Posts Tagged ‘money’

Generosity Times Three

June 20, 2014

Thursday June 19th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I haven’t forgotten about my daily focus on kindness, but today kindness happened to focus on me. I can’t say I’m upset, and just when I was about to throw in the towel that anyone else was in the game, in come three shining examples to remind me I’m not alone. I’m giddy beyond words!

It’s no secret that I’ve been going through some rough patches of late. Actually, they have been more than rough. It kind of feels like I have been riding uphill on the long and winding highway of life, and it’s a cobblestone road and I’m on a bicycle with no seat. And I’m not wearing pants.

Although I have a heaping helping of problems in my in box, the majority of them are a result or at least a byproduct of a lack of money. I’ve heard it said that if money can fix your problems you don’t have any problems. Well, I’d like to meet the halfwit that said that. I bet he was rich.

Money is an issue for a lot of us, and many times it’s not our fault. Many times it is as well, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt on this one. I was on track to financial freedom when I had my morning radio job at 97.9 ‘The Loop’ in Chicago in 2004. I keep harping on that, but it’s the truth. It took a lifetime to land that gig, and I was in the right place at the right time for once.

The owner of the station then was Bonneville International – which is basically the Mormon Church. They are very good people to work for, as they treat their employees well. We were part of a long term plan that would have kept me employed to this day, and I’d be making big bank.

Jobs like that don’t grow on trees, and when the company unexpectedly sold out that plan was no longer in effect and we were bounced like a third party check. I’ve spent the last ten years in recovery mode, hoping to catch another break like that. Unfortunately, they are extremely rare.

The sad part is, the snake that fired us has NO clue and couldn’t care less what damage he has done to all of us that were part of the show, but that’s the cold hard business of radio and life in general. Precious few care about anyone else, and in retrospect it is the worst break of my career.

Well, today got at least a little brighter when I went to my post office box and got – count ‘em – THREE completely unsolicited yet extremely generous donation checks from people that know I’m struggling right now and wanted to help. I couldn’t believe it, and it made me weep with joy.

Two of the checks came from friends of mine, but the third – and by far the largest – was from an anonymous donor who reads my daily diary entries and wanted to help. He included his name in an email, but insisted he wanted it to remain anonymous so I will respectfully grant that wish.

This really gives me hope on a lot of levels. First, I will be able to make it through yet another bleak weak summer. That’s always an issue in comedy, and this year is not looking bright at all. I have a few things lined up for the next three months, but nothing earth shattering. It’s sparse.

Second, it takes the lion’s share of the intense pressure off of having to worry about how I am going to cover my rent so I can focus on more important long term goals like finding a job with health insurance, and completing the book I am working on. I can now focus on that for a while.

Thirdly, it restores faith. I have given money to many when I had it, and I didn’t expect it back. It’s the right thing to do sometimes, and this was one. I experienced the joy of giving, and so are those who helped me. It’s hard to match my joy though. I TRULY appreciate this. Thank you all!

Money sure does talk, and today I'm screaming in return. THANK YOU THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

Money does talk, and today I scream at the top of my lungs in return – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

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Exploring Marketing Options

April 21, 2014

Saturday April 19th, 2014 – McHenry, IL/Volo, IL

Improving my marketing skills from the ground up is my mission not only this year but every other year that I am lucky enough to experience from here on out. It’s something all businesses need to succeed, but especially entertainers. We are our own product, and marketing is a must.

I have been lucky enough to have squeaked by for decades, mostly because I was in the correct place at an opportune time. I rode the wave of the comedy club boom of the 1980s, and was able to make enough to at least survive from late 1985 on. Some years were better than others, but my primary source of income other than a few scattered years doing radio has always been comedy.

That’s good and bad, but most people can’t see the bad. “You make your LIVING standing on a stage telling JOKES. How bad can life be?” Well, in a lot of ways that’s true. I always enjoyed the performing part of it, and I was never motivated by money. If I could squeak by, that was ok.

As it turns out, I could have more than squeaked by and it was my fault for not doing it. By all accounts, I should have had at least one recording a full ten years before I did. I actually thought about it, but nobody else I knew had one and I thought it may appear egotistical. What a dummy. Ego shmego. It would have been some financial security I could have used to further my career.

It probably would have been a cassette, but the form doesn’t matter. Maybe it would have been a vinyl record album. Or both. The point is, I would have been able to sell them every week and even at low numbers I could have hauled in a nice chunk of change over a ten year time window.

I was averaging at least 45 weeks of work then, and quite a few years I worked 50-52. It wasn’t always the best work in the best clubs, but say I could have averaged ten units a week sold over a ten year period. That’s 450-500 units per year at what likely would have been a $10 retail price.

On the conservative side, say that’s $45,000 over ten years minus say $2 per unit to make. That still leaves me $36,000 had I not touched any of that money – and knowing me I would not have. I’d have saved it for some kind of stunt nobody else would have done. It may have been a flop of epic stature, but that’s me as well. I’ve never been afraid to go all in. I have tasted defeat often.

What if I had spent that $36,000 on TV commercials somewhere or a full page ad in one of the trade papers? When was the last time you saw a comedian or performer of any kind spend money on self promotion? It just doesn’t happen – at least not without management or a recording deal.

There are obviously taxes in there too, and I realize that. I would report every last penny, as it’s just not worth trying to screw the government. I’d rather have a clear conscience and just pay my fair share. Whatever was left would have still been a nice bit of cash to use on some promo stunt.

I wasn’t forced to think that way then, as work was plentiful and nobody was selling anything other than their comedy act. We were ‘artistes’, and that’s great on paper but most of us are now certified vagrant caliber broke and wish we would have had our marketing chops on the way up.

Too late now, but it’s not too late to change. One thing I have that the newbies don’t is a whole lot of experience in front of audiences coast to coast, and a backlog of polished material that I am able to use whenever I need it. That’s part of what paying dues is about, and I’ve put in my time.

Now I’m looking to sell what I’ve been able to create, but in other ways than just saying it on a stage somewhere. What else can I do to get paid? I suppose I could write columns, and I’ve been doing that for the past few months in a publication called “Scene Magazine” in Fond du Lac, WI. My friend Silk Casper asked me to do it, and he’s been making sure I get a check every month.

It’s not huge, but it’s been steady and I guess I can say I’m a published author. I think. I’m not anywhere close to being a professional, but it’s a solid start and I am grateful for the opportunity. Branching out and creating a new stream of income for being funny comes in very handy now.

But I know there’s more – a LOT more. There’s both a flea market and an antique mall within an easy drive from where I live, and I took a lap in both today just to check out that scene. I have been going to thrift stores, flea markets and rummage sales for decades, but now I’m seeing them all with fresh eyes. I used to go there looking to score treasures. Now I’m looking to be a seller.

The marketing skills of the sellers at flea markets and antique malls are all over the place. Most are very poor from my experience, and have little to no people skills. Just a friendly hello when I walk past their display should be the bare minimum, but I’d guess maybe 10% or less will do it.

I went today just to observe, and I learned a lot. I went to the flea market first, and looked at all the displays to see which ones I liked and which ones I didn’t. Most of the stuff was thrown in an unorganized pile, and was difficult to look at. It took work to sort through all of the clutter to see if there was anything I’d want to buy. They made it hard for people to spend money. Not smart.

Even little things like business cards were missing. What if I was looking to sell something one of the dealers specialized in? Maybe I had a relative pass away that was a big collector, and I was looking for someone to help me appraise the collection. Whatever the case, 99% of these mutants didn’t even say hello and maybe strike up a conversation that could have led to a business deal.

One guy there had some old toys, and his display was a bit sloppy but still interesting. He had a pair of old Schlitz salt and pepper shakers that I bought for $10 and an old pair of Schlitz patches from the ‘60s or ‘70s that their drivers used to wear. I can use all of that for “Schlitz Happened!”

The antique mall was a little better, but not much. Most of the vendors that were there were not very talkative, and I found that appalling. They didn’t have to pester me like the stereotype of an old time used car salesman, but a friendly smile and a hello would have been nice. I didn’t get it.

I ended up buying a collection of 50 old ‘Fate’ magazines from the ‘50s through the ‘70s for $1 each, and that was a steal. They’re a great read, packed with tales of UFOs and the paranormal of all kinds. I’ll scour them for King of Uranus ideas, and keep exercising my marketing muscles to use in the future. I want to go out past Uranus, and find ways to make money when I’m sleeping.

I found some Schlitz salt and pepper shakers at a flea market today. I will use them for my one man show 'Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst" www.schlitzhappened.com.

I found some Schlitz salt and pepper shakers at a flea market today. I will use them for ‘Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz From The Pabst.” http://www.schlitzhappened.com.

The same guy sold me two cloth patches Schlitz drivers used to wear in the '60s and '70s.

The same guy sold me two cloth patches Schlitz drivers used to wear in the ’60s.

I also found some old FATE magazines from the '50s through '70s. The cool cover art alone was worth the $1 each I paid for them all.

I also found some old FATE magazines from the ’50s through ’70s. The cover art alone was worth the $1 each I paid for them all.

Two Months Torched

March 1, 2014

Friday February 28th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

It’s hard to believe two months of 2014 are gone already, but they are. Wow. Now I’m starting to see how the universe can be billions of years old. The clock keeps ticking no matter what, and nothing can stop it. First it’s the big bang, and before everybody knows it stars start burning out.

If I am ever going to do anything significant with my life, this would be the time to kick things into high gear. Time isn’t promised to any of us, and that universal clock is ticking against us all. I thought I had been putting my time in wisely in 2014, but I look up and tomorrow is March 1st.

It would be March 1st even if I didn’t put my time in wisely, and that’s part of the problem. I’m doing pretty well this year, but it’s the 25 or so before this one that have left me hog tied. I didn’t have nearly the focus and direction I feel now, and I’m paying for it. Everything has a price tag.

I’m still on my marketing kick, and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s going to have to be a lot more than a kick to make a difference though, but I’m in it for the long haul. I feel I’m on the right road, but so far behind the pack I’ll have to buy rocket powered roller skates to catch up.

All I’m looking to do is establish a reliable source of income that will let me not have to worry about paying my bills each and every month to the point of exhaustion. Tomorrow starts another new month, and I still find myself scratching and clawing to come up with the rent. It gets old.

I’ve been working extra hard at learning about all things marketing, which includes subscribing to several online newsletters written by guru types I’d never heard of until recently. A lot of their information seems legit, but other parts are pie in the sky insanity that’s way too good to be true.

Multi level marketing is the same way. I’m sure someone has made a million dollars in Amway or Mary Kay, but the majority of people that get in it fail miserably. They haul out the diamonds and pink Cadillacs to sign people up, but nobody ever wants to admit there’s more to it than that.

The same is true with what I’m trying to do. I get blasted every day with emails that say things like “INCREASE YOUR MONTHLY INCOME BY $25,000”. Great! Then I’ll have $25,500. Seriously, it sounds good but it isn’t realistic. It takes baby steps to get things rolling properly.

It’s just like those weight loss claims where people say they lost 58 pounds in four days from drinking milkshakes laced with sawdust and chalk water. It’s not realistic to expect such miracles overnight, and I’m absolutely not. I just want to establish a pattern that eventually turns a buck.

Realistically, I’d like to be booked as many weeks as I can working decent venues that can pay a living wage. If it’s a comedy club or corporate function it’s not important right now. Both will work at the moment, and having back of the room merchandise to sell should be ready as well. If I can pull that off consistently – and I’m close – then I’ll be able to go after the $25,000 months.

All these things take time unfortunately. I got myself in some financial trouble, but it could not be avoided. I had health issues in 2011, and I had to spend my savings on living expenses. Now I have an IRS bill to pay off and credit card debt. That slows it down even more. Welcome to life.

Actually, welcome to existence. Life would be so much more – at least in my vision of it. Life would be having the financial machine well oiled and running so smoothly I wouldn’t even think about it. I’d have my bills and living expenses handled every month, and be able to invest all my energy into making life better for others. THAT would be living to me, and I crave it every day.

I have flashes here and there, especially when I’m on stage or on the air. That’s when I feel like I’m living, and not just existing. I feel like I’m making a positive contribution to the collective of humankind, and that’s how I always thought life should be. Then I get off stage and into my ratty old car to do 23 hours of living a cockroach life until my next time on stage or air – if I’m lucky.

That’s just not acceptable, and I’m going to fight it until I win or die trying. Some people have trust funds or people that leave them something in a will. I won’t have that option, so why waste time thinking about it? Everyone that could have died and left me money has now checked out.

I’m not looking for a handout or a free ride. I’m fine with earning it, and in fact I’d rather make my own way. That’s what I’ve always wanted. I had flashes of it when I had radio jobs, but then it ended and I’d be back into cockroach mode. After all this angst, I just crave a bit of stability.

That’s why I’m so interested in marketing. Marketing makes MONEY – at least it does when it gets executed properly. The people that have amassed fortunes have had one teeny weeny thing I have lacked for so long – a solid battle plan. That’s what I’m putting together, and it’s working.

I just have to give it time to manifest itself and keep growing. I get up every day and work on it a little more, and I’m also slowly incorporating others into the mix as well. I’ve got my days full from early morning to early the next morning, and that’s making them disappear even quicker. It went from “Thanksgiving is coming soon” to “It’s March 1st already” at all time record speed.

I have more on my plate now than I ever have, and I think about how to manage it better every single day. I’m enjoying what I’m doing, but I’m still struggling with financial things. Taxes are due soon, and that’s another smoldering nightmare in waiting. I never enjoy slaying that dragon. I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have, but it never seems like it’s enough. It stinks.

At the very least, I’m proud of myself for giving the effort. I’m trying my best, and working on what one is weakest at is always the most difficult task. That’s the only way to improve, so that’s what I’m doing. Business has never been my forte, but I am throwing everything I have into it.

Marketing is a huge arena, but I’m not thinking huge right now. I want to get my newsletter out to the immediate people that can book me every month. We’ve gotten two out so far, and it was a major effort to accomplish that. Talk to me five years from now, and I’m envisioning it to be one of my strong suits. I picture my finances to be in immaculate order, and to be in excellent health.

I never had a picture like that in my head before – or any other one now that I think of it. I was too busy trying to make it to the next month to have a plan for the long term future. Now that I’m planning long term, the future is getting here faster than I expected. I was looking forward to the football games at Thanksgiving what seemed like days ago. Now it’s almost baseball season and I’m wondering where the time went. March 1st already? I can’t worry about it. I have work to do.

March 1st already? Where DOES the time go?

March 1st already? Where DOES the time go? Life’s clock never stops.

A Money Minefield

November 26, 2013

Monday November 25th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

If there’s anyone anywhere who is doing well financially, I’d like to meet them and shake their hand. It sure isn’t anyone in my circle of friends and contacts. Times are tight, and getting tighter by the week. Now the holidays are here, and that should launch everyone into tension overload.

I had to deal with car problems today, something I haven’t had in a while but I always know is only a dashboard light away. How many times have I had a car that ‘runs great’, but costs me the moon because something goes wrong that isn’t engine or transmission related? I’ve lost count.

Today it was my rear suspension system. Something snapped when I went over a railroad track a while back, and it got so bad I couldn’t drive the car without getting whiplash every time I hit a pebble. I put it off as long as I could, but I had no choice. Final damage: $450. My wallet hurts.

Every time I think I can at least stick my nose out of the water and breathe a little, some out of the blue crisis comes along and puts my head back under. This wasn’t what I pictured doing with $450 right now, but I’m sure the guy at the car place didn’t mind. He’s probably struggling too.

There’s a quote rolling around in my head, but I have no idea who said it or where I heard it. It goes “Life can be a cruel mother – giving with one hand and taking with the other.” I don’t know who said that, but it should probably be on a t-shirt or bumper sticker. It rings truthful with me.

It’s hard enough to deal with the expected expenses of life, but throw the surprises in there and it’s a money minefield. Nobody can predict where the mines are, and eventually we all get one or more limbs blown off. It could be worse though. At least I’m single. How do parents pull it off?

I couldn’t imagine raising a kid right now. I have all I can do to keep my own bills paid. Where are people getting money to raise children these days – especially if they intend on sending them to college? These are not easy questions, and I have no answers. I barely found $450 for my car.

Actually, I didn’t find it at all. I had that money all ready to go somewhere else, but that didn’t work out. It was to help pay down my credit card, and that’s another issue most people today are battling. I had my balance at zero for years, but again I stepped in the money minefield and blew my leg off. I needed a car badly, so I bought the one that just had the work done on it. It’s a trap.

The interest is already killing me, but what can I do? Had I been able to keep driving it I would have, but it had reached the boiling point. The whole thing makes me sick, but I know I’m by far not the only one going through these situations. Like I said, everyone I know is having problems.

One thing I’d really like to see is some financial training in schools. I for one could have used a crash course, and so could everyone else. Most parents can’t or don’t take time to talk about this with their kids because they’re out feverishly struggling to try and patch their own money holes.

If nothing else, at least I’ll have a nice smooth riding car to sleep in if I need to. Rent is due in a few days, and I had all I could handle to scrape that up…again. One of these days I’m going to figure it out, and hopefully be able to share it with my friends. Life is too short to live like a bug.

Life is a minefield. Problems explode without notice.

Life is a minefield. Problems explode without notice.

Breathing Room

November 2, 2013

Friday November 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I said at the beginning of the year I wanted this to be my best year ever. I don’t know if I made it, but I’m pretty close. Yes there were some disappointments, but for the most part I had a stellar 2013. A lot of exciting things happened this year, some of which have never happened before.

Off the top of my head, I made the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show a reality and performed it several times in a fantastic venue, appeared on local, regional and cable television, had a speaking role in a legitimate Hollywood movie and got to meet and hang out with one of my heroes Bob Uecker.

Those are all highlights in my book, and I enjoyed every one of them. I also went to Atlanta to participate in the Laughing Skull Festival and got to hang out with the great James Gregory at his home there. James is also a hero of mine for how he has built his career, and getting to hang with him for an afternoon was a privilege. He treated me like a peer, and I’m an even bigger fan now.

Another feather in my cap this year was getting to be ‘The King of Uranus’ on March 13th at the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game. That was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, and it went over extremely well. I know there’s something there, and I want to keep working on it.

I got to host some talk radio shows at WNTA in Rockford, IL and I really grew as a host in that format. It was a great opportunity to practice. I took full advantage of it as often as I could. I also hosted ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal talk show on WLIP in Kenosha, WI for half the year, and at some point I’d love to get that back on the air somewhere though I need to get paid.

Money was tight again this year, but it is for almost everyone. Summer was a complete disaster financially, but I’ve had a nice run of late and at least have a bit of breathing room. I’ve worked a lot of fun places in the last month and November and December look solid. The money I make is spent before I receive it, but at least my rent is paid with a few bucks left over for the other bills.

Living week to week is SO not what I want to be doing anymore. It’s hectic and a huge energy drain I’d rather not have in my life. Robbing Peter is bad enough, but then not paying Paul makes life a constant shell game. I don’t want to be dodging anybody, I just want to pay up what I owe.

For a while there, I was really in a tizzy. I don’t know how I scraped by this summer, but I sure don’t want that to happen in 2014. The key is to plan ahead, but that’s a lot easier said than done when it’s the end of the month and there’s goose eggs in the bank account. Money is the cushion.

If I can find a way to get some legitimate steady income, it won’t take that long to turn my life completely around in a very short time. I’ve put in my time, and I’m ready for a break. I have no idea what that break will be, but I know I’m ready for something. Nobody I know works as hard as I do for as little a payoff, but I can’t give up now. If anything, I’m going to work even harder.

I know the year’s not over yet, but I’m already planning for 2014 and even beyond. That’s just smart business, and I have to make at least some long term plans even though nothing is going to be guaranteed. I have a much better chance of success if I’m planning for it months or even years ahead, and that’s what I need to do. Money gives me some breathing room to look at my options.

2014 will be here sooner than later. Time to plan ahead.

2014 will be here sooner than later. Time to plan ahead.

Mental Wealth

October 24, 2013

Friday October 18th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

I’ve been reading quite a bit about acquiring wealth of late, diligently trying to figure out what it takes to achieve financial independence. This has been a perplexing puzzle, and a source of all kinds of pain in my life. I would guess 95% or higher of my problems come from lack of money.

I realize money isn’t everything, but it’s a lot – especially when it happens to be in too short of supply. It’s the measurement of energy that’s returned to a person in proportion to what he or she puts out. That’s what I’ve been reading anyway. There has to be a way to conquer this problem.

America is supposed to be as good as life gets anywhere on the planet, but the vast majority of Americans are hurting for money right now. I won’t go as far as to say we’re poor, but I doubt if anyone would argue that finances are as tight now as they have been since the Great Depression.

My grandparents told me horror stories when I was a kid of going through those years, but they had no choice. Times were tight for all then, much like they are now. They also told stories of the boom years after World War II where lots of people laid a foundation to build eventual fortunes.

Wealth is definitely a mindset, and one I would love to acquire. If I wasn’t so busy trying to get those pesky bills paid month after month, I might have a shot. It’s much easier to fix a hole in the roof when the sun is shining than during the middle of a torrential downpour. That’s a no brainer.

Not many of us have that luxury. I know I don’t. Every single penny I make goes to either bills or paying down debt. My savings is zero, and I’m thoroughly embarrassed. There was a time not all that long ago when I was sitting pretty with zero credit card debt and a hefty stash in the bank that would have allowed me to live without working for at least a few years. That’s LONG gone.

It’s gone for almost everyone – except the filthy rich that don’t have to worry about what they spend at anytime. That’s a tiny percentage of the population that doesn’t count in my book. I am referring to the real world jungle that most of us have to call home. Things are getting a bit snug.

Gas prices have ‘gone down’ to right around three bucks a gallon. Really? How insane is that? That alone is killing us, as it drives up the prices of transportation to get the trucks with all of the merchandise to the stores so they can sell it. It’s all interwoven, and in the end we get the shaft.

It’s hard not to go off on what’s wrong with the system blah blah blah, but that’s not what I am talking about – at least not today. What I mean is getting a proper mindset in place that will bring true wealth as a result. Part of wealth is having money, but not all. It’s acquiring an abundance of resources that can be used as needed to solve problems. It’s an energy river flowing from within.

I know that sounds goofy, but I really believe that’s what wealth is. Many have won the lottery but wound up broke again not that many years later. I never want that to be me. I want to be the wizard that can rebuild a fortune at any time should disaster happen to strike. I have experienced my share of disaster for the next six lifetimes. Hows ‘bout some decent years tossed in there for a refreshing change? That would be nice, and that’s what I’m shooting for. Picking trinkets out of thrift stores and rummage sales is fun, but it’s not my solution. True wealth comes from within.

Money is part of it, but wealth is a mindset.

Money is part of it, but wealth is a mindset.

Financial Insecurity

May 12, 2013

Friday May 10th, 2013 – Caledonia, WI

   Like it or not, I have to knuckle down and make some money. On this cosmic plane, I have not figured out a way to get over the financial hump, and it absolutely stinks. I keep hearing tall tales of how people start with a piece of lint and a gum wrapper and turn it into millions, but I bet nine of ten of those tales aren’t more than fabricated fluff and nothing else. Getting rich is a real bitch.

   Yes people do win the lottery and even businesses hit it big, but more often than not people get in a financial rut and stay there throughout their lives. It’s getting harder to make an honest buck than ever before, and those that do are getting taxed up the poop shoot so why even attempt it?

   One thing I know it’s not is easy. The snake bastards who peddle “no money down” real estate courses on late night TV are oilier than Justin Bieber’s complexion, but the greedy couch maggot masses still get sucked in by the idea of making easy millions without doing anything to earn it.

   I’ve always been willing to earn it, but how? I’ve been so busy focusing on creative endeavors, studying financial fundamentals has been left behind. This is true for millions besides me, and in no way have I ever thought I was alone. The clock ticks, and I need to start socking away cash.

   But it’s so damn difficult without stability. One week or month will go well, but then there will be some fallouts or unexpected bills and before I know it I’m back in the hole deeper than I ever was. If I had more stable income I could plan better, but who does these days? It’s not realistic.

   Then there are those who inherit a hefty wad. Wouldn’t that be sweet? Without a doubt, but too bad for me – everyone in my family tree that could possibly have left me something is now dead and I didn’t get a nickel. I’m not asking for millions, but it would be nice to have a little security.

   It’s no fun floating aimlessly like a dead fish from week to week. Struggling to scrape together a living takes away a lot of creative energy that could be spent on much more meaningful things. I’d much rather be planning a benefit show to help a worthy cause than hoping my rent gets paid.

   I thought for sure I’d be financially secure by now, and by all rights I should be. I was lined up perfectly with my radio job at The Loop in 2004, and that would have been it. I would have had a great run of comedy to go along with the radio and by now I bet I’d have enough saved to retire.

   Woulda, coulda, shoulda. The whole world came crashing down, and it was no fault of my own but I sure am suffering all these years later. Had I been able to get another gig or have time to put another plan together I may be sitting in a different spot altogether. But I didn’t. I had to get back out and start piecing together a living in this cold cruel world where few care about anyone else.

   I thought about all this more than a little today as I loaded a container with trinkets and baubles I’ve been buying at thrift stores and flea markets to take to a person to help me sell on Ebay for a profit. I hope. I don’t have time to fart around with it myself, but I’m trying to start an income so I’m hiring someone to do it for me. It’s a friend of a friend, and I have no idea if it will work out.

  What else can I do but keep slugging? I defy anyone to start from ground zero and get rich with no help from anyone. I’m sure it’s been done and will continue to be done – but it’s about as rare as rappers who say ‘ask’. The odds are stacked against us, even in America. Sorry to say, it’s not the easy cakewalk we’re lead to believe. I’m doing my best, but I could use a break about now.

The Cockroach Mindset

May 3, 2013

Wednesday May 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   New month, new motivation. I just finished slugging out a pleasurable productive month doing ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows, regular standup comedy shows and teaching comedy classes, but the money I made from all of it is gone like Madonna’s virginity. It was fun to do, but I need money.

   It’s SO disheartening when every penny one works so hard for has to go to non sexy things like speeding ticket fines or credit card bills, but that’s life – at least for most of us. I don’t know who has money to burn these days, but nobody in my immediate circle. Everyone I know is struggling just to stay afloat, and that has a way of cranking up the stress level and sapping fun out of life.

   Sometimes I feel like I’m almost there, but then I look at my bills and know I’m not even close to where I need to be. I focus on the journey and enjoying the moment and all that claptrap that’s splattered all over greeting cards and motivational posters, but at the end of the day I’m BROKE.

   Life can be so cruel and unforgiving, and mistakes from one’s past have a way of coming back like a cosmic boomerang. I know it’s worked that way for me. I’ve been trying to wisely handle my finances, but every time I start to get ahead a little a tornado comes along to wipe it all out.

   It’s not like I’m spending every spare dollar I make on “Hershey bars and Archie comics” like my grandpa used to say. I’ve been making a practice of saving 10% off the top of all I make like I’ve read in several financial books, but then a crisis comes along or a gig falls out or something else falls off my car and I have to use that money in a pinch to bail myself out one more time.

   A major problem with the entertainment business or being self employed in general is the lack of a consistent income. Some weeks or months or even years are flowing with cash, but then the pendulum eventually swings the other way and it’s all over. It never lasts forever, but during the slow times it seems that way. I feel myself headed into a slow time, and it’s getting my attention.

   I’ve been here before, so I’m not afraid. I’ve had to piece together a living my whole life, but it does concern me I haven’t figured out a way to reach a higher financial level by now. I know I’m better than this, so now it’s time to prove it. I’m backed into a corner, and I don’t have a choice.

   What I’ve been doing obviously hasn’t worked to my satisfaction, so what are my choices? I’m either going to change my tactics and make something significantly better happen, or I’ll stay the same and continue to produce the mediocre to poor results I have been cranking out for so long.

   I understand what the options are, and I’m choosing change. This is not where I want to be one, five or twenty years from now. Whatever I’ve done in the past to lead me here I intend to change dramatically and not keep ending up with empty pockets for all my hard work. This is a mistake, but one I think I can change if I make the correct choices. I don’t want to keep living like a bug.

   I reached out to a few bookers today to obtain some work for the immediate future, and I hit on a couple of random dates. That’s a good thing and much appreciated, but not something for long term. I won’t crawl out of my financial hole doing one nighters in sports bars, and that’s the rub.

   I need to take my business sense to a completely new and much higher level, and that’s hard to do after a lifetime of squeaking by. It’s easy to get into the cockroach mindset, but that’s not how I want to live anymore. I never wanted to, but I thought it would lead to a payoff. Was I wrong.

Watered Down Thoughts

August 10, 2010

Sunday August 8th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI

I’m in a low mood and I really shouldn’t be. But I am. I’m trying to figure out what did it but I don’t think it was just one thing. It’s a lot of little things coming together, but they add up and now I’m feeling lower than a cricket‘s pecker. I hope I’m not in another funk.

Part of it is deep down I really don’t want to go out on the ship, especially for as long as I’m going. I really do appreciate the work and everyone there has been wonderful to work with, it’s just that the timing seems to be wrong. I would have loved this ten years ago.

Even five years ago when I got fired from the radio gig at The Loop. I had money saved then, and I would have saved more and been sitting pretty right now and not had to really do much of anything I didn’t want to do. I think I would have appreciated it a lot more.

I still do, and I’ll get to see some exotic places, even if it is in the dead of summer when it’s as hot as it gets. If I’m lucky, I’ll get some additional bookings at the peak times when it’s winter in the north. Eventually, I hope to be able to schedule myself whenever I want.

I guess a lot of it boils down to freedom too. Money equals freedom of choice. I had the world by the t’aint just a few years ago, and I really didn’t know it. I was totally debt free when I went to Salt Lake City in 2000, and that’s when everything started to disintegrate.

I had a nice radio gig making $50K a year, not great for a morning show in that size of a market, but very good for a cockroach like me used to piecing weeks together. I also did a lot of comedy out there, and lived off of that money and banked 100% of my radio salary.

I had a nice apartment a mile from where I worked and a nice girlfriend and a shiny red Cadillac I paid cash for and life was on the up. I was saving money every week, then I got snaked into buying a house. That’s when it all came crashing down. Hard. It took a while, but eventually I lost the job and the house went a few months later. I’ve struggled since.

Then I got the job at The Loop which turned things in a good way again. I started saving the radio money and again living on my comedy gigs. That turned things around in a short time, and life was again on the upswing. I was used to living like a bug and was in heaven knowing my car was paid for and I was putting money away every week. That’s success.

I had zero debt and $40K in the bank and was just ending my first year and hoping we’d get signed to our second contract, which we would have done if the company hadn’t been sold. Instead of showing us respect, they showed us the door and it hasn’t been anywhere close to the same since. My partners Max and Spike have had to struggle just as I have.

That was five years ago now, and it’s never going to come back. I didn’t think it would at the time, but I sure didn’t expect it to play out like it did. I’ve had to piece and paste all my life together month by month, trying to find the next somewhat steady gig. It looks to be the cruise ships, so I won’t complain. I’ll be grateful and go in and give my best work.