Indie Musicians:Tips for Managing Your Finances Better
Have you ever heard it said that “Budgeting is the key to financial success?” For musicians, that whole concept is not just plain old dull, but it’s also impossible to imagine as we live from gig to gig. We scrimp and save simply to support the bohemian lifestyle we’ve chosen.
Well, I have good news: You don’t have to budget. But you do have to sign up for auto-saving techniques, which provides a cushiony nest egg without you having to think about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s $50/month or $500/month. Every bit counts. I hope this article strike a few chords with you, my fellow artists, and I’ll be happy as a clam if you come away with even one new trendy bit of financial prowess.
Being a musician means you probably don’t make a lot of money. What it doesn’t mean is that you have to be broke and scrimping all the time. You can still live well as I’ve learned throughout the ups and downs of my career. The list below represents about two hours of the time it took to actually go through the steps, but I am well-rewarded with financial safety and well-being.
1. Start saving, just a tiny bit at a time, and have it done with automatic withdrawals. I cannot stress enough how important automatic withdrawals are to building reasonable savings. You don’t even have to think about it this way.
To Do: Go to www.smartypig.com. This is a really cute yet extremely functional site that helps you set saving goals AND gives you a whopping 1.75% in interest, no strings or fees attached. It’s been highly rated by The New York Times, CNN, Forbes, Fox Business and The Today Show. For instance, I am saving for a hiking trip (it costs $2,000) in the mountains next summer. I created a goal of $2000, hooked smartypig and my checking account up, plopped $50 into my aptly self-named “Hiking” account, and signed up for auto-withdrawals of $50 to continue every other week. I’m now on the fast-track to the Rockies! Smartypig helps you create these doable goals and cheers you on in the process.
2. Keep track of your “stuff”. Get a complete overview of all your checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, car payments, rent/mortgages, and retirement in just one location.
To Do: Go to Mint.com, named the best online personal finance tool by Money Magazine, PC Magazine, and is PC World’s Editor’s Choice. Read the reviews or the full list of awards, and then sign up.
3. Health Insurance. I have never considered going without health insurance and you shouldn’t either. Consider what happens to you if you break your arm (God forbid) or get in a car accident (God again forbid) with no insurance: You end up with a multi-zeroed emergency room bill. I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars, maybe more. Who’ll try to help if you can’t help yourself? Your family. The road to financial ruin is short, and health costs are one of the top three reasons people file bankruptcy. It would be a pity to put both you and your family in that situation, so be responsible! The cost of health insurance is much less in the end.
To Do: Go to www.ehealthinsurance.com. Type in your zip code. See all insurance possibilities. Hint: The higher the deductible (mine is $2,500/year, my husband’s is $5,000/year), the lower your monthly payment will be. I currently pay $200/month and my husband pays $120/month.
4. Educate yourself about money do’s and don’ts. If you can stand to be honest with yourself about where you are financially and then take action to change it, you have won a huge battle!
Congratulations on doing the right thing for yourself ahead of time! You won’t believe how happy and stress free you’ll be as soon as you start.
Anne Breeden, pianist, graduated from The Eastman School of Music studying piano under Dr. Jean Barr. Anne received awards during her Master’s of Chamber Music and Accompanying degree such as The Drucker Scholarship, The Barbara M.H. Koeng Award, and the C. Eschenbach Award. At Eastman, she was heavily involved with the Institute for Music Leadership. Formative education for the native San Franciscan includes the Cleveland Institute of Music and DePaul University, cum laude.