3 min read

Talking About Them Dolla Bills

Yep. We doin' it.

A few years back, we posted a list of our top five finance reads for actors. While we've kept that accurate and up-to-date, managing money well continues to be a conversation with the actors we jam with here at the Dojo.

Two main obstacles seem to stand in the way of our Dojo homies being where they want to be financially: guilt and overwhelm. The good news is neither need to be a thing. The additional good news is we'll do our best to dispel both below.

Before we dive in, it's worth reinforcing that we aren't financial advisors and don't pretend to play them on the internet or elsewhere (unless, until a reaaally good audition comes up). However, we have had the outrageous fortune of learning from some super smart people in this space, so the very least we can do is pass some of our biggest takeaways on. Take the following as inspiration rather than instruction.

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If money talk makes you feel guilty...

... You're probably buying into the "starving artist" trope. This is worth changing.

For years, I romanticised the living daylights out of this persona. I genuinely believed that being an artist of integrity precluded being an artist with wealth. And yet, it's only with integrity that one becomes wealthy (the ethical, enduring kind, that is).

In the Muggle (i.e., non-actor) world, the expectation is this: an individual renders their services, and they get paid more than adequately for doing so. That's kinda the whole premise of business. Why shouldn't this apply to you, too?

Here's an example of the normalcy of business in action: two months ago, I decided to attempt the unreasonably fear-inducing act of negotiating better pay for a contract. I'd done my research, and in my head, I was hoping I could land 125% of the initial offer. The result? They offered 150% without blinking an eye.


Also, stressing about finances is stressful. And stress ain't the flavour we want to bring into our self-tapes, callbacks, or creative process, period. Kick the praise of poverty to the curb and funnel this energy to shining your shine instead.

If money talk makes you feel overwhelmed...

... You probably don't believe personal finances can be simple and common-sensical. This is also worth changing.

Healthy money management is a lot like healthy eating. The key to success lies in approaching both as ways of living rather than trendy diets or budgets.

Once this reframe has been made, a little clarity is needed β€” where do we currently stand, and where do we ultimately want to be?

Armed with these insights, we'll be able to discern whether our main concerns centre on income or expenditure.

If we're feeling a) income, optimising our Muggle Job could be a good place to start.

If we're feeling more b) expenditure, have a muse on the following:

  1. What monthly income do we need to survive?
  2. Where is our monthly income going at the moment?
  3. Do we have "off-season savings"? i.e., Do we have three times our monthly income set aside to relieve the pressure/panic between acting gigs? If not, how can we plan to reach this heavenly realm?
  4. How close is our monthly expenditure to rough rules of thumb like 60% fixed costs (e.g., rent and utilities), 10% investments (e.g., retirement funds and stocks/bonds), 10% savings (e.g., for holidays or gifts), and 20% discretionary (e.g., entertainment and clothing)?[1]
  5. Do we have any debt? If so, how can we plan to get out of this hell hole ASAP?
  6. Are we on track to be where we want to be in retirement? Admittedly, we don't have a traditional "retirement age" like those working a 9-5, and some of us (πŸ™‹) intend to be walking the actor's path until the day we drop, but still. Compound interest is legit; even directing an extra $25/week to our fund adds up.
  7. Finally, if all the above is looking peachy, do we have some money in set-and-forget, low-cost index funds, inching us toward financial (and therefore, creative) independence? If not, how can we plan to get this ball rolling?

"Have it all!!!" money GIF

To close, here's a little quote-y quote to keep with you: "An attitude of confidence and prosperity is one of the best financial moves you can make, regardless of what your account balance is."[2] ~ Gina Trapani

There are very few things we can control as actors. Our mindsets, however, are one such thing we can.

Thoughts / feedback / challenges? We'd genuinely love to hear.

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[1] [2] https://amzn.to/42cfWEg