It’s devastating. Concerts are canceled; bars and other venues are closed; all of a sudden, you are out of work. And if you have not put together a solid emergency fund, you could be in trouble.
It’s time for some tight budgeting. You have three strategies to put into place – tighten up your personal budget as much as possible, negotiate with your creditors, and look for funding and resources that will see you through these hard times.
So, let’s take a look at each of these three strategies.
Tightening Up the Budget
While it’s not pleasant, just keep reminding yourself that you are not alone. Everyone who has been laid off, who has had their enterprises closed down, and who have lost paychecks is hurting. Also remember that a lot of small savings add up, so leave no stone unturned as you look for ways to modify your budget and economize:
- How often have you been eating out or ordering takeout? That needs to end, and you need to become a smart grocery shopper. Read the sales, as those fliers arrive in your mailbox every week. Make a menu based upon what is on sale. And stick to it as you go through those aisles.
- What extras can you cut out? Do you have a gym membership? How many movie channels do you subscribe to? How often do you go to your local bar for a drink or two with friends? Again, while it is not pleasant, if you are really strapped, you have to cut out as much as possible to live with the money you do have.
- Get a budget in writing. What are your financial obligations each month – rent/mortgage, utilities, car, charge accounts, etc. You need to know exactly what your essential expenses are so that you know how much money you must have to live each month. If you have enough for these expenses, then what is left is what you have for the non-essentials. If you don’t have enough, then you will need to look at some options. The remaining two strategies are those options.
Contact Your Creditors
The Covid-19 crisis has impacted millions of people who find themselves unable to pay all of their bills. Again, you are not alone.
Creditors are adopting flexibility as people struggle. Many are willing to defer payments, to reduce payments and/or interest rates, and, in general, work with those who have been in good standing until the crisis hit. This has been holding true for bank credit cards and loans, student loans, car loans, rent, and mortgage holders.
Apply for Government and Private Relief Programs/Resources
Even if self-employed, individuals out of work can apply for unemployment. This can get tricky if you were employed as well as a gig worker. But you need to get started, even if you experience bumps along the road. You may have to just take the employment that paid you most. Or, if you have your income records from your music and that is larger, then you will need proof of that income.
The application will require a lot of personal information, so be certain you9 have all of it on hand as you complete it. This can be done online and is far preferable than going to the unemployment office. If there are issues with the application, you will be contacted.
The CARES Act
Hopefully, you received a stimulus check under the CARES Act. But, if you have established yourself as a small business, you certainly should apply for a small business loan too. While most of this money has now dried up, there will be more money available as we get into the summer. Get an application in.
Check out Other Eligibility
You may be eligible for Food Stamps, free health care, etc. – programs at the local or state level.
Consider a part-time job.
While openings may not be particularly attractive, if you have time on your hands and need income, you can find jobs with companies that are considered “essential” – groceries, drug stores, even liquor stores, and fast-food restaurants. Amazon is employing warehouse staff and delivery drivers.
- Look for Music Related Money-Makers and Grants
There are a number of sources for you to monetize your music or to apply for grants for struggling artists. Obviously, they are pretty competitive right now, but certainly worth a try. Livestream concerts on Facebook and Instagram, and ask for tip donations from fans.
Estelle Liotard, while not in the music industry, is a freelance writer and blogger for a number of online educational organizations. Her work has been dwindling since the Pandemic began. But she has not stopped working. “I am spending a lot of my downtime writing blog posts and articles that I know will be valuable once we open back up. I’ll have a huge repertoire to pitch in all sorts of places.”
Music equipment is valuable. If you have some that is not critical, consider selling it.
And Plan for the Future
When all of this is over, you will want to jump back in quickly. To do this, you must keep in contact with those who have employed you in the past and/or who had to cancel your appearances due to lockdowns. Keep your “ear to the ground” locally for when openings are being scheduled, so that you can jump on chances to perform.