Drawing parallels between money and music

I’m a little pissed off and a little embarrassed. I’ve lost a bit of my mojo, musically and financially. The latter is fine; I just need to check in on my accounts more like every day, rather than once a week. The first is harder to deal with. There’s a lack of direction, because there are so many songs I want to learn and, let’s be honest, I almost always put in just enough time to pick up the sloppy basics before I’m off on another tangent. And then there’s pure frustration, because therefore I can’t seem to play anything cleanly and beautifully.

Via Wikipedia

I got to thinking about it, and the paths to getting pro at either actually have a lot in common.

It takes time. Like any other habit, they both take time and practice. You won’t train your hands to work in unison overnight, or build toughness the first day you learn barre chords. This is the hardest part for me – putting in enough regular, raw time to maintain strength.

No matter how much I save or how little I spend, I still tend to put off checking up on my bank accounts – and of course, the longer I procrastinate, the scarier the whole prospect gets. T can’t fathom how I can spend so many hours dealing to finances every month, but if I don’t, everything starts to spin funny, or at least that’s how it feels.

It’s painful. If you play (any stringed instrument, probably), you know what I mean. Cramping hands and raw fingertips. Similarly, especially at first, it can be painful to see how much you waste on crap. It was only a few years ago that we could easily blow $50 in a weekend on nothing but milkshakes and sushi without thinking twice.

It’s frustrating. Let the gat gather dust for a few days and start to lose your calluses and dexterity – and the worse it gets the longer you go without playing. (Course, the deeper your calluses, the more leeway you get – but you’re also less likely to take breaks in that case). Fall off the financial wagon and lose track of what you spend, and you’ll come back to a hot mess. Case in point: disorganisation was recently my downfall. I got $70 cash, and planned to spend it while putting $70 from my cheque account into savings instead. Of course, I didn’t do any banking for a week, and totally forgot about it; that $70 disappeared into the ether. Epic fail.

It’s about finding tricks and methods that work for you. On the guitar, are many ways to play the same sequence – the same note can be found across different strings and frets. Find a new tab with a different pattern that’s easier for you, or improvise your own. Financially, the cash envelope system might be your saving grace…or it could be your worst enemy. Maybe you like having separate sub-accounts for various purposes. Find a software or spreadsheet that works for you. Not everyone is an Excel fan, and not everyone is comfortable having financial info online.

But when you nail it? Finishing a week, fortnight or month in the black, or letting rip a blistering, pitch-perfect solo is so worth it.

8 thoughts on “Drawing parallels between money and music

  • Reply First Gen American February 10, 2011 at 00:00

    I always think of mountain biking. I mountain biked for about 5 years before one day I realized, hey I’m really good technically. Of course, I liked it enough that I never cared that I was always the slowest one in my pack. I’m still the slowest, but at least I can get over big honking logs with no problem. But then you go out with someone who is a novice you see how far you’ve developed.

    I think if you enjoy doing something than you learn to live with sucking at it. Then, one day it just occurs to you that you don’t suck anymore.

    I’m convinced you can get good at anything..even rocket science if you just put the time in. I knew nothing about my industry when I started, but now after 15 years in it, I’m an expert in my field. Time is precious and I always feel horrible when I waste it.

  • Reply Investing Newbie February 10, 2011 at 07:23

    They say it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at almost anything…

    Practice, practice, practice.

    I would also add that both are highly rewarding once you get *it* right. Playing that difficult tune on the guitar that you’ve been practicing for ages. And when you get your finances down to a point where you can account for every penny. That feels good.

  • Reply Blessing @ Working Mom Journal February 11, 2011 at 08:18

    I think this applies to a lot of things – practice, patience, etc. is the key to getting better and proficient at anything. Now that you have identified these tips and tricks, you need to follow up on it. I use to play the piano when I was young, not anymore because I spent way too much time on books. I hope that i can get my daughter to be good at some type of musical instrument.

  • Reply Money Rabbit February 11, 2011 at 09:25

    Great entry. I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that it’s okay for me to make financial mistakes, because that means I’m “practicing” and taking chances with my money that can lead to a more prosperous future.

    Practice is right!

  • Reply Enza February 12, 2011 at 16:09

    The really great thing you don’t have to be expert at is investing. I’ve just finished Bogleheads Guide to Investing and Your Money or Your Life. The big thing in Bogleheads is to look for investments with low fees and think carefully about asset allocation.

    Low fees are really important and add up over time. In New Zealand, most investments charge horrendous fees. My old AMP scheme, for example, charges a 1.4% management fee pa. Even the NZX’s Smartshares (ETFs) charge a whopping .75% per cent and this is a passive fund that is ‘sold’ on how cheap its fees are. An equivalent Vanguard fund would have a .2% fee.

    Now, there is hope. Some of the lowest fees in NZ can be found at http://www.superlife.co.nz. I have an international shares index fund with superlife and the fees are arounf .19%. And get this – the fund has done better than any of my “actively managed” more expensive, other ones.

    That, my bitches, is a fact. PS your blog just gets better and better.

  • Reply Carnival of Personal Finance: Cupid Edition | Well Heeled Blog February 14, 2011 at 18:05

    […] I serenade you with a guitar [EEMusings]!” Romeo retorted. “Besides, ow am I supposed to get a job when I […]

  • Reply Carnival of Personal Finance: Cupid Edition | Well Heeled Blog | Credit Wise Info February 14, 2011 at 20:31

    […] we serenade we with a guitar [EEMusings]!” Romeo retorted. “Besides, ow am we ostensible to get a pursuit when we can’t […]

  • Reply Lindy Mint May 16, 2011 at 06:07

    Calluses! I forgot all about that. It’s been so long since I’ve played. But I do remember the pain.

    I too have trouble looking at my bank account. There have been so many times that it has been close to zero that I put up an emotional block against checking it. But it does get easier, with time and practice. I love how we can go from zero to expert though. It just takes work.

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