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Financial Lifehacks For Musicians

To dedicate a good amount of your time, energy, and resources on music is to accept that the financial reward rarely even doubles the sacrifice you put in. If you want to take your music seriously — even as a serious hobby — this makes some of your personal expenses a little bit harder to come by.

Whether it’s food, travel, or healthcare and insurance, the musician life is not always an easy one. However, hard is not the same thing as impossible. Here are some basic life hacks for saving money as a musician.


I remember quite a while ago reading about Rock for Health, a now-defunct organization that worked hard to get professional musicians healthcare. When music does pay bills, it doesn’t leave much left over. Healthcare as we’re defining it here it is more than doctor’s visits and emergency surgeries, but things such as over-the-counter medication, glasses, prescription medication and birth control — in the United States it’s all incredibly expensive. All of this can be upwards of $1,000.

Companies like TuneCore and the Music Health Alliance are doing their best to offer advice and healthcare assistance to touring musicians, because so many insurance companies don’t want to take a big risk on someone whose income is so sketchy. If you feel like saving, there are preventative measures you can take now to reduce healthcare costs in the future. One example that’s spendy but potentially could benefit your bank in the long run is LASIK surgery. Another would be disease preventative shots. Insurance is vital in the case of emergencies however, so take a good look into these resources and take advantage of them if you can.


You don’t necessarily need to get on food stamps, but learning to eat as a busy musician is sort of just resigning yourself to eating under the poverty line. In other words, even with an OK-paying job, you have to learn to eat like you’re making minimum wage. Now, many musicians are vegetarian, and I learned that in these cases, dollar stores are your best friends. Eggs, bean and cheese burrito ingredients, microwavable foods — all of these are available at your local dollar store.

When it comes to more regular vegetables and health foods, take advantage of every coupon you can. Staying well nourished is still important on a shoestring budget. In addition, a lot of musicians I know live pretty debaucherous lifestyles and find themselves in the red pretty often. If that’s you, try not eating out too much, and cut back on the booze — even if you think you play better under the influence.

Auto Insurance

You may be laughing to yourself, because everybody knows the kinds of vehicles DIY artists tour in, as well as the kind of mileage put on them. I actually own a record dedicated to a band’s first van, and the liner notes include all of the unusual maintenance actions they had to perform in order to keep it going (for instance, putting two quarts of oil in the van each time they fill up, having to extinguish several fires, etc.) — until it went kerplunk three years into them owning it . This, unfortunately, is not necessarily uncommon with smaller, touring artists.

Last Minute Musicians actually details a list of things that help reduce car insurance for musicians. A lot of them are pretty common sense: a clean drivers license, for instance. But it also mentions things like building up your no-claims discount and increasing your excess. Another recommendation is using specialist insurers, which is something I personally wouldn’t have thought of. It’s worth a read through, which you can do here.

Basic Furniture and Household Items

When it comes to furniture, a lot of your options really come down to where you live. I would strongly caution that you avoid picking up furniture off the street if you live in a big city such as New York — if it’s out for free, it probably has bed bugs. If you live in a smaller place like Boise, ID (my beloved hometown), thrift stores are your best bet, and they will be priced cheaper than in a thrift store in a big city. However, if you can’t find anything you like or worth your time, Amazon is not a bad way to go!

Necessity is the key here. While beggars can’t always be choosers, they can certainly be smart. That means you can put together a good set of household utilities by taking a little time to consider where you’re getting them. Sites like Mattress Advisor help you research furniture before you buy it. Walmart has good deals on plates and kitchen utensils, as much as I hate supporting them. Craigslist may be a good option, but keep in mind that you may also risk bugs and other malfunctions with furniture specifically.


How do you cut corners with the costs you’re paying on your music life? Let me know on Twitter @Robolitious.


Financial Lifehacks For Musicians

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