Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net

Book Review: 
Money Management for the Creative Person

Reviewed By Peggy Kurilla
2003,
Peggy Kurilla

 

We've all heard the myths of the starving artists and comments like you can make a killing doing art but you can't make a living.  In fact, the belief that artists of whatever type must starve in order to create is so pervasive that many of us never bother to examine whether or not there is much basis to it.

In Money Management for the Creative Person (ISBN 0-609-80625-4), Lee Silber challenges this notion.  Working under the assumption that the reader is an artist just starting on the road to success in his field, Silber presents a basic overview of money management principles, a significant amount of what he terms "right-brain strategies" designed to involve the artist brain in the process, and many examples of artists who have successfully managed their own money (or not).

Silber's writing style makes this book more approachable than many of the same topic.  Many financial writers write with a stuffy, boardroom style that puts off some potential readers and helps contribute to the attitude that "money books are all boring."  Silber, however, writes conversationally, as if he's discussing a subject he enjoys with a good friend.  In that respect, it is a good book for the novice to money management and financial planning.

While Silber presents some sound strategies -- for example, building a cushion while still working a day job, avoiding debt, and tracking expenses -- he devotes a large portion of the book to non-monetary activities.  For example, he suggests that the right brain be triggered to help with money management by such activities as creating a New York Times Bestseller List with your own novel ranked at Number One, creating your ideal deposit slip, and even writing up a People magazine interview with yourself.  While these activities may provide some fun and help with motivation, they are no substitute for the nuts and bolts of money management.

Those nuts and bolts are where Silber falls short.  There is nothing in his book beyond the absolute simplest possible money management steps:  track your expenses, live on less, get out of debt (or avoid it in the first place), charge what the market will bear, etc.  He ignores the how-to's of most of these steps -- and most people need the how-to more than they need the encouragement.

In recent years there have been a lot of so-called money management books that take a fuzzy thinking approach. They suggest examining your relationship to money, or your parents' relationship to money, for example.  These "holistic" approaches to money, while appealing on a basic emotional level, fail when it comes to real-life application.  Which will put more money in your pocket, reciting "I am a lovable person and I earn more than I deserve" fifteen times a day, or taking a job at the local bookstore?  Silber's book falls partly into the fuzzy category, and for that reason, I hesitate to recommend it alone.

Money Management for the Creative Person cannot stand alone as a basic money management text, due to its lack of nuts and bolts details.  It should be read in conjunction with a book that provides solid beginner's advice, such as Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson (currently in its fourth edition, ISBN 0764525905), for a complete overview of the financial planning and money making process.  However, for sheer fun and applicability to the artist's lifestyle, Silber is hard to beat.