When I do my book signings at local book stores, I always get actors, musicians and other non-salaried artists coming up and asking how they should budget, having such sporadic pay.
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 all at one time and then often have a dry spell.
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 that next gig.
I have a strategy for actors, musicians and the like that will help you keep on track. Here is how you can "break a leg" with your budget.
1. Open a high interest savings account to use 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.
Look at ratehub.ca for the best rates and link it to your chequing account. Shop around and get the best rate! Sometimes the rates are only for a short period of time, so be sure to read the small print.
3. Find out how much you spend each month on average.
Go through three months of credit card and bank account statements. 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 a gig, place them into your high-interest savings account.
Set up a fixed payment from your savings account and pay yourself like a salaried employee. If you need $3,000 a month but you made $9,000 from a show, you'll get $3,000 a month for three months instead of getting the whole $9,000 the first month.
I dated an actor for a few years and he'd get a TV commercial payout that needed to be spread over the time he was developing one of his own projects. Paying yourself from a savings account the minimal amount you need helps achieve this until your next project is up and running.
5. Get side jobs to keep your savings growing.
There are tons of classes that you can teach, you can work for your favourite charities or community groups, and do whatever 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 help your acting cheques last you longer.
7. Set up your monthly expenses on a no-fee credit card.
Charge your cell, fixed groceries, utilities, TV, and 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 $X will be coming out of your account on the same day 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 something, 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 to break a leg every time you perform -- not the bank.
Being a performer is challenging on its own without having the added stress of money working against you. Be sure to harness the power of money and take a big final bow.
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It might seem like obvious advice but how many of us actually manage to keep track of our spending (be honest!)? Keeping a record of all your incomings and outgoings is the essential first step when it comes to regaining control of your money, and it will instantly show you where you can make cutbacks. The Money Advice Service offers an online budget planner, which makes things a little less overwhelming.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a nest egg tucked away it’s all too easy to rest on your laurels and let them do their own thing. “Make sure you're getting the best interest rate on your savings,” advises the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. “Read any terms and conditions carefully to make sure they're what you are looking for. If you're not sure about anything, ask the savings provider or get independent financial advice.”
“Look carefully at your spending and see if there is anything you're able to cut down on. For example, you could shop around for a cheaper gas or electricity provider,” says the Money Advice Service. The organisation advises using an online calculator to help work out whether you can save by having a water meter installed. Sites like Consumer Council for Water or uSwitch will help you make an informed decision. Similarly for energy bills, try the Energy Saving Trust.
New mortgage deals are coming on the market all the time, and you should try to keep a regular eye out for the best deals around if you’re not locked into a fixed period. The Money Advice Service recommends that at the very least you review your mortgage when interest rates change, because this will affect how competitive your current deal is. Also try to shop around for deals once a year if you’re not tied into a mortgage that enforces early repayment penalties.
If you can train yourself to be more self-aware as a shopper, it can do wonders for your pocket. Comparing prices and shopping online could save you hundreds of pounds every year on everything from groceries to clothes and electrical goods. The Money Advice Service recommends My Supermarket for checking out the best deals, as well as sites like Google Shopping and Kelkoo http://www.kelkoo.co.uk/. Money Saving Expert offers plenty of handy recommendations – from being savvy to supermarkets’ subliminal selling tactics to learning the beauty of brand ‘downshifting’.
”You may find it helpful to set up standing orders and direct debits to pay your bills”, suggest the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. “Arrange for payments to leave your account soon after your pay date. If you can, try and save some money each month as a general savings plan or to cover emergencies when they arise.”
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