Director of photography: My budget and planning for the future
Trevr shares his strategies for shifting from spender to saver, and walks through his monthly budget.
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- How much money do directors of photography make?(1 vote)
My name is Trevr Merchant. I'm a director of photography and I make $80,000 a year. My relationship with money is a little bit complicated by the fact that I grew up with parents who had a hard time keeping a job here and there and weren't able to always afford what we needed to buy. Sometimes I would have really nice clothes and have a great backpack and go to school with all my school supplies, and some years we wouldn't have Christmas. I always felt like there was this sort of irresponsibility but also struggle. I always had this complicated feeling that, well, if my parents just knew how to budget, we'd be fine. But then there were other times where we had enough money and it was no big deal. I kind of inherited my parents' money problems, so I had to learn strategies to hide money from myself. I have kind of a feast or famine sort of budget where sometimes as a freelancer you don't make any money for a month and then you make three months worth of money in a week. So then, oh, I've been waiting to get that thing, or I need a new phone, so I'll just get the nicest one now that I have some money. Or I want that new piece of camera equipment and I just got paid for this thing, so I can go buy that. But I have to create some sort of discipline for myself to stick to a budget, and that's been really hard for me. I have to set up automatic transfers and that sort of thing so that I never see certain amounts come in or out of my accounts, and they just go to places that I can't touch. My wife and I are pretty fluid with our budget. Sometimes we spend quite a bit of money in one month and we'll spend a little bit less the next month. Things like buying a new ski pass or if I need stuff to go up to the mountains and gear, that gets pretty expensive. And then other times we aren't going out as much or we're not traveling that much, and so our expenses for that month are lower. Our budget is definitely not rigid. It could be, but neither of our personalities really fit into that. And we've been making enough money right now to where we can put away what we need to and we can invest in our retirement accounts. But I would like to in the long term take the money that we might go out and spend on dinner or on some thing to buy, fill up our house with stuff, I'd rather take that money and invest it into buying a second home that we could move into and keeping our current home as a rental property. So my annual salary is $80,000 a year. My wife is also working in the film industry and she makes about $40,000 a year, so our combined monthly income pre-tax is about $10,000 a month. We take out about $3,000 for taxes, 450 for retirement, which will go up soon, and then our health insurance is about $550 a month. Our take home income is about $6,000 a month. And we are very fortunate that we were able to buy a house with help from our family a couple years ago, and so we have a mortgage on a three bedroom, one bathroom house in Denver for about 1,250 a month. Our gas and electric bill ranges quite a bit, but right now it's about $150 a month. Our internet and TV adds up to about 120. We are on a family plan, and our portion of that family plan is about $80 a month. And then one of our biggest expenses is my car payment and insurance. I decided to buy a nice car this year, and so we pay about $900 for my car payment, both of our insurance, gas, and any sort of car expenses monthly. Our student loan payments add up to about $515 a month. We're paying a little bit more than we need to, but we can afford it at the moment. And then our monthly groceries are about $500. And then I would kinda tack on our entertainment expenses to that, so when we go out to eat or out to bars and restaurants is another $500, so about $1,000 in consumables. Each month we have about $100 in subscription fees, whether that's Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, or even some stuff for my business, but I deduct those expenses. Our gym membership is fairly expensive, but it's all personal training and it's about $200 a month. We have about $50 a month in prescriptions. And then I pay for laundry services for my work clothes, which is about $30 a month. And then we do quite a bit of house projects and then some travel and shopping, and that all kind of falls into one bucket of about $1,000 a month. Leftover, we have roughly $600 a month, and we put that into our personal savings account for a rainy day. My financial goals are shared with my wife, so we are always having a conversation about what we're saving for and what we need to be paying off if we've taken a trip and put it on a credit card or something like that. We do plan on having kids in the near future, and so we should be setting aside money for that and that's one of our goals for next year.