I had been dancing for about a year. I remember the apartment I was living in because I was so happy that I had it decorated with floor pillows, scented candles galore and African inspired carvings and patterned cloths. The browns, oranges and creams created a soothing vibe to me. One of my best friends had done a spiritual cleaning of the space as a house-warming gift. I always felt at peace when I came home.
Well, not initially. It was my first apartment of out college. So, when I first got out into the "real world", making a living was a bit of a challenge. I was spinning my wheels working many jobs that barely earned me enough to cover all of my expenses. Sometimes, I'd have to skip meals to make sure a bill was paid. That was a very stress filled time.
However, the time I'm remembering now is after I had worked for about a year as a dancer. I was working full-time which meant five nights a week minimum. I'd been schooled by a beautiful brown skin German sister that I should treat dancing like any other job. Be about customer service. Remember the people who I sat with regularly. Invest my money. Read about financial markets, etc. I have to admit, reading about financial markets didn't lead me to understanding them any better. I did however, know from talking to this woman that I was going to try to be as smart as I could about this.
I would pay my bills and save money every month. I would listen quietly to the conversations in the dressing room at work from the other dancers about getting this designer item as soon as it came out. I had no clue what they were talking about most of the time. I am not into designer labels nor am I a gadget freak. I felt no need to be the first to get... things and stuff. It was of no value or priority to me to own high ticket price items.
I had another conversation with an older sister friend who was a freelancer. She gave me a serious speech one day about the need for women especially to have retirement savings and invest their money. She had no clue that I was dancing. I didn't tell anyone. But I wrote down the words Roth IRA and IRA so that I could look them up later. I didn't do anything with that information right away but I knew I wanted to remember it. I am thankful to both these women for setting me down a positive financial road.
I had no clue how to invest money or what IRA's were. However, it dawned on me that this was the first time in my life that I was actually financially free. My earning far surpassed my living expenses. It was such a peaceful feeling. I remember the ease of seeing a bill come in the mail and paying it the next day without a second thought. I remember thinking about how happy I was that the days I had spent crying on my bed because I didn't have enough money to get on the subway and back home were over.
I think about this today because I am going through a time much different from that. Since not being a full-time dancer anymore, the financial freedom ebbs and flows. Having had the experience keeps me striving towards it despite the ups and downs of an artist life. I have created times of financial freedom for myself in different ways since leaving dancing. I did also eventually heed to the ladies advice before I left that world. The tide is temporarily out now. I have been having several days filled with self-doubt and disappointment. However, having first had the experience at all helps me to remind myself that financial freedom is indeed possible for me even if I am starting from point A.
The end of my first year of dancing was the first time I proved to myself that something could be made even when starting from absolutely nothing at all.
- 5 Reasons to Consider a Roth IRA (money.usnews.com)
- Challengers of Financial Freedom: Financial Education (moneystartinfo.com)