The money struggle is real…but how do you fix it?

I’d like to mention at the start of this post that I began writing this just a few months back right before the holidays and then never posted it…

I wrote:

“This week is not a great week. This is one of those actor weeks where you’re waiting on pay and you’re stressed out; you can’t book a holiday; you’re fighting with your partner because they left their socks lying about; you’ve been pencilled for yet another job that didn’t confirm…and you hate everyone.”

Yep. That was one of my weeks before my holidays. Fun, hey. Why didn’t I write about it sooner? Probably because I am always sharing insights into better ways to manage money, how to have a good money mindset, and how to really consider the ways you spend your acting money. So I felt really embarrassed and annoyed when it happened to me out of the blue and suddenly I was in a rut (again).

I tell people to believe and I tell people to meditate, I tell people to be grateful and I do believe all of that. But when money isn’t coming in, and invoices are late, and rent is due soon, gratefulness doesn’t fix those immediate problems.

Continuing a gratitude practice daily is important, yes. But hell, gratitudes won’t pay the rent will they! Does this sound familiar?

Being an actor is tricky. When the work is there you’re on a high like it’s the ride of your life. You’re breezing through feeling the sun on your face and the wind through your hair, and you’re telling the universe “I am a booking machine. See me soar!” Then two months later you’re sitting on your hands wondering when that company is going to pay you, and if you’ll have to phone a friend.

That is massively stressful!

So how does this all work? I love a Venn diagram. I think they’re like gold. You can use them for so many things. They’re great at illustrating things that don’t work in the world of constant f’ups.

Here’s a few:
Your couch, your partner and you…

Couch venn diagram
Or a fancier one (being an acting mummy now)….

Venn bringing home a newborn

And what about one that relates to actual actors…

Working actor venn diagram

Now a Venn diagram certainly won’t save you….but what it will show is the repetitive cycle of sadness that will exist in your life if you continue to ignore the fact that you need to save more and to spend less. 🙁 But keep in mind, this is only until such time that you earn enough that money no longer matters on a day to day hustling actor basis*

When you are a working actor who doesn’t get £5000 in the bank automatically each month, waiting for the paycheck to come in can be massively stressfulllllll.

I won’t say you should get a real job, because I don’t think you need to (read here to find out other ways to make money and stay in the biz). But I will say this. Being organised with your money and having a plan, means that you don’t have to worry about monthly bills. It will mean you can use your planned resources efficiently when the going gets tough and replenish them when that expected income arrives.

So how do you do this?

You need to break the cycle that leads you to repeating the aforementioned Venn diagram at least three to four times annually. This will save you a lot of heartache and pain, and unnecessary couch time attached to your duvet crying hysterically (wait…is that just me?). Also, there is the other factor which I bang on about all the time that we will come back to again. Mindset. Once you beat the money demons you’re still gonna have to work hard to keep those bad arse negative mind ninjas away from your little ears so they don’t feed you stupid rubbish about how you’ll never make it in this industry. It’s all pants!

Now I’m not an amazing money ninja, though I do wish I were. But I do subscribe to being really reasonable with managing my funds and attempting to keep a few months ahead at all times so I can plan for holidays, gifts, presents, and even heaven-help-me, a house one day. It all starts with the little jobs.

Which ones are the little jobs?

Little jobs are like a one off voiceover, a cheeky short film that pays under £150, a corporate one day shoot, a role play day…etc. These jobs matter. That 20% you need to put away for tax for doing them is just as important as the bigger hitters.

Start with a budget.

Work out your monthly guaranteed expenses vs guaranteed income.

income vs expenses

Consider tools to help you budget like these ones listed in a handy list for any smartphone user.

Work out your annual acting expenses:

  • Spotlight / LA Casting / Casting Networks fees
  • Headshots
  • Union fees
  • Acting lessons or coaching, mentee or training sessions
  • Casting director workshops
  • Additional website subscriptions and fees
  • Tax rates – Get a clear idea about how much tax you need to set aside, and how much you can earn tax free
  • Agent fees – Go through your agent contract so you know exactly what your agent’s fees are for every type of job you’ll earn money from
  • Accountant fees
  • Haircuts and grooming
  • Exercise and sporting fees and memberships

Add all of these costs up. Divide all of these costs by twelve and you now have your monthly expenses for all things relating to acting.

Now work out your annual income for acting for the last twelve months and divide this by twelve. Bingo. Now you have your monthly projected income for the next few months – you want to continue to increase this figure as you go (obviously).

And then after all of this is done, you’ll need to create an accessible and easy saving plan.

I think I mostly get all of it right except the last part – the blooming ‘savings plan’. Don’t make my mistake. Work it out now so it’s not going to be the end of you later. And trust me, I’ve gone through all of the good and bad phases with this.

Of special note – TAX!

Tax is unavoidable. To not pay it can leave you in even more financial trouble a year later. Tax time is right around the corner again so ideally if you could get your tax in order now, you’ll be ready for the end-of-the-year tax next year, and planning your 2019 to start the way you wish to end it. This has got to be better than a whole cupful of wishful thinking. 🙂

And what about mindset?

A biggie for finances is that actors don’t believe they can manifest the kind of money that other working actors do. Or worse yet, they believe that they can only earn a little bit from it, but do a lot of work for that little bit.

Money mindset is HUGE in this industry. I mentioned a big money mindset legend Denise Duffield a few months back, and I also shared her free manifesting course. If you want to change the game you have to do two things.

  1. Be aware of how much you earn –  shown above
  2. Be willing and ready to change the way you think about money and how you are earning it – start doing the work with the right mindset exercises.

I highly recommend checking out Denise’ manifesting money ideas. And I also highly recommend the Daily OM’s course on money called A Year to Get Rich with Purpose. This is the perfect time of year to be investing in altering your mindset and how you are going to create a new and powerful thought process around how much you earn FROM ACTING (and voiceovers, presenting, role plays, ADR etc).

Set your intentions for a good year and remind yourself daily about how much money you want to earn as an actor. Dream big, not average Joe levels of success. You deserve it!

Let’s get rid of the endless sleepless nights in lieu of the comfort of a sustainable career where we love getting our paychecks in because we know we are smashing it.

Happy New Year!

save as an actor

*Full disclosure: I am not entirely sure if or when this actually ever happens. I have a toddler and a partner and we both act and we regularly earn acting income and we semi regularly/occasionally take other work too because acting money can be a challenge. Acting is not for the faint hearted.

Awesome images thanks to Unsplash.

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