“If you don't know where you are going, any road can take you there”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
You may have lofty goals for the future. You may want to open a business, transition into another field, or simply retire off the coast of Southern Thailand and drink Mai Tais with your five closest friends.
You may even have a vague “plan” of what that road looks like. Work hard, sell lots of rooms, eventually arrive at financial freedom. But still, at the end of every month you find that there are bills left unpaid. Obligations unmet. Even credit card bills that are somehow stacking up.
What’s the disconnect?
My favorite description of this lack of connection between now and then comes from a tried and true educator and academe: South Park. The boys are trying to figure out who keeps stealing underpants, and find the Underpant Gnomes.
These industrious little creatures are busy collecting heaps of underpants, all working together and with dogged determination to make a profit.
The problem? They’re not really sure when or how that profit is going to come along.
Phase 1: Collect Underpants
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Profit.
The categories aren’t quite the same, but for dancers the same order of operations is in place:
Phase 1: Collect money (dances, rooms, tips)
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Retirement, New Business, Mai Tais, etc.
You may be making thousands and thousands of dollars a week.
Maybe you’re making hundreds, or struggling just to earn a profit at the end of the week.
However, if you’ve danced for more than a few days you probably already experienced the sinking feeling of not knowing where your money is or where it’s going. You work your a** off, go in for as many shifts as possible, and see the stacks of nicely organized ones, fives, tens, twenties, and hundreds in your clutch, your wallet, and maybe even your safety deposit box.
And yet at the end of the month you have to go in to work and make X amount of dollars just to pay the rent on time. Your bills are late, and some of them may even be in collection. Your car payment is overdue. Your savings are non-existent. The IRS is on the back of your mind.
If this is you, you’re not alone. I don’t have the statistics, but would venture to say that most dancers struggle with financial management and personal responsibility in this area of their lives. I'd venture to say most dancers do, because most Americans do.
To compound that, dancers are (for the most part) paid all in cash. We don’t have a boss, a weekly log to keep or a company wide retirement policy to keep us in check. Which means we usually don’t stay in check – for ourselves or for anyone else.
The money keeps rolling in, and we keep showing up to work and even bragging about the high nightly earnings we can book. Buy the money doesn’t stay around.
You wouldn't know that by speaking to most dancers. They're sure, convinced, certain, that they're going to make it out and onto great success.
“I’m going to start a spa.”
"I'm starting a social media company"
“I’m going to become an investor”
“I’m going to retire at 30.”
Are you sure about that?
This isn't coming from a place of judgement or negativity. I want you to. I want you to succeed and everyone around you that is worth keeping around you wants you to succeed.
But wanting to and being able to are two completely different stories. Without building the connection between our nightly earnings and our long-term financial futures, we are playing with sandcastles and calling them skyscrapers.
What does that mean? Well, without a solid foundation, you will never get a skyscraper off the ground. While lofty ideas about who you want to become can inspire you and motivate you, it is not enough to build those ideas in the sky. To get all the way up there you need a solid foundation. And before you start putting up beams and cutting wood, you need to set up that sturdy bottom shelf to support all the weight of our ambitions.
In this module, we will start to unpack what this foundation is. We’re not going to go from 0-100. This course is all about taking your time to really set the habits and foundations, so that when you get on your way they’re not a pain or a chore.
With some work, hopefully they can become habits as simple to you as drinking water, putting your keys in the same place every day, or clocking in at work.
We’re going to uncover the truths of our financial life. This means delving into our organizational system. It means delving into how we track our income, expenses, and investments. And into how we’ll reshape our system to get it in tippity top shape.
Don't go out of your way to make this hard on yourself. It's difficult work. It can take lots of time. You're not wrong or lazy if you fail along the way. The only failure is giving up on yourself, your goals, and your future.
As long as you keep coming back to it, you're on your way.
In the next lecture, we'll go over 10 Money Myths that are Holding You Back. Stick around until the end of the video for more information on the first Orca Academy Giveaway!
Call to Action: Financial Journaling
Your money needs a central hub.
Where are you storing your financial records, patterns, and information?
If the answer is something like five drawers, two old manila folders from your old science class, and a pile of receipts that's hiding in a flowerpot, it’s time to upgrade.
Before we start fact-finding, invest in a financial journal journal. While we will cover some other ways of writing down financial information, especially once we get into tracking numbers and expenses, having a place to jot down what you’re learning, your budget drafts, and your money goals can be extremely helpful.
If you already have a notebook where you track your goals and your day-to-day notes (and you should, if you’ve been working through the Mindset section of this course) this may be the best spot.
And if you don't, investing in a place for you to jot down your thoughts, ideas and goals will save you a lot of time and headache later on. Not only will it allow you to work through ad remember your answers to the content we cover here, it'll give you a great baseline to build up from as you develop your financial literacy skills.
It doesn't have to be a leather bound, custom made piece from the Spanish coast, either. A cheap composition book or a blank diary can make for a great financial journal, as long as you use it. Once you've bought it, put the date that you started it on the back and front cover, and let's get going on our first fact-finding mission: learning about our own past, present and future when it comes to personal financial management.