Budgeting for Actors

October 26, 2011|By David Lester

When I do my book signings at Chapter and Indigo stores, I always get actors, musicians and other non salaried artists coming up and asking how do they budget?  All the tips on budgeting are based on people who get paid on a regular schedule.  But if you’re an actor, musician, etc. you’ll get a chunk of change at a time.  It’s so easy to blow through the money that you get paid and then have nothing left for the few months that you’re waiting for the next gig.

I have a strategy for actors, musicians and the like that will help you keep on track.  Here is your action plan below.

1) Open a high interest savings account along with your chequing account.  Make sure that they are linked so that you can easily transfer or deposit money directly into your savings and then transfer to your chequing account.

2) Find the highest interest for your daily savings account.  Currently ING has 1.5%, Ally has 2.0%, and PC Financial has 1.5% with a minimum $1k deposit.  Shop around and get the best rate!

3) Go through three months of credit card and bank account statements and find out how much you spend each month on average.  If you had a bender of a month because you got the lead in “My Fair Lady” cut those numbers back down to the average monthly spend.

4) When you get your big cheques from working place them into your high interest savings account.  Set up a fixed payment from your savings account and pay your self like a salaried employee.  If you need $3k a month but you made $9k from a show, you’ll get $3k a month for three months instead of blowing the $9k the first month.  I dated an actor so I know how this goes!

5) Get side jobs to keep your savings growing.  There are tons of classes that you can teach, working for your favourite charities or community groups, what ever you love to do that will still pay you when you aren’t working.  Have these cheques go into your savings to keep you at your set monthly budget.

6) Only use CASH for your everyday expenses like eating out, entertainment, trips and shopping.  This will put a ceiling on how much you can spend each month to keep your acting cheques lasting you longer.

7) Set up your monthly expenses on a no fee credit card.  Charge your cell, fixed groceries, utilities, and tv, internet bill to your card and then get your bank to pay it off each month for you.  Add up how much they all cost and then know that $XXX will be coming out of your account on the xxth of every month.

8) Build your credit! Many actors, musicians, etc. get to a point where they make it big and want to buy a home or get a car and they don’t have any established credit.  By charging your fixed expenses and then paying them off you’ll build your credit while you stay on budget.

9) Budget for classes to improve your skills.  If you want to take a class to improve your skill – make sure you have the money first.  Work extra shifts, take another job or save monthly so that you pay cash for your courses.  It is a ton of emotional work to be the best at your craft you don’t want to worry about having to pay it back.

10) Be amazing!  If you take the energy out of being stressed at money and direct it back into your art – you’ll flourish.  Be sure the break a leg every time you perform. Not the bank.

Have an awesome week,




David Lester
About David Lester

David Lester is a best selling author and professional Financial Coach, helping people be better with their money. David has written a personal finance book that breaks with traditional attitudes towards finance and describes his own philosophy to money that he has gained through his personal and professional experiences. His philosophy on money applies to many areas of everyday life, including banking, investing, goal setting, shopping and entertainment.