Financial Hits – Credit Cards

Sometimes the universe throws a curve ball that upends our well organized short and longterm plans. In the case of Covid 19, I have a total of 18 events (concerts, classes, radio) on the chopping block for a 3-week period and seven of them have already been canceled/postponed. This has serious immediate financial repercussions for me and my family of over $5K lost, and substantially more if it goes into April.
Since Artists rarely speak about finances amongst each other, I thought I would give a few words of advice regarding credit cards and how one can navigate a precarious situation. Remember: In the US we are judged on our teeth and credit rating.

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I should state I am a touring classical musician (solo and chamber) who teaches at a university (adjunct) and privately, have multiple recordings and arrangements available, lecture on Creating Commissioning Projects and Being an Artist Entrepreneur, AND lost a house and studio due to a major fire. This is not my first rodeo fugue.

CREDIT CARDS

1 – Call your credit card company(s) and ask if they are offering any kind of relief for those out of work due to Covid 19. If they are unsure then speak with someone who knows; they work for you. Depending on the company and card level, they may offer:
– No interest or late payments
– Wave late fees and interest at a later time
– Small business loans
– Horrible hold music (promise!)

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• American Express is actually a wonderful card (no spending limit) and is flexible in making things works during hardship, especially if you are a long time card member. I don’t like large corporations, but if you have to have one, I would go with AMEX. The call took 8min.
• Chase did not have Massachusetts listed as State of Emergency as of today even though our governor stated such yesterday!! I spent 30min on the phone with an advisor and they did agree to wave late fees and interest, but I would have to follow up after the fact. Also I should check in again to see if things have changed.
• I have not yet called BOA…

2 – Make your minimum payments when possible.
Unless they have marked your account specifically, it is always a good idea. Get the name of the customer service person at ALL times.

Balance Transfers
American Express Everyday Card is a no yearly fee card that offers free balance transfers from non-AMEX cards. Chase Slate card as well, and Bank of America also has one. As most credit cards charge a 3-4% fee automatically on all transfers I highly recommend finding a card(s) that works. You WILL still need to pay the balance amounts, but hopefully this shit-show will have passed, we’ll have a new set of leaders, and our lottery numbers will come in. Link for Best No-Fee Cards:

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SAVINGS ACCOUNT – OR CASH
YOU STILL OWE THE MONEY!

If you are able to get some relief from immediate payments and if you are able to move the money out of your checking account. Put it into a savings account and try not to touch it. If you are of a certain type it may be best to withdraw the money to have cash on-hand.
In either case, DON’T use it the money unless it is a major emergency.
YOU STILL OWE THE MONEY!
Remember: Nothing is free in the US unless you are famous or rich.

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Read the small print. If you have been or are about to be hit with a large jump in interest transfer the balance ASAP. It usually takes 2 weeks, so act even if you have to pay a 3-4% fee. Compounding interest and late fees can destroy a career, home and family. Eating Chocolate and laying in a fetal position may be nice, but the balances won’t go away.
Do not have guilt in any of this. It is just a game and learning how to juggle is one more skill freelance musicians should learn.
After my fire I went from 3 credit cards to 13 in just over 3-months. It cost money and I made mistakes, but I learned and survived. So can you!

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Other Debt Options

Home Equity Line – Citizens Bank offers a $50K equity line for $50 a year with pretty much a no questions application. Other banks too!
Musicians Foundation – Apply for $500-$3000 to assist with medical, utilities, and vendor bills. Will NOT cover credit card bills.
Patreon – Create art and ask supports to subscribe for a fee. (See my SITE: https://www.patreon.com/alcmusic!!)
Local assistanceThe Record Co. is offering small grants for those who lost gigs. The City of Boston is offering grants of up to $1000 for artists of all types who lost income.
Support Local Artists – Be a part of the solution! If you are able donate to a Patreon, buy an album (physical with autograph is best), promote another. (Check out my store: https://alcguitar.com/store.php)

photo: Catherine Larget-Caplan

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