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4 Financial Lessons to Learn from Frugal Millionaires

A common desire many people feel is out of their reach is to become wealthy and to lead a leisurely life on their own terms. The unfortunate disconnect is that a lot of us also spend frivolously and do not have the mindset necessary to amass and maintain a fortune.

Frugality is essential if you want to build wealth and keep it.

Behavioral scientists define frugality as showing restraint when acquiring goods and services and amply using resources already in their possession before making new purchases.

With a closer look, you notice that business success and frugality are both based on focus and patience. With this in mind, it makes sense that wealthy, successful business professionals are often frugal with personal spending.

When you learn a few lessons from frugal millionaires, you may reposition your thoughts and actions related to spending and saving. By mimicking their actions, you may witness improvement in your own personal wealth.

1. Be Value Conscious

Some people see frugality as buying the absolute cheapest products available. However, it does little good to buy cheap items that need to be replaced quickly. If you need to make a purchase, choose a product you can expect to get ample use out of.

It is better to pay a little more up-front for quality than to make a cheap purchase that requires multiple replacements.
Self-made millionaires often search for products that have true value, beneficial features and which they can use for a lengthy period. Focus on the craftsmanship and type of materials used in the product. You should read consumer reviews to find what issues others have had with the product. Research items rather than buying impulsively.

You also should avoid buying brand name items for the luxurious reputation of the brand. There is no value in buying a product based on the label. Regardless of the brand, always focus on value.

2. Avoid Debt at All Costs

Carrying debt is more expensive than many people think. It is a common belief that cost of debt equates to the monthly payment or the amount you originally financed. However, the actual cost of debt relates to the purchase price of the goods financed and the finance charges. Finance charges are assessed monthly, and sometimes, they can cost hundreds of dollars per month. This finance charge is the cost of debt, and it affects your ability to save and invest.

To avoid debt, you must save money and fund a rainy-day savings account. Once this account is financed, continue to save and invest. You cannot save if you splurge on unnecessary items, so try to avoid themat all costs.

In the business world, entrepreneurs face many setbacks and life lessons that some may view as failures. However, it is not reasonable to expect your business to grow without some shrinkage from time to time.

Just as business professionals must adjust to the punches and be patient rather than discouraged, it is also important for you to manage your finances with patienceand to be ready for setbacks.

Some debt may be essential, such as if you want to buy a house with a mortgage. However, spend the time saving for a large down payment rather than financing as much of the purchase price as possible. In addition, choose a modest house that is affordable and comfortable. When you take on debt, minimize the amount of debt as much as possible.

3. Do What Works for YOU

Maybe you dream big dreams to get rich, and you are ready to jump headfirst into your saving and investing efforts. But, it is not workable to make a huge financial change, such as by saving 30 percent of your income all at once. Start small, and plan to increase the amount that you are saving over time.

Visualize your wealth as a bucket. While you want the bucket to be full, you cannot expect someone fill it up. Instead, you need to place drops in the bucket yourself until is full. In addition, dipping into that bucket for splurges and unnecessary expenses will prolong the time it takes to fill it up.

When choosing investments, avoid unnecessary risks by making sure you understand what the investments are. Follow the sage wisdom of successful investors such as Warren Buffett. He kept his wealthfor over fifty years and his advice is to invest in what you know. Remember that any investments you are not knowledgeable about are riskier than those you may be comfortable with.

4. Stay Modest

The old saying “live below your means” may be worn out and trite, but it has staying power in the world of personal finance because it is a support pillar for financial independence. When you live up to or beyond your means, issues with limited savings and even increasing debt balances are common. The only way you will have moneyto save and invest further is to not spend it.

Many millionaires and billionaires still live below their means.

For example, Warren Buffett lives in the same home he purchased in 1958, and it is his only home. Mark Zuckerberg wears jeans and hoodies, and he drives around in a Volkswagen with a manual transmission. The founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, drives a Volvo that is several decades old. He also takes the bus around town and flies economy.

The bottom line is – you will never have money in the bank if you spend it.

My Final Advice

Even if you win the lottery, without proper management, your wealth will disappear. Develop mindfulness and discipline about managing your finances. Expand your knowledge through books and blogs if you need advice about managing or investing money.

Author Bio:

Michelle Laurey produces stories on finance, entrepreneurship, and productivity. She is a virtual assistant for a few SMBs. Making a few mistakes with loans and credit cards forced her to expand her financial literacy and change her perspective on money. Outside of work and her keyboard, she enjoys a good book, healthy food and bike rides.Reach out to her on Twitter.

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Top 6 Things You Need to Know Before Investing in Real Estate

The world of real estate can be the place where your wildest dreams come true, but at the same time it’s a real jungle. To clear the way and cut through the vines, you need to arm yourself with extensive knowledge. Along the way, you will also have to build trust, reputation, and relations. Grasping all the moving parts can be quite overwhelming, so brace and pace yourself. Advance in the direction of tangible goals, leaving a trail of closed deals in your wake.

Numbers run the show

All that number crunching may not be glamorous, but it is the key to fulfilling your grand visions. So, set your emotions aside and dive into the ocean of facts and figures. Take your time to learn the math. Tap into data on past and future revenues of the property, capital costs, ROI, and operating expenses. You cannot afford to fall victim to myths that float around the internet no matter what.

You have to plan, plan, plan

Real estate endeavors must be treated just like any other business. Wishful thinking will not help, and cutting corners does more harm than good. Therefore, come up with a business plan as sound as a dollar. It should establish your budget and outline actionable, measurable goals. Expect the unexpected and prepare for the worst by having an exit strategy and a contingency plan in place. Keep track of your workflow. Get back to the drawing board if you fall short of your goals.

Looking beyond immediate avail pays dividends

You cannot expect hefty profits if you are not prepared to invest good money. The penny-pinching mentality will not take you far. If you are sure that you have found a good deal, worrying about the money to fund it is not your main concern. Take into account how the quality and potential of the location and neighborhood impacts the (future) value of the property. Look at the long-term horizon, not just the profit that waits around the corner.

Importance of going with the flow

Put an emphasis on cash flow – the real gold mine of property investing. It makes the difference between miserable fizzle and dazzling success. Furthermore, note that careful analysis enables you to discover emerging markets and hit a home run. At the same time, identify small-scale ways of optimizing and boosting the cash flow. Learn, for instance, how to raise rental income without upsetting tenants and familiarize yourself with the difference between active and passive income.

Value of teamwork

Finding great team members is a very important element in maximizing your chances of success. After all, you cannot learn everything, nor should you try to. So, network with like-minded real estate hunters. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Outsource as much as possible to make the most of your time. If you plan on investing in real estate overseas, try to find someone who will take care of your finances. An experienced buyer’s agent from Sydney is who you need if you want to invest in Australia, for example.

Pillars of success

Trust and reputation are the foundations upon which a stellar property portfolio gets built. Thus, try to position yourself as a trusted expert. Always build relationships and get to know the top dogs out there. Never skimp on updates and repairs because that will give you a murky reputation. Steer away from shoddy and obsolescent properties: a network of satisfied clients can launch you towards greatness.

Golden opportunities

To get the show on the road, take baby steps rather than making a leap of faith off a cliff. Create a plan of action and grow your portfolio. Embrace a targeted, focused approach and carve your niche. Figure out one strategic approach you are going to master, be it flipping, renting, wholesaling, or something else. Make your moves only after handling the spadework. Do not get sidetracked along the way and take your emotions out of the equation.

And the moment you recognize a great opportunity, snatch it before anyone else does.

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Setting Up Your Home Office on a Budget: A How-To Guide

Retiring from the world of tightly crammed offices to set up a work-from-home station can be an extremely liberating feeling—especially for a writer. But if you’re working with a tight budget, you may be wondering how to set up your office without breaking the bank

Fortunately for you, the trial and error of many brave work-from-home writers has a resulted in a plethora of DIY blogs and work-from-home tips—which can help you set up a cozy workspace that fits cozily within budget. What can we say? Writers love to share!

If you’re looking to set up a home office on a budget, read on for some of our top tips. 

Think Outside the Box: Go Unconventional

While most workplaces are crowded by boxy and cubicles, one of the advantages of working from home is that you get to think outside the box. Leave behind your premonitions of what an office should look like, and think about what you actually need to be productive.

If you’re a writer, maybe you find that you work best when you can draw on nature for inspiration. If this is the case, try setting up your desk in front of a large window that lets in plenty of natural light (this will reduce your electric bill too). Or better yet, carve out a space for yourself on your patio where you can work outside on nice days.

The best part about having a home office is that you’re not chained to a desk. This means that you can invest in an office setup that works for you—saving you money in the long run.

Think Outside the Box part 2: Getting Crafty

As well as considering unconventional office setups, thinking outside the box also means: getting crafty. Look around and see what furniture, supplies, etc. you already have so that you can determine what you still need.

You’ll find that with just a little elbow grease (and a trip to your local hardware store), DIY home office hacks can help you personalize your space while saving you money in the process. You can find TONS of DIY home office projects online like DIY storage solutions and DIY desk ideas. 

Invest in the Right Tools

When setting up your home office, it’s essential you invest in the right tools that empower you to do work of the highest quality.

Software: For writers, choosing the right software is incredibly important, as this is where the magic happens. Many writers start off with outdated versions of programs, hoping to spare a little bit of cash. However, upgrading your home office with the new software can provide a huge payoff in terms of productivity; not to mention, avoid the tragedy of losing your work due to outdated programs crashing.

For starters, most writers will need to install the latest version of Microsoft Office. When you download MS Office, you’ll have access to some of the most powerful publishing tools on the market, including the latest versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, Access, and more.

Updating your computer with current software will put your on an equal playing field with your competitors, and gives you the power to do work of the highest quality.

Hardware: Choosing the right hardware is essential when setting up a home office. To ensure you get the most bang for your buck, do your research. Even with a tight budget, it may be worth splurging on a newer computer to ensure that you’ll get years of use out of it before having to replace it.

Shop Deals

Keeping a lookout for deals can help you get the hardware you need without breaking your budget. If you live near a Best Buy, look through their open box deals. These deals offer some of the best electronics for a fraction of the retail price. If a product is returned by another customer, these items undergo Best Buy’s geek squad check to ensure that they are fully functional and then return to the shelves as an ‘open box’ deal for a much better price.

With these helpful tips you’ll be able to save money on your home office and carve out a space that works for you!

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Are You On The Right Path For Retirement?

Retirement savings is either a comforting or frightening experience for most aging adults. As new data suggests, many Americans may not be as close to retirement as they think. Most adults have substantially less saved than necessary at their age to retire on time.

By the time you hit your mid-thirties, data suggests you should have a little over $31,000 put away. That number jumps up to just over $67,000 by your late forties. The later you start saving in life, the harder it is to get caught up.

The amount saved also varies significantly by geography. People in the Midwest and Northeast are more likely to participate in retirement savings programs such as 401k. They also have better access to these programs than those in the West and South.

Marriage is also a great indicator of a successful financial future. Married couples are about 20% more likely to have retirement account savings than singles. Married couples that hold government jobs have even higher access to retirement plans which can even set them up for early retirement.

Though the future may seem bleak for many, Investment Zen has some recommendations to help maximize your retirement savings. To start with, if your employer offers a 401k plan, take it. If they don’t offer it, you can opt for an IRA or Roth IRA instead.

Using Trinity study’s 4% rule can help you decide how much to save as well. Plan on withdrawing 4% of your total retirement account per year once you retire. If you want $50,000 a year, plan on saving $1,250,000 to retire on.

In the infographic below, it breaks down a few more details on the average state of retirement savings in 2017. It’ll give you a good indicator of where you’re at and what you can do.

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What Affects the Price of Gold in Australia?

Gold prices can fluctuate rather fast, or it seems that way at the very least, especially to someone who doesn’t quite know how to keep up with gold prices. Realistically, it is a well-known fact that gold and silver are two of the most complex assets to price. Unlike currencies, commodities, and stocks, physical gold cannot be priced using the production-demand-inventory formula, which makes the procedure all the more challenging.

Although within Australia, which also happens to be the third-largest gold producer in the world, the currency is influenced directly by gold prices. If the gold prices increase or decrease, the Australian dollar moves accordingly. However, the price of gold can be affected by several factors, although the legitimate reason is not clearly known. Here are 3 of the many factors that affect the price of gold:

1.    Supply & Demand

Supply and demand is the simplest way to define the actual process and reasoning behind price changes for any good or service. Gold is no different in this regard. More demand and less supply means that the price of the commodity will be higher, and vice versa. Anything that is oversupplied will see a drop in price rates. Gold, for one, is never oversupplied. If anything, it was undersupplied and only saw 1% in terms of supply growth in the first of half of 2016. This is one of the main reasons why gold prices have risen higher in the year 2017.

2.    Changes in Currency

Any changes that come about in currencies can also have a huge impact on the price of gold all over the world. The U.S. currency, specifically, is always responsible or capable of altering gold prices around the world due to the fact that the price of gold is greatly dominated by the dollar. It is the same for Australian dollars. Gold prices in Australia can rise above or fall at any time the currency fluctuates, and since the currencies of Australia and U.S. are correlated, their prices might be the same often times.

3.    Monetary Policy

This is probably the main factor that makes such a huge impact on the price of gold. Opportunity cost itself makes a huge difference in how the price of gold is evaluated, as do the interest rates. A lot of people may choose to invest in gold rather than interest-based assets, and the benefit of the former is a lot more in comparison. However, this is one of the major factors that greatly influence the changes and the determination of the price of gold, but there are plenty of other factors too.

The price of gold can never be assumed or judged in advance because the prices are based on not just these, but plenty of other factors as well. Gold prices in Australia may be affected by currency more than anything, but gold is also high in demand within the continent. In other places such as Europe, the price of gold might be a lot more different.

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GUEST POST: Raising Funds for a Terminally Ill Family Member

Is someone in your family terminally ill? If yes then there’s a good chance that you need help paying the medical bills and ongoing scans and treatment. The good thing is that you’re not alone. Today, a number of families in Australia and elsewhere need help with medical bills. The easiest and quickest way to get help is raising money for the medical expenses. However, you should start your fundraising campaign only after you’ve developed a fundraising plan.

It is likely that you’re raising money for medical expenses for the very first time. If that is indeed the case then organizing a fundraiser may be a bit of challenge for you. First of all, you should keep the end reward in mind to keep yourself motivated. Secondly, you must know the best ways of putting your message across. For example, t-shirt messaging may be the best way for you to make people aware of your fundraising campaign and get crowd funded. Finally and most importantly, you must know how to organize your fundraiser. You need to find out the steps involved in organizing a fundraiser for a family member who is suffering from a terminal illness such as cancer. Sharing cancer information will help educate the greater public and will raise awareness to your situation. Let’s now take a look at the steps involved in organizing a fundraiser.

Define The Cause And Goals Of The Fundraiser

You need to determine whether the money you raise will pay the hospital bills and the costs of treatment or it’ll go to a charity that deals with the illness your terminally ill family member is suffering from. Also, you need to determine the exact amount you want to raise.

Determine How You’ll Raise Funds

Before you start your fundraising campaign, you must determine how you’ll raise the funds. You can choose between simple fundraising ideas and more complicated ones. Simple ideas include a bake sale or car wash while marathons and auctions are examples of complicated fundraising campaigns.

Get Help From Volunteers

No matter how hard you work, you won’t be able to raise the required funds on your own. Raising funds is hard work and you’ll need help from volunteers. Ask your friends, colleagues, and neighbors to help you spread the word. However, keep the privacy and wishes of the beneficiary in mind before proceeding with this step.

Set The Time And Date For Your Fundraiser

Whether you choose to raise funds through a bake sale, an auction or a marathon, you must set the time and date for the event. It is important that you give yourself enough time to properly organize and publicize the fundraising event.

Keep Track Of The Family Member’s Health

There is no point of raising funds for a person who has no chances of survival. Before you organize the fundraiser, find out whether or not the terminally ill family member has any chances of survival. If he/he doesn’t have any chances of survival then you should start thinking about the funeral. When it comes to arranging a funeral, the most important thing to keep in mind is the funeral costs.

There you have it—how to raise funds for a terminally ill family member and increase his/her chances of survival.

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Tips for Saving Money as a Freelance Writer

Some professional freelance writers earn a whopping $10,000 a month, while others earn that much in an entire year. Regardless of earnings, saving money as a freelancer may seem impossible, especially when you don’t know how much your paycheck is going to be from month to month.

There are ways to build a nest egg and reap the benefits of a rewarding career as a writer, as long as you’re being strategic right now. Here are four ways to help you prioritize your money:

Emergency funds

Most experts recommend keeping at least three to six months worth of expenses (rent, bills, food, other necessities) in a separate savings account to cover any emergencies or losses of income. Twelve months would be even better.  

“As a freelancer, you might as well double this amount to account for the added risk of being self-employed,” writes Carrie Smith of Wise Bread.

She’s referring to all of the unexpected costs, not just the bare essentials. This could include costs like car and home repairs, vet visits, and doctor’s bills. It’s those unexpected emergencies that can do you in. Freelancers need to be even more astute in budgeting because of the various income levels per month.

If you want your budget to work, you’ll need to earn double the amount of what you spend monthly on all bills. If you can’t do that, it might be time to reevaluate your housing or car situation. Emergencies happen, life happens, so it’s best to be prepared. What if you had to pay for a $5,000 brand new heating system in your home, for example?

If you are unsure where to start in determining how much emergency savings you need, online tools such as savings goal calculators are easy to use and can help you determine how much and how long to save for you to achieve a financial goal.

Save for retirement

Fifty-three million Americans are now freelancers of some sort, which means without the backing of a full-time employer, the onus is on freelancers to handle their own retirement.

One thing freelancer Laura Shin recommends is opening your own IRA with an investment management company like Vanguard, which offers low-cost investments. Also, sign up for Freelancers Union because free membership there gives you access to a 401k and will allow you to contribute an additional $17,500 per year toward retirement on top of the $5,500 permitted for an IRA.

You’ll need to figure out at the beginning of the year how much you need to earn in order to set aside that $5,500 to put into a Roth IRA. Some of the wealthier freelancers also make contributions to a SEP IRA because you are allowed to contribute a larger percentage of your income instead of being limited my Roth’s maximum.

Understand Taxes

Many freelancers are so busy writing articles and securing clients that they aren’t investing time in understanding how to properly file taxes. You wouldn’t want to end up paying penalties, fees and interest on your tax return. There are plenty of tips out there to plan for income taxes on your freelance business earnings.

Also, it never hurts to ask a CPA for help or use a professional tool like QuickBooks Self-Employed. Set yourself up for success by filing an accurate tax return.

Shin, who is a freelance personal finance journalist, says she saves specifically for taxes and keeps good track of the expenses she can write off.  Throughout the tax year, she keeps a cash flow document that shows the balance at the beginning of the month, the money coming in, regular money going out and those one-time expenses.

Affordable places to live

Unless you’re doing really well as a freelancer, you’re probably not living in a highrise in NYC or San Francisco. In fact, you should only be paying about one-third of your monthly income on rent or on a mortgage.

If your rent or mortgage is outrageous, consider moving to a cheaper place. No “creative type” wants to be a “struggling artist.” Take it with a grain of salt, but an article from the Thrillist says the cheapest and coolest cities to live include Nashville, Albuquerque, Baltimore, and Charleston. These are places you can actually afford to live and even save money, according to the article.

At the end of the day, freelance writers need to be able to depend on reliable gigs and some income coming in at all times, otherwise, you may finding yourself moonlighting with a part-time job outside the home. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that either.

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Doing What you Love for Money

It is said that writing is the world’s second oldest profession, and it is just about as respected. From a young age, I was taught that doing what you love was no way to make a living. In some ways, those who dispensed that wisdom were right: writing for a living is hard, and there are seasons where it is less hard, but it is never easy.

I was told this despite the fact that many who told me I needed to plan for a “real job” were Christian school teachers, pastors, and others who certainly had not pursued wealth, but were doing “ministry” work, something God had called them too. But the arts? Please. That was a dirty word.

Not to mention that I wanted to write the things I read: sci-fi, horror, and thrillers. These books and their topics were clearly sent to my mind from the depths of hell. After all, many of those sci-fi writers were atheists who believed in evolution. The horror!

It never seemed to resonate with me that I was part of the evil poor: that my single mom, a school teacher, might be somehow less because she chose to do something she loved for less money than she could have earned elsewhere because she loved it, and felt like she was making a difference.

Yet lately, we are bombarded with generalizations that say the poor are lazy, handle money poorly, and don’t deserve our respect. In fact, they are evil.

But musicians, artists, authors, even freelance writers are told to live frugally. Often we are told we should stop acting like children and get “real jobs.” Yet without writers, almost any business is dead in the water: you need artists, you need writers, you need musicians. Yet there is a strange aversion to paying for this type of work: when there is free music you can pick up on the internet (the equivalent of a dive bar) why would you purchase an album (i.e. hire an escort).

Art is Not Always a Choice

Here’s the thing. As a creative, making time for your art is not always a choice. Sometimes it is a need, and if you ignore it long enough, bad things happen in your life. A bored creative who is not creating is a monster.

It is good to understand this, even if you are not a creative yourself. If a creative person can get paid to do what they love, they should do so, even if it means sacrificing a huge income or grandiose career prospects.

As I stated above, as a musician, artist, or a writer, you must learn to live frugally. That has always been true. However, someone who gets paid for their craft, especially if they get paid well, is not a shameful thing. It doesn’t mean they have sold out. It simply means they have found a way to make what they are compelled to do into a job.

Art is an Honor

Have you ever read a book or an article that changed your thinking or your life almost instantly? Have you ever looked at a painting or read a poem that took your breath away? Someone created that art or wrote those words, and that person has bills to pay just like you do.

As a creator, it is an honor to inspire others with the things you do. As a writer, the goal is not only to make a living, but to touch others, and to be read and understood. When someone gets what you have to say, or even better is moved to action, the euphoria is amazing.

As one who has been inspired, it should be an honor to support the artist who inspires you, the writer who influences your thinking, or the poet who touches your heart.

Art Should not Equal Poverty

Despite what art does for us, we are often loathe to pay for it. We download books onto our Kindles or other e-readers for free. We listen to free music, complaining when we have to pay a premium to remove ads. We download art and photos through Google images, often without credit to the creator. We torrent movies, justifying to ourselves that they are just too expensive, and those Hollywood types make tons of money anyway.

We steal creative endeavors from the creator and then make snide comments about how no one can make a living as an author, an artist, or a musician. We laugh at them because they have to work a “day job” and pursue their hobbies in the wee hours of the morning or late at night.

It is not the profession that is the problem. It is our unwillingness to pay for things that are truly valuable, that add meaning to our lives.

Making a living doing what you love is hard. Not being able to pay your bills by doing it makes things even tougher. Your profession being treated like something that has no value is discouraging and depressing.

But loving what you do and making money should not be things that are exclusive. Being able to do both should be considered one of life’s highest achievements.

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Art as a Business

ArtbusinessI took a day off yesterday. In fact, I have been less busy the first part of this year on purpose. But I did a little “work” yesterday, if you want to call it that. I had a Skype call with one author who I greatly respect, and who does one thing we all want to do: sells books.

Then I had lunch with another author, new on this journey. We mapped out a couple of her stories, talked about plot, character, and the usual writer stuff. And we talked about streams of income.

Because at some point we all have to survive. Shelter, food, clothing, health, and Wi-Fi are all necessary, and in our present economy we must exchange money for those things, with few exceptions. So if you want to be a writer, a professional writer, you have to make money from your art, or have a day job, or do both. From personal experience, can I just add that option #2 sucks, and option #1? It requires that once you have “completed” your work, you realize it has become a product you must deliver to your customers. You have to know who they are, what they do, and where to find them.

publishing_businessSounds a lot like a business, right? Well, it is. Like any business, there are three steps: production (writing, editing, cover, and formatting); distribution (self-publishing, a publisher, affiliate sites, your website, etc.); and finally marketing.

A publisher can help with some of these things, and indeed they do, but in the end the author, and the tribe the author has gathered, are the best marketers of your work. The difference is simply treating books as what they are: a product to be sold. Not because we as authors are selfish and want to make millions on the backs of poor readers, but because we write to be read. And to be read you must be discovered. To be discovered, an author must market.

So stop thinking of marketing as some kind of betrayal of your art. Stop thinking that asking for reviews (in the right place and the right context) is some form of evil. Professional writers treat their work as what it is: a business offering a great product.

This doesn’t excuse you, as an artist, from being polite. Not spamming or bombarding your audience with links to your work, begging for sales. That is not the “how” of marketing, and there are many resources to help you understand that. More on that in another blog post.

As you start this new fiscal year, as an author, remember art is a business. Unless you don’t like eating.

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