It’s hard to save money as a dancer because you never know how much money you’re going to make in a night, never mind in a month. You might make $300 one night and only $30 the next night. You might even lose money to the club some nights. When you have a great night, it can be tempting to splurge and spend it on stuff you don’t really need. But if the club is dead next week, you might find yourself struggling to buy groceries. And what if you injure yourself, or have a baby, or you just get burned out and have to take a break from dancing for a while?
Saving money can help you avoid that end-of-the-month scramble to pay rent. It may even help you save money for long-term goals like vacations or a college fund for your kids.
Here are a couple of savings plans to try.
The Survival Savings Plan
If the money you make dancing barely covers your rent, bills, and food, you won’t be able to save a lot, but putting away a few dollars every shift can really add up and help you feel less stressed about money.
Try saving 10% of whatever you make each night. If you make $80, save $8. If you make $50, save $5. It may not seem like much, but you will appreciate it if the club is dead next week, or if you have to miss work for whatever reason.
The Long-term Savings Plan
If you’re making more than enough to cover your basic necessities–at least on some nights–you should be saving more. Here’s a savings plan that can work really well for dancers. Since dancers never know what our weekly or monthly income will be, we can break our nightly income down into percentages:
10% Financial Freedom Fund – For savings, investments (keep this amount untouched!)
10% Long-term saving for spending – We all need to set this portion aside so we don’t splurge. So, if I want a big ticket item, I have to wait until my play envelope or account has enough in it before I buy expensive toys, travel, etc.
10% Education – Self-improvement, skills, conferences
10% Play – We can’t forget to have fun, have nights out, try new restaurants, etc.
5% Gifts, charity, etc.
If you manage to save up a good sum of money, you should meet with a dancer-friendly adviser to discuss options for investing your money for long-term growth. See the Financial Resources section for info.
Do you find that, no matter how many nights you work, you don’t have anything leftover at the end of the week? Instead of working extra hours, try to cut down on your spending:
- Buy groceries and make food at home, instead of eating out or ordering food at the club. Spending $5 or $10 a night on dinner might not seem like a lot at the time, but it adds up.
- If you take a cab home from work at the end of the night, share a ride with another dancer or two and split the fare. Or use Right Rides.
- Try writing down what you spend money on every day for a week. Even if it’s just $1 on a cup of coffee, write it down! At the end of the week, look at your list and think about what you could cut out or cut down on.
Some dancers have a problem with spending our money on things we don’t need—fancy vacations, designer clothes, yet another pair of shoes! Because we are spending so much money, we have to work even harder to keep making it. This can become a vicious circle, and it can get exhausting.
If you feel like your spending is getting out of control, talk to someone about it. Some people spend money compulsively on things they don’t need because, deep down inside, they feel like they don’t deserve to have money. See our Health Resources section for free or low-cost non-judgmental therapists.
If you’re keeping large amounts of cash at home, make sure you stash it in a safe place, and don’t tell anyone where it is, even if you trust them. Too many people think dancers make easy money and that it’s OK to “borrow” something once in a while.
“I was sleeping with someone for a year. He always said he was my boyfriend. Slowly we got closer and closer. He got to know where my money was kept. One day we had an argument. I got in the shower. When I got out of the shower my money was gone.” – Nina
We’ve all heard other dancers talk about the golden days, when strippers used to make hundreds of dollars a night just for dancing on a stage, and we all know that that’s no longer the reality. In this economy, many of us are working long hours and pulling double shifts just to get by.
It can be hard to live up to the stereotype of the glamorous, rich stripper, especially when everyone around us assumes we’re making tons of money. But there’s no shame in admitting that dancers are struggling just as much as everyone else in this economy.
Take advantage of any government benefits you’re entitled to. Even if you’re not a U.S. citizen, you may still be entitled to food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, WIC, and many other benefits. Many undocumented immigrants think they are not entitled to public assistance, or that it could interfere with their immigration cases, but that’s not always the case. Check out our Financial Resources section for information on accessing the benefits you’re entitled to—for immigrants as well as U.S. citizens.