuickBooks or some other software that allows you to track your expenses and income. Having everything in the computer will make your life beautiful. You can generate monthly reports (see next item) and tax records in the blink of an eye.
Bank online. Sign up for and know how to use your online banking, credit cards, and bill paying. These records are gifts from the money gods, which allow us to check our situation at any moment. They’re a blessing when we do our weekly accounting since we no longer have to wait for monthly statements.
Create a monthly check-in. Write down where the money came from and where it went. Compare it to previous months and analyze trends. Try doing this on the 5th of the new month for the previous month.
Start a financial support group. It doesn’t have to be an investment group, although investing could be part of it. There are four of us in a group we call Rich Women (founded by Cynthia Morris). Each month we get together and talk personal and business finances. We give ourselves homework to do before our next meeting. Sometimes, this homework doesn’t get done until the last minute, but who cares? If it takes a deadline to tackle (and I do mean tackle!) this stuff, so be it.
If your finances are complicated, consider investing in a bookkeeper. Hiring a bookkeeper over a year ago was one of the best business decisions I ever made. I’m pretty good with my finances, but my books had become a mess because I couldn’t really keep up with the numerous daily Internet transactions as well as the in-person sales, workshops, and more. I was doing my best guess as to where things should go and how they should be coded. I love having a partner to help me figure all of this out and it’s not a huge expense.