AKA, How Is Money Management Like Making Music?

Last month, while my sister and I were talking about various budget-related questions, she came up with the idea that money management is like music.

If you go to an advanced class or hear music on the radio, and you try to join in with whatever instrument you want to learn, that’s probably not going to work out. You might hear that the correct technique is to blah blah blah, but when you try, you can’t do it because you don’t know the basics yet. You could just jump in at the point where people are trying to refine what they do, but you’re probably going to get really discouraged.

A lot of the “basic” advice people say about money isn’t necessarily basic, but it sounds logical enough, so it seems like it is. Just like listening to a professional flautist playing beautifully, we understand that is what a flute should sound like.

And having a healthy emergency savings, a good deal of retirement savings, etc., that seems like that’s probably good money management… But that’s not necessarily what it looks like to start out learning the flute or learning money management.

Starting out with the flute involves learning the correct way to sit or stand, hold your fingers, the correct way to release air so that the flute will actually emit sound, etc. Basically, training your mind and body to conduct itself in a way that will enable, and not hinder, the playing of a note.

That mindset, that stance, becomes ingrained as a habit as you learn new notes, slowly building newer habits onto those practices you hadn’t used before. Even though there are some differences in playing various notes, the basics of the discipline are the same.

But, if you learn the incorrect embouchure (AKA silly face you must make for the instrument to act like an instrument, or, more technically and specifically, the way you hold your mouth), it might work at first, but it’ll cause problems later on.

Habits for flute-playing must be created within the flute-playing mindset, and don’t necessarily apply exactly outside that mindset. Yes, you knew how to breathe before playing the flute, how to sit or stand. But you must learn the way to do that within the context of flute-playing (like the ice-skating analogy a couple reflections back). Knowledge from within the discipline of flute-playing may be applied to outside experience, and vice versa, but if you are just learning to play the flute, chances are, you need to focus on the basic mindset and mechanics of producing a note.

As you begin budgeting (or learning the flute), don’t get discouraged if your budget (or playing) doesn’t seem just like what you hear from experts. Start at the beginning, work on the foundation on which to build all these amazing habits you aspire to. You’ll get there. And when you do, you’ll be glad to have a firm foundation.

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