Dollars, Sense and Peanut Butter

| March 06, 2019
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When I was 10 I had an empty jar of Skippy’s Peanut Butter that housed roughly 12 one dollar bills, two inches of various coins, a pencil and a notepad. Every time so much as a penny entered or exited that jar it was recorded with meticulous detail in the tiny spiral bound ledger. When I was 23, working days at a talent agency and nights and weekends stage managing equity showcases, I still had a jar of Skippy’s Peanut Putter but this one was half empty and what was left I was counting on for lunches and possibly dinners for the next week. Currently, I have three jars of peanut butter; one Skippy, one organic and one mixed with chocolate.

I can actually track my financial health through peanut butter. When I was 10 I knew the meaning of a dollar. I knew that a Barbie Doll was $19.99 and I innately understood that if I spent my money on something else it would be that much longer until I bought another Barbie Doll. I didn’t learn that concept again until I was 25.

At 23 I had a different understanding. I was told that “in theatre in your 20’s you go into debt, in your 30’s you make a living and, if you’re still around in your 40’s that when you thrive.” And I took that to heart. This gave me permission to be the “Starving Artist” and live beyond my means. It was romantic. It spoke to my soul and what I wanted to create in the world. It also created thousands of dollars of debt leading to tremendous stress and, of course, peanut butter.

Now, as a financial advisor, I own the value of a dollar. I can teach it, I can draw it, I can calculate it and I can completely ignore it. The wisdom I have gained is to know when each of those options is appropriate. Because the other invaluable lesson I have learned with age is balance and moderation. Too often we throw stones at our “starving artists,” our peanut butter for every meal romantics. But there is shade to be thrown towards the other extreme, those with buckets of money who live without passion. What I know is that there is a happy medium. You can live frugally and invest in Broadway shows. You can have buckets of money and make low budget experimental art installations in a basement in Tribeca. Here’s the thing; art doesn’t care how much money you have just that you create. 

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