Musicians, producers and engineers often face tough career propositions. Here’s how to avoid losing your shirt – in good times and in bad. With a little bit of intelligent planning, you might even come out ahead.
There’s also a 76% chance that you’re currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, and that if you lost all your income tomorrow, you wouldn’t have enough money saved to cover your bills for 6 months.
And don’t even get me started on retirement.
When it comes to planning for the future, there’s about an 80% chance that you aren’t on track to save enough money to retire comfortably by the age of 65, and a 45% chance that you haven’t saved any money for retirement at all. Hell, there’s even a 56% chance that you have no clue how much money you’ll need to set aside if you do want to retire someday.
Here’s a hint: It’s a lot more than you think.
If you’re currently 30 years old, and you want to retire at the age of 67 with something around a median salary, you’ll need to have roughly $2 million in the bank.
That’s right: By the time you retire, you will need to be a multi-millionaire, just to get by with a basic middle-class salary. That’s how the compounding effects of inflation work.
Musicians, engineers, and other creative professionals, unfortunately, are likely to be even worse off and have less of a handle on personal finance when compared to peers in other fields.
By now, most of us have probably heard that old joke: Q: “What does a musician do when he wins a million dollars?” A: “Keeps playing gigs until all the money runs out.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Now That I Have Your Attention, Here’s the Bright Side
Now that I’ve scared the bejesus out of you for my own amusement (and your own damn good) let me assure you that it’s not too late to do something about it.
Thankfully, mastering your finances doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on music. If anything, it may be the only thing that can keep you in it.
A few years ago, when I was approaching 30, I had a fairly “cool” job doing audio production work, but I was a lot like the average American when it came to personal finances: I had credit card debt, negligible savings, no real retirement account to speak of, and not enough income to sustainably support even the modest lifestyle I was living. Basically, I was living the much-maligned “millennial” lifestyle.
Today, all that has changed. I am by no means wealthy. But I’m debt free, on track to save up for both a retirement and a home, and if I lost every one of my sources of income tomorrow, I’d kinda be okay. (For a little while anyway.) And none of it required giving up on the things I care about most.
The freedom you get – both creatively and economically – from being in that kind of position is something that I just can’t put a pricetag on.
When you get your finances together, you can finally afford to say “yes” to the things that are important to you and “no” to the things that aren’t. You can set aside time to figure out how to perfect your craft, and how to make it economically sustainable. And at the risk of sounding like some dopey self-help author: you can do it too.
Here’s the thing: It’s not even that hard to do in the long run. But it does take discipline and some real effort – especially at first.
Although there’s a pretty clear path to getting your act together with your personal finances, most people don’t start on it nearly soon enough. And those that do almost inevitably end up kicking themselves for not getting started sooner.