Today I want to talk to you about something that has been on my mind a lot over the last few years. So many dancers believe that suffering and poverty are their path in life. Let’s be honest, a lot of times dancers are asked to work for free and believe that there is no money to be made in the dance industry. Sure there are jobs, but they don’t pay well enough to support you and even if you are lucky enough to get into a contracted company, the job won’t last forever. Additionally, we’ve been brainwashed to think that we shouldn’t spend money on anything because we won’t have a paying gig to be able to pay the bill. I don’t know about you but this seems like a pretty bleak picture to me. Yet, I want to shed light on some reality here.
I have seen and heard many dancers say that they don’t have the money to invest in quality healthcare or professional/personal development programs. They cry poverty and say they have not a single penny to their name. Yet I will see these same dancers spending an insane amount of money on LuLu Lemon active wear (even with a discount, you’re walking out with at least $100 worth of merchandise), going out for drinks several nights a week, and getting at least one latte at Starbucks every single day (if not 2). Now I’m not saying you don’t deserve to socialize or have nice things, but we need to readjust our priorities if we are going to change the financial tide of the dance community.
I bet you can find at least an extra $100 per week in your pocket just by tracking your expenses. At this time last year, I had a really rough work schedule and was finding that I was consistently making a $1000 payment to my credit card every month. I felt like money was tight and I had no idea where it was going. I can tell you right now where it went: Starbucks, Dean’s Natural Food Stores, and LuLu Lemon. I had no idea that I was spending so much money because I had stopped tracking my expenses for a bit. The next month I started tracking my expenses again and my credit card statement dropped by $800. I had a whole lot more money in my pocket and I was feeling a lot happier about life in general. Was I upset about the money I just let fly out of my wallet the couple of months before, yes. But I learned a valuable lesson: You have to take responsibility for your financial success and you need to be keenly aware of where your money is going because you definitely have more than you think.
Once you are tracking your expenses, I recommend seeing if your spending habits line up with your priorities in life at this moment. If your priority is to be debt free so you can dance worry free, then you may have to face the fact that going out 3 nights a week isn’t going to help further that goal. If you don’t know what your priorities and goals are for your dance career and personal life, then you need to sit down and decide what those are and then sync them up with your spending habits.
The more we cry poverty and show up in designer active wear holding a Starbucks latte, the less likely people are to take our claims seriously. Together, let’s shape up and take ownership of the fact that we do have money and we know how to spend it wisely.