In 2014 the average annual UK income was £27,000. Can you honestly say as an actor that you earn £27,000 per year, each year from acting alone? Of course not! If figures are still true, at any one time, 97% of actors are unemployed. If we go on the national minimum wage (£7.20 in the North of England at time of writing). you would need to work 10 hours per day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with no time off to earn £26,280, £720 short of the average annual UK income in 2014. Depressing isn’t it?
Of course these figures are just a baseline and are bound to change should you land a meaty TV contract or a good theatre run. As we know these contracts are rarely for a year so it beggars the question how do actors survive? It’s no wonder then that after 10 years of being in the industry 75% of actors quit. To avoid being in that scenario we’re going to explore budgeting on an actors income.
Finances can be a huge worry for anyone, not just actors. If you’re 100% sure that you can’t do any other job and are willing to make some financial sacrifices lets head right in and talk about surviving.
When I speak about survival money, I am speaking about the day to day finances you need to stay afloat – rent/mortgage, gas, electric, water, phone bill, food shopping, council tax. A portion of your phone bill may be reduced from your tax bill as you may use this to find work, but as I am not an accountant we will go on the premise that your full phone bill is a survival cost.
You may want to find a way of reducing these costs but for you to survive day to day these are the things that should never ever be compromised or sacrificed. They HAVE to be paid, end of story.
Many actors do not budget, but you must get clear on your monthly outgoings to avoid anxiety
BUDGETING ON AN ACTORS INCOME
As we’re all individual our earnings as actors differ you will need to change these steps to suit you. These steps are only a guideline, but one I hope will make you more financially savvy.
- Get clear on your monthly survival costs
- Set up a separate current account, which will act as your acting business account, so you can begin to become aware of just how much you are/need to invest/spend on building your acting business.
- Actors survival costs – whilst we all want to save where ever we can some things are non-negotiable, such as headshots, editorial services for your show reel, acting classes/training, membership on casting sites. Please don’t try and cut corners with any of these by getting friends to do favours with head shots or putting off Spotlight membership, doing this stalls your career.
- Place into your actors account each month the money you will need to cover your actors survival costs (this will also make it easier for you begin to do self assessment tax return when you begin earning money from acting.
Once you have worked out your actors survival costs you will be much clearer on how much you need to earn per month from your day job and can take appropriate action to change this if need be e.g more hours and extra flexi job etc
When you are clear on this you are in a much stronger position to keep investing in your acting business with clarity and without feeling the stress of “ooops I’ve overspent this month, so the headshots are going to have to wait and I’ll need to cancel my CCP membership”.
When you have clarity on your finances you are less likely to overspend. Overspending leads to feeling guilty because you have to cut back on things such as Spotlight membership, which in turn can stop you from progressing and losing motivation.
Put these steps into practise today to see how much easier it is to build an acting career when you’re on top of your money.
Share with your acting friends, it could be just the thing they need to read or let me know in the comments box below if it’s helped you. I love to connect with you.
Here’s to your success!
Don’t give up, just keep learning.
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