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Monday, June 1, 2009

Assessing and Reassessing MONEY

Mreow! phasers set to stun!

How many times have you heard the quote" an unexamined life isn't worth living"? It's attributed to Plato, though I first came across it in a biography of Thomas Jefferson. I take it to heart. One thing I constantly do is assess and reassess my life. Am I happy? If so, why? If not, why?

Lately I find myself generally happy..a condition I can describe best as neutral-positive. I'm not ambivalent (neutral), I'm not sparkly happy positive either, it's somewhere in between, but every once in a while I hit the neutral-negative to NEGATIVE zone and that causes me to reassess. Today I slipped from neutral-positive to neutral-negative and before I crash I wanted to do a little introspection and figure out just what's going on.

Usually it's some kind of conflict that makes me the most unhappy. Like when my wife and I have a fundamental disagreement, or there is some kind of stress that affects me and one of the businesses I am involved with. The behavior of a coworker or a a looming overdue task. The biggest one of all is always about money. Money issues can make my mood crash like nothing else.

The question is why? I am told that many successful people have been monetary failures several times. I have been on the verge several times, but I can go from feeling like the King of Potters to someone not worthy,a complete failure! All over a few unexpected bills.

So realistically am I a complete failure? Heck no! I have a booming business even in this recession. I've sold more pottery and had higher sales than every before. I am very pleased with the quality and quantity of work I am producing this year.

Of course my expenses are higher too. I have a mortgage and a car payment and cable and high speed internet, an electric bill that supports 2 kilns,a student loan payment, a gas bill for the stove and outdoor kiln, insurance for the vehicles as well as a small accident policy. 2 teenagers, one who is JUST now finding a job (YAY Morgan, gotta pay your share of that insurance). And it all adds up.AND I never had all that before...*sigh* do we need that cable?

I think one of the problems is we have less shows than in the past. We dropped a few from the schedule that were not performing really well and that has left monetary gaps where there was a dribble of income before but freed us up from having to split stock and rush to be in 2 and sometimes 3 places at once for not much return, but it affected cash flow. And flow is the problem. when I look at the numbers 1/2 of my income comes between July and October which is essentially 1/4 of the year. NOT good!

SO now I have to figure out how to boost the dead zones to keep it all going. The home based studio sales have been good. We added a few local SCA events which have helped. In fact I was totally blown away by how successful these small shows have been, but we're still falling a little short and I am getting really exasperated. I complained to Ro the other day, "How can I have sold ($BIG$) in pottery this month and still be broke? Which is of course easy to do...I mean look at all these big companies dropping like flies, it all comes down to spending less than you make. The trouble is I like the life I have now and want to make more rather than cut costs.

So I need to sell more of my work. Really it shouldn't be that hard. If I could get 1/2 of 1% of the residential population in the state college area to buy a piece from me I'd be set for years. If I could sell 50 pieces a week on average spread out over all my outlets, I'd truly have it made...only 50 pieces.

I think we're going to do another sale at home this weekend. Throw out the sign and hope for passers by. Even if we only sell a few pieces it'll be less expense than packing up and driving to a small SCA event and much less hassle than an art fair.

The best part is it takes some of the helpless feeling away. Something I am really lucky to be able to do. Someone making an hourly wage can't just decide to try to increase their salary instantly. And I don't know if I can, but I can try :)