Today marks one week from when my job of two years ends. Am I terrified, but slightly excited? Yes. Why am I not renewing my contract? Well, the short answer is because I'm not fully living my dream of being an actress. So, what does this have to do with saving money let's go back a few years.
It's graduation weekend and I'm talking to an alum of my college who lives and work in New York City. At the time, all I wanted was to be in the city, so of course everything she said sounded magical, but she said something that stood out to me: "Don't move to the city unless you have $10,000." Now being directly out of college and from a lower economical family this wasn't an option...right away.
So, I came up with a plan. I would work in technical theatre to pay my bills and audition for projects. Now, I'm not going to lie it's sometimes really hard to watch other actors onstage when all I want is to be onstage, but I've done it. I found a house gig-a theatre position which is longer than the typical work a show move on deal-and saved as much money as I could.
First, I decided not to move to New York City but work regionally instead as it's a great way to build my resume. New York isn't going anywhere and I can move there later.
Second, the city I live in is a low cost of living so I was able to find a cheap apartment that I can call home. Is it super big? No, but that's fine with me. Included with this, I don't feel the need to buy a lot of stuff as my apartment isn't huge and I was able to find people giving away furniture or find it for cheap at thrift stores so money equals saved.
Third, every pay check gets divided. There is the 50/20/30 rule, but I tend not follow that. Instead, I looked at my paycheck and put about 60% away into savings. I live on a tight budget $30-$40 on food for the week, which I'm able to accomplish by planning my meals out and cooking for myself (part of this is because of food allergies). I also allow myself to eat out once a week, drink coffee only at work, and find activities to do for free. Saying that, I occasionally buy more than one meal out, but I found if I set the rule it makes it easier for me to follow. I also use the Mint app to track my spending.
So, for me the point of saving money is for a goal. I'm not moving to New York, but have changed my sights to a different city, but I have enough saved up that for the next couple of months I can go after my dreams. Of course, I'll still do freelance because I get bored without a job, but I found finding myself accountable for my spending and building up a nest egg is essential for my life goals. Maybe you can't afford 60% of your paycheck, but you can decide not have that coffee or beer and save that $10-$20. Build your nest egg. Follow your dreams.
My first professional acting job was in "A Midsummer's Night Dream." This was the promotional photo used.