February 11, 2019

Financial Tips From a Working Actress

Every few months, Carla Wadell receives a check in the mail. They come unannounced and almost always are, as she puts it, a wonderful surprise.

Carla is like most HR reps around the country. She spends her days screening and interviewing candidates, taking care of payroll and so on. But what you may not know about Carla is that she moonlights as a television and movie extra. And, those surprise checks she receives are pay for acting gigs. It all started a couple of years ago after her sister nominated her to go on a cooking show. That was her first big break on TV. And what started out as a hobby quickly morphed into a big dream Carla was determined to pursue.

“It changed my life,” she explains. “Since I did that show, my life has taken a 180-degree turn.”

The lights, the camera and action, however, all come with a price for any aspiring actor. So, how does she make it work financially?

Well, she hustles. And she kept her full-time job, for now.

Carla Wadell — Cooking Show

Acting Jobs Don’t Pay for Gas

When Carla decided to pursue her dream, she knew she needed a gameplan.

“I wanted to follow my heart and my dreams but I also needed to be realistic. My mother raised me to make the most of my decisions without ever becoming a burden to others,” she says. So how does she balance her passion and her chequebook?

  1. Plan Ahead Because most acting gigs pay weeks or sometimes even months later, Carla learned to pay her bills early and often. So whether she’s hit with an unexpected cost or travelling on short notice, Carla no longer worries about missing bill payments.
  1. Don’t Quit Your Day Job Having a full-time job to fall back on has its perks. “Whenever I need to go on an audition or out of town for work, I can take my vacation days and I drive for Lyft whenever I can,” she adds. For Carla, being prepared can mean the difference between good and bad credit.
  1. Save. Save. Save. By maintaining different savings accounts, Carla can keep her emergency savings funds separate from surprise expenses and daily purchases.

Carla cautions others in similar situations and asks them to be conscious of what they have. “You have to be super aware of what you have and what you don’t. Always be aware of how much you can actually afford to spend.”

Armed with her plans, Carla is taking another piece of advice her mom gave her — this is your life and you have to make the most of it. Don’t ever let anyone you hold back.

And she isn’t.


Through stories of our shared struggles and triumphs, we see that we’re all connected. Want to share your story? Email us at stories@earnin.com.

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