Sex work is about sex and money, so I often think about money and what to do with it. Money is just a tool with which we build our freedom, but not having any of this freedom-tool is not much fun at all. And yet I am surprised at the drama that surrounds so much to do with sex workers’ money. Not least by ourselves. I guess this has to do with the fact that at any time we may have to stop sex work, usually because of some kind of drama. Must we have so much drama? (Not necessarily). Why do so many well-paid sex workers carry so much debt and have such stress around money? The more money you get, the more you fear losing it. I guess more so if you’ve scrimped and saved and not let yourself enjoy having it at the time.
Money is obviously such a great divider too, and we’re always using it as a reason to judge. People hate “rich pricks” as much as they hate to see people they assume are beneficiaries who happen to have cigarettes, booze and chocolate in their shopping trolleys. We always want to tell other people how to spend their money, or mock the way money is spent or “wasted.” CEOs who earn at least 5 times more than their lowest paid staff are common, and frequently moaned about. The ex-husband of a friend of mine overseas was made redundant and received a very golden handshake, a 7 figure amount! It seems outrageous, but he had to leave the country to find a new job in his field, and his work was what he loved to do.
People also hate that sex workers get so much “easy” money. One of the things people moan about in the comments on news sites whenever something comes up about sex work is that sex workers don’t pay tax. This is true, some do not, and some intend to but have not got around to it yet, some feel they can’t because it will “out” them or because they are in receipt of a benefit, which they intend to get off, but don’t know when that opportunity will come because income from sex work is never constant and can not be relied upon.
Paying tax (ie filing tax returns etc) is actually not that straightforward (not that that should stop anyone). If you’re legit as an escort, you also have to pay an ACC levy (the code is 95300 for Brothel Keeping, Massage Parlour and Prostitution Services). This means that you have to either let the government know you’re a sex worker or come up with some other creative title that will fit nicely into a different category. I’ve asked IRD about this on behalf of a friend, no seriously, on behalf of a young woman who wanted to be a sex worker and do the right thing. Sometimes it’s hard to get a straight answer from these government employees, but I’m pretty sure the man on the phone waffled something along the lines of that they don’t really care what you say you do, they just want their tax. Correct me if I’m wrong.
The Thrive Budget advises that 10% is spent on a retirement fund which is tax deductible (in New Zealand KiwiSaver gives a member tax credit). The Thrive Budget also allows 10% for your favourite charities, which is tax deductible. Now is the time to be generous to your favourite causes, and of course, to keep the receipts – I think it is 33% of your donation that you get back? We sex workers are in a much stronger position financially than many others, it’s fun to share the love. It’s good to ask ourselves what we believe in and put some money towards a cause – it’s a great way to realise how well off you actually are and be grateful that you are in a position to help those who are worse off.
Spending money on fun should be a conscious thing, otherwise you can just fritter your money away on impulse spending to get some fleeting pleasure. Natalie Pace says you should allocate a whopping 20% of what you earn on your own considered pleasure. I have a few nice hobbies and interests that bring me pleasure, and it’s nice to be able to justify spending money on what makes me feel good. I love to spend money on art, especially if I am encouraging young artists. It’s a feel good thing and I have beautiful things to look at, watch, listen to, remember. I adore it when talented people do creative stuff, and I love to attend art shows, live music events, plays and films, especially on opening nights when the mood is full of excitement and a lot of effort has gone into making it a real occasion. So naturally if there is a project of a creative nature that needs some financial input, I’m so there! I’m a big fan of Kickstarter too. In the last 12 months I have supported a few, including Red Hot (if you look carefully at the credits when they flash across the screen for 1 second, you will see Amber O’Hara under Producers), the Cam Girlz documentary (still in production), and another cute project called Sit, Stay, Ride (nearing completion). We all have our pet causes and encouraging people who bring beauty to the world is mine. On a more frivolous note, I also love short but luxurious holidays and French perfume from the houses of Chanel, Dior, Hermes, Rochas etc.
A friend of mine in Sydney loves to spend her money on new clothing in nice fabrics designed by up and coming fashion designers. If you’re a dude who has discretionary funds to spend on pleasures of your flesh, 20% could get you time with a lot of hookers, what fun, among other things that give you a thrill.
10% should also be spent on or saved for education, our own or our children’s (some of this is tax deductible too, if they are business-related courses or seminars, for an existing business). I’m considering going back to university in 2016 but in this case I will not be able to make a claim on my fees however it certainly would feel great to save 10% of my money towards my education in the meantime.
The other allocation of 50% in the Thrive budget is for day to day expenses including taxes. This should be doable on a sex worker’s income.
My aim is to eventually have such low expenses that I can one day live a simple life with very little money needed. I already have enough stuff. The real riches in my life are family, friends and beauty, and you don’t need a lot of money for these things in the end, even beauty. I guess it depends where we see beauty or how eagerly we choose to remember beautiful experiences. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is it a matter of teaching our eyes to behold it wherever we are and whomever we are with?
So far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money, despite the title of this blog post. Money is a personal thing, but even when poor, one can still felt rich, especially in New Zealand where we are surrounded by amazing natural beauty at every turn. And apparently a feeling of luxury can be got from even the little experiences.