Best Revenge Is Your Paper
So much of being a successful organizer is personal. You need to take care of yourself to be the best organizer possible.
Usually when organizers think about taking care of themselves, they think of finding some personal time to rejuvenate. This personal time—to work out, to watch a movie, to grab a drink with a friend, to steal a nap in a parking lot— prepares you to give all of your energy to organizing in the moments you’re working with volunteers and voters.
But another important part of taking care of yourself as an organizer is preparing for the future. No one wants you to leave your organizing job in a worse position than you entered it. (Okay, except everyone expects you to gain a few pounds.)
Though you and your work are the most crucial parts of any campaign, we all know that as an organizer, you’re not making too much money. Not only that, but when the election ends, you’ll be without an income.
It is so important to invest in spending and saving your money smartly while you’re organizing. Doing so will set you up to make the best decision for your career and your life following election day, instead of leaving you desperate for any income and saddled with debt.
We know it’s incredibly hard to take time out of your work to think about money when you’re an organizer. (Heck, it’s hard for anyone to do!) We promise you won’t regret it—it will certainly pay off for you, down the road.
Here are a few tips to take care of your own wealth well-being.
Make a budget.
You don’t need a crazy fancy budget that you update daily, but take a few minutes to set up a reasonable budget for your time as an organizer. Make an effort to understand your expenses versus your income so you know what opportunities you have for saving and for discretionary spending.
Cut out monthly recurring expenses that you no longer use.
I really do hope you find time to go to the gym or to use all of the six different streaming services you love so much. Anything that gives you space to focus on your well-being is worth the money. But if you haven’t opened Hulu in three months and you don’t even know where your gym pass is anymore, then it’s time to stop spending your money on these items. Save your money for stuff you do use.
“Be really smart about your finances. The best thing you can do to ensure that you’re not just taking the first job that pays that comes your way after an election, desperately, is to save as much as you possibly can. Then, you’re actually able, after the election, to take a couple months and become a real human again and not worry so much about what you have to do next because you’ve burned through all your cash.” – Sara El-Amine, executive director, Change.org Foundation
Take advantage of the offerings organizers receive- supporter housing, gas cards, campaign cell phones, etc.
Don’t ever, ever, ever feel guilty for taking the free stuff you have available to you. Use supporter housing—you won’t be there long enough to notice it’s not your own place anyways. Use the campaign cell phones, not your personal one. Stock up on the granola bars that volunteers keep bringing in so you have breakfast for a few weeks. People offer you things when you’re organizing because you are working so hard and you deserve it. Don’t be shy.
Use a half hour every week to stock up on the foods and drinks you consume regularly.
You can buy a 12-pack of Diet Coke for $3 or you can buy 12 individual cans of Diet Coke for $1 each. If you know there is some energy/coffee/Diet Coke drink you have with extreme regularity or some snack you always find yourself buying, purchase them in larger quantities every week. This can save you so much money. Bonus! You won’t have to go over to the gas station each time you need a hit of your caffeine drink of choice.
Invest in purchases that will save you money in the future.
Whether your office desperately needs a mini-fridge (to store your pre-purchased snacks) or some sort of coffee machine, get together with the other organizers in your office and purchase the products that may cost you a little more up front, but will save you money in the future.
“Don’t go into credit card debt. I’ve heard so many stories of people going into debt paying for rental cars, parking tickets, rent, gas cards, whatever. No job is worth you going into debt for – especially if you’re a low-paid field organizer! Just because you are new doesn’t mean you have to do something that might make you feel uncomfortable and will definitely have long-term effects.” Jessica Morales Rocketto, digital organizer director, Hillary for America
Don’t start smoking. Seriously.
A lot of organizers smoke and it makes sense. Campaigns are stressful and exhausting! Smoking can seem like a needed retreat. If you haven’t started smoking (this time or any other time), DO NOT start now. Smoking will deplete your health, but also, it costs a ton of money—a ton of money you could use to invest in your future.
Decide what splurge you need most to make you feel like yourself. Invest in that one and cut out the rest.
You work so hard. You deserve to splurge on the things that make you feel more human. Maybe for you it’s a big bar tab every Saturday night (oops), or perhaps it’s getting expensive food delivery on your toughest night each week. Figure out what splurge you want to keep most and make room for it in your budget. Then, stop splurging recklessly on other items that leave you with little to save at the end of the month.
Set aside 15 minutes every week to check in on your spending and saving.
Once you’ve set up your budget, check in on it weekly. It shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes a week. When you’re really busy, you often just spend, spend, spend and have no idea how much money you have. Spend a few minutes once a week to understand how closely you are following your budget—helping yourself to know where you have wiggle room and where you need to tighten up. This way, you can avoid spending money you don’t have.