I am so lucky that I have been able to create art and music and fulfill my passions through my job for the past 11 years. But I’m stupid enough to have put all my eggs in one basket. It is now the only thing I can do to make money. I’m 33 years old and I can’t make coffee. I don’t know how to use Excel, or bartend, or wait tables, and I’m officially too old to join the police force. I’ve lost the confidence to go back to school and feel stressed out about impending debt when I think about further education for even one second.
I have several jobs within the music industry as of now: bands, DJing, remixing and even writing music for other artists. I’m a workaholic and have my hands in a bunch of different places. But, all these jobs have unstable incomes. I don’t get a salary; I don’t know how much money I will make next month, next year or five years from now. I don’t have health insurance. And I live with the stress of not knowing, not planning and not understanding whether or not I will ever be able to reach my goals of having a family and feeling safe financially. When I say “safe,” I mean safe. I mean basics. I mean health insurance that is good enough for me to take care of myself, not just if I need a $10,000-dollar, life-threatening procedure. I mean dental care. I mean saving money in a retirement fund so that I can take care of myself when I’m 80 years old. Clearly, there is a difference between survival and luxury.
Like so many teenagers, I believed in the “American Dream,” that I could move to New York from the Midwest and become an artist. I would achieve both fame and success, and I would never have to think about money. The first half was true. I made art and lived activism, and I achieved amazing amounts of success that I feel incredibly proud of. The second half, not so much. I have been able to live well, eat well, invest in my arts and make my own schedule, but I forgot to save money and think about my future…