5 Reasons Why Actors Need a Financial Plan

By Brooke Tyler Benson (Backstage)

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Last January, actor, writer, and financial coach Brooke Tyler Benson discussed the importance of having a financial plan, which outlines your current money situation and future goals as well as the steps it will take to get there. For too long we’ve been fed the starving artist trope, meaning we haven’t been taught the importance of creating our own financial plan. So she gave five reasons why actors should put “create a financial plan” at the top of their next to-do list…

1. We have inconsistent income.
I’m starting with this one because, across the board, it’s the most common hurtle creative freelancers battle within their finances. There are so many resources out there to help budget and plan for the future with a bi-weekly paycheck or consistent salary, but so few resources when it comes to gig work. Because most actors don’t have the ability to live paycheck-to-paycheck (because ours are so sporadic), we have the harder task of planning even further ahead to buffer ourselves for those in-between-gig times.

2. Creativity thrives on financial stability.
When we have a stacked savings account, retirement contributions on lock, and know where our money is going, we’ll have so much more mental space to devote to other things. Our financial plan gives us the safety net we need in order to take creative risks and pour hope back into our communities. Imagine a world where no actor ever had to worry about how they were going to pay rent next month…cool, right?

3. We are change-makers.
Our financial plan helps us to understand where our money is going and how much we can allot to give back to the people and causes we care about. Artists are constantly cited as being “change-makers”, and change is so much more effective when there is money behind it (in a perfect world, this would not be the case, and we’re fighting to change that). Financial stability allows you to back and produce a challenging play with an important message or donate to foundations and politicians who will support the arts and make the world a better place.

4. Retirement accounts need time to grow.
We may not have access to consistent employee-sponsored 401(k)s, but we do have access to IRAs! As actors, we love our jobs and have a hard time envisioning “retiring” from it, but it’s important to plan for it nonetheless. We don’t know what our future selves are going to desire 20 or 30 years down the road, so we should give them some financial freedom to chase whatever it is they desire. Only performing in feminist stage plays from now on? Fantastic. Volunteering to teach masterclasses at a local college? Great. A nap? Perfect. Planning and investing in your retirement means you get to choose what takes up your energy and time, regardless of the income it brings in.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

5. The future of the industry cannot be sustained by starving artists.
The landscape of the theater industry is shifting rapidly and will continue to do so. The days of wealthy donors bankrolling live theater venues is coming to an end, and we will have to create a new industry vision. If we as actors and artists begin to prioritize our own financial plans and stability, we can help to decide and build what that new structure will look like.

Here is my homework for you: Grab a cup of coffee and your journal, and get ready to have a money date. Pull up your bank statements, track your monthly spending, open an IRA, set concrete financial goals, automate a recurring donation, or any of the other countless ways to start putting your own financial plan into place. Our industry needs your creative talents for the long-haul and that means you need a financial plan.

The original article can be found at Backstage. Learn more about Brooke Tyler Benson.



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Patrick Oliver Jones

Patrick Oliver Jones

ACTOR onstage and onscreen. HOST of Why I’ll Never Make It, a theater podcast of honest conversations with fellow artists. POET sharing thoughts along the way.