The minute you start dancing the clock is ticking. There are a limited number of years in which to make as much money as you can. Most dancers retire around 28. If you’re starting when you’re 18 that gives you ten years in which to make as much as you can and then get out. Chances are you will never again be able to make as much per day as you do while dancing. Make the most of it.
There are two kinds of dancers, subsistence and capital dancers. A subsistence dancer just works enough to get by. Maybe a few days a week, saves little and is always in a financial crisis. I see these girls panicking to get enough dances to pay rent the next day but by the next week they are back to partying, doing drugs, buying expensive clothes and generally pissing away every dime they earn. Their plans for the future are vague at best and even though they claim to realize they can’t dance forever they seldom save and invest their money or invest in an education. These girls get out of the business no better then they started and spend the rest of their lives getting their ass pinched in menial, low paying jobs.
A capital dancer dances as an investment. In my opinion this is the only reason to dance. Dancing is just too hard a way to earn a living to do it for just enough to “get by”. You can get by on a McDonalds salary. If you are going to have guys staring at your naked ass all evening you should at least be securing a decent future for yourself- not just tomorrow’s groceries. There are many excuses for not saving your money but in my experience few of them are valid. Single mother, health problems whatever- you can still afford to save. If you work hard you can make a great deal of money dancing.
When you see that money in your hand it just doesn’t seem real, and when you keep seeing it night after night it seems like the supply will be endless. It’s not; you need to put away the largest portion you can. Not just a 10% or so but 30% or 40%. It is possible to do that and still live a very comfortable life. Probably not as comfortable as the other dancers but dancers tend to live beyond their means and end up with nothing but memories of that nice sports car or that fancy apartment. If you can just keep it under control for a few years you can have that stuff for the rest of your life- long after you’re done dancing. Live within your means; base your spending around not what you make dancing but what you would make at a good entry-level job. Get a good, reliable car but you don’t need that giant SUV or zippy sports car. Make sure your lease or car loan doesn’t rely on a dancers level of income to pay it. Same goes for the rent or mortgage. It’s very easy to fall on heels and break an ankle or tear up your knee- happens all the time. You could be out of work for weeks or even months. You don’t want to be buried under a mountain of bills. I suggest buying at least basic health insurance but if you don’t you will need at least enough savings to pay for emergencies.
So what to do with the money you save? Well, set enough aside to pay for all of your expenses- food, housing, tuition, utilities, car, whatever for 4 months. This is your emergency fund, put it in your saving account and don’t spend it. The rest you should invest. I have a few well chosen mutual funds that I have been very happy with. As a dancer you’re looking to invest for the long term- at least 5 years and probably 10. Mutual funds are low maintenance and are well suited for this. I strongly advise agianst investing in individual stocks. Despite all tales of buying low and selling high at the end of the year very few people are able to make money off buying and selling individual stocks. Stick with mutual funds, they are safer and more reliable (at least for the novice investor).
Waiting for a record company or modeling agency to discover you is NOT investing in your future. If that’s your thing- fine. Just go to school and save your money just in case they don’t discover you.
The best possible investment you can make is an education. With a nice big nest egg and a good degree you can do just about anything you want when you retire from dancing. Without an education or any job skills that money will eventually be gone. With an education you can make the most of your savings, use it as capital for your own business or invest it for a steady source of income. Too many dancers talk about how they’re planning on going back to school or they’re just taking a semester off. This is bullshit, if you want an education you need to go to school and work hard. If you’re not going to school then you’re pissing away your future.