For those of us who feel we were born to be writers, the uncertainty and struggle of a writer’s life isn’t enough to keep us from pursuing it. That said, we still need to pay the bills. Don’t let your literary aspirations come to a full stop by a swiftly dwindling bank account. Prepare yourself financially for a life of writing with these three tips:
Create a Budget and Quit Shopping for ‘Fun’
Calculate your living expenses and create a budget you can stick to. Yes, this means the days of impulse shopping are over. Research shows that when you buy something on impulse, biochemical changes occur in your brain that give you a high. So, when you do buy things on impulse, you’re likely chasing the high, despite the fact that it is short-lived and can result in significant debt later.
Avoid this phenomenon by building in days of indulgence into your budget. Instead of gaining pleasure from purchasing something new, take pride in your discipline and ability to stick to your budget. You’ll find an easy-to-use budget calculator at YouCanDealWithIt.com.
Before You Borrow, Take Stock of Your Assets
When you’re staring at an empty coffee cup and a barren fridge, it’s tempting to consider taking out a loan. Before you do, consider this: Personal loan interest rates currently sit between 12 and 21 percent a year, according to Deal4loans.com. The rate you get depends on your credit history, income and geographical area, but even if you come in at the low end, you’ll end up paying hundreds or even thousands in interest by the time the loan term ends.
You may need to seek income outside of writing to lean on. This might mean that you work nights or weekends so you can write on the weekdays or vice versa. This work need not be glamorous, but it is crucial to your survival. Besides, sometimes a change of environment or pace can help you get out of a writing rut and provide fodder for your novel. To come up with extra money to meet expenses while you write, consider any of these ideas:
- Search for freelance writing gigs online. Freelance Writing Jobs has comprehensive listings for all types of writing and blogging.
- Sell any unused household items, exercise equipment or collectibles on Craigslist or eBay. There’s a great guide to starting your own eBay business on Dummies.com.
- Get a second job until writing gigs pick up, or start your own side business—babysitting, dog-walking and housecleaning services are good ways to bring in quick cash. Entrepreneur has a detailed article on starting your own pet-sitting or dog-walking business.
- If you receive regular payments from an annuity or structured settlement, you may be able to sell all or some of your future payments for a lump sum of cash now. Learn more about selling your future payments on J.G. Wentworth’s Twitter feed.
Don’t Forget to Save
Nearly one in three Americans isn’t saving any money for a future emergency, the Wall Street Journal reports. Make it your goal to save as much as you can from every paycheck, so eventually you’ll be able to devote most of your time to writing. To put things in perspective, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median income for writers in 2012 was approximately $56,000, a goal that is well worth your struggle. For a simple savings calculator, visit Bankrate.com. And if you still can’t get the motivation to save, read finance expert Dave Ramsey’s article on the secret to saving money.
Heeding this advice can set you up for financial success and give you the peace of mind necessary to create the next great novel.
Derek Thompson says
Another tip I’d offer is to do a skills and knowledge evaluation, since those will be the engine for turning your literary dreams into reality. Whether you plan to write fiction, or non-fiction, or a combination of the two, it’s important to understand your strengths and to see where there might be an opportunity to find a lucrative niche.