In the continuation of my last post on The 10 Commandments of Personal Finance for Actors, here again is the vital yet not discussed very much subject of money in our business. Every actor wants money, but you’re not in it for the money. Hummm. The pure love of art and the craft of acting is the very reason most actors are starving artists forever…never attaining many of their dreams.
With a little bit of focus and some attention paid, (double meaning there…PAID, get it?) you’ll start to see some shifts that will make way for a financial breakthrough as well as make it easier for you to create art. Here are the last 5 of the 10 Commandments:
5. Thou Shalt Set Financial Goals
In order to reach your financial goals, you need to know what those goals are. Nobody can determine these goals except for you. You need to take the time to figure out exactly what your financial goals are so that you can take the needed steps to reach them.
One of the first steps I recommend is to find out current actor pay rates. I find that when I work with my coaching clients and we begin setting financial goals, they’ll come up with an arbitrary number they’d love to make in a year. Often that goal is sooooo unrealistically reachable simply because they don’t know what stuff actually pays. I won’t go into all of that here, but knowledge is power and starting with achievable goals and attaining them creates enthusiasm and momentum to reach higher.
If you don’t know specifically what your financial goals are for this year, next year and 10 years from now, take the steps needed to create them. Choose target dates and a plan for reaching those goals by that time. Review your plan every quarter. Progress makes perfect!
4. Thou Shalt Educate Yourself and Be Responsible for Your Decisions
I know you want to really make a great living as an actor and when you do, while it may be more convenient to hand over all your money matters to somebody else, please promise me, you will not do this. Part of being financially responsible is having the final say in all decisions about your money. That does not mean that you can’t seek out advice and get opinions on your finances, but in the end your money is your responsibility, and you are the only one who is going to truly look after your own interests.
Many years ago I got hooked on learning about investing my money without a financial planner. I took my savings and IRA money and put it into self-directed investments. In order to not screw it all up and lose everything I took classes with Tyrone Jackson, an actor and voiceover artist, who taught himself everything he needed to know to invest wisely and win in the stock market. He created a class for actors and artists and shared that knowledge. Now he has widened his horizons and teaches his methods to any and all who want to learn. It’s because of this financial education that I’m confident about my future retirement and prospects for having all the money I’ll need when I’m older.
3. Thou Shalt Save and Invest
As in the two previous commandments. Take the money that you pay yourself first and either save or invest it to make it grow and work for you in the future.
If you are carrying credit card debt, invest your money by paying it down/off first. But also make sure to take full advantage of the saving and investing opportunities that are available to you now that you may not be. If your flexible day joy company matches contributions to a 401k, contribute up to the match maximizing the potential savings. No matter what your work status, opening a Roth IRA and making regular contributions, no matter how small, will create the habit of saving. Having an emergency fund is also essential. And no, heading out of town for a last minute weekend adventure is not an emergency!
2. Thou Shalt Protect Your Finances
This is more than making sure your purse is closed or your wallet is in the front pocket when walking through Times Square. At some point in your career, you will need to take the necessary steps to make sure that your money and investments are protected in case of a disaster. This mostly means insurance and there are several different kinds.
Take the time to make sure that all your assets are properly insured, and re-evaluate this every few years or whenever a major life change occurs, such as buying a house or apartment, getting married or having children. Be sure to compare insurance rates on a regular basis, since this is a competitive business.
I know that some of this seems far down the road for some of you, however looking forward to what’s to come and what’s needed in order to maintain and protect what you’ve worked so hard to create is essential.
1. Thou Shalt Donate to Worthy Causes and Those Less Fortunate
This is my absolute, #1 favorite commandment. No matter how desperate your finances may appear, if you are reading this article there are a lot of people that are far worse off than you are in the world. It’s important to nurture a sense of giving and to be thankful for the small things that you do have. That means donating to worthy causes on a regular basis.
Helping the homeless, donating to the Cancer Society of America, animal causes, etc. are all needing funds to make an impact. Find the causes that you believe in, and give to them generously. Don’t assume that money is the only way that you can give. Volunteering time and skills are also appreciated by most charitable organizations.
On my website I sell my recommended agencies list and donate all of the proceeds to one of my favorite charities, The Best Friends Animal Society. They also have the largest “no kill” animal sanctuary in North America located in Kanab, UT and I’ve volunteered there as well. What an amazing experience I’ll never forget and can’t wait to repeat!
So that’s it. The Ten Commandments of Personal Finance for Actors. Even if you just start with implementing 3 of them, that means you’re taking ACTion and that’s a good thing!
I always love to hear your opinions on my posts but here I’d also love to hear which one (or three!) commandments you’re committing to taking on. It’s time to have an adult life folks…actors are fun loving creators and that childlike quality is what keeps our creativity alive. However, the business of show requires you to get your financial act together so come on, tell me what you’re gonna do!