FCWC BLOG

Money Workouts for Writers
1/18/2014 8:20:49 AM by: Ellie Kay

When my husband and I first got married, we had a cross-stitch “beatitude” on our wall that said, “Blessed are the poor, for they be us.”  Not only did we have $40,000 in consumer debt and two children to support, but then we added five more babies in seven years, for a total of seven kids. Then we took the show on the road and made eleven military moves in thirteen years. Nonetheless, we purposed to rearrange our finances to fit God’s definition of good stewardship and in only 2.5 years, on one military man’s income, we were completely debt free. This also gave me the freedom to begin to cobble out a life as a wannabe writer while managing a herd of kids with a military husband who was often flying in harm’s way.  God took yesterday’s challenge and turned into today’s profession.

    Twentysomething years later, God has graced me to publish fifteen books, and diversify my skill set to make a nice living as a full time author, speaker and media spokesperson. One of the most common concerns I find among those who want to develop a full time writing career is how to manage their finances in order to have the resources to fund the development of that burgeoning career. In my upcoming FCWC workshop, I’ll deal with all aspects of how to turn your writing hobby into a profession while following the money trail at the same time. But for now, let’s look at ways you can reorganize your existing finances in order to find the dollars to invest in attending a writer’s conference or fund other writer-related expenses.

 

Temporary Trimming

       For the family coping with more month at the end of the paycheck, there are several ways to trim the family budget. One of the most painless ways is to examine your auto insurance coverage. If you don’t already have higher deductibles on the comprehensive and collision portion of your policy, then request that change for a potential savings of hundreds of dollars per year. Ask your agent for all the discounts you may qualify for including non-smokers policy, drivers education courses, an alarm on your car, or credits for a good driving record.

       When times are lean, it’s a great occasion to readjust your definition of entertainment.  Rediscover the challenge of board games, enjoy the beauty of a walk in a park, or check out a new hiking trail. Instead of going out for dinner and a movie, choose one outing per week—either/or. Consider going to a matinee or a dollar theater and eat at home. Or, review the Lifestyles section of your local paper and eat at a restaurant that offers mid-week dining specials. Check the FSIs (free standing inserts) in your Sunday paper for restaurant coupons or download the free apps, Coupon Sherpa and RetailMeNot to find more deals and coupon codes.

       Being content is often a choice.  Learn to update your family’s clothing with a selection from a local consignment store. These choices can save as much as 40% on your clothing budget and some of the items are still new with the original tags present. Trade off some of your children’s clothing with another family who has kids in corresponding sizes. For example, the Brazell family has a seven-year-old boy and nine-year-old girl. They trade their outgrown clothing with the Taylor family who has a six-year-old boy and ten-year-old girl.

 

Kids Can Help More Than You Think!

       When the Hollibaugh family faced a short paycheck after a move due to some red tape—the kids pitched in! It reminded me of an episode of Little House on the Prairie, the timeless series. Pa Ingalls had an accident and couldn’t work to meet his loan note. He was set to forfeit the oxen necessary for their livelihood so Ma went to work in the fields. Baby Carrie hauled potatoes, Mary sewed for Mrs. Whipple, and Laura did Mary’s chores and brought home her schoolwork. At the end of the episode, the wealthy merchant, Mr. Oleson told Charles, “I do believe you’re the wealthiest man in town.”

       By explaining their financial situation to their kids, mom and dad enlisted their help in weathering this difficult season. The Hollibaugh kids became experts at garage sales and helped their family save tons on quality household goods and clothing. Their teens learned how to help mom save 50% on their food budget by going to CouponMom each week to find deals in their neighborhood. Your kids may not necessarily go out and get jobs, but their contribution can be as simple as not complaining about the lack of expensive snack foods or pricey entertainment.    

 

Additional Sources of Cash

       A penny saved is more than a penny earned because you don’t have to pay interest or taxes on “saved” pennies. For example, if the average family cuts their food budget by 30%, they would save around $2,500 per year. A family member would have to earn $3,100 on the economy (after social security and taxes) to make the equivalent. So, every time you save money, you earn money. Cutting back is an active contribution to the household budget. Read my blog at EllieKay.com for hundreds of tips on how to cut back in all areas.

       Sometimes there are unexpected sources of income—temporary work, an insurance premium refund, or a generous birthday check from extended family. If these additional moneys are not used for basic household expenses, then they could be immediately put in your writer’s savings account.

      Even as you are building your writer’s savings account, don’t forget to pay down existing credit card debt. By paying down debt, you avoid additional interest and thereby “earn” that extra amount each month you pay off your debts early. One of the ways we paid off our 40K in debt was to take unexpected sources of income and apply those diligently to our debt. This freed up our monthly expenses where we took the money we put toward debt and put it toward building my writer’s savings account. It can be done.

       We often “have not because we ask not,” so ask God to provide these additional sources of cash and be on the lookout for His provision so that you don’t miss it. I’ve always said that “If it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill” and if He wants you to write the word He has put on your heart to share with others, then He also has a plan to make provision for your expenses. Our part is to be diligent in our financial decisions, look for His provisions and then write the vision.

 

Ellie Kay is a regular expert on national television with ABC NEWS NOW’s Money Matters and Good Money shows. She is also a national radio commentator, a frequent media guest on Fox News, and CNBC, a popular international speaker, and the best-selling author of fourteen books including her newest release, Lean Body, Fat Wallet (Thomas Nelson, 2013)  

For money savings links, or to view Ellie’s blog, go to www.elliekay.com or follow her on Twitter @elliekay and Facebook at Ellie Kay (Public Figure) .

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