The whole point of Fighting Broke (for any new Readers) is to talk about personal finance in Hollywood.
Usually, I cover the topic from a dead-center angle for 20-somethings in Hollywood — we want more of that cash$. So I hit on ways to make more, save more, and live a lifestyle that’s more about creating your own freedom in this industry, and less about keeping up with the Jones’s.
And I love talking about the tactical ways to do this.
Whether it’s explaining how you can save $10K a year just by understanding what you’re buying when you get car insurance.
I think the problem with only covering personal finance at the tactical level, however, is it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. All these maneuvers and step-by-step instructions are meaningless outside of the context of:
“What’s It All For?”
Money alone is not the end. Money is only a means to an end.
We have to define that “end” for ourselves. I don’t expect some The Hollywood Reporter 30 Under 30 list to define it for me, so I won’t try to define it for you. To keep it general, I use the hyperbole of not being a slave to the Hollywood system. The great Swifty Lazar called it having “fuck you money,” as told by Michael Korda:
“The first million bucks you make—put it away! You don’t ever touch that, you hear me? That’s your ‘Fuck you’ money. That way, anybody ever tries to make you do something you don’t want to do, you can tell ’em, ‘Fuck you.’ ”
I want to look at the topic of money from the opposite side of the spectrum: what’s Hollywood and entertainment look like when you were born with more money than you could spend?
Can Money Guarantee A Level of Happiness?
One of my Bosses never had a cash flow problem in his life. He inherited more money than many of us will earn in our lifetime, through his father’s real estate investments in the 70s. He owns the sort of property Hollywood bigwigs rent for weeks at a time. When he moved to Los Angeles, securing transportation, a residence, and any toys he might want weren’t processes. They were snap decisions:
Need a car? Boom, he’s got himself a Escalade.
Need an apartment? Done, first and last month’s rent down on a 2,000 square foot man-pad.
Need camera equipment? He’s lugging in a Peter Jackson-esque camera package he bought online, on impulse, last night.
Unfortunately though, that sort of income hasn’t done much in generating happiness. He was:
- Estranged from his daughter
- Surrounding by “friends” who happen to be on his payroll
- Throwing a temper tantrum anytime something didn’t go his way
I came under my Boss’s employment when he decided to make a television show about his life. It was his second iteration of this endeavor. He self-funded it completely. He paid top-dollar for writers, for a director, and for his cast. He was mercurial and petty and mean, traits all covered by his deep pockets, which he dipped into anytime there was a problem. Throwing money was the only solution he knew.
He’s dumped 10 years of his life and a few million dollars into this project. Into a television show that no one wanted. And he has nothing to show for it. At some point during the second iteration, the money dried up, which means his hired talent made tracks faster than the Hessians after Yorktown. Afterall, we’re talking about hired guns. Hired guns follow the money, not the cause. They weren’t going to stick around. On the very day we shut down production, these people made off like ghosts. The director was gone before we even finished striking.
When my Boss decided to host a pilot “premiere” party, he needed to pay people again, to get them to show up.
My point is – if money alone made us happy, my Boss would have been like a Buddha statuette sitting in a Chinatown shop: grinning ear to ear. Except:
Money doesn’t make us happy.
Money is the means to an end, not the end itself.
So please, use the tactics from Fighting Broke to develop and build and protect your wealth. They’ll help you hit your short-term goals. But never lose sight of the long game.
Make every decision in the context of: “what’s it all for?”
Photo Credit: Cayusa