Tax time and filing deadlines have passed once again. This typically stressful and rushed time is also a time for us to face the realities of our personal finances and the state of our financial plan. How is your financial health?
Working in the motion picture and entertainment sectors can often mean:
Feast or famine - big swings in income - as we move from production to production
Gaps or reductions in our income (perhaps worse than ever this past year due to the pandemic)
Spending the well-deserved money made on a long-hours production on homes, cars and other toys and adventures, but sometimes ending up either with payments, leases, or loans to maintain, or without savings for a rainy day.
For many, work and life disruptions for themselves and family members during the pandemic has left many people concerned about their personal financial situation and what, if anything, they should be doing at this point in time to recoup lost time and earnings. In the motion picture, arts and entertainment sectors in particular, shut downs were severe and prolonged.
There are number of things you can do to make sure you regain your financial equilibrium and financial health.
Here are some things to consider:
Review your financial plan. If you don’t have a plan this is a great time to work on developing one. A financial planner or financial advisor can help you look at your income, expenses, financial responsibilities, and other factors to create a clear plan will give you a sense of control and purpose (and hope).
Review your budget or do a spending analysis. What you want to do here is look for where your monthly cash goes, and for non-essential expenditures that you might be able to cut out so that funds can be used elsewhere in your budget. Learn more at: Budget Planner (Government of Canada)
For those that are still, or again, between productions, you will need to prioritize your spending on the basic necessities, like shelter and food, utilities, essentials, and given the fact that we are a connected world today, make your phone and internet access a priority too.
Dealing with debts. Make a list of all your debts--who you owe money to, how much the minimum monthly payment is to keep the debt in good standing, and what the interest rate is on each debt. You will use this list to help prioritize who gets paid first. Remember basic necessities first, highest interest rates next. If it looks like you might need to miss some payments, then you need to be talking to the creditor prior to missing a payment. They will want to work with you. You can also learn more online with these resources: Making a plan to be debt-free (Government of Canada) Financial Goal Calculator, Plan to get out of debt (Government of Canada) Dealing with a debt collector (Government of Canada)
Investments. If you are holding any investments, you might want to look into whether your investments are suitable for your circumstances. If you are early in your career then time is on your side. If not, then you need to be thinking about the types of investments that are most suitable for you and your ability to tolerate risk as well as achieve the returns you will need to reach your goals. If you are later in your career some hard decisions might need to be made about the suitability of your investments and what this market environment means to you and your financial goals. Talk with a skilled financial professional about your situation to gain some insight and determine options for you and your family.
Take this time to educate yourself on personal money matters. Learn to do what people do who are successful with money. Attend webinars, read books, talk with professionals in an effort to educate yourself. Government of Canada offers a comprehensive 12-module learning program designed to help adults manage personal finances: Your Financial Toolkit (Government of Canada). If you are part of a union health plan with an EFAP/MAP, ask about their financial counselling services.
Money can raise a lot of stress and anxiety for individuals and couples. Now is the time to take the opportunity to rethink, retool and re-position yourself for better times ahead.
For a comprehensive look at how to manage your money, watch the recorded webinar below ‘Coping with Financial Uncertainty’ This financial workshop recorded specifically for motion picture workers by fseap, covers important topics including:
Money and emotions
Our unique styles of relating to money
Needs versus wants
Financial Health – what is it and how to achieve it
Foundations of money management
Budgets and balance sheets – what, why and how
Dispelling the myths about budgets
Considerations in critical times
Debt management alternatives
Our emotional balance sheet and tools to cope with anxiety
Invest in yourself by investing time to learn and grow!
(The video provided was recorded by fseap, the EFAP/Map provider for IATSE 891 and Teamsters 155. The video is free and available to watch for all sector members. For EFAP/Map resources and support for other union groups please check out the Looking for Help page here.)