Two years ago, I had dinner with a working actor I had met along the line to chat about some of the things he was doing to make it in this crazy business. At that point in my life, I had spent two years in Los Angeles kind of fumbling around, not trusting my instincts and was supremely frustrated at my ineffectiveness at making waves for my career. Not much was really happening for me aside from a few short films and bit parts in non-union features. I wasn't exactly supporting myself on acting. In fact, I was barely supporting myself with anything.
So I had dinner with this chap, hoping to be inspired to somehow get myself out of this slump. He was describing the mailings he did, the classes he took, the workshops, etc. I remember wanting to do all those too, but feeling the heartbreak at not having the cash to fund it. He stopped me at one point as I was in the middle of a woe-is-me song and dance, and said to me, "You realize you've said, 'If I only had enough money,' about four times already."
"Yeah," I said, "My budget is really tight right now."
He went on to say, "Stop coming from such a place of lack. It's only money. Sometimes you'll have more, sometimes you'll have less, but there will always be more coming in. Change your attitude and change your reality. You have enough money now." I realized I had turned into one of those Debbie Downer victims surrounded by negative energy and lack.
Now, I've always admired those people who can sit down and run the numbers on exactly what they make each month and plan it out to the dime. They only budget for this much on gas, this much on groceries, this much on entertainment. I always thought that was the secret to living comfortably within your means, whatever they may be. But I could never force myself to plan it out like that; I've never been a budgeting kind of girl. I know basically where I am (sometimes more accurately than others) and I use it as I go along during the month. (Yes, that sometimes means I have been in the situation where there's a little too much month left over after the end of my money.)
But after that dinner, I decided that I would change my mindset. I decided to stop worrying about all the money that I didn't have and stressing over budgeting the little that I did. I decided that I would just conciously make an effort to change my thinking. It's only money -- a mantra I've reminded myself of many times since then. Like when I went to a friend's birthday dinner and intentionally ordered one of the least expensive things on the menu only to find out that we were all splitting the bill equally. I have some financially comfortable friends who didn't bat an eye at the... *gasp*... $80 per person tab. It made my stomach hurt. But I threw down my hard-earned cash and reminded myself that, "It's only money." Every time I wrote yet another freaking $68 check for a parking ticket, I took a deep breath and said, "It's only money. There will be more."
I'm not telling you to be financially reckless, you've gotta work hard and be smart. But I can tell you that aligning your mental state with what you want is exactly how you get it. I didn't make another futile attempt at budgeting. I didn't penny pinch like a hoarder. I realized that I already had enough and that even more was on its way and took advantage of opportunities the universe gave me along the way. I now make more than three times as much annually, I take whatever classes I want, send mailings, and shoot with photographers I love. I have minimal debt, an actual balance in my savings account, a 401K and health insurance... none of which was the case at that dinner 2 years ago.
It's only money, there will always be more and will it be delivered to you. Like today... when I got a wonderful little email. It was regarding my first AFTRA contract role that shot one day last August. "Anony, you're rate for that shoot has been bumped up 375%. We'll just go ahead and send you a check for that."
Um, thanks! I guess I'm good on December rent.
I'll keep up the hustle, Universe. You just keep sending the money.