Over at MSN.com, check out these nifty, easy to use money calculators that can help you suss out your debt ratio.

Then look at the links on the left of the same page and try the savings calculator, and the spending quiz.

My favorite? The Time Valuator. What is your time actually worth in dollars and cents? Better yet, how much are you REALLY making as an artist? How much does your leisure time cost you? And would it be better to hire help? Are you wasting your more valuable earning time doing chores you can pay someone else to do for you for less than you would be earning in that time yourself?

Since I basically work 1 1/2 -2 times the normal work hours a week, I earn a lot more money than the average person, but in terms of hourly rate, the earnings are actually quite modest. Essentially, I am making money because I am producing the equivalent of two people. But in pure cash, I could earn this kind of money working almost any middle class job (while working fewer hours). After years as an artist, in pure money terms, I would be better off working a government job.

I gave myself a thrill by calculating my hourly earnings from my bad, sad artist days: roughly $1 per hour.

While a government job will feed you better than art will, the perks of not working a government job are obvious: no commute, low daily stress, and doing art you love.

Even though I work far longer hours than most, I can work in my comfortable home and putter in the garden when I need a break. I am not driving two hours a day five days a week. In the ten hours most people spend commuting, I can be earning income drawing.

When I was living in the city, I eventually made enough money to hire part time help. I hired a personal organizer service, and a maid service. This seems like an extravagance, but it wasn’t. The time I was spending sorting papers and scrubbing the bathtub was time I wasn’t drawing. The maid service and organizer got chores done in less time than I did. So, I made more money by hiring help than I did by doing the same tasks myself.

Obviously, I’d also make more money if I didn’t putter in the garden, but I consider that both leisure and exercise time. And I don’t do most household chores, so my time is free to draw and paint. And blog.

My debt ratio wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it would be.

c

PS: Winter storms have made communication problematic. If you have had trouble contacting me, please try again. The power went out while I was on the computer and blew the mail program. It had to be reinstalled.