Punching Financial Anxiety in the Face

I nerd out about spreadsheets. It started in college while I was tracking money as the financial manager for a handful of touring music groups. As an undergrad I carried around a spreadsheet breaking down each day into 15 minute increments to keep track of how I spent my time: class, music rehearsals, eating, studying, sleep, etc.


Fast forward to today, there are jillions of tiny little digital boxes with personal and business records going back further than I care to admit. My spreadsheets don't hold a candle to the actual financial software I use for business and personal use, but when it came time to apply for a small business loan the bankers complimented how detailed my Profit and Loss statements were. #nerd

Something else to know is that I'm an anxious little monster, especially when money is tight which is not helpful in the least.

More than anything – and this should be obvious – the main business spreadsheet I keep records a running total of project money in and out as well as profits. There's a good deal of other information riding shotgun, but my point for this post is keeping track of the money, specifically the profits and having at least an idea of what's ahead. In times past, I thought I had an idea as the timing for my busy and slow seasons. "The winters are always slow" would've made for an appropriate face tattoo considering how many times I've said it. Turns out I was only partly right.

Last week had me Googling spreadsheet formulas – as one does – because I was looking to try and utilize visually some of the financial data I'd recorded over the years. I'd found some nonsense formulas, plugged in my data, checked/re-checked, and setup a graph to visualize the info I now had. The graph below visually represents my small business's year to date monthly profits, beginning in 2014, as columns with the purple line as an average of each month.


Sharing my financial specifics isn't relevant or helpful, but having been at this for a bit the records I've kept are somewhat of a yearly road map to help me understand my cash flow, get a grip on my slow and busy seasons, and anticipate the associated anxiety. There'll always be outliers – June 2017 was awesome – so that's why I'm so interested in the averages.

Turns out my "Winter is Coming" fears aren't as scary as I've made them out to be while the month of June can go straight to hell. July is getting started and with it comes the upswing of early fall numbers; Early winter just looks like a drunk toddler with a blowtorch.

Again, I'm an anxious little monster and I know tons of other freelance creatives who fight these same demons. This colorful little roadmap brings me back to the reality that some months are better than others and my fears of "I'll never get any more work so I should get a real job" are just dumb. This June was slow – as per usual – but I intentionally used that free time punching my anxiety in the face by working on personal creative projects and adding to my stock footage portfolio. Staying physically active is also crazy helpful in dealing with my – at times – crippling anxiety issues. Thank goodness the training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon always starts in early January and helps keep my winter slow season demons at bay.