Tag Archives: career

Living on a budget

A friend of mine once told me I should start giving courses on ‘living on a budget’, because I always seem to be able to save money, even while on a lower budget. All people who work independently know that these tighter periods exist!! So, here we are! I’m sure many of you will have thought about the financial consequences of quitting a fulltime job to start your own business, to follow your passion, to go travelling or just to take a break from the rat race. Don’t think too much, just do it! As a lawyer who turned songwriter I have found out quite a bit about this, so let me share some tips and tricks…

So, I think the biggest challenge is to find a house that is affordable: in the form of alternative housing, house sharing or rent allowance. As soon as that is sorted, the remaining budget really depends on choices for other fixed costs. Apart from health insurance, do we really need insurances for all kinds of unlikely events? Is it possible to share Wifi with the neighbours? Do we need a TV? I love watching movies and series online! Can we get a cheap phone contract? Can we use public transport instead of owning a car, or maybe sharing one? Can we walk or cycle instead of driving? You will give yourself a free workout….plus it’s all better for the environment anyway!

You will see that you will then have quite a bit of money leftover after deduction of very limited fixed costs. I tend to spend it mostly on healthy food. I don’t go out much for drinks and food, as I find it’s usually better healthier quality when I cook myself. And I enjoy cooking. Of course I do have coffees now and then with friends, that is definitely a choice. I find it can be even more fun and relaxing to invite people at home, or bring a thermos flask and food while going for a walk or while taking a train. And again….it’s better for the environment saving all these plastic cups!

Another category is sports and hobbies: Pick a hobby that you only buy gear for once, and that is free afterwards, like surfing, skating, sea swimming, running, cycling. For myself: I love inline skating and I have a cheap contract at the gym.

Being sustainable when it comes to clothing is something I wrote about before. I loving buying affordable quality that will usually last for years! I love fashion and I have a big dress collection but I only add items like maybe twice a year because there is just plenty there anyway. Or try second hand stores. And again: better for the environment.

So do I sit at home all the time? Well I love spending time at home, as I’m a very homely person, but I travel aswell. Trick is to take advantage of offers, for public transport or otherwise. I don’t really want to promote it (not good for the environment at all, this one), but I bought flight tickets within Europe for as little as 20 return. I stayed at budget locations, holiday homes that I could rent of friends for little, and I made deals with 4 star hotels for free accomodation in return for gigs! To combine travels with paid gigs or other paid jobs is another good way to reduce costs ofcourse.

And I love spending time in our own little country. To go for hikes in the woods in the East of The Netherlands, to go to Maastricht for a day, and of course exploring all of nature The Hague has to offer. Saves a lot of hassle travelling. And should I say it again? Better for the enviroment!

Strangely I found that when I was working fulltime I felt a stronger urge to go spend all my money in the weekends, even on things I really didn’t need. I remember coming home with shoes I never wore and then just buying another pair. Such a waste! I still haven’t found out the psychology behind it, maybe it’s some form of happiness compensation? I don’t miss it anyway!

So what do you do to keep your budgetary costs low, to allow a lifestyle with more freedom? Have you even considered it at all? I’m excited to hear from you. For me this all has become so natural that it doesn’t feel restrictive at all. Quite the opposite in fact! I hope this whole story will make you a bit more aware next time you’re about to buy something you don’t really need! Enjoy the freedom you will get in return!

 

Killarney 

Maybe it’s because I got soaking wet yesterday while whale spotting, but I suddenly had to think back of my time in Killarney National Park.

This is how I spent many summer hols between my 17th and 27th, volunteering in environmental workcamps and lateron guiding same groups of volunteers from all over the world in the project! Better than a real holiday, so many friends and connections!

Every morning we would take a bus from the National Park Hostel, then a boat trip over the Upper Lake near Eagles Nest and then a long walk through rough terrain to get to the spot where we were working high up in the mountains. That’s where we would cut out invasive rhododendrons to protect the oak woods! No matter how bad the weather. After that lots of music sessions in the evenings! It’s where I got to learn many folk songs. So many good memories!

I was still studying law in Holland at the time, but it was definitely that experience that was part of the decision to leave my lawyer job at the age of 24 and go to Ireland for an indefinite period of time with my guitar!

Combining work, music and a million dreams…

What do you want to become when you grow up? This question had been haunting me for many years. The ‘problem’ started with the situation pictured below. This seems very luxurious but it’s not as simple as that. I went to school at 5 years old being able to read, and graduated at 17, not having a clue what I wanted to do.

     

Was I born a musician? Ha! See the grades above! I do love learning, all subjects really, from maths and science to languages and music. School and studying (European Law & Language Studies, graduating in Dutch Law) allowed me plenty of time for hobby’s and other interests.

But then…work life started. This came as surprisingly huge challenge for me. Not being fully in charge of my own work load caused me stress and I was missing time for my other passions. After working as a lawyer in one of the bigger Dutch law firms for a while, I just felt like I wanted to press a big stop button, to earn back that much needed time to be creative! So that’s when quit my job and left to Ireland with just my guitar and backpack, where I started making money from playing gigs. It’s amazing how magic stuff always happens when you tap into your own flow.

Some trial and error later I know how I like to fill my days: either combining small parttime jobs with music or working independently fulltime. I’ve worked in a wide range of areas over the years: from lawyer, university lecturer, PA, train stewardess, sales person, PR officer to bar manager and more…You name it, I’ve done it!

The ongoing drive to create has always been the essence for me. Coming up with a crazy idea for a concert, tour, a story or a CD production and then realizing it is so rewarding! It’s like taking people on a tour to a different world. You know the little boy in the movie The Greatest Showman? That’s how I think and love to work…realizing my million dreams!

In nowadays society specialism is rewarded. Working parttime can be seen as laziness. Higher skilled jobs for 2/3 days are pretty rare to find. A pity for creatives like me who have a wide variety of interests. What are your thoughts on this? What drives you in life? How do you combine work with your passion? And what would be the soundtrack to your career?