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As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.

The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit


Home » International Musician » How to Self-Manage Your Personal Finances and Life

How to Self-Manage Your Personal Finances and Life


by Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians: The Complete Handbook from Start to Success

BusinessBasics-for-MusiciansDuring February many people are thinking about taxes and their personal finances and how to get them under control. The book Business Basics for Musicians: The Complete Handbook from Start to Success (Hal Leonard Books, 2015) by Bobby Borg offers many tips for musicians to manage their own careers. This excerpt focuses on personal finances.

The time will one day come when you are making great money and hiring business managers. But until then, here are a few tips on managing your own financial life:

Trim Your Expenses: Determine your exact monthly expenses (rent, car insurance, phone, food, health insurance, Internet) and decide which expenditures you can really do without.
Set Your Sights on Earning Twice as Much as Your Expenses: You may not succeed, but you can at least push for this!

Don’t “Fake It Till You Make It”: In other words, don’t live above your means. You can find ways to make a good impression by shopping around for great deals, buying secondhand, etc., without putting yourself in debt.

Keep Track of Your Bills: Pay your bills on time to avoid paying late fees, and always check your bills for accuracy—even major corporations make mistakes!

Watch Your Money Daily: Keep track of what you’re spending your money on and what’s in your checking account. You can balance your checkbook the old-fashioned way (using the register your bank gives you) or by learning to use financial software programs like Quicken.

Find Ways to Limit “Necessary” Expenses: You can reduce monthly banking fees by limiting ATM use, finding a bank that offers free checking, raising your car insurance deductible, shopping around for long distance and cell phone rates, moving into a smaller apartment or getting a roommate, packing a lunch, and drinking at home instead of drinking in a bar (that is, if drinking is really necessary).

Pay Off Credit Cards: Pay off your credit cards in full each month to avoid paying interest charges, and consider using convenient secure cards (i.e., cards in which your limits are predeposited into an account so that you’ll never find yourself in debt.)

Get Out of Debt Now: If you’re in debt, make it a priority to start getting out now. There is nothing that weighs on your mental well-being more than worrying about money. Check the Internet for advice, or speak to your local bank or personal accountant.

Don’t Borrow Money Unless You Absolutely Have To: If you’re trying to fund your next recording project, get creative. Set up a barter deal with a local producer in which he or she records you in return for playing on his or her other sessions. Or get the fans to invest in you.

Save Some Amount of Money Each Month: No matter how little it is, save something!

Invest: Speak with a financial planner about your future goals (e.g., when you’d like to retire, how much money you’d like to save for your retirement, etc.) and discuss investments (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) that will help you reach your goals.

Look Into Creating a Retirement Fund: Sometimes your “day job” (if you have one) will offer a plan. Just be sure to speak with a financial planner or CPA about this.

Reduce Your Tax Liability: Save all of your business-related receipts, and file them in separate envelopes by the month (or scan them and save them on your computer). If you’re really good, also separate them in various categories like gas, auto repairs, entertainment, and meal receipts, business phone charges, subscriptions, and union dues. These may help you save money when doing your taxes.

Get Financially Fit: Read motivational and business books like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill; The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by Suze Orman; Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner; and The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. Or take a class on bookkeeping or money management at a local college.

Find an Accountant: Find a good CPA experienced in the music business by using referrals from people you trust.

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