1 Way to Ensure You’re Never a Starving Artist
You’ve worked your tail off. Countless auditions, classes, coaching sessions, and a final callback or two later, you get that glorious phone call from casting that says you got the job! When those paychecks start rolling in, it’s important to know what to do with them. Sure, you could buy yourself a pair of premium tickets to “Hamilton”—if you can even get them—but instead, I’d like to share with you a tip for smart money management.
Save, save, save. Save? Really? That’s his tip? OK, I know it’s not the most groundbreaking thing in the world, but it is super important. I’ve found that a lot of my friends and coworkers don’t do it! And I get it. It’s hard to think about setting aside any money after you see the difference between what you or your agent negotiated and what actually ends up in your bank account after taxes. It really seems like everyone takes a bite out of your paycheck before you see it. Between the government, your agent or manager, and if you’re paying union dues, we are talking about a great big chomp out of your hard-fought, negotiated salary. But even though the number on your check might be less than what you bargained for, it is paramount that you save a portion every week.
Let’s face it, the words “job security” and “actor” don’t seem to want to be seen in the same sentence together. But if you are diligent about saving your money, you will at least have a cushion to fall back on if/when your show closes or contract ends. I recommend putting at least 10 percent of what you take home every week into a savings account. Your goal should be to have roughly six months living expenses put away just in case. And once you put it in? Forget about it. No touching that money until you find yourself unemployed (or you really, really need it. And that doesn’t include “needing” an outfit from Lululemon!).
A side note about six months living expenses: If it becomes increasingly clear that you would have to win the lottery to successfully save six months of your living expenses, you are probably living outside your means. Not only will you not be able to save any money, but you are also most likely putting yourself deep in debt. The solution? Lower your overhead. And no, I’m not talking about moving to an apartment with low ceilings. Lowering your overhead means reducing the amount of money it costs for you to live. How do you do this? Maybe start by finding a roommate or two, or try limiting the amount of money you spend ordering take-out.
Knowing how much you are spending in all areas of your life will help you stay under budget and live within your means. You’d also be surprised at how easy it is to find an extra $10 here or $20 there by just simply making a small change to your spending habits. For example, say you dine out (or order in) for lunch every day and your meal is an average of $10. That’s $70 a week, $280 a month, and, drumroll please…$3,360 a year. Three-thousand dollars a year to buy groceries or pack a lunch? Sign me up.
So, where should you save? You want to set up a separate savings account that you can easily transfer your money into. I recommend looking into online-only accounts.
Can you save more than 10 percent? Absolutely! Ten is what I think the bare minimum should be, but if you are in a position to save more, do it! The more you have saved, the better off you’ll be if you find yourself unemployed. And the more you have saved, the easier it is to start doing cool stuff with your money like investing—but we’ll leave that for another time!