Trying to make a living as a musician, much less retire, is no easy feat. When you launch your career, chances are good you already are drowning in thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
To top it off, you have to struggle to find work in a highly competitive field.
Even if you do, it may not be the most highly paid work. You may start to wonder how you will ever be able to save for retirement.
You are not the only one. America is facing a looming retirement crisis.
According to Time magazine, one in three Americans have no retirement savings at all. That does not mean that the government is prepared to deal with it.
There are really no guarantees that anybody else is going to be there to help you when you reach retirement age.
That is why you need to help yourself, even if it feels impossible right now. How can you start to save for retirement as a struggling musician?
1. Have a budget.
The very first thing you can do to make a real difference in your life is to have a monthly budget. You need to calculate exactly how much money is (typically) incoming and outgoing.
There may be some variation in that since you are a musician; that makes budgeting extra challenging.
Once you have added everything up, you can figure out if you are in the red or black, and hopefully you can start to see why.
2. Cut back on your expenditures.
Once you get a clear portrait of your monthly finances, you can start taking steps toward bringing your finances into the black. That will probably mean curbing your costs wherever possible.
Even if you are living a thrifty life, there are probably still some changes you can make.
Move into a smaller home or apartment, reduce your utilities bills through conservative power and heating use, and so on.
3. Look for a steady gig.
A lot of musicians move from gig to gig without finding anything steady. You may spend a lot of time performing as an understudy. If you find yourself in this situation, it is easy to get to the point where you convince yourself that is all there is.
But you should not give up looking for a steady, permanent job. There are some opportunities out there. For example, you could join the military.
Musicians in the military enjoy numerous benefits. You have a chance to travel and see the world. You get a steady paycheck, and you do not need to constantly worry about how you will pay the bills.
If you cannot find a full-time job as a musician, you may want to consider getting a part-time job doing something else.
4. Set up a retirement plan.
Unless you happen to find a permanent employer who offers a retirement plan (increasingly unlikely these days, especially for a musician), you will probably have to handle your own retirement.
This can be very challenging as there are numerous different options out there and you have to take on all the risk.
Investigate plans like traditional and Roth IRAs. Talk to a tax advisor. Working with an expert, you can figure out an approach which will help you to maximize your income later in life.
5. Start using a robo-advisor.
Not everyone can afford to talk to a personal financial advisor or tax advisor. As a struggling musician, you simply may not have that opportunity.
So what do you do? Consider using a robo-advisor instead.
What is a robo-advisor? It is a software program designed to replace the need for a human financial advisor.
You simply sign up on the robo-advisor website and upload your financial information. The robo-advisor will analyze your situation and help you figure out what you can do to save money and budget toward the future.
The program can even advise you on retirement plans which may be a good fit for you.
Robo-advisors are rising in popularity, so there are now dozens to choose from. If you are not sure where to begin in your search, you might try one of the top two: Betterment or Wealthfront.
Working as a musician and trying to make a living is already a challenge; putting aside enough to save for tomorrow may seem impossible. But if you make some smart life choices and luck is on your side, you have a real chance to succeed!