Gail Vaz-Oxdale

Money Matters

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I grew up in an immediate family of business people. People with a head for numbers and finances. Something that as an artist has never interested me in the slightest. I just wanted to perform and make shows. Who cares about money, man? The Universe will provide for me, right? No worries!

My mom was always on my case about my finances, probably because I was always asking to borrow money. By the time I turned 30, I was at my lowest point. I was broke, often bouncing cheques, heavy into debt, and even though I owned a condo, I was virtually homeless. I felt alone, was prone to depression, and making my mom sick with worry that I couldn't even function in society.

That's when something kind of snapped and I started taking control. Counterintuitively, I quit a job that was making me miserable and called around to former employers I liked. By the next week, I had a new job for the summer, finished Roller Derby Saved My Soul and moved to Toronto in the fall. I then took a good, long look at my finances and realized I was still fucked. So I took the advice of the wonderful Gail Vax-Ozdale. I could spend less or make more money. Well, it really wasn't possible to spend less, so I went the other route. I made the very grown-up decision to get a full-time job (and then cried for a week in the bathroom that I had to have a "real" job.)

I turned things around.

That was three years ago. Now, as I near another birthday, I am proud of what I've accomplished and entering a new stage of financial management & education. I now have a company and staff to take care of. I'm currently funding everything out of pocket thanks to my "joe job" and my head swims as I move through budgets and payroll and remittance and I owe the government how much?

But every time I start feeling crazy lost in everything, I think back on those super dark days and remember how I got out of it. I took control. So, I go back to the budget, even though it's the last thing I want to look at, and I play around with the numbers. And I feel better.

It hasn't always been smooth. I still sometimes cry in various bathrooms. But I'm figuring it out.

Because in the words of the phenomenal and inspiring Danielle Laporte, I'll figure it out.

Thanks, Mom. I'm sorry it took me this long to hear you.

Freedom 31

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I've always been a big fan of the Til Debt Do Us Part lady, Gail Vax-Oxlade. I'd watch her show with my sister  (because I still don't have cable) and read one of her books. One thing she talks about really struck a chord with me was that to get out of debt, you need to do one or two things: 1) spend less money and/or 2) make more money.

It seems really self-evident, but it's a practice that has taken me well over two years to put into practice. If 2011, the year of Hobo Kenny, taught me anything it was that I could live very frugally. 2012 though was the year of make more money. For the entire year, I typically worked 2 to 3 full-time jobs at a time, putting in many 16 to 18 hours days. Of course, the main difference from my usual schedule of working multiple jobs at the same time was that this year I was paid for all of it.

And I am proud to say that for the first time since however long I've had a credit card, I am finally FINALLY out of credit card debt.

Now, I don't know your financial situation, but this debt load I carried oftentimes felt crippling and resulted in my borrowing money and leaning on the generosity of a lot of very amazing people for a very long time. It is an absolute f'n relief to know that I am through that tunnel.

It wasn't easy. I am tired, burnt out even and in desperate need of a vacation.  But the work I've put in has allowed me to set other things in motion. Things that will grant me the opportunity to lessen my "joe job" workload and focus on the career that really matters to me: Creating, Performing, Entertaining.

Big things are in store for 2013 and I look forward to moving through them with a clean slate.