for the Creatives

3 practical strategies that keep me hustling

My writerly dreams battle against lovable nuisances like a day job (Cha-ching$$$$), family & friends, self-care, and of course household chores. And I have found three strategies that keep me writing even amidst ALL THE THINGS that will squeeze their way into my calendar.

I am beyond THRILLED to be featured on Ksenia Anske’s blog. My five years ago self would never suspect that I would one day have this opportunity to work with and learn from this writerly genius I admire so much (Oh btw, awhile back I also wrote about all the reasons I love Ksenia). Okay, I’m going to stop gushing now. Keep dreaming and working, and go steal my tips from Ksenia’s blog for your own world domination plans.

for the Creatives

An experiment saving $$$ with Qapital app

Always one to shirk away from traditional New Year resolutions, I’ve come up with an improvement-related experiment instead.

I’m all for finding motivation to save without too much spreadsheet work. Ech, spreadsheets, am I right?

Enter Qapital app.

(Psst… Sign up using my referral link, & Qapital gives us both $5)

Qapital is kinda like a saving $$$ game. You set “rules” for how to save and then you rake in the dough – or at least the dollars and cents and sense.

The great savings experiment numbers data stuff:

I already save each month, so my skepticism reared its actually-quite-beautiful head when I first heard of Qapital. “But wait… To save that money, you have to already have that money, so it’s just moving money at certain times to ‘save’ it when you already had it.”

Since I’m not a numbers person, I budget with Mint which tells me my net each month of the past calendar year. See below: The green is income, the red is spending, and the black tumultuous line is my net. bargraph.png

I’m not super consistent, because income fluctuates, payments fluctuate (somewhere in there I paid off loans, woohoo!), and okay fine, Starbucks and Lularoe addiction fluctuates. But I used excel formulas to find the monthly net average/median (which is the best to track here? I don’t know!).

I’ll be testing if Qapital app helps me save more than my average or median. My average/median are both just over $1000. If I save more than that, I call this a possible success, while realizing there are a bunch of other factors that affect how much I’m saving. (I’m no scientist with a control case and laboratory or anything here… ) But it would be the start of an indicator.

If I don’t save more than that, it may have been a flop *for me to choose to use it in this way.* Note that doesn’t mean the app is a flop. My next option would be to automatically deposit my average into savings each month, and then only after that point do Qapital savings beyond that average.

 

How I’ll be saving through the Qapital app:

I set up two savings buckets in the app:

  1. Money for my book launch – I figure I’ll need some money for ads, giveaways, book launch party, something, though I don’t have details figured yet.
  2. General savings – because I should save money to just save money too of course.

 

I’ll be saving money for my book launch in relation to groceries & visits to Starbucks:

  1. If I spend less than $40/month at Starbucks, the remainder will go toward my book launch (so I’m incentivized to not go to Starbucks as often)
  2. Every time I buy Starbucks, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving even if I cave and go to Starbucks)
  3. Every time I buy groceries at Walmart, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving throughout the month regardless, just by living my life)

 

I’ll be saving money for just saving based on bigger rules:

  1. The 52-week rule reversed, meaning each week an amount goes into savings counting down from $52 the first week, $51 the next week, $50 the next, and so on through the year.
  2. The round-up rule, meaning every time I spend money, the amount will be rounded to the nearest dollar and the change put into savings.
  3. Plus, 1% of my income will automatically be deposited into savings.

 

We’ll see how this goes. I’ll update you in about 3 months on my experience. I may keep it the way it is or adjust depending on results. I could definitely move more into savings, but I want to start small and see how it goes.

 

How are you saving $$$?

Tell me your best tips and tricks to savings in the comments below. And if you used the Qapital app before, let me know your experience.

Want to try the Qapital app?

Use my referral link anywhere in this post and Qapital app will give us each $5

Want something more simple for saving?

My friend Kathryn is using the Qapital app in a set-it-and-forget-it way, because she’s all about the simple life. Check out her post and see if it’s something you’d want to try.

Musings

Small Change for Great Change

I’ve never been one for resolutions. There’s too much pressure to achieve something huge, and I inevitably freak out then fail. But I do want each year to show marked improvement. Don’t you? To grow and change and become who I want to be, slowly but surely seeing the steps.

I do the New Year a little differently than resolutions of large goals. I can’t drop 20 pounds or finish a novel or some great feat like that. It’s too scary on a deadline. But I can change some small behavior.

The key is to find the small tweak to my life that creates a large difference toward my goals. Last year it was cutting out all the “extras” in my schedule that I could, to better manage my energy with a new taxing job on my plate.

This year, I’ve noticed I never have time for working on my dream job – because I never schedule it, I just use my free time for my dream. And ya know what? I don’t really have free time. Maybe you don’t either. Here’s the little change I’m making – I’m *scheduling* everything. I have a planner and I’m going to actually use it. I’m going to schedule my actual appointments, but I’m actually going to schedule my dream job, I’m going to schedule my blogging, and I’m also going to schedule my free time. Because I need that. And having that scheduled will take away my excuse of busyness.

Do you have any resolutions? Or do those terrify you? Maybe you’d like to make a small change to greatly change your life. Maybe that’s scheduling your free time. Or something else. But here’s the big question for your year: How are you going to make the YOU you want to be more tangible this year?

 

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for the Bookworms, for the Writers

The Problem with Free E-books

 Free E-books. It’s quite a wonderful concept that a debut author makes an e-book available for free in order to pique a reader’s interest and gain readership. At least that’s what I used to think. Then I read about 20 free e-books – some not-so-good and some quality. I still hated it.

The Problem

The author needs money for their work, I get that. The author needs to leave the reader hanging at the last sentence of the first book, so the reader feels the need to purchase the second. And so the story builds to the climax – and then ends. No grand finale. No resolution. Just the cliffhanger. The second book presumably leads to the conclusion the reader awaits. Think the style of “Inkspell” or “Catching Fire” ending abruptly in the climactic moment, then “Inkdeath” and “Mockingjay” respectively concluding the story. The difference here being that this free e-book is likely the first story read from that author. We as readers are still evaluating the author, on if he/she is trusted with our emotions and worthy of our time. And to suddenly be dropped at such a moment, I lose confidence. Because it’s one thing to write a great beginning and a great middle. The mark of a great author though, is a great resolution. So I’m wary to spend my money in hopes of a great resolution when I don’t know the author yet.

My Solution

And that’s my dilemma with free e-books. As a writer, I don’t want to do that to readers. But I also think that a free e-book is great marketing if I can convince readers to purchase that my writing is worth their money. In a hypothetical future, I could see myself potentially publishing a free e-book short story to lead into a purchasable novel. But asking a reader to invest in a full-length novel with no resolution is personally devastating. I also would consider the first book in a series, complete with a resolution, as a free e-book – and then including a sneak-peek into the second at the end that leaves the reader hanging. But I think there needs to be a resolution for the reader’s first introduction to an author.

What about “The Selection?”

The Selection This brings me to “The Selection.” I purchased “The Selection,” put down good money and trusted the publicity, readership, and – let’s face it – the cover, that this would be worth every penny. Then this book did not have a huge conclusion, other than knowing that the next round of the Selection was starting. Wasn’t even a free e-book and it left me hanging. Though I had yet to read a great resolution from this particular author, I was so hopeful that I purchased “The Elite” and “The One” together. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Great job bringing it all together! I still wish there was a little more conclusion to the first, but in case you were wondering, it is totally worth the risk here. The political intrigue escalates, which is what I was really hoping for, that it would overpower the romance drama. And I go back and forth on who SHOULD end up with whom, as well as who WILL end up with whom. And the resolution is both satisfying and believable. So that’s my plug. Kudos, Kiera Cass.