I’m Kay and I’m a freelance storyboard artist living in Cape Town. This is the story of my money-journey.
I come from a formerly well-off family that gave me a lot of advantages in life: paid-for studies, my first car, private school education. Things went south with our finances before I left home, and things have been pretty lean since.
I went into animation and eventually moved to Cape Town. My monthly salary ranged from zero to R10,000 over a four-year period, while I moved back and forth between Johannesburg and Cape Town. I had four jobs in about three years.
It wasn’t a fun time.
Eventually, I started freelancing. I storyboarded films, television commercials and series work. The money was a whole lot better, to the point where I only needed to do a couple of jobs a month to support my relatively low-cost lifestyle.
I never had any savings but there was always work. Slowly, lifestyle inflation crept in. I bought a car. I drained an investment account to go travelling.
Then it all went sideways in 2018. The drought in Cape Town earlier that year pulled the plug on a lot of film projects. I didn’t work for five months.
Then my cellphone and car failed, all in the same week. Suddenly I had major expenses and no savings. I read Sam Beckbessinger’s book Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grown-up in a weekend and began to sort out my finances.
I changed a lot in a short period of time: moved banks, grilled my financial advisor on my products and their fees twice, opened an EasyEquities account and started an Emergency Fund. I sold the car and bought a cheaper cellphone.
Turning things around
My 22seven net worth graph went from looking like this in August 2018:
To looking like this one year later:
What I learned
I now write about personal finance for artists at Drawing Money
I learned a lot about myself and my behaviour around money. I learned what makes me feel truly secure: having money in the bank. Not expensive treats.
I learned what my triggers were and learned to watch out when I responded to situations by spending money. I learned to find other coping mechanisms and work on or get rid of things that made me anxious and run-down.
I also learned that my money situation wasn’t so bad as I feared. It wasn’t unsalvageable, it wasn’t too late, and earning more wasn’t as important as cutting down extraneous lifestyle costs.
So if you’re finding yourself at the beginning of your money journey, wherever that’s starting for you, take a deep breath.
You’re going to be fine.