Eowyn Levene 0:00
Welcome to the Creatives Do Money. Each week we explore the topics of everyday money management, solo business ownership, and how we’re fueling our creative futures. I’m your host Eowyn Levene, money coach, longtime self employed massage therapist and watermelon enthusiast, and I’m on a mission to help you build the lasting financial stability that frees you up to do your creative work without hustling anxiously for the next dollar. cleverly edgemon is a multidisciplinary author and creative with a background in theater arts. Lately, she’s been diving deep into Tarot and Human Design for creatives, sharing insights and tools with her clients and her community. Her latest project is the big little book, a poetic and practical guide to your unique design, which we’ll learn more about in the episode. Welcome, Claire, thank you so much for taking the time and being here with us.
Clare Marie Edgemon 0:59
Thank you so much for having me.
Eowyn Levene 1:02
Let’s start with a pivotal moment in your life that changed your relationship with money and finances.
Clare Marie Edgemon 1:08
Yeah, this was so interesting to think about and ponder because I feel like I’ve had a lot of pivotal moments in my life and so narrowing in on one that particularly had to do with finances and how I conceptualize my finances, and my financial reality. It’s kind of cliche, but it was getting fired. A little a year and a half ago, I got fired from a job. That was my dream job on paper. It was a high salary, or at least a high salary for me, like I was me. I like to be transparent about money. So meaning $90,000 a year in New York City. I was a senior copywriter, I had senior in my title, it was combining my advertising skills with theater, I was writing for Jagged Little Pill like I was ghost writing scripts for Atlantis Morissette, like what on paper was perfect, but in reality, it, it was really bad. And it was really not right for me. And I knew that from the first day. And I think they knew that from the first day to like, my talent was very appreciated, but my energy was not in it. And getting fired was really the wake up call to realize that I had set these salary goals for myself and these financial goals for myself. From a place that wasn’t terribly authentic to the actual life I wanted to build. A lot of it had to do with being influenced by what my conceptions of success were, or just the practicalities of what my conception of a living wage was in New York City, and the standard of living that I wanted to have. And I had to kind of take a step back when I got fired and decide, am I applying for another job that’s like this, that has those salary? benefits? Or can I do this another way, I was in the middle of a really transformative program called your career homecoming, which was a huge financial investment, the most I’ve ever spent on coaching or anything like that. And in the midst of after having dropped thousands of dollars, I got fired, and we suddenly had no income and but I’m so glad I was in the middle of that program. Because I was able to use the work of that program to reconceptualize what money actually meant for me and how much of it I actually needed to aim to make to live the lifestyle that I actually wanted not a lifestyle that was being overly influenced by living a fast paced competitive life in New York City.
Eowyn Levene 3:37
What was some of those differences in lifestyle that you identified? A
Clare Marie Edgemon 3:41
huge part of it was not necessarily keeping up with my friends, because my friends were are and are of all different income levels and interests. But there is something in me, that tends to get caught up in the energy of a place and the people that I was spending time with in the areas of New York, I was spending time in, I wanted to be able to drop $20 on a glass of wine without thinking about it. I wanted to grab the car home, I wanted to like the just the general like fast paced, millennial, lots of brunches, love ordering in every single meal. Like that pace and that style of life in New York, what I thought was really important to me. And when I started to strip it back, it was just something I was kind of caught up in and not something that I actually valued in the way that I thought I did.
Eowyn Levene 4:32
That’s so interesting that you could draw that distinction, because I think what you’re describing, in wanting to, quote unquote, keep up with that aspect of your community, the spending and the kind of spending that happens here in the city. That’s about wanting to be included and to be part of and to be a member of all of which is so understandable and natural. But you were able to tease out the fact That the specific behaviors that went with inclusion in that way, didn’t sit right with you. They weren’t true to who you are.
Clare Marie Edgemon 5:08
And they weren’t necessary like, and that I had friends who were exceptions to that, who we didn’t go and get, like, I had the friends who I went, and we dropped $100 on dinner, no problem. And then I also had the friends who we went and went for a walk in the park, you know, brought our own tea and sat on a bench somewhere, you know, or, like, met up, I mean, back when we could meet up at apartments, you know, like Nadine met up in each other’s homes and things like that. And the other thing was, I had this really specific limiting belief that I wouldn’t be able to survive without insurance that was provided by an employer, which in some ways, turned out to be kind of true, but in some ways was not true, but acquired a lot of reevaluation and actually, Laura Sims of your career, homecoming did a lot of work with me that was really great on just being like, Is this true? Like, it could be true, but like, let’s do the math on how much insurance would cost if you had a subsidy if you had all of these other things, and, and providing my own insurance. And it was just one of those things that I had a flip switch in my brain that that was a non negotiable. And when I actually looked at it a little more carefully, I discovered that it was more negotiable than I thought.
Eowyn Levene 6:21
So can we talk about that question of insurance just a little more. So in your case, this is literally life and death, because you so tell us some about why this is life and death for you. Yeah,
Clare Marie Edgemon 6:30
and I, I’m a type one diabetic, and I do have type one diabetic friends who are uninsured. So it is life and death. But it also is not it is it is life and death in that I have decided that it is a really strong priority for me to have the level of diabetes care that I do have, it is very difficult to be an uninsured diabetic in the United States and be healthy. And so being insured and having access to things like insulin, which is the basics, but most people don’t know that insulin is like the bare minimum, you cannot get by with just insulin, just the syringes, how to test your blood sugar. And those are like 1980s level of care of diabetes, like now diabetes care is insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors and things like that cost thousands and thousands of dollars. At least they do here in other countries, not so much. But but in the United States, they do. And so it’s a, I have decided for myself, I’ve seen the difference in what I am capable of physically when I have those things. And so it is really, really a high priority for me to be able to keep them to be able to keep the level of health that I have achieved through them. And diabetes isn’t just a chronic illness. It’s also an invisible disability. And so the more I started to really understand it as an invisible disability and wanting the level of accessibility that I have attained, then that’s how insurance became a really high priority. But then I had to get a little bit more curious in if an employer wasn’t providing that insurance for me. How do I make sure that I maintain this level of care for myself? And is it always going to remain that priority like I could drop down to a lower level of care, still be alive, hopefully, but most probably still be alive? just realizing that all of those things are kind of a constant calculation and a constant? I don’t know. I’m not a video game person. But the word that’s coming to mind is Tetris. Like how are they? How are all of the things fitting together? And how am I prioritizing them? And understanding that at different season seasons of my life, those priorities may shift? Hmm.
Eowyn Levene 8:32
So I know there’s a lot of different ways of getting nonemployer health insurance. But could you say a little bit more about the solution that you came up with for yourself? Yeah, I
Clare Marie Edgemon 8:41
was living in New York at the time. And so I went through the, the marketplace in New York, like I it’s like New York state of health.gov instead of health guard healthcare.gov. But it’s the same thing. It was a little bit tricky, because when I applied for it, what they had seen, I was not self employed, I was employed on WTO prior to that, so I had to actually do a lot of legwork to prove that I wasn’t making too much money to qualify for subsidies. There were some helpful people that at the healthcare.gov office that really helped me through things and being able to prove No, these are my income and expenses for the last three months and, and stuff like that. And I chose to get a subsidized plan. That also was kind of tricky, and I still don’t know how it’s gonna totally work out because I think I’ve now overpaid and we’ll see you next year with taxes how all of that like when you have a variable income, as many of your listeners probably know when you have a variable income and you are a subsidized person through the Affordable Care Act, things can get a little bit wonky and tricky year to year, but I just had to become really vigilant about tracking my finances and working with my I don’t have like a full time accountant but my accountant who does my taxes like checking in with her and making sure that I was tracking things correctly and and all of that. And I decided to actually take less subsidy up front, in the hope of not having over earned this year and then owing money next year, I decided to take a little bit more of a financial hit this year, and kind of see where things fall out.
Eowyn Levene 10:19
How are you tracking your numbers so that they’re easy to share with the government when you need to,
Clare Marie Edgemon 10:24
I use QuickBooks self employed, I find it it’s UX, it also has a new beta version that I really like. It’s like $11 a month, which I find is super affordable. I don’t use all of their functionalities. But since I have multiple streams of income, one of my favorite things with it lately is that I can add tags. So like, once or twice a week I go through, and I actually kind of like doing it, even though I’m a creative, like I like doing those tasks that it’s like, I can just check this off the list. And so I like going through and making sure that even though it’s auto tracking a lot of my income and expenses, I then go through and tag it like, Oh, this was Human Design and Tarot, or this was author income, or this was an expense, that’s just to my general line. So my accountant doesn’t necessarily need all of that parsed out, but I like to have it just to have an eye on kind of any kind of planning in terms of now I’m trying to qualify for subsidies here in Montana next year. So they there are different targets that you have to hit here. And like you have to be above a certain amount to qualify for a subsidy and not Medicaid. So I’m become much more of a spreadsheet person like, like, I actually like exporting the file. And like cleaning the data in Excel. Like I don’t know who I am. Now I have a former boss who helped me a lot with Excel, but like feel the confidence of feeling that I know where I’m at. And I can make some level of projection as somebody with a very variable income is a lot of peace of mind.
Eowyn Levene 11:50
Yeah, absolutely. And then you can make decisions based on that as well. If you know that three quarters of your income came from one place instead of the other or one source instead of the other, you can make decisions accordingly. Because it can be risky to rely just on one thing, and you might want to grow the other things or you might want to put more energy into the thing that’s greatly increased your income over the year or whatever it is like you can use it
Clare Marie Edgemon 12:14
exactly. And I like this year, I’ve looked at it and I’ve been like, wow, Human Design is really taking off, like I should give that more of my energy versus some of the writing stuff. It’s like, oh, maybe consciously or subconsciously, I’m not putting as much energy into this. And it’s dwindling as an income source. So watching those two things compared against each other, it’s it’s good to be like, oh, okay, I either need to refocus my energy on the writing, if I want that to bump up again. Or I can double down on the human design stuff and try and boost that up so that the two lines kind of match. Yeah.
Eowyn Levene 12:51
Can you take us through how you’re making money and the different categories that you’re active? Like, what kind of racing you do? And what does it mean to make money from human design for you.
Clare Marie Edgemon 13:02
So I’ve been in a big transition point with this as well. I actually had somebody reach out recently about quoting me and a side hustle article. And it was kind of funny I used to do, I used to write, in order to make money so that I could do Tarot and things like that. And now I do Human Design and Tarot, to make enough money to be able to write. It’s kind of funny how they have flipped a little bit. And I used to do a lot of advertising copy content. I wrote for a finance company. That’s right in house for years. Yeah, so my first like, office job in New York, that insurance thing was really, really like my blinders were on, like, I need insurance, that was the priority. So I took a job writing for a finance startup. And I went quickly because I was one of their only writers, but this huge portfolio of writing about beginner level investing. So even when I left that and was more in the artistic and theater world, I still kept some finance clients on the side. And it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I let my final finance client go. So there was a crossfade of making like, I know that I can make money writing for finance companies, they are willing to pay. They’re also really easy to write for, like if you have any mid multi potentialized listening, who have writing skills, like getting into writing finance, copy, if you can stomach, it can be really, really great. Because they don’t argue with you. Like they might argue the technical stuff, but they don’t consider themselves writers. So they trust you in a really great way that is like really creatively satisfying. And for about four years, I found that to be really great. But this year, I’ve kind of transitioned. I’m not making much writing income right now. I’m working on a new series that will be the first books that I’m writing that I’m going to pitch to agents next year. And so I’m kind of in this like not really making any money from writing moment, which is scary and weird. And how I got into making money through human design and Tarot was somewhat by accident. The Tarot thing I did rather intentionally. I just Just I was studying it for years, I really loved it. I was doing readings for myself and for others and just felt really good and really grounded and aligned with starting to monetize that as I got better at it, I knew I was providing value for people. And it was something I could do over the phone or in person at events. And I really enjoyed doing it. So it was filling me up creatively and providing a little bit of extra income. And then I didn’t actually ever intend to read human do Human Design readings professionally. And it only really started at the beginning of the pandemic, when I kind of just needed something to do. And I’d been studying human design for a couple years. And I was reading for friends and they were finding a lot of value from it. And some a client, a friend of a friend, was like, I want to pay you to do a session for my friend. And I was like, Okay, I’m like, I was only charging like $15 Yeah, and I mean, this feels like years ago, but it was eight months.
Eowyn Levene 15:57
2020 has been about seven or eight years. So yeah, yeah,
Clare Marie Edgemon 16:00
exactly. So in. So in COVID time, a few years ago, in March, people started to pay for me to do readings for other people, like they would have a reading with me and then be like, Oh, I’d love to pay. They pay any various amount of money. The most somebody paid was like $90. And somebody paid like $5, depending on where they were at financially. And then I did a workshop, or I guess they call them field trips through creative mornings. And I yeah, and I thought that like 20 people would sign up. And 400 people turned up, and I learned a really great lesson in terms of setting boundaries in your booking software. Because I had, I think I did about 50 sessions in the three weeks that followed.
Eowyn Levene 16:43
What were you offering? Exactly?
Clare Marie Edgemon 16:45
Yeah, so I was doing basic human design readings. Okay, so we should probably talk about what human design is. Human Design is a system of understanding yourself and your energy based on your time, place and date of birth. One way to think of it is like astrology on steroids, it combines a bunch of different esoteric traditions, it is not without its own problematic cultural appropriation. So I’m very aware of that in it. Sometimes I say that it’s probably woowoo bullshit, but it’s really, really insightful, actionable, helpful, whoo, bullshit. So when you enter your time, date and place of birth into software, online, humandesignamerica.com, mybodygraph.com there are lots of different places to look it up, you get hit with this really, like, really intimidating chart. It’s all it’s insane. And I think it’s supposed to be because like, I think they This is shifting because we’re now like, almost were like, it was actually channeled, quote, unquote, channeled, it was brought to being by this man, Alan, who renamed himself Ra Uru Hu, so take that with a grain of salt. But it was in 1987, which is actually the year that I was born. So it’s the system is as old as I am. So it’s coming to a point where there is, there are more ways to learn about it that are at lower and lower price points. So like I bought the book, I did one or two sessions, but there’s also 1000 people who have written about it online. So I just went really deep down the rabbit hole for myself and for everyone around me and became obsessed with it. And so I’m mostly self taught. But then one of the things I did this year after I read for so many people in such a short amount of time, was I did do an online training from Jenna Zoe, that was like an official kind of certification. Just because I wanted to know what that was like. And to get that level of depth of knowledge from someone who has been doing it professionally on a really, really huge scale. And I learned that I’m much better being kind of trial and error self taught. But yeah, it was when I do sessions for people. So all these people that signed up for sessions, after this creative morning’s event, we’re doing 20 3020 or 30 minute or an hour long sessions, where we were diving into the basics of their design of the energetics. And there are all these different type or all these different parts of Human Design, you have your energy type, you have your profile, you have a strategy and authority and incarnation, cross channels, gates, like it’s so many different things, which is why oftentimes people want to pay someone like me to help them decode all of it. Yeah. And so I was working with people, my mantra with human design is use what’s useful, and it’s data not doctrine. So I help people kind of demystify and sometimes people return and work with me again, or I just give them enough so that then they can start researching on their own, apply it to their career or relationship or, like, I’m, I don’t want you to come to me for an intellectual exercise in Human Design. I want to give people things that are super actionable. Yeah, whichever business model, I’m learning, not the best. Like if people want to pay you repeatedly, you should probably let them pay me repeatedly. But I also like finding the balance of the integrity of what I really believe about the system and I won’t let people book more more than one session a month because I want them? To put it into practice in their life?
Eowyn Levene 20:04
Clare Marie Edgemon 20:04
Yeah, if you’re not integrating it, what’s the point? You’re just gonna keep paying me to talk at you, which again, for my business model might be a really good idea. But it feels out of alignment for me in terms of Yeah, I’m actually passing on.
Eowyn Levene 20:19
Yeah, I get that so much that you don’t want to just be an intellectual version of looking in the mirror for them. Yeah. On the topic of what you offer. With Human Design, I know you’ve gone through some shifts in your long term career starting in March 2020. So we’re recording this tober the end of October. So I know you’ve already gone through some changes and realizing what it takes to do one on one work and thinking about what you can offer. In addition to that to be a little more, I think energetically independent so that you can work when it’s best for you.
Clare Marie Edgemon 20:55
So one of the things I’ve learned through human design is my type is I’m a manifester. And one of the things that really struck me about human design to begin with, and really kind of made me fall in love with the system was the recognition that manifestos work in energy spurts that we have, like six, or pending doesn’t even matter the length of time, but we have these really amazing burst of productivity, and then we kind of crash. So that nine to five life was really, really hard for me energetically, when I was expected to kind of chip away at things regularly. And so I found that out too, with sessions, when suddenly I was like doing 15 sessions in a week, I was like, I completely burned out, I was not serving my clients to the best of my ability. So I went through and put a lot stronger structures into my scheduling software, which like, that’s another tool that I really like. And I think you also use acuity scheduling, I really love that it was like, okay, no more than three sessions a day, at least 15 minute buffer in between sessions, no more than eight sessions in a week. And then I have certain days of the week that I just don’t do sessions. And then I can go through and override that here and there when I need to. But setting those boundaries around, it was a lot better. But even with that, I was like, Okay, now I’ve set these boundaries. But I’m not charging enough to make a living doing this with those boundaries. I don’t want to rack my prices up to a point where they’re inaccessible, at least not yet. Maybe someday, I’ll get to that level. But that’s not where I’m at now. So I realized that I could create a product that was uniquely made for every single person, it’s called the Big Little Book. It’s a poetic and practical companion to your unique design. Every single one is made individually for the person, but they’re created from a library of resources that I spent, you know, two months creating. So I can create a big little book, even though I’m making it specifically for you eo and like, I could sit down and do that while I’m listening to a podcast. And it’s in a lot of ways and exercise and copy and paste, because it’s an existing thing. And then the end of it is really intentionally channeled for each person. So So what it is, is it’s like, now I have a product that takes about 30 to 45 minutes for me to make, but only 10 minutes of that time is really focused channeled energy for that individual person. And I can do it on my own time and my own schedule. So I can have a day where even though I have orders for 10, big little books that come in over the previous week, I can sit down on Monday and just kind of have a day where I’d Yeah, and being able to have that energetic difference and something where I’m just kind of in my own energy. And so I’ll take where I’m not accountable to somebody else’s timetable. Like if I’m not feeling well on Monday, like if I have a really bad blood sugar day, and my diabetes is out of control. And I just need to rest that day, the big little bugs can happen the next day, whereas I’m much more reticent to cancel a client session than I am to put off the creation of a package.
Eowyn Levene 23:44
That makes so much sense because you’re impacting their schedule and their expectations. And yeah, you say a little more about literally what the what the deliverable is for a big little book. Are they receiving a physical book in the mail? If yes, where does it get printed?
Clare Marie Edgemon 24:01
At this point, it is not a physical book yet, because that would cost it would put the price point too high. Um, but for right now it you receive it as a PDF. Most people seem to print theirs out it. So I’m working on optimizing it for that right now. It’s optimized to be read on your phone screen really easily. I also know what’s nice about that as you if there’s a page that’s particularly impactful to you, you can screenshot it and have it as your phone background or whatnot to remind you and just trigger that light bulb. But what it is it’s generally 32 to 40 pages long. It is not a technical manual. I’m trying to be very clear about that on the product page. That way your ordering is an empowering companion like I used the word companion to your to your design very intentionally, because it’s meant to be used in a very relational way. And the way I think of it is that it is the intersection of my understanding of human design and the Human Design System. And then it’s also really important intersection of my knowledge and your experience in the world and how you want to put it into use. So it’s something that can be read repeatedly just look through once it has a little bit of the technicals, just so you can become familiar with it, because a lot of people order them as their very first introduction to human design. So I try and make it as accessible as possible. But I had some really great beta testers that were everyone from like, I texted a friend who had had never even heard of human design, and was like, Hey, can I just send you this thing? And see how you interact with it versus my friend who’s been studying this system for years? And is interacting with it in a very different way?
Eowyn Levene 25:36
Do you have some business goals or vision that you’d like to share? I’m curious where you, I mean, knowing you, you do have some vision, which may change as time goes on. But what do you envision for it aside from your work as an author, which is a whole lifetime in itself?
Clare Marie Edgemon 25:54
Yeah,vit’s weird. I do have very specific author goals right now. But I don’t have like kind of those like smart, like, specific, measurable, like, I don’t have those kind of goals around my Human Design right now. Partly because I’m learning to trust the process of it. And I know that that’s how I work best. But honestly, to be to be fully transparent, I’m a little bit afraid of it. I’m a little bit afraid of going like fully into it, partly because I’m really, really aware of what how do I make this a business model that I believe in that can bring in enough money that isn’t exploiting people, I’m really, really conscious of the type of people which are me and a lot of other different types of people who are attracted to systems like human design, and who like I don’t want someone to book $100 session with me, which is my most expensive price point, which is still so cheap for the human design world. But to me, one of the things I have right now is that you have, if you haven’t ever worked with me before, and don’t have experience with the system, you have to book the $50 30 minute session first, because I don’t want you to make the hundred dollar commitment if we’re not right for each other. But that makes making financial models and goals really tricky. Because when I look at like time versus money, and how many things I want to sell, and the ways that I want to do that in a really holistic, integrated, but practical way, I haven’t made it all click yet. And so one of the things I’m doing is I’m really trusting the knowledge that I have of my own design and of how I exist best in the world and how I best manifest things in the world. And that I’m trusting that when the energy is there behind something that I kind of give fully into it. And I don’t what I like to call should all over myself too much anymore. early this year, I tried to put like a whole Instagram marketing strategy into place and like all of the stuff in terms of SEO and optimization. And I realized it wasn’t quite at that stage yet. That growing a little bit more organically, and also 100% percent transparency, relying on my partner a little bit more, which is a very vulnerable thing to do. Like I have the privilege and this time of being in a dual income, no kids situation where I can make a little bit less and trusting that like laying the groundwork for what I want these offerings to be and making sure that they are sustainable and aligned. Before I like put on the gas and make like profit goals and like any kind of like, true marketing strategy. And also trusting that there 10,000 different ways to do it, which I work with clients all the time on, but like trusting myself about that, like I tell clients all the time, you don’t have to have an Instagram marketing strategy. You just don’t if you’re excited about it, and you want to or you can afford to outsource it great. But you don’t have to do that. And then I find myself like staying up at night being like, well, what, like I really should post on Instagram this week.
Eowyn Levene 28:57
Clare Marie Edgemon 28:59
Becaise, I’m trying to trust myself. Like, which is, um, and I’m trying to bring in voices of reason and, and, and speak with people that I trust about it at different junctures so that I’m not just like, in a weird, intuitive echo chamber where I’m like, being 100% woowoo, about the whole process and having no practical application of it.
Eowyn Levene 29:26
Yeah, I can really relate to this. Wanting to hold an open space about planning around business and working to be mindful of the things that we don’t want to engage in as business owners, especially in an online space. I yeah, there’s so much about conventional marketing that one is taught about scarcity and pressing pain points and making everything hyper useful and showing Trouble and all of this pressure to somehow produce this perfectly slick marketing so that you can reach the people you’re meant to serve. It all sounds great from the perspective of something that’s effective and getting to where you want to get. But a lot of it is highly manipulative. And a lot of it uses systems that I question on the daily, one of which is social media. One of my reasons for starting this podcast and for building a community off of Facebook is that I want to try and step away from reliance on Facebook and Instagram, in the long run, I really appreciate how I meet new people through them. And when there is genuine connection, I love it. But it comes with a lot of temptation and a lot of particular kind of pressure to try and get noticed by the algorithm. And I can relate to this questioning how we do things and wanting to make sure it’s in alignment with our values.
Clare Marie Edgemon 31:04
Yeah, one challenge I’m finding right now is that I love to provide other human design readers as resources. And I do it liberally, like in sessions in my newsletter in on my Instagram and everything. And I’ve noticed that most other human design, readers don’t do this, because they want to be the gatekeepers that you pay them to get the knowledge, which totally makes sense as a business model. And so that’s part of why I’m not 100%. And I’m not both feet into just be like, I don’t want a single stream of income, I don’t want to, I also just know myself, I get distracted, I get excited about new things, I want the freedom to follow those things. But I also just know that what it might take to have a like wellness like Tarot and Human Design, business that is providing the level of income that I would like to have eventually might not align with how I would want to run that business. I’m not saying it’s impossible. But the models that I’ve looked at are just not something I’m interested in. And I might figure out a way to do it myself in a very different way. Or I am doing Human Design and tarot readings and whatnot, or, and like them.
Clare Marie Edgemon 32:13
My big, big financial goal right now is to sign a six figure book deal for these YA fantasy novels. I mean, that’s very pie in the sky, that might not happen, but like, but I might sign a five figure book deal, whatever that is, that like a huge part of diversifying my income streams is so that I can try and do these things in the most aligned way possible. And then also realize that if I get to the end of the year, and I realized next year, I need to take some finance copy clients so that I can keep my Human Design business the way that I want it to be. I have that balance and those skill sets that I can dip into different things so that I can keep doing things the way that I want to do them rather than come over compromising on the morals of my business. I think there are a lot. There’s a lot of advice out there about detaching your morality and your finances, that I just I can’t live. So it’s like, Okay, if I can’t live this way, then how do I support myself? And how do I be in the world in a way that I feel morally and ethically aligned with? Definitely.
Eowyn Levene 33:14
I’m curious, what’s the biggest obstacle you faced financially?
Clare Marie Edgemon 33:21
It’s definitely diabetes.
Eowyn Levene 33:23
Clare Marie Edgemon 33:25
I was diagnosed when I was 16. And it’s, it’s a lot in this country. And the first time I met a diabetic who was not from the US than the way that she exists in the world, like she’s a violinist and a T shirt and like, and was just like traveling all over Europe. And I’m like, how I was 25 at the time and still on my parent’s insurance. And I’ve had a lot of financial privilege in my life. I was like, I’m one of the only people I know, without student loan debt, I was very conscious of going to a school that my parents could afford. And I was very lucky in what my parents could afford as an only child. So I’ve had a lot of financial privilege in my life that has been and then a lot of financial reality checks with just how much I have spent in various years, like what percentage of my income, because I want to keep this standard of care for my diabetes, like during the pandemic, there was a point in time where 85% of my income was going to my insurance premium. That was where the subsidy, you know, and I know that that’s a trade off. And I know that that equation will not always follow that same way. But it’s it’s a financial burden that I can never escape. I was just talking with a friend whose brother in law is a type one diabetic, and she was just saying how she wished he could be on a pump and all of these things and I was like, why can’t he get on Medicaid? Like, she’s like he owes back taxes. He can’t be involved in any insurance system. And so most people with a chronic illness that rely on a medication or a Some sort of accessibility to keep them alive. Like it’s there’s a documentary being made right now called pay or die, because that’s really what it is. And so I’ve been very lucky in that regard. But it’s not only the financial burden of insurance premiums and things costing insane amounts of money out of pocket and things like that. There’s also a flipside of a level of guilt that comes with being able to afford things when there are people dying in this country who don’t have access to those things. So it’s kind of this energetic, double edged sword in terms of financially having the privilege and then even that privilege being a weight in a way.
Eowyn Levene 35:36
Yeah. And it’s, it’s a constant presence, I’m just thinking about, I went for years with a chronic illness that should have been medically tended. That wasn’t partly because I didn’t have health insurance, and it was ever present. And it had significant impact on my ability to do what I wanted to do in my life. Yeah, it’s on my mind. And I really appreciate that we’ve been talking about it so openly today, and you sharing how you figured it out without being employed. Because I think, for all self employed people in the states insurance is probably the top thing that they think about in terms of finances. You know, it’s like, if you can’t pay your rent, you can stay with a friend for a while, if you can’t buy food, if you have to use sign up for food stamps. And yes, there. Yes, there is Medicaid, and there are subsidies and all of that, but it feels different. Somehow it feels wait.
Clare Marie Edgemon 36:35
Yeah. And there are so many, there’s also such an energetic burden of being insured and staying insured. If you have a variable income, I spend a huge amount of time navigating insurance. And like comparing plans and being even just having the time and energy and the education to be able to navigate the system is a hugely privileged and, and difficult thing to do and, and it is a huge factor in why I didn’t continue as an artist. And not that I didn’t continue making art or anything like that. But but that when I was faced with the reality of being a type one diabetic actor, I decided to be an A traditionally employed person with diabetes and insurance. And there was a lot of guilt and shame that came with that decision. And then a lot of judgment, honestly, of people who made the other decision where, like when you decide to do that, it there’s also this like, when you see your friend with the chronic illness, who is not taking care of themselves and deciding to quote unquote, follow their dream and be the, you know, uninsured artist, and they’re risking themselves in these ways. I got really judgy for a little bit of time, like presupposing that my financial and health priorities were other people’s financial and health priorities. And so there was this strange cognitive dissonance when I went to graduate school in Ireland and I watched people navigate a different world as artists because insurance wasn’t a factor in the same way. And I I do dream of a world where that’s able to be the case for artists in this country. It’s a complicated thing in terms of having such a strong and and honestly traumatic lived experience of working to just have the basic human dignity of the things that I need to stay alive and, and like edge toward thriving. Like sometimes I’m like, I don’t know if I deserve thriving, but like maybe close to thriving.
Eowyn Levene 38:39
We all deserve thriving.
Clare Marie Edgemon 38:41
Oh I know. I know. It’s so hard. But there’s this. There’s this strange tension there of like, hoping for progress, but also being like, really pragmatic. And I feel like as artists and independent creatives, we all have something that’s like the the ankle weight that we’re dragging behind us that like, visible and nobody can see. But that one feels like a really conspicuous one that like culturally, we just need to figure our shit out. It’s
Eowyn Levene 39:07
We need an upgrade.
Clare Marie Edgemon 39:08
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Eowyn Levene 39:10
Tell me what or who helps you the most with your money.
Clare Marie Edgemon 39:14
Okay, this is kind of funny, because it’s me. I am, I mean, I’m not totally self taught. But like I had, when I took a job at a financial services company that I was really not excited or passionate about, I was like, at least I’m gonna get paid to become financially savvy. And it was totally true. Like when I was learning about how to write about investing and all these things. So I’ve had this really strange role reversal, where now like, I helped my parents with their fight, like with navigating, like how to invest their retirement funds and like they have a financial advisor and stuff like that. But it’s, I’ve become this weird de facto investing expert among my friends. And like, I have a sister in law who works in finance, compliance, and like my best friend’s partner, like works at Bloomberg So I end up having these like weirdly detailed finance conversations with like actual real finance professionals. And it’s this very, very strange thing that was through getting paid to teach other people about it that I became, I kind of became this like self taught personal finance person. And I don’t consider myself an expert. But I have been lucky to get to translate the words of a lot of experts like to have somebody who has 30 years Wall Street experience explained to me the nuances of ETFs, and bonds and all of these things, and me try and drill it down into Okay, so how would the average 24 year old who just finished college has their first job like what? How are they going to understand it and explain it, and I was really, really lucky to get to learn through writing and through like, being a real I was the compliance departments pain in the ass. Because I was like, there’s got to be a simpler way to say this, because it’s almost kind of like human design, where like, the language is purposely obfuscating, so you’ve got to pay someone like finances the exact same way. Like they keep that language precise. Because it needs to be, but at the same time, they keep it precise so that the average person doesn’t know how to navigate it.
Eowyn Levene 41:12
Did you make any significant changes to how you handle your money during your time, in that position, writing about finance?
Clare Marie Edgemon 41:21
the biggest thing was that my parents, in their incredible generosity, had put a little bit of money, a little bit of money on my behalf into a Roth IRA, or had helped me fund a Roth IRA when I was working with them for their business and, and so it was in a CD, a certificate of deposit. And as soon as I started learning about investing, I was like, Y’all, this losing money to inflation, like and I learned that my parents had gotten burned by a bad financial advisor in the 90s. And they didn’t really trust the market anymore. And so most of their money was not invested. And so I one of the first things I did was roll over that Roth into a Vanguard fund, and get it invested and making money. And then I also this year had like a really, I had another big shift in how I’m handling my money. When I rewatched, the documentary 13th, and learned more about the prison industrial complex, and I knew it, I had watched it before, but I rewatched it, I just had this lens of oh my gosh, this company that owns these prisons is a fortune 400 company, they are probably in my retirement portfolio, and they’re probably in my investment portfolio. And so I had a friend – my friend’s partner who works at Bloomberg – helped me look up the I think it’s called CXW is the the ticker symbol for that company. And I was like, I want to divest myself of all of this, I don’t want to have anything to do with owning this. I don’t I have mixed feelings about the market and capitalism in general. But I also understand being a like, lower middle class person being invested is a good idea for my financial future. I wrote about it for years. I advise people to do it. And I do believe in it. But I also believe that you can invest at least more ethically, or in companies that you truly believe in, or at least have, one of the things I learned about that I’ve been really mindful of is that in the US, we have what’s usually called an inclusionary screen, when you’re talking about investing, and that’s like, if you want if you want to do ESG, investing, which is environmental, societal and governance, you’re looking at companies that meet certain marks, and they’re inclusive. And then there’s another thing that’s called exclusive screening, which is a little bit more popular in Europe. If somebody’s listening, and I’ve gotten this backwards, please just bear with me. I’m pretty sure this is how it is. It’s been a couple years. But the difference there is that are you including things that hit a certain benchmark, or are you excluding things that you don’t believe in? And so I just, I had been very inclusionary like I wanted, like, clean water companies, and I wanted geothermal and I wanted, like these, these things are environmental I wanted for for social and governance, like I wanted companies that had women in the upper echelons. And there are all of these companies that make these funds that have these funds that that screen for these things like the the fearless girl at the wall street bull, most people don’t know, that was a publicity stunt by State Street Global Advisors, they had put out a fund called She, which is all about inclusion of women at the higher levels of companies. And so that statue of that girl was a commissioned piece of propaganda art for a major investment fund. But it was also a really cool, amazing statement. And so in that fund was really exciting for those of us who cared about those sorts of things. So this year, I got more exclusionary. So years ago, I got, I started investing, and I started doing it more thoughtfully. And then over the last four years, I’ve become a lot more conscious of what I am investing in. And what I have because when you’re investing, you have partial ownership. And these apps like one of which I worked for, makes it very, very easy for you to invest in these really small amounts of money, which is great and I think people absolutely should start investing that way. Like, I really do believe that, again, not a financial advisor. But I do believe in that as a as a way to save for your future and invest in your future. And I think it’s totally okay for you to bring your ethics to the table and say, I’m going to invest, and I’m not going to invest in this company that owns people. And the consequence of that is there was only one fund in all of Vanguard advisors. That didn’t include that was available to the type of portfolio that I have that didn’t include this company, because it is a fortune 400 company. So if you have a broad broad spectrum, fortune 500, like s&p 500 fund, it’s gonna hold that CSW that that I can’t remember what their new name is, it’s something shady, but so I had to be really intentional about it. And I had to take a little bit more risk in my portfolio, because my portfolio was now less diverse, like I don’t have I have a lot more equity, I have a lot less debt. So if anything happens to that one particular fund, it is a bigger risk that I’m taking with my retirement fund right now. But I also just feel much better taking that risk than a lower risk that includes even a teeny tiny, even if it’s pennies or dollars, you know, I don’t want my money to go to that thing.
Eowyn Levene 46:11
Yeah. So if you were speaking with someone who was just beginning to work on their finances more intentionally, what advice would you give them?
Clare Marie Edgemon 46:21
I think it would be be realistic, but not pessimistic. Like I was being pessimistic about being able to afford my own insurance. And when I got realistic about it, I realized I had to move some things around like I had to be really honest with myself, like we couldn’t order in every night. But ultimately, we couldn’t afford to live in New York City anymore, we made a major life change in that regard. But when you’re setting your priorities, being like looking yourself really honestly in your financial mirror and being honest, but then also not being pessimistic and not comparing yourself to somebody else that’s in a quote, unquote, same financial situation, because like same financial situation just does not exist like that invisible weight, whatever it is on your ankle is going to be invisible to somebody else unless you tell them about it. So it will be that plus, I found, the more transparent I am about money about real actual numbers of how much I’m making, particularly when I was working like salary jobs. I learned so much from being honest with my friends and my colleagues about how much money I made. Just because people can provide really great advice or insight and just to like, really know your worth and understand, like, it’s hard to be realistic about your financial situation if you don’t have all of the information. So there I think there’s positive comparison in terms of like, if you’re working on a team, and you are transparent with each other about your salaries, like Be careful with HR and whatnot, but like, but like finding out that somebody else on your team is making a third less than you sometimes when you’re on the upper side of that also gives you a really important perspective on being realistic about what what you can make work what the people around, you can make work. I think it’s this balance of like, understanding that we’re all kind of maybe we’re not all struggling, but like being honest with each other about our struggles, and about how we’re sorting it out. And figuring it out is a beautifully vulnerable thing to do. And I think especially for women, because we’ve been taught so many things about money and worth and all of these things. And I found so much. I mean, you and I have had been part of so many wonderful conversations about money and vulnerability around money personally and in group settings. Yeah, that level of vulnerability. And that level of honesty can be really, really empowering.
Eowyn Levene 48:36
Yeah, no doubt, I think even if you consciously know that money and self worth are independent of each other. Money has significant impact on your life, and you have access to different experiences and different privileges because of the money you do want to do not have. And it’s helpful to normalize things, it’s helpful to realize what’s possible, and it’s helpful to not feel so alone. So for a lot of people talking about money feels very dangerous. And yeah, vulnerable. And so to invite those conversations is empowering. I think anytime we expose areas of ourselves that are tender or difficult or might have shame mixed in, yeah, you it’s like a little magic comes through you and you have more power and sort of more presence in yourself.
Clare Marie Edgemon 49:28
I think another small piece of that, that I just realized as I was listening to you is that part of being realistic for me was also – and being honest and not pessimistic – was I can afford to make less and create more. And I think that there is a lot of guilt associated with that for some creatives that there’s this like need to hustle and need to grind and if you have the resources you you you don’t want to appear to not be the starving artist because there’s a martyrdom and being the starving artists. So like if you have the resources you get the fellowship or you have the season of your life where you don’t have to work and you get to create, like, trying to decouple the guilt of that, because what you can create and put into the world like you are not necessarily benefiting anyone by by working away at Starbucks if you really don’t have to be just to like prove something to the world about like making an honest paycheck or whatever so so I do think that part of that realism is like using the resources that you have to really support the creative practice that you want to put into the world and part of valuing your creativity is understanding that the first step to anybody else valuing it is you valuing your own output.
Eowyn Levene 50:49
Clare Marie Edgemon 50:52
Easier said than done.
Eowyn Levene 50:55
Let’s finish up with my final question. What is your favorite fruit?
Clare Marie Edgemon 51:00
Okay, I was actually really scared of this question. Because I always pronounce it wrong no matter how I say it. Someone is gonna say something different lychee lychee I have said it both ways to people of all different backgrounds all different ages. And I have been corrected every single time I have said this word to another human being so lychee lychee however you say it the lovely super sweet squishy like oh my gosh, one of the things I miss the most being in Montana now is the the lychee jelly in a bubble tea. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for that right now. So So yes, my favorite fruit is not only a fruit I can’t pronounce but it’s also one that I also prefer in candy form!
Eowyn Levene 51:50
Everything is going to be included in the show notes but just briefly, where can folks find you where you hang out the most online?
Clare Marie Edgemon 51:57
Yeah, the best hub to find me is my website claremarieedgeman.com. The key there is there’s no I in my first name CLARE and I’m on Instagram @claremarieedgeman. And at @skepticsmystic if you want to get woo with me over there. And then I also just started a newsletter, a substack newsletter, which is linked on my website. It’s also called the Skeptics Mystic, but I decided to use substack because I like the streamlined nature of it. And I am also seeking that that level of intentionality and community off of the social media, but who knows it might be its own its own beast of a platform, but I’m enjoying it over there right now.
Eowyn Levene 52:39
Claire is offering all creatives to money listeners 15% off any human design session with her. When you book by her website, which I’ll link in the show notes. Use the code CREATIVESDO15 to receive the discount.
Eowyn Levene 53:01
Special thanks to Michael P. Atkinson for help with producing this episode and for composing its beautiful music. If you enjoyed listening today, I hope you’ll return and tell your creative friends and colleagues about it. And also to take a moment to leave a review wherever it is that you listen. positive reviews make a huge difference in getting the word out about creatives do money. And in the meantime, wishing you all money, business and life success, whatever that means to you.