It is hard to talk about this topic because it is a rather personal one that combines elements of professionalism and my personal life.
There are a few things that I am sure of every year; that I will hear about fushigi and that I will hear about another entertainer who has lost everything and is going bankrupt/belly up. It is also a position that I have found myself in as well.
There was a period of time that I was unable to find work; every interview carried with it the question about the fact that I was a part time entertainer. In looking back I lost several job opportunities because potential employers thought that hiring a part time entertainer was a liability.
During that time I only was able to get through it by the skin of my teeth and the help of loved ones and I learned a few things. Entertainment professional need to learn financial planning and how/when to reinvest in the show.
#1 Separate the hobby from the job.
Of the props and tools that I own; I only use half of them regularly. I use another quarter of those props semi-infrequently. This leaves about 15-25% of my collection as a wasted collection. What I learned from my experiences is that I need to treat my purchases as investments rather than impulse purchases for my hobby. This will save you a lot of wasted money down the line.
Playing with magic is fine, but when your living is based on the amount of money you spend on it treating it a bit differently goes a long way. It is very easy to delude yourself into justifying a bad purchase in the name of a business expense.
#2 Know What You Need
Plan your life; a lot of the performers I know live from double incomes with a spouse or significant other and can plan around the lean times. Other performers live out of country during their dry season.
The basics are this; we live on an indeterminate amount of money where we have amazing months and terrible months. We need to be able to save money during the amazing months so we can get through the terrible months.
Most events who book entertainers such as ren faires/ convention circuits/ etc normally plan their entertainment around six months prior to the date in question. When I ran the numbers I realized that I needed enough money to make it through six months in order to have enough time to start booking large scale gigs and make it onto the convention circuit/ ren faire circuit.
More importantly you need to have the connections required to do so.
#3 Do not live on the well wishes of others.
I want to ask a question; What is holding you in place? What is keeping you afloat?
I have a full time job that pays my bills, I have a legal agreement with a landlord that keeps me in my home, I have a legal agreement that provides me with a vehicle, and I have the ability to maintain it and keep on the road. My ability to be a performer and live life is not at the kindness or courtesy of someone else. Just think about it.