Budgeting Smart To Save Money and Find Extra Money at the End of the Month

No time to read? Listen to the blog instead

With a few months of hard work and budgeting you will be able to pay for your basic needs, pay for your actor expenses, treat yourself to little luxuries and have extra money for saving!  Just remember me when you are in Hollywood 😉

(Please excuse the audio quality, I misplaced my mic!)



Did you know that millions of American's could not tell you the total amount the spend on non-essential items in any given month or week even?  Not too long ago I was very careless with my money and I thought I was entitled to little luxuries here and there forgetting that I had already treated myself to something vapid just a day earlier.

This past year has been challenging for me because I'm limited on the amount of hours I can work during the weekday but I kept spending as if I had unlimited income.  Even if I wasn't limited on the amount of hours I can work, do you really think I would want to spend more time at work?  No way! I'd rather be on set filming a movie or a commercial.  

On top of being yet another struggling actor, I have my primary responsibilities to take care of before I can go play.  As an actor, you have added expenses that are absolutely necessary for your career like headshots and continuing education.  Well, something clicked for me this summer and I stepped back to look at the whole messy picture.  

I was starting to fall back into debt so I decided to be very strict with my spending and not loosen up until I reached my goals of sticking to my budgets and saving some money for emergencies.  I was poking around the internet trying to find the best and easiest ways to save money and earn extra income and found a few awesome sites and apps.  And today I want to share these with you.

First thing first.

You can't save money if you don't know how much money comes in and how much money goes out.  In this step, you have to be extremely nakedly honest with yourself.  Do you eat out for lunch during the week?  Do you go to the movies a lot?  Are you a shopaholic?

I was a serious shopaholic. My addiction was so severe that it got to the point where I could go buy thousands of dollars worth of crap and never even take the new stuff out of the bags and use.  I was seriously ill and once you have an addiction you are an addict for life but it is manageable.  You just have to get your priorities straight.  

Luckily I had the good sense of returning everything and getting my money back but I just needed that high.  That rush you get when you are walking around with bags on each arm with stuff that gave you butterflies in your stomach.  Then I discovered I could still get my high as long as I returned everything the next day.  So I did the shop-of-shame every weekend.  This was about 7 years ago when I was still married and wasn't the sole provider or my little family.  I'm not going to lie.  I have to stay away from malls and the outlet stores because if I'm there on a day when I am vulnerable, I will blow whatever money I have on me on stuff.  Luckily most of the time I have very great self-control.  However, I still have some shoes I refused to return sitting in my closet 6 years later.  I have NEVER worn them.  They were just too beautiful to wear.  They are pieces of art that sit in my closet.  I have thought about displaying them throughout my house but I don't want them to get dusty or anything so they sit in the closet.  Now I am trying to make myself sell them on e-bay.  I'll post them any day now.  Do me a favor, can you please ask me about my shoes when you read this?  Consider it as an accountability exercise.

Face the Ugly Truth.

I digress.  So the first step is creating a budget.  It doesn't have to be fancy or complicated.  You don't need an accounting degree to write down your income and your expenses.  Once you review what you have organically spent in the last month, you'll be able to circle those bills you NEED on a monthly basis.  Is Jason's Deli Monday through Friday really a necessity?  I do not think so.  X it out my friend.  Break up with Jason, he is not good for you.  Well, I do LOVE their food, but you don't have to eat out every single day.  Do you really need Hulu AND Netflix AND cable?  Do you even have those many hours left over to watch that much tv???  Cut the cord.  I dare you and I promise you'll save tons of money AND become more productive.  Plus, do you want to spend your whole life watching tv or you want to spend time MAKING movies?

Cut the Crap.

Once your budget is written down cut the crap.  Trim the fat.  Make a budget for the next month.  You already know what you will be expected to pay for based on your last month.  And if you have money left over and want to treat yourself to a few meals out here and there, then make a new line item for entertainment, meals and misc.  Try not to make miscellaneous your catch-all line.  I find that the more specific you are, the less you'll spend.  I'll peg that down to laziness, I have found myself thinking when I'm tempted to stop at McDonnalds, "Do I want to enter this on my budget? Nah, I'll make a patty melt at home instead." et voila! Just saved $10 bucks.  (If I have McDonnalds, the kid will want McDonnalds too, here is another incentive to pass on the junk food.)

I accidentally discovered the Dave Ramsey show.  Raise your hand if you've heard of him.  If you haven't I highly recommend you listen to his show.  You can get it on AM radio or on his website at www.DaveRamsey.com.  He has this thing called The 7 Baby Steps.  (I'm getting ahead of myself here but I'm too excited to write linearly {is that even a word?}) In The 7 Baby Steps, he teaches you how to save $1000 fast for emergencies, how to pay off your debt with the snowball effect, how to save for Old You (retirement), and for your kid's college tuition and how to buy your house straight out cash.  He also has this free app called EveryDollar. www.everydollar.com (They are NOT paying me for this rave review, Dave's system is helping me out a ton and I just want to pay it forward)  This app is a budgeting tool you can use to break down your spending into categories.  If you want it to sync to your bank they charge you for an upgrade at 9.99/month.  Personally, I believe if you have to type it up yourself and enter all your transactions, you'll be more aware of what is going on with your money and you'll save 9.99 per month.


Save $1,000 & Pay Your Bills- Duh.

After the budget is created and you trim the fat, make sure you are paying your bills religiously.  Rent/Mortgage, utilities, groceries, fuel, car payments, insurance.  Whatever you have left over, I recommend following Dave Ramsey's advice to save $1,000 for emergencies and just leave it alone in a boring savings account in the bank.  If you keep the cash at home you WILL be tempted to use it and you WILL use it.  Believe me.  I spent almost half my emergency 1k on stupid things like the tip for the pizza guy or $5 for the neighbor kid selling those deliciously malicious chocolates for the band.  Those school fundraisers are BAD for my budget and my diet.  Anyway, you get my point.

I also found this blog by Scott Alan Turner.  He has some great ideas on how to make 1k fast.


Budget Like a Star.

After you have $1k in the bank, save for your next set of headshots, you know that you'll need from $99 to $300 depending on who is doing your headshot and if you are hiring a makeup artist.  Also save for makeup, basic actor's wardrobe for auditions, travel expenses if you are the brave type of actor who drives long distances for auditions.  Think back on all the extra expenses you had to scrounge up for to go to an audition or to a gig.  And the priciest but most important thing to save for constantly is your workshops, classes, seminars, and coaching.  The serious actor is constantly learning and training.

I have to say this in case you misintepreted me.  Headshots and Classes are NOT EMERGENCIES.  You may not use your 1k on actor expenses.  You may use it in the case that you have a blow out on the highway on your way to an audition.  You may use it if your ac breaks on you, or you have to go to the ER.  Those are emergencies.  But you knew this already 😉 so moving on.

The point here is to work less in corporate America and work more on the set.  Imagine if you can take a day off from work to work at a gig and not have to worry about taking a pay cut or having to wait for 2 to 3 weeks for the studio to send you a check in the mail?  You'll be one happy actor on the set.

Also, since this is an issue for me and I'm guessing for others out here, I have to bring up the babysitting expense.  Sometimes we are called for gigs outside of daycare hours and have to either hire a sitter to come to the house or pass on a gig.  Oh my gosh, I HATE passing up on a gig for lack of babysitting.  And I couldn't afford a babysitter cause I was very stupid with my money but now I can.  So needless to say the past few years I've had to pass on paying gigs because I didn't have the cash to pay the sitter and I doubt she would have taken payment weeks later when my check from the studio was mailed.  So if you have kiddos and even if you have friends and family that are able to help you, make a line item on your budget and save for a babysitter.  If you are prepared for the unexpected, not much can stand in the way of you and that gig.  This is simply a must for a single parent.

Shine Like a Star.

Now that you are all set, you are budgeting, trimming the fat, saving for emergencies and saving for your acting career, now you can occasionally go out and celebrate your victories.  But don't stop budgeting, don't stop saving.  And when you make it to Hollywood, don't forget to send me a postcard 🙂  I promise I won't take any credit if my advice has helped you, but I will be extremely happy for you.

Hollywood 2012

Me in Hollywood 2012 - So close yet so far

And don't forget to share the wealth, and the wealth of information.  If you found any value in this blog, forward it to a friend or share it on Facebook!

By the by: I'm not a writer, I'm just an eager chick ready to share what I know with you guys, so if you are on the GPD (Grammar Police Department) please be kind.

Thanks for reading!

Be smart, be kind and most of all be fearless and shine!