Stop letting audition season destroy your bank account

Stop letting audition season destroy your bank account

This is a post by guest contributor Chris Enns. For more, check out his personal finance blog for artists, Rags to Reasonable.

Auditioning is so freaking expensive.

This is a fact. And it feels like it’s getting worse.

After application fees, travel, accommodation, food, accompanist fees, and the 3 beers you need after they decided to only hear one aria even though you were banking on them to ask for the Bellini...

...you’re probably not sitting on a whole lot of leftover cash.

But you have to do it, right? How are you supposed to get work if you don’t show up?

That’s right. You do have to audition. You do have to pay all the fees, whether you think they’re ethical or not.

But you don’t have to let it destroy your bank account.

Audition season happens every year:

Every year. It’s like Christmas or Flag day. So why not save ahead?

People are always complaining about how it’s impossible to budget in this business. The income is too variable! The costs are too variable!! Well, there are SOLUTIONS FOR THE VARIABLE INCOME, and I’d like to challenge the idea of variable costs as well.

A tree falling on your car is an unexpected cost. Audition season is a totally 100% expected cost, that you can completely plan for.

No, you don’t ever know exactly how much it’s going to cost every year, but you can make a pretty good guess. If you’ve been through it before, take a look at what it cost you last year. If it’s your first time… think it through. A few trips to New York or Toronto: where are you going to stay? How much does that cost? What do accompanists charge? How many applications are you putting in?

You can get exact about the number, or you can just pick a number out of thin air.

I’m going to save 2000 dollars for audition season.

Wait...what? Where am I supposed to get 2000 dollars...? That’s insane.

Life lesson: Big numbers are made of small numbers

The thing about these big one-time costs: Christmas, car insurance, or audition season, is that they seem like too much to set aside out of any given month’s income.

When you’re pulling in just enough to make it through, it’s impossible to set aside 2 grand in one month. So why not break it up into chunks?

What if last January you had taken a look at the year in front of you, and thought… "man… I want to make a big push next audition season. Last year it cost me around 2000 dollars, so if I just sock away 200 bucks a month, I’ll be ready to roll come November."

200 bucks a month 47 bucks a week 6.78 a day

And hey presto, come audition season you’re ready to roll!

But I don’t have 200 bucks a month to spend on... savings...

When I talk about savings, it sounds like I’m outlining a luxury: something to do with all your ‘extra’ money. So if you don’t have any ‘extra’ money, saving seems impossible.

But I’m not talking about how you can spend your ‘extra’ money. I’m talking about how you’re going to find the money to afford to support what you’re already spending.

You’re going to audition. We talked about it in the first paragraph. You have to.

So if you don’t put aside the money, where’s it going to come from?

Planning for major once a year expenses, like Christmas, birthdays, or… audition season, isn’t about adding another cost to every month. It’s acknowledging the fact that you’re already spending the money, and breaking up the cost over more time to make it easier to collect it.

It’s not rocket science, it’s called a plan

You can choose to be blindsided by the same stuff every year.

"How did I spend that much on Christmas???" "Plane tickets cost HOW MUCH???"

Or you can stop budgeting bullshit. It’s fine that you spend money at Christmas. Christmas is great!! And if you put away 25 bucks a month all year, you can do all that spending, without the guilt. I’ve been doing it for the last few years, and I love Christmas now… it’s all the fun, with none of the pain.

Audition season is such a stressful time. There’s so much that you can’t control. There’s so much that is really hard. Why not try to take the pressure off of yourself?

Look ahead. Make a little sketch of the costs, and starting this January put away a little cash every month to make next year’s auditions just a little less awful.

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Written by

Christopher Enns

Christopher Enns

Christopher Enns is a tenor and financial planner/coach who works specifically with artists helping them navigate the world of variable income, self-employment, and all the other crazy money stuff that comes with trying to make a living in the arts. As a tenor he has been seen on stage at the Canadian Opera Company, Opera Montreal, Opera Atelier, and works regularly creating new opera with groups like The Bicycle Opera Project. You can find more of his writing on money and a life in the arts at Rags to Reasonable - Money Help for Artists.

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