Hello, lovelies! And welcome back to the blog. Today’s post is a bit of a random one that I hadn’t planned to write this month, as it’s–as it often is here–personal. But, I thought it an important one to write, for some context and explanation, in regards to my transparency and finances; most namely, why I am so transparent about financial need when I hype my editorial services.
So, let’s dive in!
So, I live in the wonderful (sarcasm, so much sarcasm) capitalist society that is America. In some ways, I feel like I could stop the post here after that sentence, as that’s all the context you need. But, because transparency is important to me (I’ll get to that in a bit), here’s a bit of context of my current financial situation, as much as I’m comfortable with:
- Currently work a full-time day job as an academic advisor
- Went to the same university for undergrad and accrued 21K in student loans
- Since I graduated in 2015, I’ve paid $12K, yet still owe $18K, thanks to interest
- Living situation is a rental that is overpriced, thanks to being in a college town
- If I didn’t live and split utilities and rent with my partner, I couldn’t afford to live where I do
- Also have roughly $6K of credit card debt, that is 90% medical related
- My health insurance plan was cancelled, so now my health insurance option has quadrupled in monthly cost taken from my paycheck
Using my budget tracking method, I calculate that, from my day job, I’m able to cover my “every day” expenses: my rent, utilities, phone and internet, groceries, that sort of thing. After all of those things, I have roughly $200 left over for spending or saving. However, that doesn’t include my student loan payment of $300 a month, which is due to continue in May.
So, truly and realistically, despite working 40 hours a week, I live very close to paycheck to paycheck if working my day job alone.
So, a true, valid reason I started freelance editing in August of 2019? I hate living paycheck to paycheck, which has been what I’ve always done, ever since I went into the work force full-time seven years ago.
Yet, in the past few years, we’ve had some hiccups that has complicated this even further. Namely:
- 3 vet trips (including one emergency) in the first 2 years of my dog’s life, totaling over $2,000
- 1 vet trip for our cat that was $1,000 after he ate some ribbon *facepalm*
- 2021 was the Year of the Medical for me, as I:
- developed a chronic disability that has taken 3+ years to diagnose and, this year alone, cost almost $2,000 to treat (after insurance)
- Had a cancer scare that was $700 to confirm was benign (after insurance)
- due to toxic work stress, developed gastrointestinal issues that are ongoing and still not diagnosed
And, the latest in the medical saga, all from a chipped tooth that was neglected and then worsened to this point due to not being able to afford the original recommended $350 treatment due to already dealing with the aforementioned medical costs:
So, each time the above happened, it goes on my credit card, because I don’t make enough to pay out of pocket. Which is why I’m $6K in the hole.
Sometimes, when I promote my editorial services, as I did above, I mention this. And now, finally to the whole point of this post: why am I so transparent about finances, especially when it comes to when I struggle?
Why the Transparency?
Good question! The reason I’m so transparent about this…well, there are a few reasons, actually. Such as:
- Breaking the cycle of financial secretiveness: We’ve all heard this, right? Don’t discuss your pay with your colleagues. Bringing up savings or debt in general conversation? Unheard of. Publishing is a great example of this: don’t discuss what you make, what your advance was, any details about your royalties. It’s all seen as “unprofessional,” when, in reality, it’s just a tool to keep the poor struggling–especially when the poor are from marginalized backgrounds and identities.
- This does not mean that if you don’t talk about this or if you aren’t as transparent as I am that you are wrong!!! I want that to be very clear. I’m speaking more that we are conditioned to believe we’re wrong if we speak about it and I don’t like that conditioning.
- Imposter syndrome and validity: This is perhaps the most complex of my answers, but also the most honest. I deal with a lot of imposter syndrome, especially as a creative. Since freelance editing is a creative endeavor for me–and I list it at rates that are not down playing the huge amount of time and work I put into it; it’s no surprise that I feel imposter syndrome here, as well. I struggle to promote. Sometimes, I feel the need to justify why I promote all of the time, fearing how people will respond or that I am being “annoying” (hello, there you are, anxiety). So, being transparent about where the money I earn from editorial works goes help justify, in my brain, all the promotion.
- It’s important to me: The most simplistic of reasons. It’s simply important to me. I try to be transparent in all things: how I’ m feeling, why I’m struggling, what I need. Finances are just another part of that.
Hell, this entire post is actually fueled by that imposter syndrome (but also my anxiety). Every time I promote myself, I get anxious about the response. That anxiety doubles whenever money is involved (which, it obviously is when I promote my editorial services or my Patreon). Because money is a resource that I’ve never been in a positive relationship with, now or growing up. So, asking for it–even when I’m providing a service and earning it–is hard for me.
Perhaps that’s where my transparency truly comes from. The fear of letting others down and their negative reactions or response to me leads me to be more honest and open than you might traditionally see (or want, frankly). I’m not 100% sure, but I do know it’s a part of me. And now you know it, too.
Thanks for reaching such a long, personal post, friends. Also: this post is in no way a call for pity! That is never my intention when I share any from my medical or debt journeys (which have become interlinked). Take care. 🖤
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From an outsider’s point of view, the US health system is just totally awful and insane. I live in fear of what seems to be our government’s obsession with having something similar in the UK. I hope your health stays good in 2022!
Gods, I hope with every fiber of my core that the UK doesn’t try to do something similar to American healthcare. It’s bullshit at every level.
Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies says
This is a really important post, and I appreciate your honesty! It’s shameful that you have to go into debt to afford necessary medical care in this day and age, but I recognize that that’s the reality for so many people, even with insurance. I wish you all the best with your editing business as well as wishing you good health.
Thank you so much, Lisa. You are always so incredibly kind and it really means a lot. Thank you so much.
I hate it here.