Frugal Living for Musicians

Frugal Living For Musicians.  Spend less.  Do what you love.

Frugal Living For Musicians. Spend less. Do what you love.

I’m sort of cheating when I say, “I am going to live on musician income only.” That is the ultimate goal. I don’t want to be like the musician who is “making it with music only” and lives in their mother’s basement. However, at the current time, I am essentially a live in nanny for my own children with a night job. I live off of my husband’s income for now. But here is the challenge: The goal is to get him to work less at his job and more with music. This year, I hope to make about 1/4 to 1/3 of his income. Next year I hope to make half.

My role in the home is actually to create an environment in which we do not need to spend money so that we do not have to make that money in the first place. I heard a story one day that made me stop in my tracks:

The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king, you would not have to live on lentils.”

Said Diogenes, “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.”

-A tale from The Song of the Bird by Anthony de Mello

My role is to make sure we are “eating lentils” at home so that we can continue to do what we love. We love to be our own masters. We do not want to have to drag ourselves to the office every day to work for someone who doesn’t value us the way we feel we should be valued. We do not want struggle to pay a contracted cell phone bill every month. We do not want to wonder if we can pay for a car repair. So, we are doing a number of things to prevent these scenarios.

1) Wants are not needs

There are many many things that you think are needs in your life. You have to reevaluate the things in your life that you consider needs. If you have a want that you are unwilling to sacrifice, that is ok too, as long as you are aware that it is nonessential and write it as such on your budget.

You may have grown up in a household with cable television. You may be willing to be subservient to the cable company just as your parents were. You may dutifully connect cable at every new apartment. But, I am here today to tell you that you do not have to do that. You do not need that master. Cable television is NOT a need. You can actually live perfectly fine without it. Owning a toaster is not essential to your survival, so if your toaster breaks, try making toast in a frying pan. It is delicious.

My husband and I have the internet debate. Is paying for an internet connection a want or a need? In all truth, it is not essential to our survival, but it sure feels that way. I am willing to pay for this want. But I also feel like it has become a need as I have been at times a distance learning student, a web designer, a blogger, a person who wants to look for sales online etc…. If it can potentially save you money that you would HAVE to make to pay for something, consider it a necessary evil.

2) Find an alternative.

Here is an example of a thought process you can have with just about any expense in your life:

You decide that you NEED coffee. Fine. You spend $5 a day at fancy cafe place for coffee. Well, $5 x $365 is $1825 of your yearly budget. *resists urge to slap you*

It is time for you to find an alternative. You may find a place that charges you $2 or $1 for coffee. You can reduce your intake to one cup per day. You can make it at home. OOOOH I want a Keurig! No. Those refills are sinfully expensive. You will spend less by getting a regular drip coffee pot or a french press. Assume that a coffee machine will last you 24 months and add the cost divided by 24 to your calculation. Remember to budget for cream and sugar. Try to buy the least expensive coffee and additives that you can reasonably tolerate. (I’m picky about cream.) If you do the math and it costs less to buy a daily coffee from McDonald’s, then do that instead.

So maybe you will bake your own bread, change your own oil, or switch to generic detergents.  Use your mind to fix your budget and live your dream.

3) A sale is still an expense

I’ve heard people say they saved “so much money” by buying this entirely unnecessary thing “ON SALE” at some great place.  Great deal, right?  Let’s look at coffee again.  Even if you reduce your coffee intake to one cup of $1 coffee per day, that is still $365 dollars.  If you eliminate coffee, you have reduced your need for $365 of income per year.  I am not willing to give up my coffee just yet.  It is just an example.

I am a landlord.  What I do in apartments can be written off on my taxes as a business expense.  If I decide to replace a bunch of random things every time a tenant moves out, then I am going to spend a lot of money that I don’t need to spend.  A business expense is still an expense.  We have to be careful with expenses that look like deals.

4) Necessary Evils

At this point in my life there are things that I have to have.  As a parent, I need a home with working utilities in good working order.  I need to take care of our health and nutrition.  I feel like I need a cell phone.  All of these things have the appearance of being straight up expenses that you have to pay.  Well, you do have to pay them, but there are two ways to consider modifying them. A) Can I use less? B) Can I pay less for each unit?

You do not need to run the water.  You can put plastic on your windows in the winter.  You can use a tiny dot of toothpaste. These are examples of things you need but can use less of. What is your food waste?  Can you wash and reuse your ziplock baggies?  Remember that if you are already paying for it, you can choose to use it more wisely.  This applies to many things in life.

Can I pay less for each unit?  Find the least expensive heating source for your home.  Find sale toothpaste.  Find a cell phone plan that is high quality but inexpensive.  We use Republic Wireless.  <<<<That is a coupon.

Whenever possible, use both strategies.  I can only use strategy A for my water bill, but I can use both A and B  for my heating bill.  Awesome!  Make sure you don’t go cheap on things you really need.  Eating healthy foods will keep you from losing work time on stage.  You will spend less money on dental problems.  Paying for a good health insurance plan will prevent you from getting scary medical bills and having to go back to work for the man when you fall off your rolling chair and require tons of surgery to fix your broken body.  (Who could have predicted that?!?)  Don’t gamble with things that shouldn’t be gambled and learn to know the difference.

Too many words?  Just follow these steps: Do I need it or am I unwilling to live without it?   Can I buy it for less money?  Can  I use less of it?

Good luck!


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