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Lindsey Swanson: Supporting Adult Content Creators with Financial Planning

Lindsey Swanson: Supporting Adult Content Creators with Financial Planning

As adult content creators, at times it can be a daunting task getting to grips with all the requirements you face as a self-employed creator, especially those related to finance. As a responsible platform, CAM4 works with some amazing people who provide assistance to our creators, including the wonderful Lindsey Swanson CFP – a financial advisor who is passionate about helping people in the industry.

Lindsey has worked in financial planning for the better part of a decade and is focused about bringing education and advice to every corner of society.  Along the way, she noticed a severe lack of financial advice targeted towards workers in the adult entertainment industry. This encouraged her to open ‘Stripper Financial Planning’, offering quality advice to her clients with respect, as they make their way on their creative journey. Whether you are just starting out on your current path, or you are a seasoned pro, you deserve kindness and support – and that’s the pledge from Lindsey Swanson. 

Lindsey Swanson provides further information to help people with financial planning through a series of Podcasts, called ‘A Scoop of Vanilla.

Lindsey works with clients across the entire spectrum of adult entertainment, including strippers, escorts, actresses, models, content creators on sites like CAM4, as well as other niche markets. She will never share client or prospective client information with others, and her business only works with individuals who are operating legally in their area, and who are willing to report their income to the relevant authority. Regardless of whether her business is the right fit for you, she and her colleagues are always willing to discuss your situation with kindness and respect and help you find the right professional support.

She, and her team of advisers and educators, will help to provide you with an array of services, including cash flow, goal setting and debt management, as well as supporting you with credit scores, insurance, financial growth and tax planning.

CAM4 recently interviewed Lindsay Swanson

Read below or watch the interview to gain more insight:

Tell us a little bit about what you do.

So the small picture of what I do is, I offer money advice to sex workers; dancers, people who make content online, full-service sex workers – it’s a large grouping of people, but a very specific focus in terms of financial services.

What brought you to working for, and with, sex workers – Why?

There’s a lot of different reasons, but what it primarily came down to is, I got into finance because I was in the same place where a lot of sex workers are. I didn’t know anything about finance, I was kind of taught the old school version that women aren’t good with numbers, and I was like, I’m not going to accidentally become financially independent, and I don’t want to live out of a car.

So how do I educate myself? That education turned into me pursuing it as a career that’s been ten years now. But what it normally looks like to be in finance is to work with the ultra wealthy, to work with people who have generational wealth, who already have these structures in place. What I noticed is there were so many normal people, especially stigmatized people who are falling between the cracks.

And so when I got far enough into my career that I could decide who I wanted to work with, I started my own company and did it on my own.  I wanted to know who are the people who I relate to? Who are the people who would trust me as a female representing like minded people? Who are the people who need help and aren’t getting that? And it kind of just organically happened with sex workers. I don’t have a past of being a sex worker, and I don’t say that to the general audience, because I don’t want them to feel like I’m not like them, but I don’t want to hold myself out as like an authentic version of something with experience that I’m not.

And what really happened is I just started meeting sex workers in real life that needed help, and I wanted to send them to an expert. And I looked online and through my networks, and I didn’t find an expert that fits that criteria.   So I thought, do I step up and do that, or do I pass the buck to someone else? And I was ultimately like, you know what, I’m going to do it. I’m just going to throw all the eggs in this basket. I’m going to figure it out, and I’m going to learn from people like you and do my best to be as empathetic and helpful as I can to this very specific industry of people.

So when you’re considering taking on the opportunity to work with somebody, how do you make them feel assured and confident that this really is a judgment-free experience?

You know, I’ve worked really hard to figure out what that would look like, and put myself in the shoes of a prospective client, so what am I looking for? And one of the things that I thought about initially was, do sex workers want to work with a ‘sex worker’ financial planner, or do they just want to work with a normal financial planner that doesn’t stigmatize them? And ultimately, I think it could go either way.

But what I decided upon was that I don’t want clients to come to me, for them to feel like they have to out themselves. I don’t want it to be so vague that they have to be like, hey, just so you know, this is how I make my revenue, and if you’re not cool with that, I’ll go work with someone else. I just don’t want them to have to have that conversation. I want it to be kind of given by all of my marketing and my name and how I present myself, that you’d have to out yourself the other way. You’d have to be like, I have a vanilla job, I just wanted to work with you anyway.

And I think that sets people at ease initially to know they’re going to be talking about things, and they’re going to be the type of client that I’ve already worked with. So it’s less uncomfortable and also just helps. Normally if you work with a CPA or a financial adviser, you go in and it’s like a scary office and everyone’s in suits and like, it just doesn’t feel safe. It doesn’t feel safe for me, and It didn’t feel safe working there. And for people who are not even sex workers, but just like self-employed people or people who are more crunchy, it’s just not comforting. So I try to be professional, but as far away from that as possible.

What can you tell us about your own observations of how finances flow with the clients you’ve worked with – What have you understood about the range of financial possibilities in this business?

You know, what I really found is that no two of my clients are alike, and when I try to set up a big process, because I’m a nerd at heart and that’s why I went into finance. I have my degree and I got those designations, because I’m a nerd at heart. So I’m like, let’s have a workflow, let’s streamline the process, and it never works. I tried each time, and it never works because everyone is so different. And so I try to come back to these tenets of what I know clients want. And generally that’s empathy – they want someone to listen. They don’t want someone to come in and be mean. I’m not mean, but they don’t want someone to explain their work to them.

The one through-line I find with almost everyone is, I’ve yet to work with a sex worker who wasn’t self-employed in some capacity, and wasn’t doing multiple things. I was talking with someone, and she talked about how so many sex workers are their bosses and their employees, they’re freelancers and they’re working another job. And so it’s like trying to put all of this together is really messy, and my biggest role in that is not necessarily giving people the answers, because it might not be something that has an answer. It’s more of being a confident and educated person that can help guide you through these decisions and keep you accountable.

And the thing is, the answers for so many things, like how you do your taxes, or where you bank the payment, the processes you use, what’s making the most revenue. You know as a creator, that changes month to month, year to year, like how your mental health is doing, how your personal life is doing. And so setting up a plan and working through these decisions is this constantly evolving, chaotic but beautiful process, and it’s really fun. But honestly, it’s really hard to explain it to people who aren’t sex workers because they’re like, what does your typical client look like? And I’m like, that’s so cute for you to think that there would be two people that are identical in the job they’re doing.

Is there any kind of typical or familiar reason why most people come to you – Is it based on being goal oriented, or is it more of a no idea what I’m doing and I need to get organized?

There are a few things really. I think what it typically gets down to, which is not a very financial answer, it’s more of an emotional answer. What it comes down to is people responding to their money and memories. So for instance, if you’re saying, I didn’t grow up with very much money,

and so through my business I’m trying to prove X, Y and Z. Or, I may be trying to get a house, I’m trying to have this lump sum, I’m trying to take care of my family. Or, I’m trying to build the white picket fence, I’m trying to do yadda, yadda, yadda. There might be someone else who came from wealth and who’s just like, I want to do something different. I want to make my own way.

And so I found I met a lot of people, and it’s not necessarily even what they’re trying to accomplish, because people come to me and say “Hey, I want to buy another rental property” and then I’ll be like, oh, you already have rental properties. That’s an understanding of the system of finances that a lot of people don’t have. And so I know from that, they put in a lot of work or they have those structures in place already. Then there are other people who are just like, “I still feel like I’m so close to that person who didn’t have any food in my cupboard, and I’m trying to prove something to myself. I’m trying to be different, I want different for my kids, I want different for my community.”

I find that often people will say I want to get my shit in order, or I want to buy a house or I’m getting married, am I merging my finances? But usually it’s coming from this other substantial emotional thing which is the reason they want these goals.  They decided when they were six that that’s what success looks like and they’re referencing that. That might be fair or it might be something where you’re like, hey, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone.

If there were some basics that could be summarized for people that are looking at their first flow of income from this industry, do you have advice for what it might be to set themselves up for success at this point?

I think there’s a few things that are core that can apply to everyone. One of the things that I’ll say is filing your taxes, which you should be, but if you’re filing your taxes and you want to keep track of your expenses, put them all on one card. Just get a credit card or a debit card, and have it all on that. Don’t try to track it on other things, put it all on one. The other thing I would say is decide, maybe with your tax preparer, not just because you’re picking a number between like 22% and 30%, just decide, I’m going to put aside 25% of my income each month into my savings account.

And then whether you’re paying quarterly taxes, or taxes at the end of the year, it’s going to be there, and you don’t have to freak out at the end of the year that you have a $50,000 tax bill. From the beginning of the year, get going because in December, you will be really grateful that earlier you decided that. And then I also know it’s hard to think about the future, especially when the world is actively burning, but think about it. I ask a lot of my clients who do active work, whether it’s dancing or otherwise. I say, your body is a limited resource, we love what it’s doing for you, but do you have the ability to be on your feet doing this job for the next 5 to 10 years? It doesn’t matter if you love it, it doesn’t matter if it’s morally good or bad, or however you feel about it, that could be your passion. But like, can you actively do that job for the next ten years?

And what do you want that transition to be? Is it going to be in another form of sex, or is it going to be in something like sex work related coaching, advocacy, something like that? Is it going to be a vanilla job? You know, one of the conversations I have a lot with people where it’s becoming very, very hard to separate your government self from your sex work self. So I see a lot of clients who went to school to be a doctor, rather than the American dream of sex work.

Like we’re putting ourselves through med school, and then we’re transitioning and then it’s like, okay, is that the pediatrician that you’re working for? Are they going to be cool with your past as a sex worker? They should be, but will they like that or are you going to go through all of that process, get to this job, not be able to separate it and then be like, shit. Now I have to figure out how to combine these identities that I had separate. It would be cool if the world was safe and fair and we could have it be separate. But if it’s not, how do you plan for that, and what does that look like?

How do you plan for that?

I think part of it is like being honest about the part of the country you’re in. if you’re an ally and you are a doctor, or if you’re in New York, if you’re in areas which are least swing states, if not a little more liberal, then it’s more likely that you’re going to do sex work and they find out they aren’t going to care, they’re going to be like, look you’re good at your job.

Then you’re just figuring out how big of a deal it is if you lose that. I have a lot of conversations with clients to have a good cash cushion, so that if they have a mental breakdown, which we all do, if you lose your job and you need to transition, if you just want to take some time off work, that you can do that without your life completely falling apart.

And it is a luxury to be able to build that cash cushion. But for the people who are making a lot of money, it’s like you’re doing your future self a service by setting that aside, and not spending so that you can take two weeks to sleep straight if you need to.

What if you are in that emergency state in your financial situation, where you just didn’t manage it right and you reach rock bottom. What are the options for an individual in sex work when you get to that point?

I think a conversation that I have a lot with each of my clients is understanding the resources you have. So for someone who, bless their hearts, have a relationship with their parents, or they know they do sex work and are supportive, or apathetic, and they could get help. If something happened, if they had a mental breakdown, if they were low on revenue for a while, if they were pregnant, they could go live with them or get some support from their family members.

Some people have those safety nets so they don’t have to save up as much. Some people don’t have any of that with their family, so they’re out of luck if they’re not supporting themself or their partner isn’t supporting them. So with people like that, you have to put those structures in place and maybe that looks like, you know, if you’re in a borderline job, like short-term disability, long-term disability policies, maybe it looks like just having cash reserves. Maybe it looks like building relationships, it takes work to have relationships with friends where you can go stay on their couch, or in their guestroom.

So maybe it just looks like putting time and energy into those relationships, knowing that they would be there for you, that you would be there for them. And I think that you don’t want that to be a possibility, but that is something that just happens in life, especially if you are in the type of job where you’re self-employed and you don’t have those safety nets of health insurance.   Those systems that aren’t really that helpful, but do help, if you break your leg on the job or something.

If there were a little checklist that people can make for themselves to be successful financially in sex work. Is there anything you would say to stop doing?

There’s not a lot, but there are a few things. It’s really died down a bit, but anywhere you look on the Internet, especially related to being self-employed, everyone’s like, be an LLC or incorporated. You become an incorporated, then you’re going to save all this money. I’m like, you know, yes, there are structures that people use to save money, to save taxes, that’s absolutely true. The thing that people don’t necessarily think through is, it really depends on your individual situation. 

So I can’t just sit here and be like, everyone listening to this podcast should become incorporated and then you’ll save money on your taxes. You don’t try to become a corporation yourself.  The smartest way of working to save money is to work with a CPA or an enrolled agent, someone who is professional and understands what the steps you need to take to do this, to set yourself up for this type of work.

You have to understand that there are associated costs for a corporation. Let’s say you make like $3,000 a year.  You’re trying to save that much money, that’s not going to work. You have to be making a lot of money, you would need to be making at least $70,000 in profit on top of your expenses every year. If you were killing it this year, which you probably are, and then next year you decided to retire, you would still have to pay expenses for another few years within that corporation.

You can’t just get yourself out of that. It’s an official government thing. People get it, thinking that will automatically give me all of these tax savings. I’m like, No. And so it’s just, work with professionals. That might be the right choice for you. But people think that having an LLC or an S-Corp automatically gives you these tax savings, when in likelihood most sex workers that I work with don’t actually need a business organization. They just need to be running it like a business.

It’s essential for a lot of folks that are at that point of trying to decide, how do I take this to the next level? 

You have to talk to a professional. I would say a big overarching one is just chasing risky returns. The real reality is that most of finance is just incredibly boring and basic, and anyone who’s trying to make it sound very shiny, like I have these 15 investment properties and they make me this passive income, and then I put it into crypto, these are all tools.

They might be helpful tools for you, but if someone is promising you this very shiny return for something, that’s not what you should start with. You should start with something that’s just so aggressively boring, that you can’t even stay awake while you’re going through with it. You’re like, I’m going to put it in these ETFs, and it’s going to make this small amount. It’s not going to outperform anything. It’s just going to give me stable returns and there’s a lot of things like the basics of finances. It’s really boring, and I hate saying that, because I like my job.

When you’re looking to start investing, or start taking your finances more seriously, really start with the fundamentals. Be very gentle with yourself, start by setting aside money for taxes, start saving X amount from the money that you make each month into savings. And then, when you get a good chunk of savings, put some of it into something very balanced, let’s say like a mutual fund.

We don’t need to use these super complicated strategies. You can use those, but if you match them up, then there are like real life consequences to them. Don’t get ahead of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with just starting small and then building. If you want to do something complicated, either do the work to really research or pay someone to do it for you.

This concept is a complicated one, so I’ll just put it out there for people to think about. Money and relationships are really hard. It’s really hard whether it’s your significant other, it’s your sister, it’s your parents, or it’s your friends. It’s good that I’m not even going to say what direction you should go in.

It’s really good to be very intentional about who you’re giving money to, especially if you’re doing really well because of how you’re doing it. What I think is really helpful, even especially if you’re doing well and you’re giving a lot of money away, or supporting a lot of people, or paying your boyfriend to be your assistant, start a tally on a piece of paper each month, track what you’re doing. Just so you know.   Ask yourself “Hey, last month I gave $4,000 to my sister. Was that intentional, or did I just do it because it happened, and then I would rather give it to someone else.”

I think so many sex workers make generalizing statements. I know they are so passionate and empathetic. They’ve been there, they’ve been at the bottom and they don’t even necessarily think about how much money they’re giving away. It is absolutely not bad to give away money by any means. You want to be proactive and you want to be deciding about family. It is really important to them. I want to support them in this way. I can’t really give any specific advice about that, except for the intentional about how you do it.

Is crypto the solution – What’s going to happen with crypto and sex work in our future?

I don’t know, and I think my opinion on this will probably change in the future, because things change so quickly, especially in tech. I think that crypto is a really helpful tool, and I say tool rather than investment. I think it’s helpful to use it as a payment processor. I’ve seen a lot of people use it to get out of abusive relationships, to deal with being in different countries, sending money to their friends, to their family, and that can be really helpful for mutual aid.

As an investment, it’s very risky. So for me it’s less of a, “I’m going to put money into this to make more money, I’m going to use this technology because this is one of the only things we have right now that isn’t regulated by the big banking system that just basically hates all sex workers.”  That’s the reality of it. I wish there was a better alternative that was safer and more regulated, because people get taken advantage of.

I would love to see a really robust and trustworthy crypto provider and payment processing come together that doesn’t charge crazy fees.  I do see the thing that is really beautiful is that I’ve met a lot of sex-workers who are very educated in this space, and they are the people who are pushing it. 

That gives me a lot of hope, because I think that if you’re someone who’s creating for yourself in your own community, it puts the power back in your hands. You can’t just have an individual credit card and compete with the likes of Visa or MasterCard. You can’t have an individual crypto company and compete with these other payment processors, which is cool. So I’m hopeful for it, but I’m just cautious.

How do people get in touch with you, and how do they make the connection? 

I’m on Twitter under Lindsey Swanson, and I have two websites for financial planning, and all the details and links can be found below.


Stripper Financial Planning Website: stripperfinancialplanning.com

Scoops of Vanilla Website: scoopsofvanilla.com

Twitter: @lindseyswansong

A Scoop of Vanilla Podcasts: @lindsey-swanson