28-Year-Old Who Left Insurance Job to Become an Actor Lives on $17,000 In NYC; He's 'Happier Now'

28-Year-Old Who Left Insurance Job to Become an Actor Lives on $17,000 In NYC; He's 'Happier Now'
Cover Image Source: Max Gallo | YouTube | CNBC Make It

Job satisfaction is key to happiness and Max Gallo realized that early on in his career. He decided to leave his full-time job at an insurance company in 2019 even when he didn't have another source of steady income ready. According to Gallo, his salary was "very nice" and yet he wasn't happy. Gallo longed for something that he would enjoy doing. He soon started taking an acting class in New York which was close to his home in New Jersey. It didn't take him long to realize that becoming an actor was his calling. 



 

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"I wanted to take my shot," Gallo says. "I wanted to try to follow my dreams because I knew that if I tried later in life, I don’t know if I would have as much momentum as I do now," he said via CNBC Make It. Today, almost half a decade later, he has seen a bit of success in terms of booking roles in TV shows, but not so much financially. 

He earned close to $16,499 in 2023, from a side job, acting gigs, and unemployment benefits as well as a grant from the Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He says that he did expect to make more. However, as a member of the SAG-AFTRA, he was on strike for the majority of the year. As of January 2024, he has around $10,000 left in savings. "I know that at any time I could go around the corner to Starbucks and get a job that’s going to [cover] my expenses because they’re relatively low."

You must be glad if you are not facing money dysmorphia. Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Alesia Kozik
Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Alesia Kozik

However, he refuses to go back to a 9-5 job as he has realized that he will only be able to do what truly excites him. "I want to get paid for things that I would already do for free,” he says. “I managed to find that doing what I love as an actor and also working with exotic cars."

Gallo says that he is ready to live below his means, as long as he can continue doing the things he loves. The reality is that it's very hard to live in the Big Apple with an annual income south of $20,000. Therefore, he finds creative ways to save. He says that he has been able to keep a gym membership, and saves on his Citi Bike rides by paying for a membership that eliminates certain fees. He also says that he only watches movies at the SAG screenings where he doesn't have to pay.

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The Statue of Liberty stands in the foreground as Lower Manhattan | Getty Images | Photo by Drew Angerer
The Statue of Liberty stands in the foreground as Lower Manhattan | Getty Images | Photo by Drew Angerer

Moreover, he says that he believes in thrifting and buys most of his household items from Facebook Marketplace. Gallo is currently living in an apartment in Brooklyn on a tight budget by sharing costs with a roommate. In January, Gallo spent $1,094 for his part of the rent and around $680 on groceries and dining out. He also spent $468 on his gym, LinkedIn, Hulu, and Adobe. Apart from this, Gallo also spent $216 on car maintenance, gas, and Citi Bikes. Gallo currently owns two cars, one  Honda Civic that he keeps with himself and the BMW Roadster, which he bought before leaving his job at the insurance company, which he keeps with his parents.

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While Gallo agrees that, it's not easy to live on a low budget, he says that he cannot imagine his life otherwise. "We don’t feel whole. We don’t feel good unless we’re expressing ourselves, and that’s hard to do, especially when you’re not being paid for it.”Despite earning less than what he was earning at the insurance company, Gallon says he is "happier now."

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