#MusiciansandFinance is musicovation’s blog series exploring finance for musicians. All posts are contributed by graduate students in New England Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Music course Finance 101: What Musicians Need to Know taught by NEC alum Jessi Rosinski.
by Andrew Huynh
Throughout taking Finance 101 and drawing upon my prior experiences, I found it pretty manageable to understand my own personal finances. I would say the big thing for musicians to keep in mind when it comes to finances is moderation. It’s understandable that we spend a lot of our day working and taking classes and by the end of the week, we want to blow off some steam. Since I don’t drink because of personal and health reasons, I have always found solace in other activities. I’m personally into fitness and being outdoors since it helps me become more in tune with my body and translates to me performing better on trombone. It’s pretty easy for me to relax and recharge myself on a small budget when I’m doing these things to take care of myself. I think musicians, especially student musicians, should be able to find something that doesn’t require money per say, but still creates a sense of satisfaction and relaxation as well as taking care of their bodies and minds.
Another thing that musicians should take into account with finances is their food expenses. Although I am guilty of not monitoring it as much as I should, musicians should watch their budget when it comes to eating and dining out. I make as many meals as I can at home and watch what I eat. It is a little more expensive to be health conscious, but the savings are quite significant when comparing it to eating out on a regular basis. I love making salads for myself to bring to school because they’re pretty inexpensive and easy to make. I use greens, nuts, cheese, fruit, proteins, and salad dressing for the salads. I usually pan fry packs of meat all at the beginning of the week so then I can use them for the salads and my meals for dinner throughout the week. That way I can do the least amount of cooking after I come home from a long, busy day. I also bring oatmeal with me in the morning and that also is super cheap and good for you. The big misconception with eating healthy, especially within the musician community, is that it is boring. Granted, even I like cheat meals and treats every now and again (I’m not a food and health purest). Finding what you like to eat and keeping it interesting while on a budget is super easy once a little thought is put it. I usually spend $60/week on groceries and it lasts me a whole week.
The biggest thing I learned through class and life experiences is to be aware and proactive with your finances. Before when I had my local bank near me, I would always carry cash on me because it was a good way to physically see how much you are spending, without having to save every receipt. But since I moved to Boston, I’ve had to make a switch to credit and debit cards. That was probably the most difficult thing finance wise for me, because there’s no way to physically see the money leaving your pocket. Downloading your bank’s app or checking your account online is a must. I found that it was super easy to say just say yes to purchases because I wasn’t dealing with cash. But I was in for a surprise after I checked my bank accounts a few days later.
Ideally, if you’re spending money every day, you should be checking your account every day. Since I don’t find myself buying things every day, I do check it every other day or every couple of days. It’s super easy and takes literally one minute. Just being aware and monitoring your finances is the first step to fixing a financial problem or difficulties. You can see what you are spending money on and it directly reflect in your statement. If you’re spending a lot of money, you can then figure out what can you adjust or remove from your weekly routines. If everything is essential or you feel that it’s necessary, then you can find ways to increase your income to sustain the lifestyle you want. When it comes to finances, it’s all about checks and balances to really understand what is going on, how you can better yourself, and hopefully end up saving money for the future.