Hi there, all you CamOrbiters out there—Lola Davina here. I was delighted when Ray invited me to guest blog about how to handle a personal finance crunch.
Staring down the barrel of real financial trouble is a situation I know all too well and, unfortunately, one many of us are finding ourselves in right at this moment. So, what to do when your cam wages and savings aren’t covering your expenses? Here’s my best advice for managing financial crisis.
Resist The Urge To Beat Yourself Up.
When experiencing money woes, it’s important not to make financial decisions from a panicked place. Very little good ever comes from acting without thinking. You might be experiencing fear, anger, humiliation, and overwhelm, but you are not your emotions. Let yourself feel what you’re feeling, but don’t self-flagellate, don’t engage in shit talk. Remind yourself as often as you need to that the world is especially unsettled right at the moment—no need to take it personally.
Suffering Isn’t Personal Failure. It’s Important To Let Yourself Grieve.
The very best advice I’ve ever read on the subject of navigating hard times is from the American Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, in her book fail fail again fail better. Chödrön points out that life is hard, complicated, and often unfair. We may try our best and still not succeed due to circumstances beyond our control. When we screw up, or miss out, or get hit by a hurricane, we need to grieve. We have to say goodbye to what we wanted so badly for ourselves: I will always be safe. I will always be happy. I will always be in control.
Failing Is Also Part Of The Process Of Success.
True self-kindness lies in learning to accept that falling short of our heart’s desire is just part of being alive and fully human. Chödrön writes:
If there is a lot of “I am bad, I am terrible” in our thinking, somehow just notice that, and maybe soften up a bit. Instead say, “What am I feeling here? Maybe what is happening here is not that I am a failure—I am just hurting. I am just hurting.”
When we’re in a difficult spot, rather than tearing ourselves down, a much gentler course of action is to simply say, “Ow.”
Chödrön has written other wonderful books on weathering life’s storms, including her classic: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times—I encourage you to check it out. If you need additional self-care tools, you can listen for free to my audio recordings on self-soothing, managing acute anxiety, and more over on Soundcloud.
Your Problems Aren’t Going Away On Their Own. Be Proactive!
Many of us, when we’re in trouble, tend to procrastinate. While this inclination is understandable because we’re anxious and depressed, hiding is counterproductive.
Get out in front of your situation, the sooner the better. Call your creditors, talk to your landlord—communication is key. Almost everyone would rather be kept in the loop rather than in the dark. It’s also human nature that people tend to be less forgiving if we avoid them or tell them something less than the truth.
Sample Hardship Letter
If you need help putting the right words together, check out the language of this sample hardship letter, which you can modify to your situation.
Focus On The Basics And Consider Your Priorities.
When times get really tight, it’s super helpful to have an idea of the barest minimum you need to get by. Erin Lowry of the Broke Millennial Series, has a terrific template for building what she calls a “Doomsday Budget,” or a budget after an unexpected financial hit, such as losing a job or a housemate. Everyone’s situation is different, of course, but it can be a helpful starting point for rethinking which expenses are absolutely essential, and what can we do without for a while.
There’s No Shame in Asking For Help.
Reach out to your friends and family, and look into any federal, state, local, or nonprofit assistance you might be eligible for. Food stamps, unemployment benefits, Medicaid, rent or eviction relief—if you qualify for these programs, by all means, use them—hard times are what the safety net is for.
Additionally, you can find COVID-19 related assistance programs on the Broke Millennial website, and I keep a sex-worker-friendly list of free and low-cost mental health resources, harm reduction strategies, sex worker mutual aid funds, online sex worker support groups, and more on my website.
If you’re new to camming, or you’re struggling to get your cam business off the ground, Amberly Rothfield offers terrific resources—check out her new book 90 Days and Paid: Jump Start Your Online Sex Work Business for building a successful business plan, advertising, diversifying income streams, and much more. She’s also available for one-on-one consultation.
Don’t Forget To Use Your Resources. You Have More Than You Think!
Money isn’t the only resource in short supply right now. So is:
- free time
- adult supervision
- help with household chores and childcare
Maybe your elderly neighbor across the way would let you store your stuff for free in their garage for a few months while you downsize, or in exchange for some yard work. Maybe your landlord would knock some off the rent if you watch her kids a couple of afternoons a week. Nearly everyone is living with less than they had before, which creates opportunities for out-of-the-box solutions.
Make Sure That You Remember To Take Care of You.
I’m circling to the start. Remember to be kind to yourself during times of extreme stress. Quoting Pema Chödrön again: “The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”
Caring for your body, soothing your nerves, connecting with loved ones, practicing gratitude—you can practice all these things for free or very low cost.
And finally, just remember that nothing in life lasts forever; this is nothing more than a moment in time, as hard as it might be. If you make the effort to take care of yourself, use your resources and connections, be proactive about your problems, and keep a cool head then you can get through almost anything.
About the Author
Lola Davina is a former stripper, dominatrix, porn performer, and escort, and the author of the Thriving in Sex Work series. Her new book, Thriving in Sex Work: Sex Work and Money, a personal finance guide for sex workers, is due out September 1st. Learn more sex work and self-care at LolaDavina.com, and follow Lola on Twitter at Lola_Davina.