The Harsh Reality of Models & MONEY!
There is a very incorrect assumption about models: namely that we’re all rich. It probably stems from the vast amounts that the Supers in the 90s were infamous for reaping – Linda Evangelista famously said that she, “wouldn’t get out of bed for less that ten grand.”
Modelling has changed, a lot. I’m not gonna go into vast detail but the recession has seen budgets slashed, and now the fat cats have seen how little they can get away with paying, those budgets aren’t creeping back up to match increasing profit growth. The growth of the Internet and e-com means that there’s a lot of work out there, but it’s not very highly paid (or enjoyable). And we are increasingly more globally connected and movement is free within the EU, so the sheer choice of models has increased exponentially. Finally, every cover shoot and many campaigns feature an actor/celeb rather than model, so a) piss off celebs and b) those top models are working a rung down on the fashion ladder, which has a knock on effect for the rest of us.
All this means that competition is a lot fiercer among models for the jobs that are available. There is still money to be made, but in order to get those big bucks you need to be a social media sensation.
This isn’t the main crux of my article, but I just wanted to smash the notion that models are paid squillions to flounce around in gowns (which they then take home). We can still make money, but without regular e-com clients (they have the habit of using us for months on end, then dropping us without a trace…) or 25k+ followers on Insta, work can be a bit tougher – and surviving on just modelling a real challenge.
I wanted to give you a few tips on how to handle your fincances as a model, because I’ve been through it all, and I’ve managed to buy a flat, keep up mortgage payments, fund Uni, pay for travel & living in London and have some semblance of a social life too, and it’s because I cottoned on to how I should look after my money quite early on in my career.
In case you thought the above paragraph was a bit ‘showy offy’ then let me be frank with you: I’ve had FOUR different months this year where I got paid zero.
Thankfully my blog and writing kept me going, but yup – imagine living in London on £0 a month. Of course it’s due to the odd quiet patch but mainly – and this is something all models know and all aspiring models must find out – it’s because CLIENTS HATE PAYING US.
They shouldn’t take any longer than 90 days to pay (I know right. That’s still a very long time), but they love pushing it and pushing it til the agency is about to take them to court (at model’s expense) – then transfer at the last min to the agency, who then process the payment and wait until a specific pay day to give you the money (some agencies just give the money as soon as it’s in).
Which is why I’m scraping by this month, knowing that within my grasp is 5 bloody grand!
That’s the fiscal reality of life as a model.
With this in mind, let me talk you through some very handy money tips for models & freelancers.
1) Have a Savings Account
As soon as I’m paid I put as much as I can in the savings account so that I have some set by for a rainy day, and I’m more careful with the money in my current account. This also means you’re covered if, say, your b*stard Landlord kicks you out and you need to gather together a deposit, quick sharp.
Also, get onto ISAs for saving chunks of dough when you get nice big buyouts.
2) Jot Down your Spending
You can keep this on your phone, you can have a spreadsheet on your laptop, or even a large book that you write in with a quill & ink. It just really, really helps to see what you spend. You’ll be shocked at how many unnecessary cereal bars/coffees/lunches you buy, plus it just helps to keep a record to help with your taxes.
I have fallen out of the habit of doing this and I know why it is – I hate seeing all the crap I fritter away my money on! A lady only needs so many novelty pens and superfood powders.
3) Get an Accountant
It does pay to have an accountant who specialises in freelance workers. It is costly, and if you’re new your parents might have to help you with it – but it will help you save in the long run. I use Raymond Gritz.
4) Never Feel Rich
I’m not saying don’t enjoy your money! It’s just that seeing that you suddenly have 6000.78 (there’s always random pennies) can give quite a thrill! Designer bags, expensive cocktail nights, Ubers and high heels that kill your feet will barely make a dent in your paycheck! Just remember that, over the next two months, you may only receive £300.83 and £93.11, and suddenly you might be gulping guiltily everytime you get your rapidly decaying Mulberry out.
5) Prioritise Your Money
OK so I have my basic needs: mortgage, bills, travel, food and toiletries like shampoo and moisturiser*. Then I have my modelley spends like gym/workout stuff, beauty treatments and ‘model uniform’ clothes.
Then I have something I really, really want but will only let myself get when I have covered my arse with the previous two. So: a coat I love in Jigsaw, or a new beauty product promising the elixir of youth, or a holiday.
This way I spend less absent-mindedly shopping in between castings, the money is only spent when I can afford it, and I really enjoy what I buy as I feel like I’ve earnt it.
*and espresso martinis. Sorry but they are a vital necessity to my life.
8) Get Wise on Getting Shafted
Everyone, everywhere, is out for as much as they can get.
That’s why you must scan every statement from your agency to make sure that you haven’t been charged or overcharged for something you shouldn’t have. Every time you get confirmed for a job, ask the agency how much you are getting, whether there is overtime and whether there are potential buyouts. And if you’re on a job with other models, double check you’re all getting paid the same amount (never ask the client, it looks unprofessional).
If you’ve left an agency, don’t be afraid to ring up and inquire after buyouts. So many girls are too scared to do this and believe me, the agencies are happy with this situation. You did that work under a contract and you’re legally entitled to it, so don’t feel terrified of the scary bookers – it’s your dosh!
8) Make Friends with the Accountant
If there’s a separate accounts department, make friends with them. You’d be amazed at how rude people are to accountants, and a pleasant, polite person who asks about more than whether there’s money in will make their day. And also make them more likely to help you out with difficult accounting situations.
I do hope my pointers come in handy next time you expect lots of dough but then you’re faced with a big fat zero.
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