Here’s How To Stop Succumbing To Financial Peer Pressure

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No one wants to be the friend who always has to miss dinners, concerts, and vacations because of their strict budget. Maybe you’re unexpectedly tight on cash all of a sudden, or maybe your friend group has slowly but surely fallen victim to lifestyle creep. Whatever your reasons, saying “no” to well-intentioned friends and family is one of the most challenging aspects to keeping your spending in check.

If you’ve noticed that you’re spending more than you’d like to be because of the company you keep, here are some tips to resist financial peer pressure without tarnishing your relationships.


Be transparent about your budget

There are two main perks to letting those around you know that you’re sticking to a budget. First off, good friends will respect your boundaries and be less likely to pressure you into spending more than you’re comfortable with.

Secondly, you’ll be more likely to hold yourself accountable. Rather than feeling the pressure to spend, you’ll feel pressure to save. The key here is to be casual, but firm. You don’t want others to feel like you’re complaining, asking for help, or passing judgment on their spending habits.

Be prepared to say no

If you struggle to say no to someone’s face, it helps to prepare for situations where you know there’s likely to be financial peer pressure. Write yourself a tentative script, e.g. “I can’t afford that right now, what about [alternative solution]?”

Think up activities or propose locations that you know are within your budget. If possible, it also helps to take initiative with choosing restaurants and making plans, so you can avoid having to reject someone else’s expensive ideas. Here’s a list of ideas for social plans that won’t break the bank.

If your friends insist on something you can’t afford at the moment, be ready to stick to your “no.” And if you’re constantly finding yourself in this uncomfortable position, it might be time to find new friends.

Find new friends

If you’re being priced out of your friend group, it’s time to rethink who you spend your time around. It sounds harsh, but real friends will spend time with you for cheap.

People don’t need to share your exact spending habits in order to respect your budget and your boundaries. If someone in your life doesn’t want to make time to get together without the pressure to spend money, that might be a friendship you’re outgrowing.

By Meredith Dietz

Source: Here’s How to Stop Succumbing to Financial Peer Pressure


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Studies have shown that credit card spenders are willing to pay almost twice more than those who are paying with cash. This means we are willing to spend more when using credit cards.This can be explained by what psychologists call, “the pain of paying”. Whenever we make a purchase, this activates the pain processing regions in our brain. They light up even with the anticipation of making the decision to purchase something.

Paying with credit cards reduce the “pain of paying” because it makes money less tangible than when paying with cash. This is because when you pay with cash, you’re actually handing the money over and watching it disappear. Ouch!But when using a credit card, the card is always returned to the customer or the customer just taps the card to pay, so you don’t see the money disappear.

Switching to a cash-only budget can be a great way to keep your spending on track as you work towards your financial goals.This means you’ll use cash for all of your spending needs. If this is not realistic for your lifestyle, then consider moving to a cash-only budget for spending categories that tend to bust your budget. 

Commons spending categories that many people struggle includes groceries, restaurants, clothing, beauty & makeup, entertainment, and kids’ stuff.For example, if you’re spending too much money on clothes each month or have trouble cutting back on eating out, then withdraw a certain amount of cash each week for these spending categories.

his means you’ll only use cash when spending in this specific budget category, such as $50 per week for clothing. Once the cash is gone from your envelope, it’s gone! Don’t be tempted to move money around from different spending categories to cover clothing costs. Wait until next week when you can refill your envelope with $50 to pay for clothing.

You can use cash envelopes for ANY category to help you tack back control of your spending. It’s a fun and simple way to stick to your budget. Below is an in-depth guide on how to get started with cash envelopes.

How to follow the cash envelope method without cash


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14 Critical Financial Results Businesses Have Seen From The Remote Work Movement

What started out as a necessity has turned into a way of life for many: remote work. Over two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent shift to remote work, experts are starting to see some of the financial implications of moving work out of the traditional office setting.

While results are largely promising and several experts point to various ways remote work has helped businesses financially, the members of Forbes Finance Council have been observing both positive and negative financial trends among businesses newly engaged in remote work. Below, 14 of them share some key financial results they’ve observed for companies that have switched to remote work and why these insights should matter to every business leader.

1. Companies Are Paying Compliance Fines

While financial implications are usually positive, we’re actually seeing challenges caused by remote work—specifically, around monitoring communications for compliance purposes. With the move to remote work, compliance staff were basically left blind as to what is going on in their organizations. Those organizations that didn’t adapt fast enough are now receiving regulatory fines of $200 million and up. – Shiran Weitzman, Shield

2. Companies Are Spending Money To Improve Communication Applications

When an organization is considering remote work options, thought must be given to maximizing communication efforts. Before making the switch, measure the tradeoff. Yes, you are likely able to recognize cost savings in certain areas, but where do you need to spend to improve your communication applications to maintain efficiencies? – Kacey Butcher, Adaptation Financial

3. Industries That Require In-Person Training Are Struggling To Maintain Productivity

Remote work is not helpful or workable in a growing number of industries that require training younger employees to be experts in their fields. It’s hard to train new lawyers and accountants on how to do their jobs if they can’t work alongside someone and learn how it works. This lowers productivity and impedes the ability to replenish the workforce, which ultimately impacts profitability. – John Ward, Bridge Investment Group

4. Struggles With Customer Service Are Causing Some Companies To Lose Business

While some companies have made the transition seamlessly, others have failed miserably. We have moved our bank accounts and our P&C brokers. Both are big names in their respective industries. It feels like there is a lack of supervision. I have waited days for a return call for basic services. Companies that can operate remotely and still provide excellent service thrive during this new period. – Michael Seltzer, Vérité Group, LLC

5. Remote Work Culture Can Get Watered Down

Culture is defined as the values, ideas, attitudes and goals that characterize a firm. Firms work extremely hard at developing a great culture. If there is a large contingency of employees always working remotely, a firm’s culture can get watered down. This can have a ripple effect throughout the organization. – DeLynn Zell, Bridgeworth Wealth Management

6. There Are Hidden Costs In Maintaining A Strong Culture

A fully remote business requires a strong company culture to ensure a sense of purpose and shared passion for your employees. While the overhead costs might be lower with a remote team, it is vital to consider the hidden costs of maintaining a strong culture while working remotely and investing in technological changes and employees’ future prosperity, retraining and role in the community. – Peter Goldstein, Exchange Listing LLC

7. Managing A Multi-State Workforce Is Challenging

Remote work is not for every company or role, and oversight is important. The biggest impact is the inability, especially in small businesses, to cope with a multi-state workforce. They are not equipped to manage multi-state systems for payroll and benefits and are struggling with remote people management. Seek help on regulatory and personnel management and development matters. – David Kelley, Mailprotector

8. Expenditures On Rent Can Be Significantly Reduced

If work is consistently completed in a timely manner, remote work could provide a potential windfall in expense savings for a business owner. Moving to smaller offices brings down rent costs, as does allowing employees to work from remote locations. In addition, employees saving commute time will be happy to have the flexibility and will feel motivated to be sure their work is done on time, efficiently and accurately. – Christopher Drake, Drake Consulting Group, LLC

9. Companies With Large Office Spaces Are Considering Leasing Or Selling

We might have switched to a “hybrid office,” but in reality, we’re only using about 20% of our office space. That’s a huge financial responsibility for a space we aren’t using to its full capacity anymore. Now, we’re starting to ask ourselves if we should lease or sell our property. That’s a tough decision, but at the end of the day, we need to do what makes sense for the business. – Christopher Hurn, Fountainhead Commercial Capital

10. Remote Work Can Add Complex Tax Implications

A company can get a nasty surprise when its remote workers move to states the company wasn’t registered in. This creates new payroll and income tax exposures. Additionally, some states and cities are still trying to hold onto potential tax revenue, even if the employees no longer work or live there. The short-term result is more tax exposure, fines, paperwork and compliance. – Aaron Spool, Eventus Advisory Group, LLC

11. There’s A Higher Risk Of Costly Data Breaches

A data breach is one of the most significant financial risks that come with remote work. Remote offices still need to maintain data integrity and security, especially during periods of high employee turnover. Files are shared remotely and in different time zones. Confidentiality within a household can’t be verified or secured. Companies that want to shift to remote work must set up data integrity systems first. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

12. Businesses Are Investing More In Cybersecurity

Although business leaders generally expect to cut operating costs by implementing a remote work environment, doing so does require additional investment to enhance cybersecurity measures. Before switching to a remote or hybrid work environment, business leaders and advisors alike must ensure that they have the right tools in place to secure their network while keeping costs in line. – Mara Garcia, Phonexa Holdings, LLC

13. Companies Are Incurring New And Increased Tech Costs

There has been an increased investment in technology and process creation for operational efficiencies. Examples include internal and external communications SaaS products that were previously not present in our business, VO VO +1.7%IP phone systems, messaging systems, video conferencing software, shared digital document storage, and tech equipment, including laptops, headsets and high-speed internet. – Cynthia Hemingway, Fourlane, Inc.

14. Models For The Cost Value Of Production Are Changing

Managing production and the cost value of production in a remote workforce is more difficult than it is within a controlled office environment. Efficiencies in a remote workforce are lower than those in a physical workforce, and this difference is greater within industries that require a high level of collaboration between co-workers. Financial models for the cost value of production have changed. – Joseph Orseno, Tiltify

Source: 14 Critical Financial Results Businesses Have Seen From The Remote Work Movement

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Are We Already In A Recession? Yes, According To Fed Indicator With ‘Excellent’ Track Record

A highly watched economic indicator with a good track record in predicting recessions cut its forecast for second-quarter gross domestic product growth this week, implying the nation has fallen into a technical recession despite economists widely calling for a return to growth in the second quarter.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow model on Thursday projected the U.S. economy shrank 1% in the second quarter, slipping into negative territory after economic data showed consumer spending dropped in May, while domestic investments, another component of GDP growth, also fell.

The model, which estimates GDP growth using a methodology similar to the one used for the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ official estimates, has been steadily trimming its second-quarter GDP forecast based on updated economic data that’s fueled concerns of a prolonged economic downturn in recent weeks.

The U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank 1.6% in the first quarter as the omicron variant fueled a record surge in Covid cases, so another negative quarter would indicate the nation has slipped into a technical recession, which is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.

“The model’s long-run track record is excellent,” DataTrek analysts wrote in a note to clients Thursday night, pointing out its average error has been just 0.3 points since the Atlanta Fed started running it in 2011—but was zero through 2019, before the unprecedented volatility around the pandemic.

With an error margin of 1.2 points one month before the government’s first GDP estimate, the model may still ultimately forecast positive growth for the quarter, DataTrek’s Nicholas Colas and Jessica Rabe noted, though they add the indicator will be “important to watch” as its predictive ability improves with time.

Most economists are still predicting a return to growth, with average projections calling for GDP to increase more than 3% last quarter, but many have become increasingly bearish in recent weeks, with Bank of America’s Ethan Harris on Friday downgrading his forecast to zero growth last quarter (from 1.5% previously) after the weak spending data for May.

What To Watch For

The Bureau of Economic Analysis unveils its first estimate of second-quarter GDP growth—or decline—on July 28, but it won’t release a final estimate until September. Adjusted for inflation, consumer spending fell for the first time this year in May, according to Thursday’s data. The worse-than-expected decline makes a second straight quarterly decline in GDP “much more likely,” Pantheon Macro chief economist Ian Shepherdson wrote in a Friday note, forecasting that GDP would fall 0.5% in the second quarter.

However, he notes the National Bureau of Economic Research—“the semi-official arbiter” whose declarations are accepted by the government—“very probably will not” declare a recession unless employment, which remains one of the economy’s strongest pillars, starts declining as well. Rather than purely going off technical recessions, the NBER vaguely defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and lasts more than a few months.”

Despite growing bearishness, many economists aren’t convinced the U.S. will fall into recession—at least not imminently. In a research note on Monday, analysts at S&P Global Ratings said the economy has enough momentum to avoid a recession this year, but warned “what’s around the bend next year is the bigger worry.” The economists put the odds of a recession in 2023 at 40%. One week earlier, Morgan Stanley put them at 35%.

Fueled by government stimulus and the war in Ukraine, prolonged levels of high inflation pushed the Fed to embark on the most aggressive economic tightening cycle in decades—crashing markets and sparking recession fears. “People are really suffering from high inflation,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress last week, noting it remained “absolutely essential” for the Fed to restore price stability, before acknowledging it would be “very challenging” to avoid a recession while doing so.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina

Source: Are We Already In A Recession? Yes, According To Fed Indicator With ‘Excellent’ Track Record

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Empathy Vs. Sympathy: How To Connect The Right Way

Providing comfort and building an emotional connection with someone who is struggling can be difficult. There are two main ways to approach a situation like this, either with sympathy or empathy.

Having sympathy for someone means you feel sorry for them and their predicament. On the other hand, empathy involves putting yourself in their shoes and understanding why they feel a certain way.

Though both approaches may be well-meaning, empathy is generally considered to be the better option when approaching someone who is going through a rough time.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to acknowledge and share the feelings of another person about what they are going through.

“The goal of empathy is to not fix the problem, it is to let the person know they are not alone,” says Nicole Hollingshead, PhD, a psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

When comforting an individual, someone who is being empathetic may say the following:

  • “That must have been painful for you. I’m sorry you were put in that position.”
  • “It’s normal for you to feel that way, I know you’ve put in so much time and effort on this.”
  • “I get what you mean, it must be so frustrating to deal with that again.”

Empathy tends to be positively related to prosocial or altruistic behavior, which describes actions that are intended to benefit other people or society as a whole. A small 2019 study found that empathy predicts the willingness to make a charitable donation. A 2021 study also suggested that empathy is a vital motivator in helping other people.

What is sympathy?

Sympathy is the feeling of pity toward the misfortune of another person and treating their suffering as something to be solved.

A person who is being sympathetic might say the following to someone who is going through a rough time:

  • “I’m sorry to hear about what happened. You should just move on and find someone better.”
  • “Don’t worry, I’m sure things will work out eventually.”
  • “That’s really sad, but at least you still have another pet.”

Sympathetic statements can minimize a person’s feelings and may make them feel like they should hide their pain and suffering.

“Although a sympathetic phrase may be well-meaning, in trying to alleviate another person’s suffering, we are implicitly telling them to ‘hurry up’ with their pain or to ‘get over it,'” says Hollingshead.

Empathy vs. sympathy

When it comes to consoling someone who is in pain and trying to connect with them, empathy is a better approach than sympathy.

“Empathy is the ability to understand and to be able to share someone’s feelings, while sympathy is more so feeling sorry for a person’s misfortune,” says Latasha Perkins, MD, a family physician at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

It’s important to understand the differences between empathy and sympathy, which include:



Sympathy tries to alleviate suffering or grief by looking at the “silver lining” of situations, which may invalidate an individual’s feelings.

Empathy acknowledges the challenging situation without trying to fix the problem and validates the person’s feelings.

Having sympathy is feeling concerned for someone without taking the time to acknowledge their pain or struggle, which does not allow for an emotional connection, says Hollingshead.

Having empathy is more reflective, attempting to understand the experience, feelings, and perspective of another person to build a connection with them, says Hollingshead.

Sympathy is more of a pity-based response to the situation of another person.

Empathy involves emotional resonance with another person’s feelings and situation.

Several small studies that used non-self-report measures found that females are generally more empathetic than males. The study method is important because a 2022 study suggested that gender differences in self-reported empathic capacity may be influenced by traditional gender role expectations, with empathy being generally perceived as a feminine trait.

“It’s extremely important that we offer people the space and time to go through their process and to avoid projection by expressing how you’d handle it or how you think it should go,” says Perkins. “Show as much love and care as allowed. Offer space but be consistent with checking in.”

Insider’s takeaway

Although sympathy and empathy are related, they are two distinct approaches that convey different intentions.

Empathy forges a connection by understanding the emotions of another individual, while sympathy is more detached, zeroing in on the sorrow over their plight.

“The most important thing to remember when trying to approach someone going through a rough time is that everyone has their own process,” says Perkins. “Respect and honor that process.”

Carla M Delgado Icon



Carla is a Filipino freelance health & culture journalist with bylines in Insider, Architectural Digest, Elemental, Observer, and Mental Floss. Outside of writing, she works for local theatre productions as a stage manager and assistant sound operator.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Sara Twogood, Obstetrician-Gynecologist & Flo Medical Expert.

Source: Empathy Vs. Sympathy: How to Connect the Right Way


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Feeling bad for someone is not the same as empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of someone else without feeling the emotions. Sympathy is the physical display of empathy. You hug them, you try to put yourself in their shoes.
Psychopaths have empathy but they don’t have sympathy. Altruism is detached and emotionless, based on doing what is right. Which ones do you relate to? Does this video help clarify the difference between empathy, sympathy and altruism? Get our merch: ➳ “I Am My Own Super Hero” – ➳ “I Will Get Through This” – ➳ “My Mind Is Powerful” –
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The Complicated Reality of Doing What You Love

I didn’t love my old therapist, but she did give me one crucial piece of advice: Get a hobby. I was writing about food for work, so cooking didn’t really count as a hobby anymore — I’d already monetized that one — nor did reading, nor socializing, especially since all of my friends worked in my industry. I needed something in my life that existed apart from all that. I was stressed and, of course, also on my phone too much (and still am).

Maybe something you can do with your hands. The suggestion felt like an escape hatch: Maybe a hobby could free me from toil. Cooking had once been the thing I did to relax when I got home from work, the thing I was curious about, the thing that distracted my brain from its standard litany of complaints. Puttering in the kitchen had once been a release, but now it was part of my professional life. It needed a replacement. A few months later, I dutifully signed up for a ceramics class at a studio nearish my Brooklyn apartment.

This was March 2016. One of my roommates was an artist who had taken a class at that same studio, and I always envied the little pots she made. One of them was shaped like the face of a woman, with a ponytail for a handle. She gave it to me, and I put a small succulent in it that would soon die. I hoped that taking a class could make me more like her, or at the very least, happier — and if not that, well, maybe I’d make myself a bowl to put pasta in.

Learning to make ceramics on the wheel — this is what you picture when you think of that scene from Ghost — feels initially impossible, pointless, tantrum-inducing. In class, our teacher showed us how to take a blob of clay and slam it onto the machine’s surface, strong-arm it into symmetry as the wheel whirred around, dig a hole in its center with our fingers, make the hole wider, and then raise up the walls that would make it a vessel.

Doing it on my own was another thing entirely: a reminder of the unkind presence of physics, an asymmetrical lump thwapping around like an off-balance tornado, just some really ugly shit that would occasionally collapse in on itself.

This is par for the course. Most of us suck at first. The stuff you made in second-grade art class was objectively better. Clay shrinks when fired in a kiln, so the first mugs I made that weren’t ugly came out more like handled thimbles. Glazing each piece — decorating it with the often-colorful vitrified coating that makes it water-tight and food-safe, and glossy or matte — was its own messy challenge. My goal became not to make art or even craft, so much as to make things I didn’t hate.

Of course, failing at something new doesn’t feel good; it feels like banging your head against a wall in front of an invisible audience of your own making. Turning off the desire to excel once you leave work is often impossible, if not difficult.

That said, the pace of my failure was different at the studio. Making ceramics requires patience and is an exercise in delayed gratification (or dissatisfaction). There are so many ways to fuck something up, so many stages to the process, and entering that cycle of hope, expectation, and either failure and trying again or ecstatic satisfaction added a new dimension to the rhythms of my life. Entering that cycle of hope, expectation, and failure and trying again added a new dimension to the rhythms of my life

Through this mild and harmless struggle, I acquired a hobby. “How agitated I am when I am in the garden, and how happy I am to be so agitated,” Jamaica Kincaid writes in My Garden (Book). “Nothing works just the way I thought it would, nothing looks just the way I had imagined it, and when sometimes it does look like what I had imagined (and this, thank God, is rare) I am startled that my imagination is so ordinary.”

Powerlessness, for an amateur, can be its own draw. At the studio, I started as a lazy learner, but in a few months became obsessed, signing up for more classes when my session ended. My classes netted out to about $40 a week, plus materials and the cost of firing. I was spending maybe $200 a month, which required an increased vigilance in my other spending but also meant I had something to care about.

I had a place to go in my free time that was not my office, or my apartment, or a friend’s apartment, or a restaurant, or a bar. I had something to be curious about, and my goals were unrelated to exterior forces: a boss, a job, a market, a reader. Unlike with writing, my progress was quantifiable: Now I can make a vase this tall. Now I have made a planter. Now my handles are beautiful. Now I have made two things that more or less look like a pair.

I also relished having something to do that didn’t involve a screen and therefore felt far from the style of work to which I was most accustomed. Hands covered in clay cannot swipe very well. Hobbies have always been defined by their tenuous relationship to work: After industrialization bifurcated life into the realms of work and leisure, hobbies appeared as something “productive” for workers to do with their newly minted chunks of free time.

“Leisure came to represent freedom because it took place in time separate from work, and time in an industrial world could be used for either work or leisure,” writes Steven Gelber in his book Hobbies: Leisure and the Culture of Work in America. “For this reason, industrial capitalism sharpened the West’s ambivalent feelings about leisure.” Leisure does not exist without work and is therefore defined by it.

Even as hobbies gained popularity among the 19th-century middle class, they mimicked the capitalist attitudes of the workplaces from which they were meant to provide relief. “Since the hobby was done at home in free time, it was under the complete control of the hobbyist. It was, in other words, a re-embracing of preindustrial labor, a recreation of the world of the yeoman, artisan, and independent merchant,” Gelber writes. “Hobbies were a Trojan horse that brought the ideology of the factory and office into the parlor.”

The capitalist value of a “work ethic” has always been present in the world of the hobbyist. We love hobbies because they are something to do that isn’t work, something that we choose to do. But they still so often require toil; we are still proud of ourselves when we perform our hobbies efficiently, competently. Pursuit of mastery is implied, if not always present. For me, few things match the thrill of pulling something beautiful out of the kiln. It always feels like a surprise I have magically given myself.

Once I had made a few things that I didn’t hate — and because I have a smartphone and a need for validation — I began posting photos of my work on Instagram. I loved making mugs, loved their practicality and the way they fit into a home. A mug can look like anything. I had newfound opinions on what mine should look like, and that felt good.

By the winter, people were asking to buy them. I was freelancing at the time, and my studio cost about $200 a month, plus more for materials. If I could regularly sell a few mugs, I’d break even. The baseline price for these things, according to a brief survey of other potters, was around $40 — I started selling mine for $35 or $40, depending on size.

From the beginning I felt like I was doing everything wrong. Like maybe I should wait until I got a little better, or until I could make a nice shiny website, or until I had, I don’t know, SKUs. But it felt irresponsible to turn down a few people who would help cover my expenses and who wanted my work in their hands. Once you start making things, you have to put them somewhere. You begin to understand why people collect stamps.

Certain hobbies are difficult to monetize — say, bird-watching. Coin collecting, unless you sell it all. Gardening. Many things can only be monetized by becoming a teacher, or maybe now an influencer. Once demand appeared, selling felt like an inevitability. I wanted to keep making things but didn’t have space to keep it all; people love mugs; selling something feels like a pat on the head followed by a treat. (To be clear, the treat is money.)

People began commissioning mugs, and they’d tell me what color they wanted, send me a photo of something I’d made and ask for something similar. It was slapdash but it worked, and it covered my expenses. I was having fun and only mildly stressed by the process, always behind schedule. I look back now at some of the things that people paid for and feel a bit embarrassed, but I’m always wishing my work were a little uglier, so maybe I should be proud.

Once demand appeared, selling felt like an inevitability Somewhere along the line I made a website and started selling things more formally, claiming the revenue on my taxes, finding a person with a real camera to take photos of my work. I’d leave my day job at a magazine and go to the studio, often until 1 or 2 in the morning. It made me late for work, but I didn’t care; I ended up getting laid off with one foot out the door, and was given the gift of time — more daytime hours, at least — to spend at the studio. I had lost my hobby and gained a revenue stream.

My ceramic work, now, is caught up in the question of selling. Mugs sell, so I make more of them. I take a sick pleasure in the exhausting production line of throwing, trimming, attaching handles, smoothing everything down, painting, glazing, firing, staring at rows of cups lined up like synchronized swimmers, ready to jump. It’s the same sick pleasure I get in staying up until 2 am working on a jigsaw puzzle: maniacally focused on my goal at the expense of my posture. Untangling the question of what I want to make from what will sell feels like crawling out of a very deep well.

The swiftness with which modern craftspeople can and do monetize their hobbies is, of course, not a surprise. Traditional careers are crumbling, and side hustles are fetishized; Instagram has turned marketing into a basic skill we’re all expected to have. It’s easier to sell the crap you make in your spare time, and you’re more likely to need the money than you might have been a few decades ago, when you could have just foisted it all on your friends. This all risks turning hobbies into even more of an illusion, a mirage of leisure that quickly turns to obligation.

Some people, though, have fought the seduction of commerce and won. RC, an artist who makes work under the name marinatedclouds, began her first sculptural project with the express intention not to sell it. She was burned out from working a full-time job in graphic design, where in order for an idea to succeed, it needed to be marketable. “So many interesting concepts got dismissed because they couldn’t fit into a business context,” she remembers. “It became a situation where I started feeling really empty — I didn’t know how to have fun anymore.”

She had long toyed with the idea of creating a book about chicken and rice, with 35 different dishes from around the world. But she’d never gotten around to it; the work was too similar to her job as a graphic designer. So she decided to turn it into a sculptural project, quitting her job in April 2018 and giving herself the summer to focus on ceramic chicken and rice. Once she was done, she just kept making things.

Her work is influenced by early 2000s nostalgia and her Taiwanese American upbringing; her pieces look like something made by a child from a different dimension, playful and mind-blowing in one. Pencils are sliced like bananas; crayons threaten to crawl out of their box. She once made an entire aughts-era desktop computer.

Nurturing ideas was and is something I’m still extremely steadfast about,” RC says. “I want to pursue every idea, whether it lacks concept or not. Sometimes just making crayons is literally what I want. There’s no additional background to it, I just like the rainbow.” Refusing to sell her work — something she did for two years, despite enthusiastic interest from people on Instagram — allowed her to create the world of marinatedclouds without tainting it with outside influence. “For me, it’s just pursuing any and every idea that I have. That’s my form of self-expression.”

Quickly, her pieces began to pile up in her one-bedroom apartment. She was tripping over things. She got rid of her living room and turned it into a studio; she has no couch. But last winter, after a financially challenging 2020, she decided to sell some of her older pieces, both to make money and to clear space for new work. She learned that donuts sell really well. “That’s feedback that I didn’t actually need, but it does stay in the back of my head, and that’s something I do really want to avoid,” she says. She doesn’t want to cater to demand — only her own whims.Advertisement

This is, for many of us, the dream: unfettered commitment to externalizing our innards without concern for any gaze but our own. Reclaiming one’s time, you could say. But it requires nothing short of a battle. “Society puts so much pressure on success as in status or monetization,” RC says, “but success to me now is being true to myself.”

I can no longer call ceramics my hobby, and I doubt I ever will. I assume I will sell my work until people stop buying it, both out of necessity and because it does bring me joy to make a silly little thing that someone will incorporate into the tableau of their home. The struggle, for me, is between what I want to make and what I assume people will buy; the struggle of wishing I could log off forever but knowing that Instagram is the most direct marketing tool I have. The only solution I have come up with is to have a segment of my work I make just for myself, without concern for the market — or at least with an attempted lack of concern.

But making time for that also means carving out time, both for creation and inspiration, for the rest that is required for my brain to think thoughts. This is something I crave more than a new hobby; this is peace.

Marian Bull is an editor, writer, and potter living in Brooklyn.

Source: When you monetize your hobby, it looks a lot like a job


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