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Get Your Ducks In A Row
By Tim Ogle - 07/22/2006 - 12:57 AM EDT

Iíd like to address an important issue in this months Quest For The Craft, financial freedom. You know those credit cards you have that you frequently use to buy guitar strings, picks, expensive binders, beer at the bar etc.? They accumulate the songwriters enemy, debt.

Now I know some of you are thinking right now, ďMy poorly funded bank account adds character to my writing, if it werenít for hardship....Ē, Iím just going to interrupt you right there. Struggling songwriter is a title that is tough enough for all of us to carry, why should be miserable while searching for our dream come true? Since Iíve been living in Nashville I have met many songwriters. Iíve watched many of them become frantic when the first of the month is approaching because they do not have rent money,Iíve heard their stomachs grumble because they were hungry and were spending their last $2.50 on a Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of a 1/2 pound of bologna. While all of these acquaintances are fine people, I wonder how much this lifestyle is hindering their writing instead of inspiring it.

Most of us fall into the credit game early in life, and are shackled to it for many years if we are EVER lucky enough to get out. I present you the challenge to begin getting out of it or rather avoiding it (you youngsters never listen, but Iíll try anyway). Debt does NOT make you a better songwriter. It presents stress in your life and displays the lack of self discipline in your life (just a side note: self discipline is key to being a successful writer).

In my case we moved to Nashville with $35K in debt. During the past 15 months we have paid off $30K in debt. That didnít happen by accident and it wasnít accomplished because my wife or I have high paying jobs, it happened because we were committed to it. Sometimes I have to drink water when Iím at a bar for songwriterís night. I still leave a buck or two tip, but think of the cash I save. In another few months I will be totally out of debt. Can you imagine paying only rent, water, lights, phone and electric? No car payment, no credit card balance, plenty of sleep at night!

Iím sure that moving to Los Angeles or New York isnít much different than moving to Nashville. I would recommend that anyone put off moving until they have learned to live within their means. Hard work is the key to any success in life, financial status can greatly effect the outcome of a dream as well. I donít think you want Citibank getting between you and your dreams, their phone calls are intrusive enough as it is.

There are plenty of resources available for help on budgeting. Dave Ramsey is my favorite by far, he has a dot com sight you can search for if you are interested. Heís straight talker with good advice. Besides stability, think of the networking capabilities when you walk into a writers night in your best Goodwill outfit and you buy a round of drinks for your table. This isnít about buying people off, itís about success and success is something I'm going to talk about in next months column. Until then think DEBT FREE and begin the process to making it happen, youíll be surprised at the inspiration it can bring.

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