5 questions for… Amanda Clayman
Amanda Clayman, L.M.S.W., Entertainment Assistance Program, is a social worker for the Financial Wellness Program at The Actors Fund. Through counseling, seminars, groups and workshops, Amanda and her colleagues in Financial Wellness help people in the performing arts and entertainment community coast-to-coast identify strategies for balancing income and expenses, reduce or eliminate debt, establish financial boundaries, and explore limiting beliefs about financial competence and self-worth. We sat down with Amanda to better understand the vital importance of this service to the entertainment community.
1/ How do you define financial wellness?
Financial wellness is a way of understanding and accepting the role that money plays in everyday life. It includes feeling competent making financial decisions and communicating about money with friends and loved ones from a place of clarity and purpose. It is not about building wealth per se, but centers on principles of self-care and self-determination.
2/ Why is this program so important for people in performing arts and entertainment?
People in the performing arts and entertainment field have complicated financial lives. When you combine episodic employment and variable income with high cost-of-living locations and numerous professional expenses, you get a very challenging scenario! Factor in that people in the arts are often too busy or stressed to deal with these challenges, or they have unhealthy attitudes about money, and it can be quite a knot to unravel. Our program provides concrete services tailored to these unique circumstances, as well as a supportive, encouraging environment where people can learn and grow.
3/ Would you say artists are more afraid of addressing the role of money in their lives than the average person?
Most artists choose the performing arts profession because of a deep love of the arts and a strong identification with the persona of the artist. Therefore any financial difficulty can be experienced almost as a threat to the self. It can be terribly troubling, adding stress to even the most mundane money challenge, and that can seriously complicate the concrete steps of getting stable. Also, many artists feel that paying attention to money doesn’t fit in with the rest of their creative life — an assumption I would vigorously challenge!
4/ Do you have a favorite “success story” from a client you have helped?
Having been doing financial wellness work with The Fund since 2004, my favorite stories are the ones where people discovered the program in a time of crisis and then stuck with it out of the crisis and through to transformation. I’ve seen people who were three months behind in their rent take our workshop “Managing Cash Flow for Artists” and come back six months later with a savings account and an IRA. I also have a soft spot for couples, for people who can hardly have a conversation with each other let alone sit down and talk about financial goals. With several sessions of couples counseling we can break through these impasses, uncovering the meaning behind the money so that partners can develop a compassionate, respectful understanding of each others’ financial needs. But really, I am a passionate cheerleader for every client who comes through the Financial Wellness Program. I get up in the morning believing in each person’s happiness and success.
5/ Any financial wellness tips for you can give for our readers and donors?
I would encourage everyone to pay more attention to their relationship with money, even before you get too involved in dollars-and-cents goals. It’s difficult to be successful with a financial goal when you’re still afraid of money – when you fear it or when it causes overwhelming stress just to sit down and look at income and expenses. Look at money as an energy source, and try to use it in ways that nurture you, making you feel safe and secure.
Amanda is an accomplished psychotherapist specializing in financial wellness and was recently quoted in The New York Times for her expertise in financial therapy. Visit her blog at “The Good The Bad and The Money.”
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