I recently had the opportunity to contribute to an article for Classical Singer magazine about the complexities of financial planning for musicians. Greg Waxberg wrote the article called “Filling in the Financial Gaps” and brought together advice from many financial planners on issues with budgeting, retirement planning, health insurance and more.
I shared a retirement savings strategy that works well when your income may be variable from month to month and year to year. This strategy is applicable to those with variable incomes in professional music careers, but also applies to anyone whose income varies. This could include self-employed, sales people with much compensation tied to commissions, and others.
Ideally, you should carve out a baseline retirement savings amount each month that fits within the minimum income you tend to receive. If your income is so variable as to make that impossible, you should set an annual savings goal for the year. When you have large compensation months, you direct 100% of it to achieving this goal until you hit it each year. After meeting your goal, you can split any overages between additional retirement savings and more discretionary items. This approach allows you to stay on track for meeting your financial goals even when your income varies tremendously. It also creates a reward for yourself of achieving your goals by allowing yourself a discretionary spending splurge after the goal is met.