There really is an art to being poor.
It’s funny that for most of my life I had no idea that I was poor or lived in poverty. True, I was raised poor, married poor, had a slew a kids and so stayed poor. I budgeted every nickel. Now here’s the thing. My parents came from good families. Working stock. My grandfathers owned their own businesses. All had been through the Depression. Money was tight. Next along came World War II and my uncles and dad went into the military. We had coupons for every shortage–shoes, fabric, sugar, butter, gas. I had my first stick of gum after the War. Juicy Fruit. One pair of buckled sandals got us through summers, otherwise we went barefoot. A six ounce Coca Cola was 6 cents and a treat.
When I was raising my kids there was no such thing as Food Stamps or Aid to Dependent Children or Disability. Never heard of it. My first job paid fifty cents an hour. My husband earned a dollar an hour. There was no such thing as credit cards. Or ATMs. We didn’t have checking accounts. We got our salary in cash in little brown envelopes. We fed, sheltered and clothed our families on what we earned. We ate our meals at home, rode buses to church. We sometimes went to a matinee movie. 10 cents. For family entertainment we went on picnics, crabbing and fishing.
Every single woman in my family, including me, darned socks, turned collars, replaced missing buttons on shirts and blouses and often hand-stitched our own clothes. We put Christmas for our children on layaway at department stores. We went out into the country to pick black berries and wild plums to cook up jellies. During the War we couldn’t get out to the country. Farmers hooked up mules to wagons filled with garden produce and made the rounds in our communities well into the late Fifties. Until bylaws and restrictions were passed against it, we kept chickens and hung our wash on clotheslines.
By the time I snagged my first good job, paying $425 a month, I owned a second hand sewing machine and made every dress I wore to work. Years passed and I lucked up into writing romance novels. The money was wonderful, but we got paid only twice a year. Still had to budget. I thought we had arrived at upper middle class. Nope. Old habits prevailed and that’s a good thing because everything is more costly today.
Now, I’m an indie author. It’s my day job. I pay for editing, cover artists, formatting and promotion. I pay for my websites, computers, Internet and newsletter carriers. My rule of thumb is that my books have to pay their way. Which brings me to this: Indie authors saying they cannot afford editors/proof readers or promotional fees so they put out a less than stellar book, though the story may be wonderful.
I wonder is it they don’t want to afford these critical services. My first year of indie authorship was tight. I did not dine out. I didn’t go to a movie. I didn’t go on vacation. I budgeted for groceries, I made an extreme coupon shopping trip. I cut back on gift giving. I bought one new pair of sandals. I didn’t feel at all deprived. My goal was to get my books out there and earning. I hit that goal.
It is much more difficult to move indie books today than in years past. So, I’m sticking to basics and taking care when I venture outside the box. I’m reeling in my budget. Believe me when I tell you I’m baking my own cupcakes into the hereafter. Back in the day, I fed a family of seven on $37. Planted tomato bushes, basil and mint this week. I’m having a deck garden in pots this year.
What about you? Do you budget? Avoid impulse shopping? Are you searching for inexpensive services for your books? If so: Go Here.
@Jackie Weger, Founder of eNovel Authors at Work. Thanks for stopping by. Always nice to meet and greet new folks. Comments welcome.