3 ways to financially survive as a budding actor

3 ways to financially survive as a budding actor

Starting out (and even continuing) an acting career can be scary for any budding/jobbing actor due to one thing – MONEY. Most budding actors have fears such as “What if I throw lots of money into acting and nothing comes of it?”. “Will I have to stay in my minimum wage job forever and sacrifice buying a house or having children?”, “What if I end up completely broke from pursuing an acting career?”. 

I completely get it, it can be pretty bloody scary throwing money into an industry which offers no guarantees. 


Before I share with you 3 ways to financially survive as a budding actor lets quickly address the “no guarantees” worry, which can stop many pursuing their passion. You’re smart enough to know there are no guarantees with anything in life. Now I hate to be morbid but it’s not even guaranteed you’ll be alive tomorrow. I know this all too well from far too many family tragedies. 

A few years ago my Aunty (Mum’s twin) slipped under the water in the bath and drowned. This shook my family to the core, the saddest thing about it was that she was in her early 50’s and had so much she hadn’t done with her life. What I’d like to drive home to you is that my Aunty probably didn’t wake up thinking that was going to be her last day on earth, she probably thought it was going to be a typical day, like any other. 

If you know in your heart of hearts that something is missing when you’re not acting, and that you’re not cut out for the ordinary 9-5 world then you must pursue acting relentlessly to reap the artistic and financial rewards that come later down the line.


Now before I move onto the money tips, I just want to make it crystal clear that I am not a financial adviser and am not qualified to give financial advice, I’m an acting coach. The tips I’m sharing are what have worked well for me, personally.


#1 – CLARITY – 
To financially survive the acting industry you must know where you are RIGHT NOW with your finances. I see far too many actors unclear on their money. 

Go through your monthly (even better) annual wage and make a list of what your have coming in and going out e.g Starbucks coffee, rent, bottle of wine, water bill. Make a huge list of all the items you’re spending money on. Be prepared, you may shock yourself with this. 

#2 – BALANCE – 
You must figure out what your non-negotiable expenses are such as mortgage/rent, gas/electric, council tax, food shopping etc. Add this up either to an annual figure or monthly figure. What do you have left from your wage after these non-negotiable expenses have gone out of your account?

There is an amazing system called the 6 jar system which helps you get your money in order. I have found this so useful not only for acting but for day to day life. It will help you get utter clarity on your money so you know exactly down to the penny what you can invest into your acting career.


The idea is that you have SIX (yes six) bank accounts for the various things you need to spend money on:-

#1  – WAGE ACCOUNT – Your monthly wage gets paid into this. From this account you set up standing orders to siphon off your wage into the five remaining accounts below

#2 – BILLS ACCOUNT – The amount you need for your monthly bills (gas, electric, water etc) comes from your wage account into this account.

#3 – ACTING ACCOUNT – You keep your acting money separate from your other money to give you more clarity on what you’re spending and to stop you over spending. The amount you put into this account each month depends on your spending habits and expenses. 

#4 – BIG SAVINGS ACCOUNT – a portion of your money from your wage goes into this account. This savings account is for things such as a house, car, holiday etc

#5 – EMERGENCY SAVINGS ACCOUNT – a portion of your money from your wage goes into this account. The idea of this account is that should you ever find yourself out of work you have enough money to cover you being unemployed for between 1 and 3 months

#6 – TREAT ACCOUNT – a portion of your monthly wage goes into this account to allow you to spend money on non-essential things you’d like to treat yourself to e.g spa day, night out, massage, pair of jeans etc. When I first began with this account I started small and put £20 per month into it, do what works for you financially.


How do you decide how much to put into each account? Well a financial advisor would be better off helping you with that, but from my own personal experience I go with what what is left over after non-negotiable bills go into my bills account and divvy up the rest as I see fit. 


BONUS TIP – food shopping.

For those who know me I don’t like to scrimp and scrape so I’ve added a bonus tip to help your financial survival. 

Each week I plan my meals for the week ahead. When I do this I only buy what I absolutely need to. It stops me putting everything I see into my shopping trolley and curbs those impulse purchases. My money for my food shop comes from my bills account. I spend roughly (give or take £1/£2) the same amount each week. 

In the early days as a budding actor – or lean days as I like to call them – you must get absolute clarity over your finances, it’s the only way to financially survive. It’s the only way any business survives. Those who don’t keep a keen eye on their finances end up going bust. 

Your acting account could have money in it for last minute travel to castings, head shots, showreel editing services, classes, workshops etc. 


Have you ever used a system similar to the six jar system or is this a completely new concept? Let me know in the comments below. 

You can also share this with your acting friends by clicking the social media icons. It could be just the thing they need to help them get out of a financial funk.

Don’t give up, keep learning to start earning!
















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