Lessons From Earning $13K in June
As a single mom, money is my freedom. I don’t know any other way to see it.
While certain well-meaning people try to set me up on dates or tell me to find a husband at church, earning my own money means that I don’t have to look at any man as some sort of life preserver.
Making enough money on my own means that I don’t have to wait to buy my daughter’s groceries or school supplies until her dad pays his $100 every other week.
It also means that I get to make more level-headed and big-picture decisions.
In other words? I make better choices when I’m not worried about paying the bills. And I enjoy the luxury of paying less for big packages of household staples like toilet paper or detergent.
When I was poor, I got used to paying more for less, simply because it was a smaller amount of money at the moment.
As a result, I missed out on many opportunities to improve my life by paying more upfront for a better bargain.
Money is a tool
Everybody says that money can’t buy happiness because happiness isn’t something that can be bought.
But the thing that plenty of those folks will never tell you is that money can finance your happiness.
The difference is subtle, but it’s important. You can think of it in terms of financing college. Financing your college education doesn’t guarantee or “buy” a successful career.
What it does is create an opportunity for a successful career to develop.
As somebody who has spent most of her life below the poverty line and who quickly moved into a 6-figure income, this is how I now look at money:
As a tool to create a better and happier life.
Money won’t solve all of your problems
This is absolutely true. Depression, loneliness, fear, and regret do not disappear when you make a lot of money.
I am sometimes surprised that money doesn’t always stretch as far as I think it should. Especially if you’re digging yourself out of poverty and poor or no credit, you might realize the same thing.
But to be fair, money can make it easier to solve certain problems.
It might make treatment for a medical condition easier or even possible. It could allow you to furnish your home in a way that makes your life more comfortable and convenient.
More money could finance a much-needed vacation or tuition at a new school.
Used well, money can certainly upgrade your life.
Money will create new problems
No, this isn’t a thing that rich people like to say to make you feel sorry for them. It’s real life.
Having more money is a wonderful thing, yet it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Other people may have expectations about how you use your money. Taxes might be a real beast.
It could be a challenge for you to handle your money without guilt. Or, it might finance an addiction.
Since money is a neutral tool, your experience with it will vary.
Emergencies could come up, or your circumstances could change in such a way that you find yourself with more money than you used to have, yet still not enough money to cover everything you need.
Your definition of having no money will change
For most of my life, I’ve been used to living from paycheck to paycheck. That was my definition of having no money: the paycheck runs out.
Then, something funny happened and my writing began to pay off. Suddenly, I had a savings account and checking account with real money that rolled over each month.
These days, when my savings account dips below a certain number, I feel like I have no money. I have to remind myself that I have a lot more money than ever before.
It’s just that my threshold changed, and that’s natural. In fact, that kind of change is a good thing because the last thing you want to do is keep living paycheck to paycheck.
If you make more money, you’ll need to develop a good habit of saving more money too.
It’s easy to pay it forward
This is one of the best things about making better money: you can afford to give more.
Don’t make a big deal about this one, though. There’s a lot of joy in being a stealthy giver. So, if you find someone in need, give what you can without publicizing it or making that person feel weird.
Sometimes, you might want to help somebody who won’t accept money. In that case, you might be able to give them a helpful gift instead. Gift certificates for gas, groceries, or their favorite stores work great.
Consumable gifts are often a great help to families. You may need to think outside of the box.
Giving is a lot like exercising a muscle. It becomes easier to do the more you give. And if you don’t give often, you might find it uncomfortable at first.
Do it anyway and you’ll most likely learn how to better appreciate what you have. And I think you’ll eventually enjoy giving simply for the sake of giving.
Apparently, there IS money in writing
Most of my income in any given month comes from writing on Medium, but there are other ways to make bank as a writer too.
Writing on Medium has led me to a few new income streams. One business pays $300 for a story. Patreon roughly earns $120-150 a month and covers expenses like my email list, stamps, and postcards.
I’ve even earned a few thousand dollars simply by co-teaching a blogging course.
If you keep your eyes open, you might run into a few new ways to earn a living as a writer too.
Every month doesn’t need to be a $10K+ one
As someone who’s gotten a very late start to making and saving good money, it can be tempting to feel a lot of pressure. As if I’ve got to work around the clock to build a bigger nest egg ASAP.
One thing I’m learning is that it’s okay to give myself a break and earn less money sometimes. Especially if that break means taking better care of myself.
Lately, I’ve taken a lot of time away from my writing to completely reorganize and redecorate my home. It’s a huge job and I never would have been able to get started if I wasn’t making good money with my writing.
As a result of my time away, this month might be my lowest in terms of income in 2019. But it will probably be my most life-changing month, too.
It pays to keep a healthy perspective and appreciate the fact that writing has made this home project possible. Productivity comes in different shapes and sometimes it’s most effective to focus on your home life instead of your work life.
You will never know what’s possible until you try
Everyone can find 50 reasons not to do that thing they really want to do. If you want to make a living as a writer, it’s easy to tell yourself that it’s impossible.
The world will often agree with you and you’ll go on your way never really knowing what you could have accomplished if you had just tried.
This is such a simple principle, but most of us fail to act upon it. Instead, we make excuses.
A lot of folks will never seriously try to make a living as a writer because they think it’s nothing but a pipe dream. They might see my story as pure luck or complain that my results can’t be duplicated.
They miss the fact that I had no idea what was going to happen when I got started. For all I knew, my writing was going to fade into oblivion and make no money.
Last summer, I worked like hell to earn $750, $400, and $1,100 a month with my writing. If you had told me that I’d be earning $5K to $13K in a single month as a writer, I wouldn’t even know what to think.
It would have sounded silly.
All that mattered to me last year was making it work. And I was desperate and determined enough to see it through.
If you throw yourself into your dream of writing (or anything else for that matter), who’s to say what will happen?
And who’s to say what won’t?
Pursuing a dream isn’t about knowing what’s going to happen. It’s about giving your dreams a chance to come true.
My dream is coming true. It’s not easy, and I don’t know what will happen next month or next year. But if I’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that you can do so much more than you probably think.
All you really need to do is try.