by Casting Director, Terry Berland
You’re an actor, you’re creative, you’re an artist. Wait a minute…now you find out you’re running your own business and you need to know how to market yourself and manage your money! By the way, casting directors go through the same thing. I love to cast but have to market, organize, create “good client” relations, and collect and manage money. None of us knew we were signing up for the whole enchilada… but we did, and we do it and do it well to keep things going.
One of the challenges that you have to face as an actor is to keep track of payments due to you. I invited an actor, Chip Chinery, who I’ve known and respected for years for his comedy, to join me in this column to share some words of wisdom. In addition to being a comedy actor, Chip is a Personal Finance Expert and has tips that are actor specific. He started ChipsMoneyTips.com to give “Money Tips in a Candy-Coated Shell” through humorous, entertaining and informative videos and posts. He says, “Most people are clueless about money. Not you – them. Other people.”
As an actor and stand-up comic for 23+ years, Chip learned how to live comfortably and debt free in this unpredictable profession.
I asked chip to give me a tip for you. Here’s what he said:
$3,200 went MIA (Missing In Acting)
I’m gonna give you a Tipper from The Gipper – Ronald Reagan. “Trust, but verify.”
Every Spring, SAG and AFTRA send the previous year’s Earnings Statement. Last year, I decided to finally check those Earnings Statements against my pay stubs. I’m ChipsMoneyTips for crying out loud. If not me – who? If not now – when?
Turns out that in 2010, three checks showed up on my Earnings Statement – that neither I nor my agent ever received. One of the missing checks was for 500 BUCKS! So I called the payroll company that owed me $500 and the accounting lady checked the records and said, “Oh yes, that was returned to us in May of 2010.” I said, “May… over a year ago…??? Uhhh…May I have it?” No response on the other end of the phone, so, thinking fast, I said, “Mother May I have it?” The lady said, “Yes”. The Mother May I rules were in effect. Who knew? AFTRA told me that the two other mystery checks were credited to my pension and health account by accident, which means some other poor schlub actor didn’t get credit. Maybe it was YOU!
I also discovered that besides those three missing checks, there were five morepaychecks, totaling $2,200, that I did receive but that were not included on my Earnings Statement. That’s $2,200 that was supposed to help qualify me for health insurance and get added to my Pension pile – but did not. And you know I needs my Pension Pile!
With these omissions, and my trust a bit shaky, I realized I had to verify previous years. So, I audited my earnings back to 2006 and found yet anothercheck that went un-credited toward my pension for another five-hundred bucks!
So what’s the takeaway? In the last two years, I found eight mistakes in a system that most of us think is automatic and error free. It’s not. You need to keep your own records of pay and then check the numbers. Trust, but verify.
Remember it’s show business. I encourage you to save your pay stubs and reconcile them against your Earnings Statements, or hire someone to do it for you. You work hard for your money. You don’t want to leave any of it on the table. For more information on Chip click here.
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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”