Actor friend, I know you need a smartphone to function in everyday life these days. You're probably using it to self-tape your auditions, too, huh?
However, phone bills have gotten totally out of control, and I've had my fair share of sucky contracts and hidden fees.
If you want to be a successful actor, you desperately need to get your finances on track. You don't need to hit it big to be financially healthy.
When my husband and I decided that we wanted our finances to flourish, I started looking for ways to cut our expenses--again. When it came to our cell phone plans, I thought I already had the best deal with a prepaid provider.
However, I quickly found out that we could be saving an extra $30 per month with the plan we now use!
Disclaimer: this post contains my affiliate link, which means at no extra cost to you, I'll receive a credit to my account if you purchase a plan through my link. I highly recommend that you take advantage of the referrals program as well! See the referral credits section of this post for more info.
In this post, I will breakdown all of the reasons I use and love Pure TalkUSA as our cell phone provider so you can decide if it's a good fit for you.
If you have any questions that I don't cover in this post, be sure to comment and let me know. I do check and respond to those.
MY PHONE ALWAYS WORKS
I'm going to tell you a scary story that has forever made me a fan of unlimited everything plans.
I had to drive to-and-fro Virginia one day for a fitting. I made it a one day trip, which totaled 10 hours of driving. It was a long day.
On the way back, I realized my cell phone wasn't getting service on the highway, but I needed to contact my husband to let him know I would get home later than I previously thought.
I pulled over at a few different locations, but guess what? Pay phones aren't a thing anymore! I tried to connect to WiFi in the parking lot of a Starbucks to save time since I was already running way behind schedule. No luck.
On top of wasting that time, I was stuck in a traffic jam for another hour. Not only could I not call or text my husband, but he also couldn't get through to me either.
When I got home, my very low-key husband was on the verge of tears and this close to calling the police and various hospitals. He had been sitting at home for hours not knowing if I was dead in a gutter somewhere.
Let me interject here that we don't typically go for more than an hour without texting each other something, so he had reason to be worried.
I was so ticked off at our cell phone provider, and I refused to ever have a phone that cut off my data again.
Pure TalkUSA offers unlimited talk, text, and data on every single plan. The pricing only increases for more high-speed data. However, they will never turn off your data. When I'm the road for a shoot, I need a cell plan that's dependable.
I've never had issues with dropped calls so far. Rarely, my phone will say it doesn't have a connection, but if I quickly turn cellular on and off, it kicks in again ASAP.
MORE LINES, MORE SAVINGS
This is awesome if you have additional family members.
For each line you add, you get an additional 5% off your total bill. The photo below will give you a good visual. Not much else to say about this except that I love savings wherever I can get them.
MY PAYMENT IS ALWAYS THE SAME
I like details, and I do not like surprises when it comes to my money. I expect businesses to treat me in an ethical manner since my money is what's keeping them in business.
I love the Pure TalkUSA charges me exactly what they say they'll charge me.
I had the most ridiculous conversation with a Verizon customer service rep who could not explain where all of the extra fees were coming from or what they were for.
I sat on the phone with the bill in my lap asking the rep to explain each of the fee lines.
All I heard were generic answers like, "Those are operational fees."
"But isn't that what my primary bill charges are for?"
"Those are additional fees for the service."
"That's what the foundational pricing covers, correct? What am I paying that for then?"
That went on for thirty minutes until I swore I would never buy a phone or plan from them again as soon as our contract ended.
I'm not in a contract now, so I can end my service whenever I like. If we go over the allotted amount of high-speed data on our plans, I'm never charged extra, even though I still use data.
I've only needed to use Pure Talk's customer service once, and it was a very easy process.
SAVES ME TIME AND STRESS
I do not have time to log in to my account every single month to buy a new prepaid plan. I also can't risk forgetting and losing my service.
Pure Talk USA has charged my account like clockwork on the exact same day every month with their autopay setup (even without a contract) so that I don't forget and lose my service.
I love that I know exactly what day of the month my plan renews. It makes it super easy to keep track of it in my budget.
If for some reason you run out of high-speed data your first month, you'll have a better idea of how much more you need for next month based on how many days you have left in your plan.
So far, I haven't had that problem, but I'm also not a data junkie. I do a lot on WiFi, which is a great way for me to save on high-speed data and drop into a lower payment bracket.
FREE SERVICE WITH REFERRALS
I know you need passive and freelance income opportunities, Actor Boss. Typically, with passive sources of income, you need multiple streams because it's just a little from here and there. In other words, lower payouts necessitate a need for a higher volume of income streams. Why not make some moola toward bills you already need to pay?!
Pure TalkUSA has a great referral credits system that gives you $20 per person that signs up via your link, and there are no freaking limits! You could seriously get free service every year if you share your story as I have in this post.
If you don't already have a blog to share your story and referral link, then you can do it on social media fairly easily. Just please make sure you're following FTC guidelines so that you do not get into trouble with the government!
From what I've read (although please check me on this), the basic requirement is that you must include a disclaimer in your posts with clear and concise language that you will receive some type of credit or payment before you share your referral link.
I do not recommend that you immediately start sharing your link, though. Wait until you have your own story about why you needed to switch and how much it saved you on your bill. Otherwise, it will feel like spam. Your friends and family know you and trust you, so you don't want to break that trust. They want to hear a true story about how the product benefits you to understand why you are authentically recommending it.
I really think Pure TalkUSA is the best cell service I've ever had, and I've used Verizon, T-Mobile, and Straight Talk over the years.
Our monthly bill is only $55 for two people! How much money could you save when you compare that to your current phone bill?
Click here to review their plans.
Not sure how much high-speed data you actually need?
For iPhone users:
For Android users:
I will say that my phone reads 5GB of data, which doesn't sound quite right to me. However, I only have the $30 3GB plan, and my Pure TalkUSA account shows I've only used 2GB within about 13 days. I've never had a problem with my phone not working.
While you're here, sign up to become an Actor Boss Insider so you never miss a post. I'll send you actionable tips each week, typically these blog posts, but sometimes lessons learned that I don't share anywhere else. Click here to learn more.
PIN THIS POST:
I love saving money.
My mom even once told me it's ok to not be so frugal with certain purchases because some things are worth a good investment, like a decent house.
It's super easy to save money in today's digital world by simply signing up for an account and then clicking a button on your browser.
Remember, a financially stable actor is more confident and relaxed in the audition room because they're not desperate for the job. If you still have debt, you're not considered financially stable.
I'm typically skeptical of signing up for new accounts, but I've had great success with a few products.
In this post, I'll tell you which products I've personally used to save money or get cash back that are super easy to use and actually worth your time.
Disclosure: My personal referral links are listed below, meaning my accounts will receive a certain number of referral bucks from anyone who clicks on my links and utilizes these tools. I personally use and love each of these and encourage you to also take advantage of the savings and referral programs whether you signup through my links or not.
1. HONEY CODES
This is definitely my favorite tool on the list.
Honey will automatically show you a pop-up window and offer to auto-apply coupon codes currently available for that site.
If none of the codes work, Honey will notify you that you're getting the best deal.
They've also released a rewards system called Honey Gold which allows you to earn "coins" that can later be used on purchases.
Currently, 100 Gold equals $1. You need a minimum of 1,000 Gold aka $10 to redeem your rewards.
My rewards dashboard is pictured below so you can see the various redemption options. The options aren't clickable until I hit the 1,000 point minimum.
I used Honey before they released this system, though, so I loved it just for the auto-applied coupons, especially for Target.
Honey has saved me sooooo much money at Target! Gold rewards are just a bonus.
2. EBATES CASH BACK
This is my latest adventure in saving money online.
I was very hesitant to use Ebates initially because it wouldn't work with Honey, but now they have a great pop-up that reminds you to activate your cash back if you're on a site they support. No issues with Honey since.
It's as simple as clicking the Activate button.
Ebates also notifies me of their available cash back deals directly above my Google search results.
Sometimes the same items may only be 2% cash back on one site, but 6% cash back on another.
I linked my Paypal account for payouts, and they send me updates every now and again letting me know how much has accumulated in case I'm ready to transfer.
I will say that my first Ebates update was an uneventful $0.43.
However, I've since made major online purchases like new tires for $15 cash back.
The deposits add up over time, even the little ones. If you use it all year, then hello Christmas money!
Just let it accumulate until Black Friday, and you should have a solid gift fund.
3. WIKIBUY BEST PRICE
There are a few ways to use this tool.
The primary way I use WikiBuy is to locate a better deal on a product I'm buying.
If WikiBuy finds your same product for cheaper elsewhere online, it will show you a little green bubble telling you how much you can save.
Below I've pictured a $15 savings alert for dog food. On Amazon, you can either search a product or look for the green badge directly on the product page.
The one caveat is that you may need to wait longer for shipping, but if you don't need it ASAP, then the savings are worth the wait.
You can also have WikiBuy run coupon codes for you just in case Honey missed a few.
Notice the 3% back on the picture? It's not a cash back system, so keep using Ebates.
WikiBuy has launched their own rewards system called Wikibuy Credits that allows you to purchase items from their store, hence the 3% in the picture that looks like cash back.
4. GROUPON STACKING
Groupon is an oldie but a goodie.
You can stack Honey coupon codes and Ebates cash back on already discounted Groupon purchases.
First, activate your Ebates cash back.
Next, run Honey coupon codes for extra discounts. You'll also accumulate more Honey Gold.
That's a seriously good dinner for cheap.
Even if you only use Groupon, you'll still get a discount, but why not stack coupon codes, rewards, and cash back?
5. STORE REWARDS
These are the cherry on top.
Make sure you sign up for any and all store rewards so you get those perks from your accounts as well.
Not every store will have them, but most will automatically apply them to your purchases when you sign into your account to shop online, which brings us to our bonus tip.
You'll notice all of these savings are happening online.
Order your purchases online to activate these savings even if you need them that day because most stores offer free in-store same day pickup or delivery (helloooo Amazon Prime).
Then all you need to do is drive to the pickup lane, hit the customer service desk, or wait for it to arrive which is also going to save you a lot of time.
Did I mention that your time is valuable?
You'll also save moola by not browsing the store and picking up extra items.
Plus, you get free rewards! They add up just like the cash back deposits.
These savings aren't going to activate themselves.
Create accounts for each of these tools today, and install the browser plugins so they can start saving you money ASAP.
Also, if you're interested in saving money to help you pay off debt, then consider putting an extra set of eyeballs on your budget.
I highly recommend that you use my free download Actor Boss Budget to get started. Not having your finances together is subconsciously hurting your confidence as an actor.
You Might Also Like:
PIN THIS POST:
Wouldn't it be nice to stop holding yourself back from awesome acting opportunities due to finances?
There's a proven way to have financial freedom so you can start focusing on your acting goals.
In this blog post, I'll show you how to work towards being financially free while saving up for acting expenses.
It's time to start making those paychecks pay off!
1. MANDATORY EXPENSES
First, take care of yourself.
You need food, water, and shelter at a minimum.
Having a detailed monthly budget is crucial to gaining financial freedom. It's much easier to take control of your money when you know your actual numbers, so stop guessing.
Log your income each time you make a deposit. Now work down your mandatory expenses until you either run out of money or pay them off in full.
If you aren't meeting those mandatory expenses, or there's not additional income coming once you meet them, you have an income problem.
You must find a way to increase your income if you're in this position, even if that means not having a life for a year. It's not forever. It's just a season. It will make a difference!
If you still have money leftover after paying your mandatory expenses, it's time for the next step.
2. EMERGENCY FUND
There are a handful of financial milestones you should follow that are proven to build wealth.
The very first milestone you need to hit after mandatory expenses is a $1,000 emergency fund because this will cover your butt in most emergencies.
You'll increase this fund later, but this is what you need for now.
Please hear me on this: your emergency fund should never be used for acting expenses. Ever.
Can you imagine being in the emergency room after a car wreck unable to pay your bill because you purchased headshots? I promise they won't seem that important if your life is on the line. That's an extreme scenario, but it paints the picture.
Once you reach the $1,000 goal, you'll replace this step with new milestones.
After you've addressed these first two steps each month, then and only then can you consider saving for acting expenses.
3. ACTING PURCHASES
Actors have a few different savings goals to focus on that most people don't.
If you really want financial freedom, pay off your debt before saving for acting expenses unless you meet the upcoming criteria.
If you have an agent, you already know that you're consistently receiving self-taped audition requests.
At some point it makes more sense to fund your own self-taping studio than to pay $40+ on a taping session each time you have an audition.
That fee doesn't even include gas. Since most actors are living in larger cities, gas isn't as cheap and the mileage adds up fast.
There are a few other essential business expenses you should consistently save for such as headshots, resume printing, and at least one casting site membership so that you can book work.
Drop your debt payments to their minimums if you need to in order to save for essential acting expenses, but I only advise this for actors who actually have an agent and have booked paid jobs.
The latter criteria are good signs that these investments will actually produce more income for you in the future, so they're worth saving for. Just make sure you cash flow them and avoid debt spending.
Nothing will change if you don't take action on these tips.
Getting control of your finances will make you less desperate in auditions because you won't need the money.
Create your monthly budget today so you don't waste a single dollar. The sooner you start, the longer you'll have to start building wealth. Time is your friend.
Each month is a fresh opportunity to take control of your money.
I used the steps in Actor Boss Budget for only one year, and here is where my personal finances currently stand:
PIN THIS POST:
HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
When tax season for 2016 hit, my hubby yelled to me from the home office, "Baby! What tax deductions do you have for acting? Where are all of your check stubs?"
"I need to log all of that into the computer."
I had all of my check stubs and tax documents from my agency, but I didn't have a clue about my deductions. Also, I assumed (wrongly) that taxes had already been taken out of every paycheck.
Wouldn't it be great if the only expectation on us as actors was to simply act? Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Actors have administrative responsibilities in addition to working on their craft that need to be addressed, such as taxes.
"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
If you want acting to be more than a hobby, you need to start taking these other job-related responsibilities seriously. Other actors are taking them seriously and greatly increasing their chances of success. You can be that actor starting today.
In this blog post, I'll give you a few easy tax tips to follow that helped me receive over $2,000 in acting related tax write-offs. All you really need to do is get organized, and it's a lot easier than you think.
Disclosure: Please note that I am not a tax professional. I am simply sharing my personal experience. I encourage you to also consult with a certified tax professional.
YOU MUST PAY THE IRS
Remember that Benny Frank quote at the top of this post?
Too many creatives think they can slip through the cracks by ignoring the business side of acting, including taxes. It's possible that you get away with it for a few years, but it won't last!
Please know that if you aren't giving the IRS their cut of the money every single year, they will find out at some point. If you don't pay the IRS, you may be facing jail time for tax evasion, and your acting career will consist of you entertaining inmates.
I could say that I'm not trying to scare you, but I am because this is serious. If you're not convinced, then Google "MC Hammer taxes." They know. They always know.
I have actors tell me ten times a day, "You're good at the business part of acting. I need to start getting better at that." But then they don't take action because no one told them their next steps.
Just do tha thang!!!!! This is your future, your career, and your money. I want you to feel in control of it. Please don't buy into the lie that you can get rich and outsource everything without understanding it yourself.
1. SAVE NON-UNION OR 1099 TAXES
You'll notice that your SAG-AFTRA/W2 checks already have taxes deducted, but you need to double check all of your paychecks.
If you're working non-union or 1099 jobs, the checks you get from your agency most likely do not have taxes taken out of them yet. You 100% need to set aside money into a savings account so you have it to pay the government come tax season! Learn exactly how much to save in my course Actor Boss Kickstart.
This is serious business. The IRS is not going to give you a break because you "didn't know." You may not even need to pay what's in your tax savings account if you have enough write-offs. It could be a wash, but you need the money saved just in case so you're not short come tax season.
If you don't need to use those savings, sweet! Use that extra moola for extra payments on your debt or put it into your emergency savings. If you're not sure which, then be sure to get my free download Actor Boss Budget. Just don't be these guys. C'mon everybody, to the tune of Singing in the Rain!
"I'm siiiinging in a cell. Oh siiiinging in a cell."
2. TRACK YOUR MILEAGE
Are you tracking mileage when you drive for acting jobs? Yo, most of my tax write-offs came from mileage. It adds up fast! Again, check with a tax pro to be safe.
Here's the safest way to log mileage in my opinion:
Once you put this information into a spreadsheet, it will take you less than five minutes to do each time you log mileage. You can get my full system for logging mileage in the download at the end of this post.
3. KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS
Are you logging your receipts? Most actors are unsure which receipts to track, so they get overwhelmed and don't track anything. I say track everything.
You need a separate spreadsheet to log any receipts of acting-related expenses. Basically, receipts should include an acting expenses that aren't mileage.
While this doesn't technically count as a receipt, you should still log the square footage of your home self-taping studio if that's all you're using it for. I log the square footage of my studio, but I do not include the closet space because I use it for additional storage that isn't acting related.
I log absolutely everything, then let my tax pro decide what I can or can't deduct. If you're using a diy tax site, then you can still keep track of every expense, but wait until tax season to research and decide which deductions to keep.
Please be wary of doing your own taxes on a diy tax site. I once heard someone say that you would not perform your own surgery because you're not a trained surgeon, so then why would you try to navigate your own taxes if you don't know tax law? Makes sense.
Tax laws also change all of the time, and they did specifically for actors in 2017 (TCJA)! They may be different again at the time you're reading this post. Do you know what I don't have time to do? Learn tax laws. Neither do you.
ALL YOU REALLY NEED TO DO IS REPORT YOUR INCOME
The only thing you must do to survive tax season is to report your income:
If the government owes you money, they are not handing out free money. It's neither additional income nor a bonus check. What the government is saying is that they took too much money out of your paychecks, so they owe you back your money. It's not additional income. It doesn't even count as income, and and to prove it, the IRS is not going to charge you taxes on whatever money they give back to you because it's money you've already made.
DEDUCTIONS ARE TYPICALLY THE BIGGEST CONFUSION
You now know that all you really need to do is submit all of your income and tax document info into a tax site or to a tax pro, then pay if you owe anything. Once you've done that, you're technically done. Yay!
However, you'll get asked whether or not you have any deductions. This is what causes the most confusion for actors--whether or not they can deduct an expense. Your best weapon is organization. Organize all of your acting related pay and expenses, and you'll feel way more confident!
Just tracking your mileage could make a huge difference in your tax return, but how great would it be to feel confident that you have all of your tax info together should the IRS ever ask for it?
See below to learn more about Actor Boss Taxes: 5-Step System and Spreadsheets. My tax advisor loved these. Make sure you get confidently organized this year, too.
NOT READY FOR THE DOWNLOAD YET?
PIN THIS POST:
The money struggle is real for aspiring actors.
Do you still believe the lie that you need to hit it big as an actor to be wealthy?
Actors can build wealth and create a million dollar net worth even if they don't have a million dollar income.
The trick is to get your budget under control.
Our net worth is comprised of everything we own minus what we owe. It is not defined by how much money we make per year.
If you don't owe any payments on your car, you own it, and the value of your car is included in your net worth.
In this post I'll share an awesome budgeting tool that I've personally used to hit my financial goals as an actor.
CRUCIAL BUDGETING CRITERIA
I've tried a number of free budgeting apps.
I deleted all of them within a matter of months.
Let's discuss a few criteria that are crucial in a budgeting app.
BEST BUDGETING APP EVER
The app I use meets the above criteria and then some.
I highly recommend you start using the free version of EveryDollar, and I show you how to use it specifically as an actor in my free download Actor Boss Budget.
It's absolutely free so I'm NOT an affiliate. I'm just completely obsessed with how helpful it is.
There is a paid version that automatically loads all of your bank transactions, but it's not required. There's a way to use the free version without logging every single transaction by hand.
For anyone who upgrades, your payment just covers the cost the bank charges the company to link the account, so they're not even making a profit from it as far as I know. Again, the free version is still amazing and highly effective.
Here are my results after using the free version for one year:
The less debt you have the more of your paycheck you get to keep, which means more fun actor stuff!
The founder of the app always states in his podcast that using EveryDollar will make you feel like you got a raise each month regardless of your income. He wasn't kidding.
Since we've started zero-based budgeting with EveryDollar, we've found hundreds or sometimes thousands of extra dollars in our budget each month.
It's crazy how much money you'll force yourself to save when you start looking at the numbers each week.
It also helps you decipher if you have an income problem, a spending problem, or both.
Knowing what you actually need each month will help you feel more in control of your finances.
It's better to say, "I'm short $500 this month, so where can I find $500 extra dollars?" instead of, "I don't know how much money I need, so I'll just keep blindly working my butt off and being broke!"
No more of that, actor friend.
Remember, this method is key. You can't ignore it.
Zero-based budgeting means that every single dollar goes somewhere in your budget each month.
Get it? Every dollar? That's how they came up with the name.
It does not mean that you spend every single dollar.
You should be spending less than you make.
Your total mandatory expenses should be less than your monthly income.
Mandatory expenses may include:
So where's the rest of that money going?
The remaining dollars leftover after your mandatory expenses are paid go to either paying off debt or building up your savings.
I don't care if you only have $2 leftover at the end of the month. It doesn't go toward a pack of gum. It goes into your budget under debt payments or into your savings account.
EveryDollar will tell you at the top of the page if you've achieved a zero-based budget.
You must see the checkmark at the top before you "close out" your budget each month.
Your money needs goals so you know where to send those leftover dollars instead of wasting them.
Thankfully, EveryDollar comes equipped with what's known as The Baby Steps so you know how to best manage your leftover dollars.
These steps have a proven track record of helping everyday people like us build wealth.
Just click on the icon that looks like a box to see all seven steps.
EveryDollar will track your progress automatically based on what's happening on your primary budgeting page.
Most actors have irregular incomes. No worries!
EveryDollar has an article on their blog about how to budget on an irregular income.
After you create an account, they'll send you great articles from their blog with savings tips and budgeting reminders depending on the month.
It feels so unbelievably good to have a balanced budget at the end of each month.
The day we became debt free, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my chest that I didn't even realize was there.
Budgeting keeps us debt free and stress free.
I hope you try this budgeting tool for a few months because I truly believe it's step one in helping you build wealth as an actor, even if you have an average or below average income.
PIN THIS POST:
HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'll teach you how to become a screen actor even if you have no experience or if you want to transition from another performance genre. First, what is Actor Boss? Learn more here.