First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!
You clicked on this blog.
Because I can guarantee you for every person who had the guts to go to a blog entitled Money & the Actor, there were far more who were like “Thank you–next!”
And yeah, I get it.
Last blog I discussed How to Handle Unsupportive Friends/Family at Thanksgiving and gave you the catchphrase:
“Things are going great! I am paying my bills, saving some money, and pursuing what I love. I’m really happy.”
I also gave you permission to say that talking point even if it wasn’t true… yet. So now you’ve gotten through the first holiday of this Winter Season, it’s time to get REAL.
First and foremost, my permission to use this lie lasts until January 3rd. Then after that, this money shit has got to change.
A little bit about my relationship with money and why I think it’s extra important as an actor to pay attention to it. One of the reasons I think I wanted to become an actor was because I thought it would relieve me of all those “Adult” responsibilities… like you know, having to deal with money.
I would think, “well, when I book that commercial, then I will pay off all my credit card debt.” OR “Well, when I book that TV Show, then I’ll start saving money.” OR “When I am famous, I’ll have so much money I won’t have to worry about money…”
God, this is embarrassing to admit but, hey – it’s true. That is how I used to think.
Responsibility for my financial well being was something that I was going to take care of when “x, y, z happened” until then, as far as I was concerned, I didn’t have to worry about it.
And then, I met Jason. (Swoon) The One.
And guess what unsavory thing he did? He took responsibility for his money exactly where he was at in life – regardless of how much he was/was not booking.
I know, it’s enough to make you vomit in your mouth.
Jason also made it very clear that he expected his partner to do the same… wait, what?? Yeah.
So I guess you could say I came to a crossroads.
I could choose to keep my head buried in the sand about money (and continue to let my debt pile up) and lose the man I love.
Learn to take responsibility for my money – how I made it and how I spent it, and keep the man of my dreams.
And that was when I learned an incredible lesson… that I was never, ever, ever going to make the kind of money I wanted to until I took responsibility for it.
And look, I know it’s hard. I was in 10K of credit card debt and then got myself completely out of debt, only to fall 15K into credit card debt yet again. And no, I am not proud to admit that. But, the thing is, I now understand how it happened and how to avoid it from ever happening again.
How do I know? Because now it’s a whole different story.
Now, I have a year of expenses in a prudent reserve (meaning I could take a full year off before I would need to live hand to mouth), I have a 401K, a union pension, I own property… you get the idea.
But as you read above, that is not at all where I began.
I started with the first step of swallowing my large amounts of pride and asking Jason to help me make sense of my messy financial life. That is when he taught me his Budget System for Actors. And he broke it down for me into bite-size pieces so I could actually understand it.
As I began to use that Budget System for Actors… something else far darker surfaced. I did not believe in my heart of hearts that I could do this or stick with it. The shame monsters began to appear.
I had all of these limiting beliefs about myself and money: “I’m not good at numbers;” “I’m not smart enough;” “I’m not lucky enough;” “Good financial planning doesn’t happen to people like me; You have to be good at Math to do this;” “I don’t deserve to be financially secure;” “I am not capable of making a six-figure income…”
It was that last one that told me something key.
Why did I think that? My boyfriend thought I could make $100,000. My Dad thought I could make $100,000. My Mom thought I could make $100,000. All the people who meant the most to me believed in me, but it did not matter.
I needed to believe that I could do it.
I remember it was towards the end of that calendar year, and I issued myself a challenge that terrified me.
That next year I was going to make $100,000.
It would not matter how I did it, but no matter what, I was going to do it. So I could show that one person in the world who did not believe she could – that she can.
And that next year?
I made $93,000.
No, I didn’t make my goal, but I clearly remember coming to the end of adding up my year’s income, realizing it was 93K – and being filled with pride.
I could do it. I was capable. I could make and handle money.
And from that year on (now well over 10 years ago), I have never made less than 100K a year. And the more I keep track and pay attention to my money… the more I make.
Money does not buy happiness (I can attest to that), but it does buy convenience and peace of mind… and for some of us – self-esteem.
Next blog, I’ll break down the Budget System for Actors with Acting Business Boot Camp’s Budget Coach Rose Marie Rupley.
Together, we will teach you the same exact system I used to take responsibility for my money.
Till then, here is your first assignment – it only takes 5 minutes. Make a list of all of your predictable expenses you have each month. Things like rent, phone bill, insurance, utilities, etc. You will use this to find your MAGIC NUMBER. More on that next time.