Writer Finances Versus The Paycheck World

Here’s an interesting and perhaps useful post from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, about the importance of managing finances if you’re a writer. Any writer other than one of the mega-bestsellers, she means.

I dip in and out of Rusch’s posts because for me they tend to be kinda tl;dr. I like long posts about complicated subjects, but apparently there are limits. Still, these can be useful posts. This is certainly a good point right here:

Here’s a piece of advice you don’t hear very often:

Pay off your house.

Seriously, my writer friends. If you get a lump sum of money, pay off your house.

Or your car.

Definitely pay off your credit cards, and take them out of your wallet. Use them only when you travel to a conference or plan to make a big purchase.

If the indie writers who made a lot of money in 2012-2014 had followed that advice, they’d still be writing and publishing. Sure, their incomes would still be down, along with their sales, but their careers would continue.

How do I know they didn’t do that?

Because they’re gone.

And then Rusch goes on for a long post about managing finances when you don’t have a steady income. The important point:

When your income is irregular and unpredictable, living like a person with a paycheck is risky. You can’t guarantee that you’ll get enough money every month to cover that month’s bills. Some months you’ll get five times what you need. Some months you’ll get no money at all. … So, for those of you who are going to get windfalls this year—and many of you will—pay off things. Get rid of your credit card bills and keep those cards at home so you don’t charge them up again. Buy your car outright or find a good used model. Move to better (cheaper) housing. Maybe buy a house with cash. Put money away for a rainy day.

Anyway . . . whether or not you click through and read the whole thing, as far as I’m concerned — and here I’m speaking as a writer who also has a good part-time job that covers basic expenses — she is totally right about everything in this post.

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