With the writers’ strike officially in full swing, everyone in the entertainment industry has one main thing on their mind: money.
Money is a resource, required for survival, and also a tool to support your happiness, your art and your well-being. Being compensated fairly for your craft is the bare minimum, and if that isn’t happening, a strike is necessary.
With that being said, a strike may cause financial fallout for many involved, potentially halting paid acting jobs, fewer auditions, and possible lag time when the strike is over. This article is to help you navigate your finances during this important time of solidarity with our writers.
Here are 3 things you can do now as an actor to help you survive financially during the writers’ strike:
1. Create a Money Plan
The last writers’ strike in 2007 lasted 100 days, and the longest recorded strike lasted 153 days. With this in mind, it’s important to create a money plan with your current finances that will take you through the end of the strike, planning for at least 3 months without the possibility of new TV/Film acting jobs.
Start with calculating your baseline expenses (rent, utilities, groceries), the things you absolutely need to pay for every single month to live. Multiply that number by 3: do you currently have that amount in your bank account to hold you over until acting jobs start coming in again? If you have a side job or other stream of income, does it bring in your baseline number every month?
(If the answer to both of those questions is “no,” continue reading #2).
Creating a money plan doesn’t mean you have to pinch every penny or cut back as much as possible. The purpose of a money plan is to intentionally decide the amount you want to spend each month, rather than retroactively looking back at your bank statements trying to figure out how to deal with the numbers you see.
Have weekly money dates where you check in on your money plan, see what’s happening in your bank accounts, and journal out how you’re feeling about your finances. This routine check-in will help keep you aware of your money without spiraling into financial fixation.
Make sure to pour a glass of wine or make your favorite cup of tea while you have your money date, and a soothing jazz playlist in the background never hurts.
2. Create a New Stream of Income
Now more than ever, it is important to have other places you can count on for income when you are in the entertainment industry. In order to stand in solidarity with the writers, and be able to strike with your own union if the time comes, having a financial safety net is crucial.
Your power to say no comes from your bank account. Your ability to only take on projects that light you up comes from your financial stability outside of your art. Your freedom to choose, to step back, to put your foot on the gas, to be still, it all comes from your money.
When you have something else that pays your rent outside of your art, your art is able to thrive. There isn’t pressure on your beautiful ball of artistic brilliance to support you, and when you give your art that breathing room, it tends to take off more quickly and easily than you could expect.
Start looking for things outside of your craft that intrigue you, that pique your curiosity, that feel like “in another life maybe I would have…”. Follow those breadcrumbs, and it could lead you to a parallel career that pays the bills and also holds space for your artistic endeavors.
For me, it was starting an online money coaching business that teaches actors and freelancers how to feel confident in their finances. For someone else, it was an influencer marketing job for a tech company. For another, it was being a virtual assistant for a female-founded startup.
Remember, desiring financial freedom and doing something that pays your bills alongside your art does not make you less of an artist. Creativity thrives on financial stability.
3. Use Money as a Self-Care Tool
During a time where you’re watching fellow artists fight large corporations for a fair deal and having that greatly affect your individual ability to book jobs, your mental health may need some extra support.
Your money is an incredible resource to support your well-being during a time like this. Make a list of all the ways you could use money to support your emotional health, and then reference that list whenever you need a good dose of self-care.
Yoga class. The fancy latte from your favorite coffee shop. A massage. A one-night staycation at your favorite hotel. $50 to go wild with at Target.
Create your list, then make sure you account for allowing yourself to indulge in some of these things throughout the month when you create your money plan.
You don’t have to be scared to spend money during times like this, you just need to plan to spend it in ways that bring you the most joy and support your well-being.
If you do these 3 things, your finances won’t be shaken as the writer’s strike continues to roll out. We’re all in this together. We’ve gotten through strikes before, and we will get through this one now.
Also, using this time right now to get your financial affairs in order is a great gift to your future self (who won’t have time for it with all the new auditions and booked jobs that will be coming across your plate).
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Brooke Tyler Benson, Money Coach + AEA Actor, is the founder of Not Starving Artists. She is bringing financial education and empowerment to creatives to create a new generation of wealthy artists living lives of luxury and purpose (no budgeting or bi-weekly paycheck required). After graduating with a BFA in Acting, it became her mission to destroy the “starving artist” trope once and for all. She is your financial cheerleader, bringing you accessible money education and coaching specifically for creative freelancers and small business owners.