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Secret Agent Man

How to Budget for a Successful Career

How to Budget for a Successful Career
Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

My clients know I’ve been trying to lose weight, and one of them just turned me on to a series of books called “Eat This, Not That!” Their premise is simple: If you’re having lunch at McDonald’s, you should order the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which is 380 calories, instead of the Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich, which clocks in at 750. I would argue that maybe you shouldn’t be eating fast food in the first place, but hey, I think you get the idea. When given a choice, you should always try to choose well. This logic also applies to your career, especially when money is involved.

Why would you spend $300 for a pilot season seminar taught by people who have never worked on a pilot? Wouldn’t it make more sense to speak with someone who has gone through the process? If you have a decent circle of contacts, you should be able to find at least one actor who has tested on a pilot. And don’t be shy about asking a stranger for advice. Most creative types will be flattered, especially if you throw in a free pizza. 

Now here’s another good question: Why spend $40 on an app that helps you prepare sides for an audition when you can just ask someone in your acting class to lend a hand? My way sounds like more fun, and you can always return the favor.

These days, a lot of actors have to self-tape for projects that shoot out of town. As a result, several companies have sprung up on both coasts that will help you do just that. But riddle me this: Why shell out over a hundred clams for this kind of service when you can create your own team of like-minded thespians who can take turns putting each other on tape? Doing it yourself will help you learn more about the process, and it will also empower you as a performer.

Making the right choice isn’t always about saving money; sometimes, it’s about reaching deep into your pocket and using what you find in the smartest way possible.

For example, a client recently presented me with a batch of new headshots. I reviewed all 500 options and, after scratching my chin in a pensive manner, I determined that not one of them was usable. When I asked for the photographer’s name, my client explained that a friend had done them for free. This is one of those situations where you definitely want to choose the expensive professional over the free incompetent.

READ: “The 5 Worst Headshot Mistakes Actors Make”

A few months ago, one of my other clients missed an important audition because he, too, was trying to save a few bucks. His car had been overheating and he wasn’t sure it would make it to the casting director’s office, but he was on a tight budget and didn’t want to spend money on Uber. Do I have to explain what happened next? Suffice to say that both the car and the opportunity were scrapped.

Money is important, but you know what’s more important? How you use it. So make your financial choices wisely, especially when they impact your acting career. And just think of all the presents you can buy your agent with the money you save!

Like this advice? Check out more from Secret Agent Man

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