7 Personal Finance Lessons From Bruce Springsteen
We can learn a lot from Bruce Springsteen. The Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer has much to offer in terms of how to work hard, how to have fun, and how to look good in jeans with an AARP card in your pocket. (See also: Why Learning the Guitar Is a Great Investment)
But the Boss and his music can also offer some great financial tips, too. From saving your money to getting rich as you age, here are a few lessons from one of America's greatest artists.
1. Jobs and Income Aren't Guaranteed
Perhaps no other American musician has written more about issues of unemployment and the struggles of working class. There are numerous Springsteen songs that talk about joblessness and its impact. In "The River," Springsteen sings about getting a job working for construction, "but lately, there ain't much work on account of the economy."
The lesson here is that even hard-working, honest people may find themselves out of work, so it's best to live within your means, save your money, and plan for a rainy day. (See also: How to Escape Long-Term Unemployment)
2. Buy a Used Car, Don't Buy Lottery Tickets
In the song "Used Cars," Springsteen sings of a family's inability to buy a new car due to lack of money.
"Now mister," he sings, "the day the lottery I win I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again."
We can sympathize with this family's financial struggles. But if they're following good rules of personal finance, they should try to make do with the used car as long as it gets them around safely. And let's sincerely hope they're not spending their hard-earned money on lottery tickets.
3. Working Until You're Old Can Make You Happy (and Rich)
The standard personal finance advice calls for people to save enough in order to enjoy a long and comfortable retirement. No one expects you to be on stage rocking out at age 64. But the success of the Boss at his age shows that if you love what you do — and you've taken good care of yourself — those so-called twilight years can be the most satisfying of your life. Remember that retirement isn't really about stopping work. It's about finally having the freedom to do whatever you want. (See also: Essential Truths for a Successful Retirement)
4. It's OK to Look for Tax Breaks
It may seem crazy to think that Bruce Springsteen, wealthy champion of the working man, would receive a government subsidy. But a 2011 U.S. Senate report entitled "Subsidies of the Rich and Famous," said Springsteen receives farm subsidies because he leases his land to an organic farmer.
This may seem hypocritical to some people, but in a broad sense, this is no different than the average person looking to find every tax break available to them. Many tax breaks and subsidies exist to incentivize certain behaviors. In Bruce's case, it's organic farming, but you can get tax breaks for everything from saving for retirement to installing an energy-efficient water heater. It can be said that seeking tax breaks, government grants, and subsidies is part of being "Born in the U.S.A."
5. Work With People You Know and Trust
Bruce Springsteen has performed with many of the same musicians throughout his life. His manager, Jon Landau, has been with him since the 1970s.
"We worked together for 40 years," Landau said in an interview with Rockol.com in May. "I worked as a record producer, as a manager. We're very close friends. I think he counts on me to make sure that everything is the way it should be so that he can do his job."
This consistency has probably helped Springsteen's career, and there is a lesson here for average people when it comes to their finances. Find a good, honest financial advisor and stick with them. Same goes for an accountant or tax advisor. The more they know about your personal situation, the they more they can help you.
Shopping around for the best price on services is OK for some things — cable companies and auto insurance, for example — but for things where personal knowledge is key, loyalty will help you.
This works not only for financial help, but for people like auto mechanics, home contractors, and doctors and other professionals, too. (See also: How to Find a Reputable Mechanic)
6. Diversify Your Income
At this point, Springsteen isn't just a musician, he's an industry. He makes big money from album sales, but also rakes it in from live touring. He also hasn't shied away from working with Hollywood, writing a Grammy-award winning song for the movie "Philadelphia" and penning another that appeared in the soundtrack for "Jerry Maguire."
The lesson here is that if your talents allow you to bring in money from more than one source, go for it. (See also: 10 Money-Making Hobbies)
7. Shop Local
One of the common themes in Springsteen's music is the death of small towns and Main Streets. In "My Hometown," he writes: "Now Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores/Seems there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more."
Sounds like Bruce is a supporter of the idea of the shopping local, in order to keep dollars from flowing out of a community. One recent study showed that communities with an active "buy local" campaign saw revenue at independent businesses rise more than 7%, compared to 2.6% for those towns without a campaign.
What has the Boss — or any other pop musician — taught you about personal finance?