Not everybody chooses a safe nine-to-five career path with regular pay, annual leave, sick leave and automatic super contributions.
Musicians, actors, artists, designers, freelancers and a host of others in creative industries are often driven by passion rather than money, and usually don’t receive all of the financial benefits of a regular salary job. As such, they may not be equipped to take control of their tricky finances.
If that sounds like you, here are some tips on how to make the most out of your money, so you can focus on doing what you love.
Before you can begin to plan your finances, you need to get a good picture of where you’re at.
You’ve probably heard this before, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record here it is again: do up a budget to begin with.
Think about it like a personal profit and loss sheet, which I would bet you’re familiar with if you’ve ever planned out an album, exhibition or any other project involving outlay and return.
Put all your revenue streams together on paper to get a clearer understanding of your financial situation and how much comes out for personal expenses and funding for projects. If you’re not making enough, then look outside the box to see how you could be using your creative skills and talent to teach, freelance or work part time to subsidise the deficit.
In this you need to strike an even balance between optimistic and realistic both in your career and financial goals.
If you’re a musician and have just sent out your first demo, don’t count on having a record label signing bonus in the next six months. Look at how much you’re currently earning or where your work is currently sitting, and make realistic projections on where you could be in three, six or twelve months time.
This is uncertain but you need to prepared to have some degree of risk involved if you are to continue as essentially your own boss, HR and accountant.
This instantly makes me think of Scar from The Lion King, but it’s way less scary than that (we can all admit five year old us was terrified of Scar and Whoopi Goldberg’s voice after that movie).
The rule of thumb for emergency money cushions is having three to six month’s worth of outgoing expenses (which you would know from doing your budget) saved up for those dire situations. But for the self employed most financial advisors will tell you that threshold needs to rise.
Given that any projects you dive into will often be self-financed, you need to be able to support yourself should they not generate the level of revenue you had planned.
Look After Yourself
As boring as it sounds there are some essential things you need to do with your money before you spend it elsewhere.
I wasn’t kidding when I said you were your own infrastructure. You need to be HR and contribute to your super, you need to be payroll and pay your tax regularly so you don’t end up with a hefty bill come July 1, and you absolutely need to pay insurance.
Insurance can seem like a waste of money but you’re running a risk to not have yourself, your equipment and/or workspace covered should an unfortunate mishap occur.
Hopefully with time this will all become second nature, leaving you more brain power to focus towards your creative endeavours.
And if it takes a while, you can always use your struggle as fodder for a great song, story or interpretive dance. The struggle is real.