A High-Functioning Artist's Guide To Financial Growth: A True Story

For a pocket of years, I've continuously drowned in a lake of top-shelf whiskey and unbelievably good bourbon. I never realized how much I was dying because when you're still able to make money, create, and speak with some sort of substance, it doesn't seem like your dying at all. It seems like the opposite.

High-functioning alcoholism is funny like that. It does more than hide in the shadows. Hiding in the shadows is just regular shameful alcoholism. This? No, this type of illness is invisible. The kind of control it had over me was manipulative yet just. The variety of excuses you can make with this type of disease seem okay to everyone and because they thought it was okay, so did I. Not to mention I was still creating, excelling at work and even took time to "cleanse." I couldn't possibly be an alcoholic. But like most poisons, it came a day when it consumed me and made me do something unspeakable. July 19th. It was one of the most mortifying things I've ever done. So I "cleansed" for 30 days. On the 3rd day after my cleanse, it did it again. So this time I was like fuck no this demon gotta go.

My thirty-one days of cleansing taught me a couple of things about myself. I learned that I'm still creative without wine, my friends are more supportive than I thought they were, and clarity, when you're sober, is impeccable. I wasn't underwater anymore so I could see and the first thing I noticed was my bank account. When you're drinking, you blame everything but drinking on your low funds. It's always “I don't get paid enough”, “these bills are killing me”, or “I like to go out” but never “I fucking drink like prohibition's starts when the clock strikes twelve.” So once I stopped drinking and started realizing saving money comes as a perk I was like

Step 1: Tackling My Credit

My credit score fluctuates because remember I'm high-functional. I recently did a free credit report on myself, and the problem wasn't paying on time or owing anyone it was using my credit cards too much. Because I didn’t owe any major debts I was able to use a paycheck and money I saved during my "cleanse" to pay off both my credit cards. I needed to get that shit over with so I can start bettering my score. I was strategic. I subtracted the minimums and paid the remaining balance. This meant the majority of my debts were gone and the only payments left were my minimums. This kept my debt down and my payments on schedule.

Step 2: My Spending

I needed to save but I live in New York, and it seems like no matter how much you make, you will always be poor. This...is true. New York will suck you dry if you give in to it. To get out of the hole I dug myself, I lived an extremely minimal lifestyle. My biggest expense used to be whiskey. Then I found out art supplies, takeout, miscellaneous subscriptions, and Lyft were culprits so I said, “fuck this. Enough is enough.” I wanted to start from scratch so I did. I put myself on punishment and cut myself off.

Every card I owned from Cash App to my banks' cards were cut off. I know you're like Prelo, that’s mad dramatic. I definitely did it for a reason. Cutting everything off would prompt emails to be sent to tell me I need to update my account information. This lets me know what I really need and what I don't need to be subscribed to. Everything I don't need I can cancel and everything else I can log into my newly created "Can You Pay My Bills?" spreadsheet. Bills? Cut in half, just like that.

Cash rules: While my cards were on the way, I went to the bank and took out $100. I left $80 at home and tested myself to see how many days I can go with just $20. Using cash helped me tremendously by forcing me to be frugal. Learning frugality even when you don’t want to will quickly teach you how to humble yourself.

My Savings

Saving seems impossible in New York, but after this whole simple livin' vibe, I started to see growth in my funds. It's been a long time since I've seen money in my account since my last pay and it was motivating. A friend of mine told me a woman simplified getting to $100k by explaining she "saved a thousand dollars one hundred times." I want to do that. but I can't if I'm spending like I already have it.

Travel: I bought a monthly metro card instead of continuously getting weekly passes. I cut that Lyft shit altogether. The only time I take a car is if I absolutely have to; carrying 30 canvas for Paint & Sip or if I'm dying.

Takeout: I started preparing food for work. I ordered so much they just walked right into my office and handed me a bag. To save, I bought groceries and made my own food for work. Mason jars and Tupperware is an adult's best friend.

I'm not saying cut yourself off from the world, don't have fun, or do what I did. I'm saying being frugal and financially smart. This process was mine, and because of my impulsiveness and lack of will, I needed to discipline myself with these extreme measures. Once I've reached my savings goals, I can do more of what I want to do but to be frank no one should be going to Cancun with less than $100 in their account.

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