He was always more focused on being an artist in the present than on long-term planning for his old age. Well, to be honest, he was also without inherited resources. So he never purchased property. But when rents were under $1000 that level of precariousness was manageable. Today, despite a steady income and health insurance coverage, more than two-thirds of his actual take-home pay goes to rental costs, utilities and transportation, with wee bit more than $1000 left to purchase food per month. His savings have vanished in the past decade. And in a city such as New York where not just rent, but all costs including food are highly inflated, what money is left over on a monthly basis does not leave enough for savings or emergencies such as dental costs not covered by insurance. It also means art supplies and other practice-related expenses are almost always over-budget. And unlike mortgages or maintenance fees, rental costs are not tax deductible. Therefore, short of ending his art practice, or taking on a time-consuming second job, his only option has been to turn to the world of credit card debt (Chase, Barclays). Recently this plastic debt was up to about 14,000 usd. No, its not massive compared to those paying off medical or educational bills, nor for those migrant workers in Abu Dhabi, but with no conceivable way to ever actually eliminate all the debt, or to begin saving for the purchase of property, he now finds himself, despite a full time job and being close to retirement age, slipping into a debt cycle that generates (modest) precariousness and an always-pending sense of financial disaster.
He is a recently tenured, sixty-year old, Associate Professor for the City University of New York. He is also an increasingly indebted New Yorker.
Debt has negatively affected his practice in 2 ways: 1. Debt prevents him from having a separate studio space (a small extra room in his apartment plus outside storage space is now his studio).2. Debt inhibits him from producing larger, more ambitious projects or managing multiple projects with an assistant who can not be afforded.