I’m about to drastically lower my overhead. In fact, due to a slew of realizations and events, this has become my top material priority.
Why I’m Lowering My Overhead
Changing Income and Basic Needs
First and foremost, the amount of “day job” time and effort that I am willing to give without dipping further into time I reserve for making art and trying to step up my business, as well as taking care of myself and my relationships on a personal level, is no longer adequate to cover my basic needs. A few changes all happened at once, such as lowered tips due to the slow service season, newfangled taxing of those lowered tips, and a very slow freelance illustration season which would usually serve as back-up.
Secondly, a few things that weren’t considered “basic” needs for a while are now moving up on the list of pressing matters. I need to do some truck maintenance, and get a small medical operation. I also might need to go ahead and move “get out of Austin for at least a week, by myself, for nothing but fun (not a wedding, not to see family)” into the “basic needs” list due to some impending insanity.
A Need to Invest and No Means
I’ve been presented with some opportunities lately, as well as creating my own, that are going to require an upfront investment to be able to explore. It’s become more apparent recently that a new professional level has been unlocked for me, but I’m unable to open it up due to a [pretty fixable, or at least adjustable] obstacle.
Plans and Projects
For the first time in over a year, I can see past my own nose. I’m able to look up from my immediate situation and make future plans again. And I’ve been making some! Everything I do (and don’t do) needs to be putting me toward, or at least not stand in my way of, these creative and heart-nourishing plans. I not only feel a space opening up to push forward, but I feel an immense energy to do so for the first time in so long.
Why My Overhead is Currently Sorta High
I think there’s a time and a place to sacrifice some financial freedom for material stability and comfort. At the end of last year, I really needed a place of my own. I’d never lived alone and it was on my bucket list. For one thing, Having left a long-term relationship that I thought was leading to marriage, an opportunity that I had believed to have passed by was again a viable option. For another thing, I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the total lack of control of my life and situation, and being a quite literally sensitive person, I decided that at least having some say about the sounds, smells, lighting, schedule, visuals, and generally sensory aspects of my living space would be of immense comfort. I found a place of my own (that maxed out my possible budget) within walking distance to the springs and shouting distance to the greenbelt, and I decided to go for it. It has been a wonderful, enriching, informative experience. I know I am capable of building a pretty damn nice life that is entirely my own and sustaining it, without giving up all of my time to the act of earning money, either. I gained some independence. I got to know myself outside the context of others for the first time, the parts of me that are true and the parts that are mere reactions.
How I’m Lowering My Overhead
First and most significantly, I’m giving up living alone! I am also ceasing going to therapy, which I have done (and am so grateful to have done) for the last 2.5 years or so. Those changes right there reduce my monthly expenses by almost half. I’m also selling off some stuff; downsizing my belongings (gotta make room again!)
Furthermore, it has made sense the past year to eat out more than usual, spend a little more on convenience foods at the store, and to make a bulk amount of extremely simple food to last me the week, because I was prioritizing the value of my time over the money I would save by cooking every meal, as well as the time and energy I’d spend being a little more effortful and creative in the kitchen. Well, my priorities are shifting again to spending more time on food preparation, and this will ultimately save me money (and probably improve my health again.)
Speaking of Shifting Priorities
I don’t plan on striving for a new level of asceticism. This isn't a turn toward deprivation. While I’m saving all this money in said areas, in some ways I’ll continue living quite comfortably, such as continuing to buy high quality, organic food. I’ll also feel quite comfortable going out for drinks or to a restaurant with good friends. These are part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle for me. In other ways I will actually increase my spending, by frequenting yoga classes and the rock gym again, and investing in much needed gear upgrades for my travels.
When to Lower Your Overhead
Everyone is different, and like I said earlier, there’s a time and a place to demote the value of having extra money and/or time to satisfy other kinds of needs.
Sometimes financial gain and having lots of extra money is made overly-important. You can have a very happy, satisfying, adventurous life on very little. I’ve done it. But, sometimes the desire for more financial freedom is also overly looked down upon. There is nothing wrong with valuing the material. It is a very real aspect of life, and can have very real constricting or freeing effects. Lowering your overhead is usually the quickest and simplest way to feel less constricted and more free, as opposed to making more money. Though I’m certainly not trying to say it’s the best thing for everyone to do, I thought I would highlight the red flags I spotted that lead me to believe it was the best thing for me:
The Negative Signs, Constriction
- I found myself living more and more month-to-month, just scraping by.
- I have been draining my already meager savings, what I consider to be “emergency money,” just to cover my monthly expenses.
- Not only did I not have this back-up money, I was also putting off things that are really important to my quality of life, like taking care of my truck and getting said medical operation.
- I have been devoting a large chunk of mental energy to worrying about my lack of means, and my unmet material desires.
- It’s been a very, very long time since I woke up happy. I know that I am least happy when I don’t have freedom to roam.
- I have been feeling despair, like my poverty is inescapable and inevitable, doomed to be a lifelong affliction, an impenetrable wall between me and everything I want for myself.
- I was lacking even more time, energy, and money to care for myself, my health, home, and relationships than usual.
- I’ve gone to the doctor more this year than in the last 10 years combined, and I think it’s ultimately stress related.
- I started to feel a little bit like a “money making machine,” as in, my time and energy was manifesting only in the roof over my head and food in my mouth, without very many more “fruits” to show for my hard work. I was becoming a closed loop, more and more trapped in my needs to consume what I could trade my days for, without the ability to produce for myself.
The Positive Signs: Regaining of Vital Energy
- I started thinking big, and making big plans.
- I realized I don’t have any room for spontaneity, to seize an opportunity should it arise, and I feel very ready to take such opportunities on.
- I hadn’t had any money whatsoever for fun in a while, and I feel very interested in, ready for, and deserving of fun.
- I wanted to reclaim the mental energy I’d been radiating out into the ether in the form of worry to devote to areas such as creativity, self-improvement, and helping others.
- I realized it doesn’t have to be this way, I saw my way out.
Pertaining to my last post, I got my Etsy shop up and running. It’s going to be slow-going, because I’m learning the ins and outs, and doing little bits at a time instead of trying to make it perfect all at once seems like a better approach for me. It will also mostly start out as original artwork as opposed to prints, cards, and products, because I don’t have any money to invest in those things quite yet (see above.)