Upgrade your finances!: 1 book 📖, 1 tool 🔧, + 1 action ⚡

I was 8 months pregnant and at a 3-day money mindset retreat in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It was cheesy and ever so slightly culty, but that’s how much I wanted to make some serious headway in my financial life. I’d entertain and try almost anything!

That was more than 10 years ago and, while I still believe there’s a place for visioning where you want to be in 5 years, I’m happy to say my financial life is based on more than vision boards and affirmations. It now includes solid knowledge, tools, and habits.

As a business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers, I know that financial worries are not an isolated experience. One of the biggest challenges my clients share with me is not earning enough consistent income. This challenge is often supported by a whole bunch of beliefs that don’t serve them, including:

  • Inconsistent/low income comes with freelance/entrepreneurial territory
  • If you’re not working, you don’t deserve to be paid (an hours-for-dollars mentality)
  • Financial insecurity is the price of creative autonomy and personal freedom
  • You’re not good at business and therefore incapable of making more money
  • If you stay small you will avoid risk
  • Making and managing money is hard

I’m happy to say that on my journey from money ostrich to financially literate and (mostly) fiscally responsible human, I’ve gathered an arsenal of robust resources, tools, and practices that work and I’d like to share a few of them with you today.

Read on for three tried and tested steps that will put you on a  path to financial freedom (and well away from hotel conference rooms and charismatic leaders!)

During my career as a business coach for creative professionals, I’ve come to learn that conversations about money are rarely about money. How we make, spend, and save money has everything to do with our upbringing, stories, dreams, and fears, and very little to do with our capacity to make and manage money.

Being financially successful is not about becoming a boring, budget-following, no-fun Nellie. Real freedom lies in understanding what’s important to us, what makes us tick, and where we need wiggle room to ensure we don’t fail.

The resources and suggestions I’m sharing below were chosen because they take all of this into account. We’re weird and wonderful creatures and our financial strategy needs to reflect that.

Resource #1: The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

I’ve read A LOT of money books. From pure mindset books like Jen Sincerro’s, You Are a Badass at Making Money to financial advice from old-timey fellows like JL Collins, author of The Simple Path to Wealth. I learned something from all of them, but the reason I’m recommending The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel is its deep dive into the complex, often irrational relationship between folks and money. 

Housel shines the light on the behavioral aspects that influence financial decisions, making personal finance more about understanding and managing one’s behavior rather than numbers. Using a mix of anecdotes, historical examples, and psychological insights, Housel illuminates how factors such as personality, time, and the ability to learn from mistakes play crucial roles in our financial success. What I love most about this book is its departure from the conventional wisdom (which we all know, but can’t seem to apply), instead encouraging us to embrace a more realistic and sustainable approach to wealth. It’s money made human.

If you prefer short form intro to Housel’s philosophy, check out his blog post: The Art and Science of Spending Money

Resource #2: YNAB (You Need a Budget) app

Before you scroll on by this step, stay with me. I’m the kind of person who does NOT love poring over spreadsheets, capturing every teeny tiny expense in a notebook, or trying to talk myself out of every fun purchase.

Nope, not for me. 

And so, when I finally tried YNAB (You Need A Budget) I was immediately hooked.

What I like most about the app is its flexibility. YNAB lays out a set of guiding principles that form the foundation of its budgeting philosophy, empowering users to manage their money more effectively and make more informed financial decisions. Those principles are:

Give Every Dollar a Job: Ever feel like your money just disappears? Prepare for that to change with this philosophy. YNAB encourages users to allocate funds to various categories such as rent, groceries, savings, and debt repayment. When you give every dollar a job, you know exactly where it goes.

Embrace Your True Expenses: YNAB emphasizes planning for future expenses by setting aside money for irregular and unexpected costs. By anticipating and saving for infrequent expenses like car repairs or annual subscriptions, users can avoid financial stress when these expenses arise.

Roll with the Punches: Flexibility is key in budgeting, and YNAB is set up to help you adjust your budgets as needed. If overspending occurs in one category, funds can be reallocated from another to cover the difference. This flexibility is, for me, a game-changing difference from more rigid methods.

Age Your Money: With a focus on breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck/feast or famine cycle, so many freelancers experience, YNAB encourages you to “age” your money, meaning: when the money in your account has been there for 30 days or more, that is an indication that you’re building that all important buffer. 

Understand Your True Priorities: YNAB encourages you to align your spending with your values and long-term goals. When you’re intentional about where your money goes, you can rest easy, knowing your financial decisions reflect your true priorities.

If you’re interested in checking YNAB out, visit their website and check out the free 30-day trial. You can use my referral link here. There’s a bit of a learning curve and setup time, but it’s SO worth the effort. I’ve never felt clearer about my money or had a more flexible way of working with it.

Resource #3: Define your CORE offering

OK, we’ve talked about how to get your financial stuff together. This is where we talk about how to make the money.

Hands up if you have a bunch of services and/or offerings. 🙌🏽

If your services page reads like a menu of capabilities you’re not alone. It may feel counterintuitive to reduce your offerings, aka leaving money on the table, but if you want to work with fewer, better clients, this is the way to go.  

Here are a few suggestions for paring back your offerings so you can focus on the ones that generate the highest revenue while allowing you to maximize your resources of time, energy, focus, and money.

  • Write down everything you offer and do for your clients. It’s a pretty big list, right?
  • Circle the things you love to do the most. These are usually the things that you’re great at and come most easily to you. Note: These may include “soft” skills e.g. you’re great at connecting dots, brainstorming, helping clients articulate/define their needs, etc. Don’t discount these because they’re not hard skills or a deliverable. They count!
  • Cross out all the things you don’t like, are not good at, drain your resources, or that you “throw in” but are not being compensated for. 

Look at what’s left and ask yourself:

  • How do these offerings add value? To whom? (think client profile, role within an organization, etc.)
  • What problems do these services make disappear?
  • What goals/objectives do these services fulfill?
  • What gaps do they fill in a business or organization?
  • How would this give your clients more time to work in their zone of genius?
  • How might they be packaged into a project, process, or complete service?
  • How long would it take to deliver (on average)?
  • What rate could you charge for that project, process, or service? (no hourly rates allowed!)

Rule of thumb: If your offerings could be completely interchangeable with a freelancer charging an hourly rate, there’s an opportunity to define more value using the criteria above.

I know this might feel overwhelming. You’re not alone! Service design and pricing is one of the most challenging components in building your own creative business.

Need help? I’ve got you covered! There are two ways I can help you build a creative business that meets your financial goals and keeps you in your sweet spot of doing the work you love and are great at!

The Grow Your Creative Business coaching program will help you build a solid foundation for your creative business, including positioning, messaging, marketing, and business model and structure.

A One-day Intensive (virtual or in-person) is perfect for tackling a specific challenge/growth opportunity in your business (such as designing and pricing your services).

Interested in getting support as you grow your business in 2024? Let’s chat!

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