5 Practical Steps for Painters to Manage Their Finances
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Create a realistic budget
  2. Separate personal and business expenses
  3. Plan for Taxes
  4. Save for Retirement
  5. Invest in Insurance

Managing finances can often seem like painting a complex masterpiece. But for painters, it's just as important as choosing the perfect shade of blue for that sky or the right stroke for that tree. Here's a practical guide on how to manage finances as a painter, with simple, actionable steps you can start using today. First stop, creating a realistic budget.

Create a Realistic Budget

Creating a realistic budget is the first brushstroke in your financial management art piece. It's like sketching the outline of your painting before you start to fill in the colors. Let's look at how you can create this budget.

Understand Your Income

First, it's important to get a clear picture of your income. As a painter, your income might come from different sources: art sales, commissions, teaching art classes, or even grants. Write down all your income sources and how much you earn from each one every month. It's a bit like setting up your canvas, getting ready to create your masterpiece.

Track Your Expenses

Next, you need to understand where your money goes. This includes costs for art supplies, studio rent, marketing, and everyday living expenses. Keep a record of every penny spent. You wouldn't add a dash of crimson without knowing why, right? The same goes for your money. Knowing where it goes helps you manage it better.

Create Your Budget

  1. First, calculate your total income. Think of this as your palette, showing you all the colors—or in this case, funds—you have to work with.
  2. Next, subtract your expenses from your income. This is similar to how you'd balance colors in a painting; you're balancing your income with your expenses.
  3. Finally, divide your remaining income into categories, such as savings, investments, and discretionary spending. This is your final masterpiece, your completed, balanced budget.

Remember, your budget is not set in stone. Like your art style, it can change and evolve over time. The key to managing finances as a painter is to keep it realistic and flexible.

Separate Personal and Business Expenses

Now that you've got a budget, let's move on to another important aspect of managing finances as a painter—separating personal and business expenses. It's like keeping your oils and watercolors separate. Mixing them can lead to a muddy mess, just like mixing personal and business finances can lead to confusion and potential tax issues.

Open Separate Bank Accounts

One of the simplest ways to separate personal and business expenses is to open separate bank accounts. This way, you can easily track what you're spending on your painting business, separate from what you're spending on personal items. Consider it as having two different palettes for two different styles of paintings.

Use Different Credit Cards

Similarly, having different credit cards for personal and business expenses can help keep things clear. It's like using different brushes for different types of strokes. You wouldn't want to mix up a fine detail brush with a broad brush, would you? The same goes for your credit cards.

Keep Detailed Records

Just like how you would sign and date your finished paintings, it's important to keep detailed records of all your expenses. This includes receipts, invoices, and even notes about what each expense was for. It might seem tedious, but it can save you a lot of headaches when tax time comes around.

Remember, keeping your personal and business expenses separate doesn't just help with taxes. It also gives you a clear picture of how your painting business is doing. After all, you wouldn't judge a painting by just one corner, right? The same goes for your finances. You need to see the whole picture to understand it fully.

Plan for Taxes

Just like planning a painting, preparing for taxes is easier when you break it down into manageable steps. You wouldn't paint a landscape without some kind of plan, right? The same applies to dealing with taxes in your painting business. Here's how to manage finances as a painter when it comes to tax planning.

Understand Your Tax Obligations

First things first, you need to know what you're dealing with. This means understanding your tax obligations as a self-employed painter. Think of it as knowing your color wheel. You need to understand the basics before you can create a masterpiece.

Set Aside Money for Taxes

When you sell a painting, it's easy to think of all the money as yours. But remember, a portion of that belongs to the taxman. So, it's a good idea to set aside a certain percentage of each sale for taxes. It's like setting aside certain colors for a painting—you don't want to run out when you need them.

Consider Hiring a Tax Professional

Tax laws can be complicated, just like some painting techniques. Sometimes, it's worth hiring a professional to help. A tax professional can help you understand your tax obligations, find deductions, and ensure you're compliant with all tax laws. It's like having a master painter guide you through a complex technique—it can save you a lot of time and effort.

Planning for taxes doesn't have to be daunting. By understanding your tax obligations, setting aside money, and considering professional help, you can navigate tax season just like you navigate a challenging painting—it might be tough, but with the right approach, you can do it.

Save for Retirement

As a painter, your work might be your passion, but that doesn't mean you want to be doing it forever. Retirement might seem like a distant horizon, but preparing for it is a crucial part of knowing how to manage finances as a painter. Let's look at this a bit closer, shall we?

Start Early

Like preparing a canvas, the earlier you start, the better. Even if you can only save a small amount each month, it can add up over the years. Just like each brushstroke contributes to the final masterpiece, each penny you save contributes to your retirement nest egg.

Consider a Retirement Account

Where should you keep your retirement savings? You could stash it under your mattress, but there are better options. One is a retirement savings account, like an IRA or 401(k). It's like a special easel for your savings—it's designed to hold it securely and help it grow.

Invest Wisely

When you save for retirement, you're not just stashing money away—you're investing it. Like choosing the right paints can affect the final outcome of your artwork, choosing the right investments can affect the growth of your retirement savings. Diversification is key. Don't put all your eggs—or in this case, your retirement savings—in one basket.

Remember, your retirement is your future. And like a blank canvas, it's up to you to make it into something beautiful. By starting early, considering a retirement account, and investing wisely, you can ensure you have a comfortable and secure retirement. Now, isn't that a beautiful picture?

Invest in Insurance

What if a sudden illness or injury stops you from painting? How would you handle the financial impact? That's where insurance comes in. It's like your financial safety net—catching you when life throws you a curveball. Let's discuss how to manage finances as a painter by investing in insurance.

Health Insurance

Health is wealth, as the saying goes. Without good health, it's hard to keep creating those stunning masterpieces. Health insurance helps cover medical costs, so you can focus on getting better, not on how you're going to pay the bills. It's like having a reliable assistant, always ready to lend a hand when you need it.

Disability Insurance

As a painter, your ability to work depends on your physical wellbeing. What happens if an injury or illness prevents you from painting for a while? That's where disability insurance comes in. It replaces a portion of your income if you're unable to work—like a steady paycheck, even when you can't pick up the paintbrush.

Liability Insurance

What if someone gets injured in your studio, or a client's property gets damaged? Liability insurance covers you in these situations. Think of it as a sturdy shield, protecting you from financial harm.

Investing in insurance is an essential part of managing finances as a painter. Just as you wouldn't leave your artwork exposed to the elements, you shouldn't leave your finances exposed to life's uncertainties. By investing in the right insurance, you're not just protecting yourself—you're also safeguarding your ability to keep creating.

If you found our blog post on practical steps for painters to manage their finances helpful, be sure to check out Kelsee Thomas' workshop, 'A Freelance Artist's Guide At Making Finances Make Sense.' This workshop will provide you with practical tips and strategies to manage your finances as a freelance artist and help you focus on your creative pursuits with financial confidence.