10 Finance Management Tips for Actors
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Create a realistic budget
  2. Manage irregular income
  3. Save for taxes
  4. Build an emergency fund
  5. Invest in a retirement plan
  6. Avoid debt and overspending
  7. Hire a financial advisor
  8. Plan for periods of unemployment
  9. Protect your assets
  10. Stay informed about the industry

As an actor, you're no stranger to juggling scripts, auditions, and rehearsals. But what about juggling your finances? Managing money can often feel like an off-script improvisation scene, leaving many actors wondering, "How to manage finances as an actor?" Read on for ten practical tips to turn your financial management into a well-rehearsed performance.

Create a realistic budget

Just like preparing for a role, creating a realistic budget requires a thorough understanding of your character—in this case, your financial situation. And trust me, it's simpler than mastering Shakespearean soliloquy.

First, you need to know your income. If you have a steady job, great! But if you're like most actors and have irregular income, take an average of your earnings over the last six months. This will give you a ballpark figure to work with.

Next, track your expenses. Rent, utilities, groceries, headshots, acting classes—all of these add up. Write them down and see where your money goes. You might be surprised at how much you're spending on that daily latte!

Now, the real action— subtract your expenses from your income. If you're left with a positive number, that's your surplus. If it's negative, don't panic. This is your cue to adjust your spending habits or look for additional income sources.

Remember, a budget is not a villain in your financial drama but a trusty sidekick. It doesn't restrict you; it empowers you to make informed decisions. So, when you wonder how to manage finances as an actor, your budget will be the script guiding you to a standing ovation.

Manage Irregular Income

The life of an actor is often thrilling, surprising, and yes, unpredictable. One moment you're in a blockbuster movie, the next, you're waiting for your next gig. This unpredictability can be exciting, but when it comes to your income, it can be a real cliffhanger. So, how to manage finances as an actor with an irregular income?

One trick is to treat your income as if it's regular. This might sound like a plot twist, but hear me out. Take your lowest earning month from the past year, and treat that as your regular monthly income. Anything extra? Treat it as a bonus, and save it for the rainy days.

Another method is to use the "50-30-20 rule". Allocate 50% of your income to needs (rent, food, etc.), 30% to wants (like that fancy espresso machine), and 20% to savings and debt repayments. This rule might seem like a tough scene to act out, but it'll pay off in the long run.

And here's the best part— once you've mastered the art of managing an irregular income, you've taken a huge step in learning how to manage finances as an actor. It's like nailing a challenging role; you prove to yourself and others that you can handle anything that comes your way. So, take a bow, because you're on your way to financial stability.

Save for Taxes

As an actor, you're not just a star of the screen or stage—you're also a business. And just like any business, you have to pay taxes. Sounds fun, right? But how to manage finances as an actor when it comes to tax time?

First, don't wait for the taxman to come knocking. Set aside a portion of each paycheck for taxes. You can open a separate savings account just for this purpose. This way, when tax season arrives, you're not scrambling to find the money. It's like learning your lines well before the curtain goes up, so you're not panicking on opening night.

Next, keep track of your expenses. That acting class, headshots, travel expenses for auditions—they all count as business expenses and can be deducted from your taxes. Just remember to keep your receipts. Think of them as your financial script, detailing all the scenes of your financial life.

Finally, consider hiring a tax professional who specializes in working with actors. They can help you navigate the complex world of taxes, ensuring you're not overpaying—or worse, underpaying.

Remember—you're an actor, but you're also a business. And smart businesses know how to manage their taxes. So, take center stage and show taxes who's the real star!

Build an Emergency Fund

Ever had that dream where you're about to go on stage but realize you've forgotten your lines? That's the financial equivalent of facing an emergency without a safety net. Managing finances as an actor requires a bit of stagecraft, and one of the key props you'll need is an emergency fund.

Let's face it—life is full of unexpected plot twists. Your car could break down, you might need to travel for a last-minute audition, or there could be a lull between roles. This is where your emergency fund comes into play. It's your financial understudy, ready to step in when unexpected expenses take center stage.

So, how much should you save? A good rule of thumb is to aim for three to six months' worth of living expenses. Remember, this isn't a target you have to hit overnight. Even small regular deposits can add up over time. It's like rehearsing a scene, bit by bit, until you've got it down pat.

Start by opening a separate savings account and set up automatic transfers. This way, you're consistently building your emergency fund without even thinking about it. It's like having a stage manager handling all the behind-the-scenes details while you focus on your performance.

So, take a bow, actors. With an emergency fund, you've got a stand-in ready to handle life's unexpected dramas. Now that's what I call a show-stopping financial move!

Invest in a Retirement Plan

Let's get real. We all dream of that Oscar-winning role, but even Hollywood stars know the importance of a solid retirement plan. You might be thinking, "I'm an actor, not a Wall Street banker! How do I manage finances for retirement?" Fear not, I've got your back.

Firstly, remember that retirement is not a curtain call—it's the grand finale. Just like rehearsing for a play, it requires consistent effort and planning. A retirement plan is an investment in your future, and it's never too early to start.

Investing in a retirement plan, like an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or a 401(k), is a smart move. These accounts are like a script for your future—they outline how your investments grow over time, and they come with tax benefits too. You might be surprised at how much you can save, even with irregular income.

It's also important to diversify your investments. Think of it as casting a wide net for roles—you wouldn't limit yourself to one genre, right? The same goes for your retirement savings. Investing in a mix of stocks, bonds, and other assets can help you balance risk and return.

Remember, investing in a retirement plan isn't about quick wins—it's about playing the long game. So, start now, stick with it, and watch your future financial success steal the show!

Avoid Debt and Overspending

Now, here's another scene in our play about how to manage finances as an actor. It's a common plot twist: our protagonist is faced with the allure of shiny new things and the thrill of living in the moment. But wait! Our actor remembers something important — the value of financial restraint.

Yes, being an actor often means living a lifestyle that's as unpredictable as a box office hit. One minute you're rolling in dough from a successful gig, and the next, you're tightening your belt. This fluctuation can make it tempting to overspend or rely on credit when times are good. But here's a tip: don't.

Just like you wouldn't perform a monologue without rehearsing, don't plunge into a spending spree without a plan. Keep a track of your expenses — big and small. Those fancy lattes and designer clothes can add up, and before you know it, you're sinking in a sea of debt. And trust me, debt is one co-star you don't want.

Instead, practice mindful spending. Ask yourself: Do I really need this? What value does it add to my life? You'll often find that the best things in life aren't things at all. They're experiences, like the thrill of a standing ovation or the joy of a well-delivered line. And those, my friends, are priceless.

So, remember: avoid debt and overspending. Not only will your wallet thank you, but you'll also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with financial stability. And that, in my book, is a standing ovation-worthy performance.

Hire a Financial Advisor

Just as you wouldn't go on stage without a script, you shouldn't navigate your finances without a guide. That's where a financial advisor comes into play when figuring out how to manage finances as an actor.

Think of a financial advisor as your personal director for finances. They can help you understand the complex world of money management, from investments and taxes to retirement plans and emergency funds. And just like a director helps shape your performance, a financial advisor can help shape your financial future.

Now, you might be thinking: "But I'm good at managing my money. Why do I need a financial advisor?" Well, even the best actors benefit from a director's guidance. Similarly, even if you're good at handling your finances, a financial advisor can provide you with expert advice and strategies you might not have considered.

Moreover, a financial advisor can save you a lot of time and stress. Instead of trying to understand the nuances of tax laws or investment strategies, you can focus on what you do best—acting. Meanwhile, your financial advisor will handle the money matters, ensuring your finances stay as healthy as your acting career.

So, don’t hesitate to hire a financial advisor. It's like casting a supporting actor to make your performance shine. After all, managing finances as an actor is not just about earning money—it's about making it work for you.

Plan for Periods of Unemployment

Let's face it: Acting can be a rollercoaster ride. One moment you're in the limelight, the next you might be in between jobs. It's the nature of the business. So how to manage finances as an actor in these periods of unemployment?

Firstly, recognize that periods of unemployment are not a reflection of your talent. They're a part of the acting industry. Even Oscar winners have downtime. The key is to prepare for it.

Start by setting aside a portion of your income during the good times. Don't consider this money as part of your regular budget. Treat it as an unemployment fund. This fund will be your financial safety net when the acting jobs are scarce.

It's also a good idea to have other income streams. Many actors teach acting workshops, do voice-over work, or even have a side business. These additional income streams can help tide you over during dry spells.

And remember, periods of unemployment are not just a financial challenge. They can also be an emotional one. Don't let these periods define your worth or discourage you. Instead, use them as an opportunity to grow as an actor and as a person. Take acting classes, learn new skills, or enjoy some well-deserved rest. After all, your next big role could be just around the corner!

Protect Your Assets

As an actor, it’s important that you understand one thing: your assets aren't just limited to your bank balance or your property. You are your most valuable asset. Your talent, your skills, your reputation — these are all part of your unique brand. So, how to manage finances as an actor also means learning how to protect these priceless assets.

To start, consider investing in insurance. Health insurance is a must, given the physical demands of acting. But also think about other types of insurance, like liability insurance. It can help protect you from any legal issues that might arise from your work. Also, don't forget about reputation insurance—yes, there's such a thing. It can protect you if your reputation takes a hit, which could impact your earning potential.

Another key asset protection strategy is to safeguard your intellectual property. If you write scripts, create characters, or develop other original content, consider copyrighting or trademarking it. This can prevent others from profiting off your creativity without your permission.

And lastly, don't forget to protect your skills. Continually invest in your craft by taking acting classes, attending workshops, and seeking feedback. The more versatile and skilled you are, the more valuable you become in the industry.

Remember, safeguarding your assets is as much a part of managing your finances as an actor as budgeting or saving. After all, these assets are what set you apart and keep those paychecks coming in.

Stay Informed About the Industry

So, you've got your budget in place, your assets are protected, and you're saving for a rainy day. But your journey on how to manage finances as an actor doesn't stop here. The next big step? Staying informed about the industry.

The entertainment industry is a vibrant, ever-changing landscape. Trends come and go, new opportunities pop up, and the financial landscape can shift dramatically. As an actor, you're not just a performer but also a business. And like any business owner, you need to stay on top of the market.

So how can you do this? A good starting point is to read industry publications regularly. Check out the trades, such as 'Variety' or 'The Hollywood Reporter', to stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends. They often provide insightful articles on the financial aspects of the industry, like how streaming is affecting actors' pay or changes in union rates.

Networking is another powerful tool. You can learn a lot from other actors' experiences and insights. Join industry groups, attend networking events, and don’t shy away from asking questions. Remember, knowledge is power—especially when it comes to managing your finances.

Finally, don't underestimate the value of professional development. Attend workshops and seminars focused on the business side of acting. Understanding the industry's financial dynamics can help you make smarter decisions about your career, and ultimately, about managing your finances.

So, keep learning, keep networking, and keep growing. Staying informed about the industry is an integral part of managing your finances as an actor.

If you found these finance management tips helpful and want to explore more about managing finances as an artist, be sure to check out Kelsee Thomas's workshop, 'A Freelance Artist's Guide At Making Finances Make Sense.' This workshop will provide you with even more valuable information and strategies to help you effectively navigate the financial aspects of your acting career.