Friday, January 20, 2017


I've been absent this week because I've been flaring something awful.  I've spent the past several days in bed.  I'll be back as soon as this flare goes down.  Thank you for your patience!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Financial Goals

Last year, my goal was to start heavily working on paying off my husband's student loans.  We had been under the impression from loan offices that we wouldn't be able to afford much of a house based on our debt-to-income ratio, so we were shooting for purchasing a home in five years after busting our rears to minimize his debt.

Then Terra Luna flooded and we were absolutely fed up with moving.  So I scraped together every penny I could, worked as many gigs as I could, and we bought what is now known as Rhoeas Hearth.

Admittedly, the house is a bit smaller than what I had hoped for when we'd purchase because our debt-to-income ratio did limit us significantly.  That and, while I'm on the mortgage, we refused to factor in my income for various reasons.  That cut our income in about a third to almost a half.  That's okay though - our mortgage is incredibly comfortable.  Plus, you know, we bought a house five years earlier than we anticipated!  So there's that.

I'm super proud of us.

Most of my financial goals have centered around eventually being able to buy a house: Minimizing our debt so that we could get a better loan, building a savings to buy a house, etc etc.  A lot of those are no longer really relevant.  While it would be nice to get the student loans paid off sooner, there's no pressure to do so.  No longer do we have to scrape the bottom of our bank accounts to throw extra money at it.  Other than lowering the amount of interest we'll pay (and, depending on the loan, not even that), it serves no real purpose.  All of his loans will be paid off in 10-15 years, which is when we plan on buying a new home.  Right now, my bigger focus is getting us back to comfortable again.

Here's the chart:

Three blank spaces.  And the pentacle chart:

The Pentacle Chart does not offer a "financial" section, but many of the goals, such as budgeting and retirement options, fall directly into the financial area.  That being said, here are my 2017 financial goals!

Maintain Budget

"While I had a budget for 2014, the thing about moving is that your bills suddenly change," I wrote two years ago, and even quoted it last year as well.  I hate that I'm keeping that line in this post because it means we moved again and, yet again, things have changed.  Fortunately, this should be the last time we move for a long, long while.  Ten years, minimum.  The goal this year is to discover the median of our bills and settle in to a firm monthly budget that gets us the savings we need.  Speaking of which...

Rebuild Savings

My husband and I are very thrifty.  I'm rampantly known as the "thrift store queen" in my group of friends and have a tendency to find the best things at the best deals.  Remember the three white accent chairs I got for my front room last year at a mere $15 a piece?  Gorgeous seats and they work perfectly!

So the reality is that rebuilding our savings is just going to take time more than effort.  However, there are small changes we can make and things we can do to add to it:

Research Retirement Options

I wanted to do this last year, but I actually got off track before I even moved.  It seems hard to plan for retirement when so many other things have my attention but, gosh, do I know I need to do it.  There's no 401k for me as a freelancer, so I need to start my investments now before it's too late!

The first thing I need to do is talk to my bank to see what options are out there for me.  Then, as soon as I have it, I need to throw some money into some funds.  I can spend the rest of the year idly researching my options and, once I know where we're at in December, I can start actually investing in my retirement.  I still want to keep this fairly open and low pressure even though I'm deeply aware of how important it is that I start now, but I think keeping it low pressure will actually ensure I do it.

So let's put it all together:

Financial Goals - 0% Complete for the month.

Maintain a Budget [x/30 (or 31 or 29) days]. – 0% complete
Target Areas for Improvement [Specific monthly goal]. – 0% complete.
Research Retirement Options. – 0% complete.

Coming up:
2017 Health Goals

To my audience:
What are your financial goals for 2017?

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 Career Goals

I am, first and foremost, a caricature artist by trade.  This means that I travel from corporate event to wedding to after prom to college event drawing funny faces for the masses.  This, by its nature, makes me a small business owner.  I work for eight different agencies as an independent contractor and file my taxes as a sole proprietor.  For those of you playing the home game, that means I fill out a few additional forms along with my usual taxes and pay quarterly taxes instead of having a base amount subtracted from each paycheck.  It's crazy being on that end of the business game, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Despite the catastrophe at our rental property and moving, I still managed to get a lot done in 2016.

I got some signs made for events.  I like the functionality of these displays because it works three different ways: Gigs that are booked by other agencies, gigs I book and gigs where I charge rather than get an hourly.  I can sort the signs however I need based on the kind of gig I have.  So that's pretty neat.  I do wish I had something a little more professional than this but it's not a terrible start.

I like where my style has gone this past year.  These were taken within minutes of each other during an event in January...

And this was taken at the last event of the year last year.  Not too bad.

I even managed to work in commission work despite being constantly busy last year.  This one is, hands down, one of my favorites.

While I love my job and would consider myself a fairly adept artist, there's a lot I could work on.  Here's where my chart comes in:

According to the career portion of my chart, I need three attainable goals for 2017 to become happier with my work.

According to my pentacle chart, I have three goals I want to work on, which is perfect!  Let's start from the top and work our way down.

Live Digital Caricatures

This is something I had planned on tackling in 2016 but I never got a chance with all the moving and fighting the property management company.  This has to happen this year.  It's important to any advancement in my career.  Here's what I think I'll need to do to get digital ready at my job:

Expand Agencies, Venues and Reach

This is also something I wanted to work on last year but never got the chance.  As an entertainer for parties, how you market yourself is everything.  It's how you get jobs, make new connections and fuel your business.  It's also something I am positively horrible at.  I'm confident in what I do, but I haven't mastered the "tell other people about it" side very well. Probably something I carry from my old theme park caricaturing days where (a) you didn't really have to tell anyone about it outside of when you were present at work and (b) the staff discouraged individual marketing through the job.  I mean, you signed a non-compete at the beginning of the year, so personal marketing really wasn't a priority.  I should probably make it one.

In addition to last year's goals, some of which were variably completed, I'd like to add in some celeb caricatures I can work on in my detailed painterly style each month.  Enjoy!

Keeping Better Records + Signage

Last year, I partially completed both digitalizing my records and procuring signage - about 50/50 each.  So this year, my third goal is a combination of what's left over from those goals.  This list also gives me a chance to reevaluate my current signs and see if I want to make them a bit more professional.

And so concludes the 2017 career goal planning!  Let's now sum this up in a way that I can track my progress:

Career Goals - 0% Complete for the month.

Complete monthly digital live caricatures goal. – 0% complete
Achieve x goals for expanding reach. – 0% complete.
Achieve monthly records and signage goal. – 0% complete.

Coming up:
2017 Financial Goals

To my audience:
What are your career goals for 2017?