Dancers are typically freelancers which means that you never really know when your next audition, job or paycheck is. That can be extremely stressful, especially if you moved to the big cities like LA, New York or London where rent is ridicously expensive. Here are 24 ways to save money as a dancer!
I hate the thought of anyone giving up their dreams because they can’t afford it, but I am also a realist, and know that being able to have dance as a career long-term requires so much more than being a good dancing.
You have to be very smart with your time and money too. It gets tough sometimes, but working hard for something you love is going to make you appreciate the value of your ambitions so much more.
I’m guessing you didn’t click on this post by an accident – you want to see if there are ways you can save a little more or earn a little more. I’m right there with you:
My personal financial struggles have never been rooted in Gucci-shoes or weekend trips to Bali, but the all-time enemy is Starbucks and Uber-rides. It’s the small things that add up.
24 ways to save money as a dancer:
Guest a teacher/choreographer
At most studios a teacher/choreographer is allowed to bring a certain amount of guests for free. Never ask if you’ve literally never taken the class before, but if you’ve been consistent in a class, showed up, invested time and money in your training, and you’re struggling financially, I would definitely ask if it’s possible to guest a class or two.
Personally, I’ve had times where a choreographer have asked if I wanted to guest in the past, where I’ve said “no thank you, I want to pay this time”, to show that I want to pay this person money to train me.
I’m not saying that you should say no when you’re asked to guest at all(!), but make sure that you don’t just show up when it’s free. Make an effort to pay when you can and don’t ask to guest every time.
Become a work study at a Studio
I am personally workstudying at Millennium Dance Comlpex in LA (you can read all about being a work study HERE), and I know lots of other studios like Movement Lifestyle in LA or BDC in New York have great programs too. Work Studies work at the studio once or twice a week and get free training in exchanged. It definitely saved my economy in so many ways.
Assist a teacher/choreographer
If you’ve trained consistently with a teacher/choreographer for a long time, assisting him/her can be such a great learning experience for you – and a way to save money too.
Class packages over single classes
Even though it can feel anxiety provoking to drop a over a hundred dollars on classes at once, there’s really money to save when you choose class packages over single classes.
Drink. Coffee. At. Home.
Ughh, this one is for myself: “Stop buying coffee at Starbucks”. I need that statement tattooed in my forhead. Or printed on a T-shirt. You know it, I know it, we all know it. We’re WAY too broke to justify a spontaneous purchase of a Gucci bag after class, but what’s the point of living if you can’t treat yourself to a god damn cup of coffee in the morning. I get it. But $5 a day is $150 a month. Which is $1,800 a year.
Hear me out on this one, because I am you and you are me;
Make a nice set-up at home. Invest in a solid coffee maker and maybe a milk foamer, so you get your exclusive cute coffee-experience in the morning. Buy a prette to-go reusable cup (and save the enviroment), and get some creamer if that’s your thing.
My roommate worked at Starbucks as a side job, and that was probably the best thing that ever happened to our friendship. I choose my friends wisely. I’m kidding, but the free stuff was nice in our little trashy North Hollywood apartment, okay. Good times.
If you absolutely can’t stop buying coffee, try to find a local coffee shop that’s cheaper (the coffee will probably be better too). And download ALL the Apps, so you get that 10th cup for free.
I’ll never tell you to stop drinking coffee, because that will probably make you a bad person. Same.
Make food at home
Since I got very passionate in the section about coffee, I’m just gonna assume that you get the point of this one too.
And hey, make food for the whole week instead of day-to-day. Planning what you eat instead of impulse-shopping would look great on all of us. Buy cute tupperware so you can bring food to the studio as well.
DIY training clothes
Here’s the thing. I’ll never be the one to tell you that looks don’t matter, since dance is all about visuals and aestetics. It does matter what you look like at an audition and that you feel comfortable and confident in class.
BUT. You don’t have to own the newest $500 exclusive Nike sweat suit. Not even if your favorite celebrity is telling you that you need it. You really really don’t.
Exchanging clothes with your friends, going to cool vintage shops or thrift shops can be very exciting, and you’ll find items that are unique! If you know how to tie dye and turn your old sweatshirt into a cool crop-top, you’ll end up with cute clothes that noone but you have. AND you save money. WINNING.
This girl is killing it for instance. Get on YouTube and Pinterest.
Sell your clothes on E-bay
Or on your IG-story if you’re too lazy.
Less privates and intensives
Privates and intensives can be really amazing, but let’s look at this scenario:
There’s a teacher/choreographer who is teaching regular classes at your studio. A class is $17 and a private is $150 (some charges like $400 or more, depending on who it is). I try to look at it this way:
Will I get more out of taking ONE private lesson with this teacher and drop $150 dollars in an hour, than taking the regular 90 min class 9 times?
I know it’s tempting to do privates, but if you’re struggling financially, try to be consistent in a class instead, and after awhile just ask before/after a class, if there’s anything specific the teacher/choreographer think you could work on.
OR try to ask, if you can split a private with a friend so you’ll be two people instead of one. Maybe the teacher is okay with that too.
Live close to the studios if you have the option to.
Obviously saving money on gas and transportation is great. If you don’t live too far from the studio you can easily walk or take the train/metro. Another perk: then you don’t have to worry about parking either. Win/win.
You’re never home anyway. Of course you want to live a place where you can relax, have some alone time and a door you can close, but honestly being overly picky with your living-situation can be really hard for your economy if you’re already struggling. LOTS of people in LA are even sharing rooms too, since rent is so expensive, and you’d be so surprised to see how fast you adapt to situations.
I personally love having roommates, so you don’t isolate yourself. It’s nice that there’s always someone there.
Make a savings account
You’re allowed to roll your eyes. I knooow, this one is so boring. But make an automate savings account. Start small. Have $5 deducted automatically to a separate savings account that you won’t touch. You won’t notice or miss the cash at all! It will start adding up, and then you’ll realize you can start to save even more.
I once picked up a check at my agency and went straight to the bank. I opened the envelope and the amount of money way more than I thought, so I decided that this was an invite to become an adult, so I set up a savings account that gets $25 dollars a month from my checking. It’s not that much, but hey, better than nothing!
Don’t pick the most expensive gym
I get it – you like the sauna and the hot body builder-males you can stare at. And the free T-shirt and the goodie bag with protein powder and a ringlight (or whatever comes with your $40 gym membership). Once upon a time you spotted Zac Efron’s cousin’s girlfriend here, so this is the place to be.
Okay, cool. But let’s save money. Pre-pandemic I was at Planet Fitness. $10 a month, 0 dollars to sign up. They have the equiptment I need, and N-O, the demographic is not the hottest hipsters and actors of LA who are trying to burn 5000 calories because they had a sip of an oat milk latte this AM.. but I need all my fellow broke artists to calm down and stay focused on the goal here: working out and staying in shape.
Yes, Planet Fitness are advertising that you can get free pizza every Monday, sure, they have “bagel-tuesdays” and YES, there are definitely more people working out in jeans and sunglasses than crop tops and leggings.. But let’s save that money and gtf out of here. Honestly, in a city where everyone looks like Victorias Secret Angels and I’m a solid 2/10, I feel like a 3 or 4 when I’m at The Planet, so it’s great for my ego too.
(Why are they not sponsoring this post?!)
Many – if not most – dancers have or have had a side hustle. It’s so normal.
It’s just not very glamorous to talk about unfortunately. But it’s reality. I think you’re even cooler if you are so passionate about your dance career that you’re willing to go through the discomfort of working another job, in order to make your main passion work out. No shame in that at all. Stay tuned for a post about flexible side hustles for artists!
Learn other skills
A side hustle doesn’t necessarily mean becoming an Uber driver or a waitress in a restaurant. It can easily be creative too! It’s so rare that creatives don’t have great potentials in other creative fields. If you’re a dancer, maybe you can get really good at photography and shooting headshots, or acting, blogging, painting, writing…
Lots of people are making money through Social media, you know this already. But have you thought about doing it yourself? You don’t actively have to pursue becoming an influencer, but try to post a little bit more on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube or another platform, and see what happens!
Create with your Iphone
I just invested in a good camera for vlogging (come say hi on my channel here!), but honestly it’s not that necessary if you want to start filming vlogs or dance videos.
I understand that you want to hire an expensive videoographer for your concept video for it to look as professional as possible. But hey, if you’re broke, you shouldn’t let that stop you from creating at ALL! IPhones are filming in SO high quality these days, so if you learn how to film properly with it, it can make incredible concept videos and vlogs.
Good lighting can do so much!
Save by investing in quality
If you’re like me, you buy really cheap low quality makeup, which means that you actually end up spending more money. First of all, you need to apply 10 times more of the cheap foundation in order to be able to cover a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, and secondly cheap make-up can mess up your skin so much, that you’ll end up spending so much money on skincare products.
Quality make-up last longer. Same goes with clothes.
Investing in few high quality clothing items that you can use again and again and again, can save you lots of money in shops like Forever21 and H&M where the clothes breaks easier.
Speak up if they try to underpay you
Here’s a link to Dancer’s Alliance, where you can read ALL about rates for dancers. Click here to become aware. Dancers are broke in general, because dancers are way way way underpaid.
Think about the thousands of dollars and thousands of hours you put into your training and your craft. It’s not okay in any way to spend hours and hours in rehearsals and on set to be paid $100 for a whole day. If they can always find a dancer that accepts a rate like that, dancers will never get paid more. I have so much to say about this, but we can make an entire post about this one another day.
Train smarter not harder
If you’re used to taking 12 classes a week – that’s great and I did that – but it’s so much money. If you’re broke, try to take fewer classes, but choose the ones of high quality that really challenges you and gets you closer to your goals, rather than lots of classes that you take “just to take them”.
Cut down on masterclasses
A masterclass is usually 25-30 dollars. Some of them even 50. Ask yourself, if it impossible to get anything similar to what the masterclass teacher offers somewhere else?
Remember, and this is SO IMPORTANT: the most expensive training isn’t necessarily the best training. AT ALL.
Find teachers that have or have had a professional career and whos intention is to prepare students for the industry too. Teachers that you can connect with, that challenges you and who are in the room to pass on their knowledge to you, rather than showing up to film a YouTube video, have dancers cheer them on and who doesn’t care about the student’s growth.
There are lots of both kind of teachers out there, but if you don’t teach “masterclasses” it doesn’t mean you’re not a good teacher. At all.
Train with your friends
Making a little home studio and inviting your friends over to practice a combo, freestyle or make up choreography for fun or for a concept video, cost $0.
If they’re paying you cash – go straight to the bank
Deduct it all
Tax season is upon us, and we have to remember the best thing ever: if dance is your job, you can deduct so many things, just remember to save the receipts. Classes, dancewear, shoes, costumes, make-up, physiotherapy, Uber to an audition, Uber to the job, headshots that you printed at NoHo Copy&Print – DEDUCT. IT. ALL.
It’s the little things that can make the biggest difference. I’m sure you’ve already thought of most of these things before when you’ve considered how to save money as a dancer, but maybe this post was a good little reminder!
I know you’re creative as an artist – now it’s time to get creative with your finances too. You can totally do it, and remember it’s not punishments it’s a way for you to keep doing what you’re doing and suceeding in that long term. You totally got this.
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