$3,200 MIA (Missing in Acting)

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Video Transcript:

Hi Everybody.  Welcome to ChipsMoneyTips, I’m Chip Chinery.  Normally you get a little Tipper from the Chipper, but today, I’m gonna give you a Tipper from The Gipper – Ronald Reagan.  “Trust, but verify.”  He’d use that phrase when discussing our relations with those dirty commie bastard Ruskies!

This applies to every profession.

As you know, I am a highly trained, highly respected ACTOR, with impeccable integrity.  Every Spring, the Screen Actors Guild – SAG and AFTRA actor unions send the previous year’s Earnings Statement.  This year I decided to finally check those Earnings Statements against my paystubs.  I’m ChipsMoneyTips for crying out loud.   If not me – who?  If not now – when?

Turns out that in 2010, three checks showed up on my AFTRA Earnings Statement – that neither I nor my agent ever received.  One of the missing checks was for 500 BUCKS!

So I called one place that owed me that money and the accounting lady checked their records and said, “Oh yes, that was returned to us in May of 2010.”  I said, “May… of last year…???  Uhhh…May I have it?”  No response on the other end of the phone, so, thinking fast, I said, “Mother May I have it?”  The lady said, “Yes”.  The Mother May I rules were in effect.  Who knew?

AFTRA told me that the two other mystery checks were credited to my pension and health account by accident, which means some other poor schlub actor didn’t get credit.   Maybe it was YOU!  Especially if your name is Chimp Chimney.

I also discovered that besides those three missing checks, there were five more paychecks, totaling $2,200, that I did receive but that were not included on my AFTRA Earnings Statement.  That’s $2,200 that was supposed to help qualify me for health insurance and get added to my Pension pile – but did not until I caught it.  And you know I needs my Pension Pile!

With these glaring omissions, and my Trust a bit shaky, I realized I had to verify previous years.  So, I audited my earnings back to 2006 and found yet another AFTRA check that went un-credited for another five-hundred bucks!

So what’s the takeaway?

In the last two years, I found eight mistakes in a system that most of us think is automatic and error free. It’s not.  No matter what business you are in you need to keep your own records of pay, performance bonuses, commissions and contributions to your retirement accounts, and then check the numbers.  (Insert the Reagan “Trust, but verify” clip here)  Thank you, Ronnie.

If you are looking for a free and easy way to track your finances, give Mint.com a whirl.  If you are watching this at ChipsMoneyTips.com, there are links right beneath this video for Mint.com’s free accounting software.  You can use it from any computer, iPhone or Android.

To my actor friends, remember it’s show bizness. I encourage you to save your paystubs and reconcile them against your Earnings Statements, or hire someone to do it for you.  And please, do your fellow actors and me a favor by tweeting, facebooking, emailing or pony expressing this to them so they know to check their records too.

Oh, in case you’re wondering under which union’s jurisdiction more mistakes were made on my stuff.  It was shutout.  The final score was AFTRA 8, SAG 0.  So, when the unions merge I know which accounting department I hope we keep.

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Reagan and Gorby “I like it!”

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11 COMMENTS

  1. As far as stand-up goes, I’ve logged over 3,000 shows, played on 475 stages, in 296 cities, over 42 states, D.C., and The Bahamas (including all the places named in The Steve Miller Band’s “Rock ‘n Me” and Sade’s “Smooth Operator” songs). Some of that stuff can be seen at http://www.ChipChinery.com

  2. Hey Chip,
    Just watched (as you know I do enjoy Chip’s Money Tips) and I gots a question for ya. I actually checked my AFTRA earnings this year and found a $50,000 discrepancy. My co-star found an $80,000 discrepancy. We’ve been waiting on some kind if final verification as to what really went down but AFTRA keeps alluding to a false reporting. In other words they never received a check and it was mistakenly reported on our earnings. Does that even sound right?

  3. Yowza! $50K? $80K? Jeeeez. If that money did not show up on your AFTRA Earnings Statement, that means you get less in your Pension & AFTRA gets lower dues – unless your grand total is over $250K. In July, AFTRA confirmed this Dues Structure: Under $2,000 pays $63.90 every six months; $2K – 100K pays (Earnings x .00743) + $63.90 every six months; $100K – 250K pays (Earnings x .00137) + $63.90 every six months. I am in a similar boat, in that my $2,200 that was missing from my Earnings Statement. When I spoke to AFTRA earlier this week, they said they are still in the process of clearing up all of my discrepancies before sending me the final letter about it.

  4. Chip,

    Last year I made $6.35 … what is my tax liability? Should I look into an offshore shelter… somewhere in the middle of Lake Erie?

    Or should I buy the #5 at BK? (Hold the cheese)

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