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Financial Planning for Actors and Artists Leads to Longer Careers

Whether you’re part of a union like SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity Association (or even a guild like the WGA, DGA, or CSA) or you’re not, you will still have the same challenge – how to smartly save, invest and extend the life of your income so that you can continue to live and work for years to come.

It’s no secret that a life in the arts does not come with some of the traditional financial securities of a 9-5 corporate job. There are organizations like The Actors Fund who do their best to offer information and services to support the artist’s needs, but while much of the business world and the baby-boomer generation seems to have benefitted from a ton of practical advice and financial systems that help them build savings and wealth, artists feel left out.

Well thankfully someone is trying to change that. I had Darren Sussman on The Actor CEO Podcast who, along with his brother Erik, has developed The Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts. The IFWA as it’s known, is really the first of its kind national organization built to bridge the gap between hard working artists (musicians, actors, filmmakers, painters, composers, etc.) and the financial planners who can help those artists turn their unique income situations into robust savings and wealth building platforms.

After interviewing well over 100 industry professionals on my podcast there were two chief aspects that would keep actors (and I’m sure many artists) from pursuing this career well into old age.

  1. Treating your career like a business.

  2. The lack of financial stability.

We just don’t get much of information, experience or education on either of those in our training. This is too bad, because as the living wage in our “day jobs” continues to stagnate, home ownership for millennials is out of reach, the burden of student debt becomes heavier, and the cities that have become entertainment capitals have rents that continue to balloon it came seem almost impossible to maintain a career in this business for any length of time.

Reasons like these combined with an artists “gig to gig” career cycle are what have separated the traditional financial planners of the world (and the industries that can offer support) from this creative population. But The Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts is built from the ground up with a fundamental understanding of the needs of professional artists, their unique challenges and optimal solutions; and they offer personal advice and assistance to get you out of debt, saving smartly and on the right track to sustained financial wellness.

“By providing access to fundamental financial education and planning, our goal is to enable every artist and arts professional, nationwide, to make informed choices and decisions that result in financial well-being.

These guys know their stuff

As Co-founder and former president of TheaterMania and OvationTix, Darren Sussman pioneered the way live entertainment reached the masses and boosted the profile and accessibility of so many shows, theaters and venues. He intimately knows the lifestyle and careers of artists. Darren even started his career as a touring musician.

*Darren was also a co-producer on the

2 Tony Award winning Broadway show The Great Comet*

Erik Sussman brings his years of financial planning experience (he literally became Executive Vice President at 26) in the financial services field to the The IFWA and currently serves as CEO of a fortune 500 financial services company.

The struggle is real and they know it, but since becoming such a big part of the live entertainment and financial world, Darren and Erik now bring that knowledge and experience within the grasp of every artist, which is absolutely game changing. Plus they’re joined by an inspirational board of exceptional talent like Broadway legend Kristin Chenoweth, actor and singer Malik Yoba, and playwright and screenwriter David Bar Katz who are equally motivated to bring better long term financial opportunities to the creative community.

“…the truth is, you always need adequate financial savings so that you can keep doing the creative work that you want to do.”   

~ Kristin Chenoweth   

How to get started

The first steps to taking control of your financial well being are having control over your day-to-day and month-to-month finances; knowing where you want to be in the next few years and developing a plan to get there; and preparing to absorb any sort of financial shock that could threaten to derail that plan.

Of course every person’s financial situation is different and unique. From student loans, credit card debt, medical expenses or changing day jobs, you want (in fact you need) to sit down with someone who won’t offer a one size fits all solution, but instead helps you develop the small, consistent steps that will get you towards your best version of financial health and longer term stability. That way you can kick the old, dusty idea that artists are poor, unemployed, and have no “real” future to the curb where it belongs.

With knowledge and support, comes the power to choose your destiny.

So take action today to learn more about The Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts and see why performers, stars and industry pros are supporting this effort to bring financial freedom and career longevity to artists everywhere. It’s more than just education and action. It’s a movement to improve the future of creative individuals for years and years to come.

And you should be part of it.