Talent . . . accountant . . . it rhymes, so you’d think they would have something in common, but typically it’s safe to say that the creative mind shies away from anything involving hard and fast numbers. Keeping financial records is an important part of developing your business.
In that same spreadsheet we looked at earlier, I like to suggest that you add a column for PAY. If you really want to go the extra mile, you can track the rate of the character for which you auditioned and also the rate with which you were booked (if it was for another role than you originally auditioned for).
Tracking your pay is important for several reasons. First, you need to know what you’re making. (Seriously, it amazes me how often a talent wraps up a set and then asks again what their pay rate was.) Second, you want to be able to follow the pay process. Some clients pay quickly whereas others may wait for the full production process to wrap before cutting checks. Keeping up with what is due vs. what has been paid (and even what could be bad debt) is crucial to any career, but especially to the independent contractor (that’s you, actor or model)! Third, at the end of the year, you’ll need a hard and fast number for how much money you made as a talent. That number may affect how much you can write off on taxes (we want that refund to be BIG), how much the IRS thinks you’ve profited based on a 1099 or W2, and how your year panned out against prior years of work (the gross amount won’t always be higher).
Taking the time to figure out the numbers can be intimidating, so if it’s not your forte, get help! Find someone to manage your accounts throughout the year – be prepared to pay them for their services. Get a loved one who excels in that area to lend a hand. Use a program like Quickbooks, Excel, or Performer Track Online to calculate the totals. Hiding your head ostrich style isn’t going to do you any favors, and it just might end up paying for itself in your tax refund at the end of the year!