You’ve mentioned your day job. Do all actors have those? What do your finances look like generally?
I’m not going to paint a picture of ALL of my finances for you, but generally speaking:
I do have a day job! I tutor (pretty much any subject, but the ACT/SAT tests are big ones). I try to cap my hours at about 15 per week because any more than that and I start to burn out. Any less than that and the ‘slow season’ gets me worried. But sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less so it’s all about doing what I can to keep it even keel. It helps TREMENDOUSLY to be very frugal and very good with money out here — basic life costs so damn much, you really have to know how to prioritize. AND how to pull yourself along as things get tough. Have a day job. Work hard.
A few years ago, I would also book at least one commercial a year and THAT would keep me swimming for a while. I’d use it three ways: first, I’d fund a project (short, very short, very cheap), then I’d put it in different savings folders. I wouldn’t leave my day job, so the commercial booking would either supplement during slow periods or sit & grow for a future emergency.
But a few years ago, things started aggressively turning non union and commercial work dried up for a while. About the same time, I joined Patreon and slowly built up a core group who moved with me to Patronage here. This amazing team has supplanted the commercial income, though I’d still love to book more of those. They’ve started moving back to union but on some truly low paying contracts; bottom line is that commercials don’t pay what they did and we’ve all had to get more creative.
My goal this year is to start siphoning money into a savings account for new projects. It’s tough because the cost of living in LA is so high and both my jobs are so uncertain (I don’t work, I don’t get paid) that my instinct is to save, save, save!!! but at some point, I’d like to reinvest in myself as an actor and an artist. Learn new skills. In addition to cost of living, I also have to pay for classes, headshots, gas for auditions, website costs, hair/makeup/dresses for events, etc. etc. It adds up, this presence of mine.
To keep track of everything, I use YNAB. This isn’t sponsored; YNAB is a godsend as a freelancer. It tracks everything for me, so tax time is crazy easy. If you’ve been looking for a budgeting program, this is mine and I love it.