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Dancer: My budget and planning for the future

Michael Novak, a dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, talks about his budget and ways to save money in NY.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Malley
    I can plan for my future by budgeting and creating a savings account. Dancers can have gaps in their income if they are in between jobs, and those can be difficult to account for. Financial stability is always going to be a challenge in this industry.
    (3 votes)
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  • winston default style avatar for user Luoqi Wang
    Agree with the travel & experiences part. If you save for retirement to travel around in age of 60s, why not just do it now. And it's better to travel as a paid job as an young adult since these memories would last through out the whole life
    (3 votes)
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Video transcript

My name is Michael Novak. I'm 34 years old, and I'm a dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York city, and I make $61,000 a year. Living in New York is amazing, and I didn't move here to become a dancer. I moved here because I didn't know what I was doing with my life, actually. It's a crazy expensive city, and you become desensitized to it after a while. The rents just keep going up, the MTA just keeps going up, and you just kind of keep... You make it work, you make it work. The other thing I love about New York is that all of the arts intersect here. The best fashion, the best visual artists, the best opera, the best symphonies, the best ballet companies, the best modern dance companies, the best architects, I mean... New York is a crossroads for so much creativity. And you really have access to so much. I'm near Penn Station, I'm near the Empire State Building. Like, I'm right in the middle of so much business and creativity, and that is an amazing experience to have. So there are ways to live in New York with a lower rent than you might expect. It usually involves roommates, it usually involves living in different parts of the city. I've lived in... Probably five or six places in the city, mostly in Queens and Manhattan. There are deals out there, you just have to look. There is artist subsidized housing. There is 80/20 housing. There are resources out there for artists, that you can spend the time researching, applying, and you can get amazing deals. You just have to do the research and work at it. My annual salary is around $61,000 a year, and that is pre-tax. Again, that number fluctuates depending on how many weeks of work we have in a given year. So some years it's less, some years it's more. So breaking it down monthly, it's roughly $5000 a month. From that, about 1800 comes out, and that includes taxes, that includes health insurance, my IRA contribution, which I have through the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and am incredibly grateful for. That leaves me at a total of about 3200 a month that I have to play with. And rent is $800 a month, roughly one week of salary. Gas and electric, $75 a month. TV internet is around 50. I tend to not watch a lot of TV. I have Netflix subscriptions, Amazon Prime, stuff like that. Cell phone, around $100 a month. Commuting expenses varies, $100 a month, when I'm in New York. But I'm often traveling, so that can get allocated to other categories. Student loan, this is another number, $800 a month. Then we get into food. With food, it's interesting, because I found over the years, tracking my finances, that eating out and eating in kind of wash out, that it is always the end of the day it's the same number. And I give myself around $1000 a month for that. So $250 a week. I also have my gym membership, which is $100 a month. And then massage therapy, acupuncture, anything that I need to do on top of what I get at work, roughly $200 a month. And that leaves me at zero. And with the savings coming out pre-tax, through my income. My financial goal is to enjoy the stability that I have with the Paul Taylor Dance Company right now, and knowing that there is a moment of retirement coming up, and that there's gonna be a period where I need to re-assess, re-adjust, potentially go back to school, and then move into a different industry. And my approach to spending right now is to really enjoy where I'm at. And to enjoy the traveling that we're doing. To enjoy that cities that I go to, to meet people, to get historical tours of all the amazing cities that we get to go to. And spend the money on these experiences. I think something I've learned as I've gotten older is that I value experiences more than things. And I think traveling the world as much as we do has had an impact on that. If I'm on the Great Wall in China for example, I'm on the Great Wall in China. Like, I would love a historian there with me, and I love to put money towards that historian to like, to talk to, to relate with, to figure out, like, when was this built, how did this get here, what's the history, you know. That experience gives me so much value. Buying a backpack that's really fancy doesn't have the same sense of value to me as something like that. So as I get older, I'm being more comfortable with what I value. In terms of saving, I'm saving for experiences. Looking back, if I were to tell myself, you know, when I was 20 or 21, you know, be aware of the following, I would probably say, "Be aware of how emotional money can be." Because... It's a relationship that you're gonna have the rest of your life, and if you don't nurture it, and you don't communicate about it, and you don't talk about it, it can become a very stagnant relationship. It can become co-dependent. And it can be filled with anxiety and frustration and shame. But it can also be incredibly powerful, and illuminating, and you can help change lives by having money, by giving back to the communities, by looking at your finances in a way that allows you to see value in what you do, to find happiness in what you do. And I don't think I had that awareness when I was younger. Not having money was just, it was shame. Loans was shame. And I think shifting that around, like, loans are an investment. It is equity in my intellectual future, was a big shift. I wish I had had it a lot sooner, actually. But I'm really proud that I'm at a point in my life now where I do know that, and I can recognize it.