Where to get the Basics of Finance

Chances are you are not going to decline financial education because you think you already know everything about it. It is more likely that you are avoiding the issue entirely, because you know you don’t know the first thing about it yet it is just too darn scary and overwhelming. As people from many other walks of life, we artists tend to be great excuse-makers when it comes to financial education. We can come up with some gems that generally fall into two different categories:

The “I’m not ready” category may say things like I don’t have any money, I’ll start looking at that once I get more financially stable, that type of stuff is for people who are already earning, I’m too stressed right now to think about the future, I have to focus on just making a living etc.

The “I don’t need that” category might say, I already have a good job, I make plenty of money, I already have savings (a retirement plan, investments, etc.), I don’t have a lot of/any debt, I’m not interested in being rich – I just want to pursue my art etc.

So why do we need to be financially educated? Well, first and foremost we need to ensure financial security and safety for ourselves and our families. While it is true to a certain extent that money does not buy happiness, we live in a society in which we need money to live. Most of us no longer grow our own food, build our own houses, or make our own clothes. We must have money to buy these things.

There are those of us with the attitude that when we “get that big break” and achieve financial success, we’ll simply hire someone to manage our finances for us. Consider this; in these days of information availability, when we go into a car dealership to buy a car, don’t we already have a knowledge of the safety rating of the vehicle and what the mileage is, not only of the car we are looking at, but of the competitors as well?

Don’t many of us go into the doctor’s office already having used the internet to get an understanding of what is ailing us, and with a possible diagnosis already made?

So why would we blindly hand over our entire financial existence to someone, and just expect that person will work miracles with our money? Why would we trust someone with our hard-earned cash and our assets with no knowledge of what they may do with the money or what types of risks they may take with it?

The fact is that even if you are thinking of hiring someone else to manage your money, you will want to have the necessary knowledge to be sure they are doing a proper job of it.

No matter who we are, there will always be financial demands on us. This may be even truer of artists. Take actors for instance. We have talked about the crucial list of expenses an actor has: headshots, acting classes, workshops, mailings, websites, reels, etc. Or take the painter: brushes, palettes, canvases, easels, paint, etc You need to know how to plan for these expenses so that you don’t end up spiraling into debt.

The first step really is admitting that there’s a problem. We spend so much time and energy pretending. Here in Los Angeles, where I live, everyone feels a pressure to “look good”. We drive nice cars, wear expensive clothes, keep on a happy face, and in the mean time many of us are buried under credit cards. Many of us are afraid to just be honest about the fact that things aren’t perfect and start looking for the knowledge and skills that will help us to improve our situation. Until you have genuinely reached the place where both time and money are no longer issues in your life there is more that you can learn and more that you can do in terms of your finances.

Financial education is not just about finding a great job or learning to invest or getting out of debt. It’s about the whole picture. What is your relationship with money? Do you know how to get financially organized? Have you developed a powerful financial plan that will allow you to meet all of YOUR goals and desires? Do you have an individual debt plan? Do you know how to start making your money work for you? Do you have an awareness of all of the investment possibilities and which ones suit your personality, interest, and skills? Do you have a community of people who will support you in your financial goals?

In today’s society, financial education is as basic as learning how to read and write. Unfortunately, this is a part of education that young people are lacking and as a result many of us grow up not knowing how to manage our financial lives. We end up living paycheck-to-paycheck and dreaming of someday. We can make today someday, or at least ensure that someday shows up next week or next month instead of some far distant future of which we can’t even conceive. However, it is up to each of us to do something about it. No one can change our financial futures and well being except us. So take some time to write down your excuses and look at them for what they really are. Then discard them from your mind and start on your path to financial knowledge and stability.