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When it comes to money, we’re constantly hearing the advice “save more!” but what exactly are we saving for? Savings without a purpose can lead to guilty spending, lack of motivation to save, or feelings of deprivation. Savings with a distinct purpose, however, can bring freedom and stability. Sign me up for that one! In addition to our monthly expenses of food and rent, actors tend to have a lot of extraneous expenses in order to stay functioning within this business. I’ve compiled a list of these expenses into six important sinking funds every actor should have and I want to share it with you!
But first, what are sinking funds? Sinking funds are multiple small buckets of savings allocated to those expected expenses that don’t necessarily fit into a monthly budget. Unlike an emergency fund that you build up and set aside, sinking funds are used up and refilled on a regular basis. Got it? Good.
Now it’s time to talk about the specific categories of sinking funds that can be the most beneficial for you to implement into your savings plan.
1. Membership Dues
Whether it’s Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, Backstage, or countless others, we know those dues are coming. The good news is that we can calculate exactly how much we need to save up in that fund every year to be prepared for when we get hit with that email that says: “Ready to renew?”
2. Audition Shoes and Clothes
We can’t do our best work when our feet are uncomfortable. Period. Shoes wear out quicker than you think and it’s a good feeling to be able to replace them before you’ve completely worn through the sole so your pinky toe is touching the floor. The same goes for audition clothes! We all have one or two go-to outfits that make us feel on top of the world, but not so much when they start accumulating holes and pit stains. Even if your clothes aren’t worn out yet, you can still treat yourself to a yearly audition outfit revamp to reinvigorate how you walk into a room!
The dreaded tax season seems to always catch us off-guard. If you’re working on 1099s, make sure to take out 12–20% yourself, just like a W-2 does automatically. There’s nothing worse than expecting a refund and getting hit with a bill instead!
We all know that headshots are a worthwhile investment. They’re the first thing those casting directors see! But what happens when you get a fierce new haircut you want to flaunt, but can’t afford that amazing new photographer your friend referred you to? It’s easier to make that investment when you already have the money saved and ready to go.
Keeping our instrument sharp is a top priority! So many of us use the money excuse to not get our butts into class. Let’s eliminate that excuse. It’s better to have money already saved up when an awesome class rolls around than trying to scrape the money together two days before the deadline to enroll.
6. Off-Contract Buffer
We know breaks between gigs are coming, so why not plan for them? Sometimes you get off a contract to find out your catering survival job doesn’t need you anymore, but you’ve still got rent to pay. This buffer can help offset that in-between time looking for work and minimizes the stress of possible late payments.
There you have it! Start brainstorming your own personal list of sinking funds and start contributing to them today (you never know when that heel on your favorite shoe is finally going to give out and snap off). Of course, because personal finance is so personal, everyone’s mix of sinking funds will look different, and that’s OK! The most important thing is that you find a mix that works for YOU.
Joyce Cyr (pronounced “Seer”) is a multifaceted and award-winning business woman turned actor, screenwriter, and author. Her many past professions—as founder and vice president of a major manufacturing company, an ordained minister and wedding officiant, realtor, retail store owner, Chamber of Commerce president, on set film and TV crew member—bring an engaging and relatable energy to her storytelling under her Seer One Productions banner, which specializes in digital media and film and television projects.