This guide is just an introduction to successful money managing. It’s what I’ve learned from my personal heroes. Anyone can benefit from it, but because musicians are my people and my tribe, I specifically wrote it thinking about our common problems and circumstances.
I live by these rules and I can tell you that THEY WORK. It doesn’t take millions of dollars to reach a couple of goals; it takes smart money managing and a bit of organization. Here’s how you too can freely move around and use money to your advantage:
1. Music it’s your business. It’s also your passion but you have bills to pay. If you treat it like a business it will become one eventually.
2. Teaching is a must. Not only will you impact your students but also grow as a performing artist—and earn an extra income.
3. It’s not always about money. Most of the times it’s about happiness, but again, you need to pay bills.
4. Earn money by helping people, it’s the most incredible thing you can do. (Teach!)
5. Choose at least 3 branches in the field of music. Not only perform but also minor in education, composition, conducting, piano or something else. You can open a publisher’s house if you are a composer. Orchestrate for someone or even conduct small projects.
6. Earn trust from people. Be reliable and help as often as you can. Help for free when you think is appropriate.
7. Read. Knowledge is money.
8. Learn how to manage your finances (read finance blogs).
9. Stay healthy. You’ll be stronger and therefore able to work and make money.
10. Money is a tool to help you grow as a musician and person, not more.
11. Give money to charities. Money is a tool, don’t value it otherwise. Stay with some and give some to those who need it more than you.
12. When buying a new instrument or equipment pay with credit cards. If you do your research, you can apply in advance for a reward credit card and get points or miles. I’ve done it and have had the time of my life.
13. When buying something expensive like a T.V. or a computer, get another credit card and get more miles or points.
14. Be responsible with credit cards and don’t spend because you are earning points. Pay on time to avoid fees. Credit cards are another tool and you don’t want to give away your hard earned money (give them to charities).
15. Get a part-time job while studying and apply for scholarship.
16. Use e-Bay and Amazon to compare prices.
17. Buy it used most of the time.
18. Slowly build your library of scores, parts and Cd’s. Buy them used if possible. It’s an investment.
19. Be careful with the word: investment. You majored in music not economics; make sure you know what you are getting into.
20. Organic is always better than regular food. So it’s fair-trade (see next item).
21. Quality over quantity. Even if it means paying a little more.
22. Get out of debt. It’s tying you up to move freely. (If you have to start somewhere—start here).
23. Get enough sleep so you can think about money smartly.
24. The time to build a music business or find a side job is when you have a secure job. Thanks Seth Godin!
25. Always look at the worst that can happen, if it’s not that bad don’t think twice and jump.
26. Artists CAN make a living doing art. If you at least come up with a main plan and a plan B, you will be fine.
27. It’s likely that you’ll never be rich. But you knew that before you signed up. Live your passion!
28. Spend less than you earn.
29. Don’t buy it yet. Put it in a waiting list for a month, if you still want it then you can buy it—check on e-Bay first.
30. Save money for treats. Pick a book and hide a couple of bills to go to the movies or buy ice-cream.
31. Read: I Will Teach You to be Rich.
32. Every week buy something for $5 or less that makes you happy.
33. Maintain a good credit score.
34. While you grow as a musician, rent the cheapest place. Commodities are not a priority while you are in college. You need good sounding strings and a good instrument.
35. When you get a job and become a professional, buy a house. It’s a good investment. Find the lowest monthly interest rate and get a loan (if you need to). Paying rent all your life means paying the net worth of several houses. You only need one house—on your name.
36. A bachelor of music is expensive in the U.S. Is Europe an option? If not, apply to major conservatories but also to small schools. Your final decision will depend of where you get in and who gives you scholarship money. You need quality training at affordable price, meet in the middle.
37. If you don’t go to Julliard can you take a lesson with a renowned professor once a month/once every couple of months/ once a year?
38. Your money should help you grow as a musician. Have separate piggy bank accounts for each subject. E.g. lessons with pros, movies and ice cream, dates, strings and instruments related stuff.
39. Eating out every day adds up quickly. I spent a big sum of money during undergrad and grad school—and gained a lot of weight.
40. Musicians like alcohol. Set a budget aside for these purposes if you are into that. Keep swiping your card and once you lose control disaster follows.
41. Spend money on experiences not things. Choose a Berlin Phil concert, a Grand Canyon visit or hiking shoes over an expensive watch, fancy wallet or new car.
42. Buying a brand new car is the worse transaction you can make (once it’s out of the dealer it loses a couple thousand dollars of value). The best investment is to buy land.
43. Subscribe to music magazines and read them.
44. No gambling. The odds are against you.
45. Bike to school. It saves gas and helps you burn calories.
46. Always keep the future in mind. In fact, delay gratification and pleasure—do work now and solve problems ASAP. Later the pleasure will be greater and longer.
47. A Berlin Philharmonic CD for $3 is only worth if you are going to listen to it. Otherwise leave it in the store.
48. Avoid $1 things unless they are edible, and even then.
49. Avoid $2 things unless they are edible, and even then.
50. A onetime seminar or class is probably worth the fee.