Over the past few weeks, my life has taken an unexpected turn. Consequently, I’ve been engaged in a whirlwind of discretionary spending that, while abstinent, has rocked me, and has led to an examination of my core DA beliefs.
I’m in the middle of writing a daily reader for compulsive debtors and spenders. But along the way, I’ve run into an opportunity to begin selling my artwork at a gallery. While the response was quite positive by the owners, I was told that my artwork was not presented in a very professional way (dollar store frames!) and that the framing needed to be upgraded.
Funding a New Business Abstinently
Thus began my descent into a financial money pit created by starting an art business from nothing, and having no money accrued to do so. Oh, I have plenty of inventory (five plus years of making small pieces will get you somewhere), but framing and prints can cost a fortune.
In the meantime, there is also the issue of having lost my private disability insurance, which really put a strain on my spending plan by cutting it in half. While I do have a spending plan in place that I can live with for today, it’s tight.
My PRG team has lovingly been involved every step of the way, truly believing this could be a source of income for me. Though I’m not so sure about that, I am grateful that I had money accumulated for taxes that it turns out I will not need to pay so I can give this a try. I also had money accrued in a few other discretionary categories. Together, my PRG team and I made a decision to use that money to fund this business instead of using the money for its original intended purpose.
One expense led to another, with it becoming clear that it would be far more cost-effective to produce my own prints. Thus, a pretty darned expensive printer is on its way. Business cards, risers for presentation, glue, backing, mats (that’s a whole other story – to mat or not to mat), everything adds up.
Now, I’m coming to the end of the available money. Unfortunately, I was just at the point of finishing framing the artwork.
The choice is whether to use some of my savings for this new venture or to live within my means and only purchase what I can and wait to frame more pictures after I sell some artwork.
Doing it Backwards
You see, not only have I not sold even one piece of art yet, I have also not made a business plan. I flew by the seat of my pants, other than ensuring my PRG team was on-board with all my spending. That is important, no question about it. But the BDA Tools are a vital part of recovery and I have not given them the respect they are due. DA saved my personal financial life. How can I think for one minute that I can sanely create a business without investing the same commitment into BDA?
So at the urging of one member of my PRG team, I began going to a Business DA HOW meeting.
A Sober Way to Fund a Tiny Business
My PRG team feels it is OK to invest part of my savings to start this business. For some people, that may be just fine. But they didn’t know me when I came into DA, a broken compulsive debtor and spender, who made a career out of funding expensive hobbies I called businesses. It took two years of patient nudging from the PRG team I had back then to shut it all down. It also took two years for me to finally get willing to stop trying to find ways to spend down my savings.
There are two things I know to be true for me:
1. If I want this to be a business, I must create a business plan and work a BDA program, including finding a business PRG team.
2. I cannot justify using my savings to fund a creative discretionary business that has not yet sold anything.
When to Stop
My DA philosophy springs from the fact that I can justify any spending to myself and others if I want it badly enough. I have already spent well over $2,000 to start this venture and it will take a lot of sales just to make that money back. While it is certainly the hope that I will make money from this business, I also am in a dire financial situation where sobriety tells me that I need to keep my savings cushion in case of a real crisis.
Funding a Vision with Savings
I keep fooling myself by saying that I’m almost done with the start-up spending. But it’s not true. There are ongoing costs, such as gallery fees, paper, supplies, ink, and more (which is exactly why I need a business plan). If I say it is OK for me to use my savings for this venture, at what point do I stop?
My fervent belief, which I have written about extensively on this site, is that (for me) if a “vision” is my Higher Power’s will, then there will be money available without debting or spending down my savings. That has been my mantra and a value I have lived by since I got willing to shut down those hobby/businesses after seeing the damage they did to my finances. So now, just because I want something, does that mean it is OK to violate my core beliefs? Even with the blessing of my PRG team, who have so lovingly guided me thus far, my gut has been screaming at me to stop this spending (before it is too late).
Taking a Step Back
I am profoundly grateful that I may be on the precipice of a huge misstep, but still have the chance to pull back.
So that is what I am going to do. I have 16 pieces ready to show. Instead of framing an additional 47 pictures, I have selected 10. That will still leave me with sufficient funds to get supplies for making some prints without touching my Savings category. I am not yet sure that I will be able to pay for future gallery space, but that is not due until April. I have plenty of time to create a business plan as I watch how this venture unfolds over the next few months and hopefully get a business PRG team in place.
Yes, my greedy addict mind wants to do it all, wants to justify taking $1,000 out of my savings to buy every single thing my heart desires. But one thing I know for sure, once those desires are satisfied, more will surely follow.
For today, I prefer to believe that if I am willing to live within my means, no matter how painful or how much my addict mind screams at me that it isn’t enough, my Higher Power will lead me to what is best for me.
And by doing so, I hope I will be released from this distraction so I can get back to doing what is most important to me … writing this daily reader for compulsive debtors and spenders. Just an update, I’ve completed 160 days!