Over the years, producer <strong>Chuck Harmony</strong> has worked with everyone from <strong>Celine Dion</strong> (“I Got Nothing Left”), <strong>Mary J. Blige</strong> (“I Can Do Bad”) and <strong>Janet Jackson</strong> (“Let Me Know”) to <strong>Keri Hilson</strong> (“Pretty Girl Rock”), <strong>Fantasia</strong> (“Bittersweet”) and <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/01/25/watch-the-high-life-ne-yo-talks-about-his-new-ventures-and-his-partnership-with-black-enterprise/"><strong>Ne-Yo</strong></a> (“One in a Million”). In that time he’s seen overflowing budgets and newcomers blow their advances on expensive homes, cars and jewelry. In observing his colleagues’ ups, downs and pitfalls, Harmony’s views on finance, investing and, more importantly, how to save is very different than most. The creator of Los Angeles based <strong>Harmony House Entertainment</strong> shares a few of his financial tips for aspiring musicians and entrepreneurs with <strong>BlackEnterprise.com</strong>.
<strong>ADVANCES… ACT LIKE YOU DIDN’T GET IT</strong> <ul> <li>A big mistake that many new artist make is that they think the money will last forever. An advance is just that, it’s upfront money that you have to recoup. That’s why Harmony advises just putting it in the bank and saving some for Uncle Sam. “Put 50% into a separate account that you will not have access to just for your taxes,” he says. “Taxes are about 30% of your gross income. You’ll be doing yourself a favor. Remember, you’re never too rich to go broke!”</li> </ul>
<strong>SAVE YOUR MONEY</strong> <ul> <li>Just because the money’s pouring in now doesn’t mean it will tomorrow. That’s why it’s always a smart idea to live within your means and not beyond them. For example, if you make $2 million in a year, Harmony suggests stretching that out to last 10 years by living like you only make $90,000 a year. “In the music business, actually in any business, there are peaks and valleys. When you hit your peak, prepare for the valley,” he says. “Money is thrown at you from all directions, but it’s not always going to be like that… You have to be prepared. You’re not always going to be hot.”</li> </ul>
<strong>AVOID IMPULSE SHOPPING </strong> <ul> <li>It’s okay to enjoy the finer things in life when you come into new money, but the key is moderation. “Make sure your purchases are thought out,” says Harmony. “You don’t need everything you see just because you can afford to buy it. So many of us are quick to go buy cars and jewelry. In the beginning, I used to pay for dinner everyday of the week, but they all add up.”</li> </ul>
<strong>LEARN HOW TO SAY “NO” </strong> <ul> <li>Anyone that’s come into new money knows that it’s inevitable that someone is going to come out the woodworks with their hand out. As hard as it is to turn away family and friends, it’s not a fiscally smart move to make a habit of giving away money. “You need to say, ‘No,’ as people will ask you for money just because they know you have it,” says Harmony. “I had to realize that I was being a crutch. If I wasn’t around they would still have to figure out how to find the money.”</li> </ul>
<strong>PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FINANCIAL RECORDS </strong> <ul> <li>It’s always a good idea to have a business manager or accountant to keep your finances in order, but that doesn’t mean you should kick back and relax. “Just because they take care of your business affairs, doesn’t mean that <em>you</em> don’t pay attention to what they’re doing,” says Harmony, who suggests asking your peers for references. “Too many times we hear in the media how stars owe the government back taxes, end up bankrupt or money has been stolen. Pay attention!”</li> </ul>