To kick off the money portion of our Diaries series, we’re excited to share the weekly diary of Lacy Green, a freelance musician and a part-time traffic manager for StyleBlueprint. Find out how she manages her money and more about her no-spend challenge.
The thought of talking about money has always been anxiety-inducing for me. If you complain about your finances, you come off as ungrateful. If you celebrate them, you come off as insensitive. Growing up in the South, the solution in my house was to not talk about it at all. Still that question lurks in every unexpected bill, every friend’s perfectly curated new home or pretty much any time I have to pay for paper towels. How does everyone else afford all this?
For context, I’m 29 and have two jobs. One part-time with a fixed income, and the other as a freelance musician. My income from live shows, publishing royalties and merchandise sales varies month to month, which can make budgeting tricky. I usually conservatively plan to work within a budget of $3,200 a month.
My fixed expenses are a mortgage and utilities (that I split with my boyfriend), student loans, health and auto insurance, a cell phone plan, groceries, gas, an Apple music subscription and a monthly website fee. That all adds up to around $1,500 a month. I don’t have any children or pets, I don’t have a gym membership or a credit card, and I paid my car off this past winter. Here’s what a week of spending (or not) looks like in my life.
On Monday afternoons I grocery shop for my boyfriend and me. I have a weekly budget of $70 per week. In reality, it usually averages out closer to $80 (because wine). Still, this is an area where I feel really lucky. We eat fresh, healthy food without breaking the bank, and I don’t take for granted how fortunate that makes us.
I have a weekly gig performing at a hotel downtown. Without warning, management has decided to change my method of payment from cash to check. I wouldn’t mind except that was a month ago, and I still haven’t received payment. They owe me almost $1,200. While I have savings to fall back on, these are the sort of instances that make freelance budgeting so hard. If you have self-employed friends who hesitate to commit to long-term plans or dinner at that fancy new place in town, maybe go easy on them. You never know what curveball may have been thrown their way this month.
Today I’m getting my hair done for the first time in six months and replenishing my makeup supply. A few months ago, I sprung for a pricey foundation, having convinced myself this is what grown-up women wear, but this time I am struggling to justify it. I can’t help wondering how other women my age seem to afford regular manicures, mircro-blading, eyelash extensions, etc. I’m also a little jealous thinking how my boyfriend will never waste time or money cost comparing mascaras. I briefly consider abandoning all societal norms in defiance, but ultimately settle for the drugstore brands instead. For the day I come out to around $200.
A trip to the optometrist plus a new pair of glasses costs me $160. I’m thankful I don’t have larger, more pressing health concerns, but I’d rather have a new pair of shoes.
On Friday evening some friends come over for drinks and a potluck-style dinner. We sit around the living room laughing and playing songs. It costs virtually nothing, and I feel rich.
I’m in the studio working on my next record and am often faced with the question of how to best invest in myself. From new pedals to professional photos, it’s hard to know where to splurge and where to cut costs. The music business is a tough one, and sometimes it feels like money is a big difference maker in people’s success. Is that true or just an excuse? Either way, I’m troubled that I feel this way.
I like to challenge myself to at least one no-spend day a week. As a young person in a busy city I feel like I say no to a lot. The mid-day coffee. The 20% off email. The paid parking lot. These are admittedly small negotiations. A no-spend day keeps me sensitive to the things I really don’t need and helps me pay better attention to what I already have.
This diary was harder to write than I thought it would be. While I sometimes feel held back by money, in other areas I feel embarrassingly lucky. The swing is fast, hard and often. I realize that money and I might always have a complicated relationship, which challenges me to try and relax a little and continue distancing my net worth from my self worth.
Lacy Green is a musician living in Nashville, TN. Listen to her songs and learn more about her music on her website, lacygreen.com.
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