An Open Letter To You
talia jane

Hi Talia — LOVE to join you in it. I just wrote you a long comment on the “Open letter to my CEO”post, too. Here’s the thing: no matter what the cost of living and how many jobs it takes to make ends meet we have to have a conversation (with ourselves first) about what it actually costs us to live. I mean specifically. I was in your position more times than I choose to count through my twenties and thirties, and in my longing for an entrepreneurial and artistic life, I tanked everything in sight by under-earning and using credit cards. And it cost me my relationships, my stability, and much more. There are some simple five-minute-a-day skills we can apply to our living expenses that will help. I outline a bunch of these in my book “The Debt-Free Spending Plan” — it’s a book for people who HATE numbers and never liked math,, and you can get it for free at the library. My new book (May 2016) is called “How to Be an Artist Without Losing Your Mind, Your Shirt, or Your Creative Compass” — and it’s all about the same things: putting supports under our feet so we can live well, then living the life we’re supposed to be living. But we can’t do that if we don’t know — in detail — what it costs us to live, so we can say to those underpaying employers, “Yeah, thanks for the job offer but $26,000 isn’t enough to live. I’ll need at least $49,000 to just pay my bills and pay for basics.” And learning what we need and how to say it out loud — how to look for it, ask for it and insist on it — is a SKILL we can learn. I have lots and lots to say about this since I tanked my own life until I figured this out. Yes, it’s abysmal that rent has turned into a greed and gouging experience all over the Bay. Yes, it’s awful that companies are underpaying their workers as if they’re indentured servants. Yes, it’s insulting to be asked to work for crap wages and be invited by your employer to live with your parents years longer than you should. But here’s the thing: we are each responsible for knowing what we need and then going out to get it, as best we can. That starts with clarity. Vagueness creates drama. Clarity creates a path. Find me at if you’d like to chat more. I salute your bravery, your honesty, your willingness to work and grow and change and help. Bravo. JoAnneh Nagler

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