I’ve lived in Toronto for 25 years and I feel like I’ve experienced everything that this city has to offer. ...
Earlier this week, my wife/manager, Lisa, and I had THE TALK. It’s the talk we have every June. It’s the talk where we sit in front of a spreadsheet and ponder how we are going to make ends meet during the summer months. I know that this is something that’s not unique to just us. Many of my fellow musicians, artists and freelancers probably go through this same uneasy feeling at certain times of the year. For those of us who don’t get paid the same amount every 2 weeks all 12 months per year, it’s the burden we take on in order to enjoy the career and creative freedom that we have.
For us, this sensitive financial situation tends to always occur during the summer months since I have far fewer piano students then. I am blessed that my teaching practice does supply a steady and stable financial income the other 10 months of the year, so compared to others, I feel very fortunate.
Otherwise, my other sources of income are royalties from the performance of my music in film/tv and concerts, commissions, and performance fees. But these creative avenues are very unpredictable. It can be quiet for many months and then all of a sudden an unexpected influx of money comes in.
Because of this erratic phenomena, some summers end up being pretty good despite fewer students, and then there’s this summer. That’s not to say Lisa and I will be destitute this July and August. Far from it, we are lucky to own our condo mortgage free (benefits of getting married young and investing in 1990s Toronto real estate) along with having a nice nest egg for retirement (we read the Wealthy Barber many years ago). We’re committed to not touching retirement money though (being self-employed, that’s our pension) and we don’t go without eating quality organic food, so we, therefore, live very frugally in all other aspects of our lives.
Which is not bad at all. Sure we will not go on vacation or even go out very much or buy tickets to any shows this summer, but there are still so many festivals and free shows in this big city. It also doesn’t cost anything to hike in the many beautiful parks in Toronto.
Living cheaply is not so bad because I’m not usually tempted to purchase stuff – I’m not only a minimalist musically.
We also don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves since we’re busy. Since we’re not bored, we don’t have to focus on something we wish we’re doing because we are doing what we want to do. We don’t need (much) money to flex our creative muscle.
So all will be fine. We will have a wonderful summer being thrifty…as long my pants don’t rip, the stove or fridge doesn’t need a repair or my computer doesn’t break down. Those things are only allowed to happen this September.