Once upon a time, financial stability and bartending were rarely uttered in the same breath. Today, though, bartenders are getting savvy about ways to sustain a career in the industry from both a personal and professional standpoint.
Bar manager Naomi Levy of Boston’s Eastern Standard has long been an evangelist for ways bartenders can be proactive about their finances, helping to lead a national conversation about the hills and valleys of a long-term career in the industry. Below, she outlines her tips for working towards financial stability behind the stick.
Eliminate the risk of large out of pocket expenses (aka, get insurance).
Health insurance is something all Americans are now required to have (so get it!) but disability insurance can really help those in the service industry. If you are hurt or sick, it can cost you a ton, so take care of yourself to make sure you are taken care of. For the cost of about a cocktail per week, you can get coverage that pays a set monthly amount if you can’t work. Companies like Aflac only require three employees to sign up to get it through your employer, and it costs them nothing as a show of goodwill for their employees.
Know how much you make.
It’s easy for money to quickly disappear from your pocket when you’re often paid in cash. Keep a log of how much money you have coming in and going out, or better yet, deposit that cash so you have an electronic log. Knowing what you actually make will help you figure out what you can actually afford and, ultimately, save each month.
Pay yourself first.
Investing in your future and savings is a huge priority whether it is for short term goals or retirement. I recommend treating savings just like any other bill you have to pay. Keep your savings goals as a priority by setting up automatic payments from your checking account to a savings account or IRA (I recommend the latter). After you’ve paid your future self (and your bills and living expenses), the rest is expendable income.
Find financial resources.
There are so many resources you can tap into to help get your finances in order. I’m willing to bet one of the regulars you love has a financial background and would be happy to chat with you about options over coffee. There are also plenty of online resources at your disposal, from money management apps such as Mint.com, to automatic investment services like Betterment.com. Find one that works for you and use it.