One year of Art: Money

Thinking-smallThink small, enjoy the way to your destination!” – Volkswagen beetle


When my wife and I told our families and friends about our plans to take a creative year, the first questions we always would get were about money. How would we be able to finance a whole year? Would we lose our jobs? What if the car breaks down? (our car did break down, by the way…)

We wouldn’t entirely be without income though. I was selling some of my art and earning money as a musician. The plan was to grow that income.

But it’s not the same as receiving a monthly pay check. So we decided to save money for backup. I calculated the money we needed with this simple formula:

Average spending in one month x 12

That’s it. No complicated budget calculations. Living simply and living a life of  less quantity but more quality has been on our to do list for years, so we didn’t need that much savings at all.

Asking for year off
It was both exciting and a little frightening to knock on the door of my bosses office and ask for a year off. I didn’t know if I had to quit my job, or if I could return after one year.

To my surprise my application was approved. It was a relief to have a job to go back to. If I had to quit, I would have  to apply for a new job if things didn’t work out. Luckily, my wife’s application was approved as well!

A Sabbatical?
Some employers, like universities or big IT companies offer a paid sabbatical as an employee benefit. A paid year out of the rat race to recharge the batteries. This was not the case at my job.

That’s why I prefer to call my year off a creative year, because I wouldn’t be playing golf, lying on the beach, or take a luxury cruise around the world. I wanted to work on my own projects.

I always felt I wouldn’t be playing golf all day when I retire either. I’m most happy  creating and working and hope to be able to do that as long as I can.

Some people did wonder what I was going to do all day, with all that time. They said they would go crazy after a few days without a job to go to or without a boss telling them what to do.

But I had, and still have, so many projects and ideas  that it would take me years to finish them all.

Overall, the responses we got were very positive. Concerns raised were only about the finances.

Looking back now, my answer to the money question is that it’s a matter of choice. If you want to drive a new car every 2 years and have a maximum mortgage on the house, it will be harder to take a year off.  But it’s still possible. You only have to save more for a backup plan.

In the next post I will write about: Time

Read part I of the One Year of art posts here.

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