Author Topic: House Decisions, Career Decisions  (Read 848 times)

Carlin

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House Decisions, Career Decisions
« on: September 12, 2017, 05:24:26 PM »
Hello! My husband and I currently have a lot to think about so I thought I would bounce some of it off of you guys.  I am currently an office temp making $13.40/hr, but since moving to the city have realized that I can use my piano playing ability to make money teaching and gigging.  I have picked up about 10 students quickly and make $40/hr doing it.  My ultimate goal is to slowly phase myself out of my temp job (they love me and are letting me cut my hours over the course of the next year or so; currently I am taking Mondays off), and teach full time.  DH has a good job in audio/music equipment sales.
We are also in the process of looking for a house.  In our city buying is much more economical than renting.  We are pre-approved for 80 grand, which can get you a very decent house here.  We also want the house so that I can have a room to teach out of, rather than my living room in our tiny apartment.  We have found some amazing houses in an area that is near, but not in "problem" areas of the city.  While I personally am not afraid to live in these areas, I worry that it will affect people's willingness to bring their children to me for lessons.  If they ask where I live and I say "the SE side," they may be deterred.  I've talked with some current student parents about this, and several concurred that if I moved there now they would still come to me, but if I had told them that as a stranger they would have gone elsewhere. 
I guess my question is: Should we take the risk and live in an "up and coming" sort of area, or should we maybe up our budget a little or lower our home standards for a more established and respected neighborhood? 
Also, does anyone have advice for me regarding transitioning from a cubicle job to attempting to get a teaching-and-playing-music related career off the ground?
Thanks!

trollwithamustache

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 05:33:10 PM »
Find yourself an accountant. this music thing is a business, not a career, and needs to be treated as a business. So,

a.  if you are using a portion of the house for seeing students, then there is a right way to write of a smorgasboard of costs and a bunch of wrong ways.

b.  if  the business use is formally a reason why you would buy a specific house, go through the exercise of writing up a business plan. Or, do the rates of lessons for rich kids justify a fancier house? We can't tell you that.  The plan is not handcuffs, you can always change it, but you need a plan that defines your current goals.

Carlin

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 05:38:29 PM »
Find yourself an accountant. this music thing is a business, not a career, and needs to be treated as a business. So,

a.  if you are using a portion of the house for seeing students, then there is a right way to write of a smorgasboard of costs and a bunch of wrong ways.

b.  if  the business use is formally a reason why you would buy a specific house, go through the exercise of writing up a business plan. Or, do the rates of lessons for rich kids justify a fancier house? We can't tell you that.  The plan is not handcuffs, you can always change it, but you need a plan that defines your current goals.

Thank you! Can you maybe help me understand what a plan would look like?  I'll be honest, I'm just a 24 year old with a philosophy degree that plays a mean piano and seems to have a knack for being reeeallyy patient and engaged.  The lesson thing has taken off ridiculously....people seem to think I do great.  I would really like to pursue it, and I do feel I need a separate space to teach.  I don't want to raise my fee, I want to be accessible to anyone who wants to learn music.  The problem with a cheaper area is not the price as much as it is the reputation.  Unfortunately, where I live affects how people perceive me and their comfort levels with coming to me.

Carlin

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 05:40:30 PM »
I also spoke to the guy that I am taking some advanced jazz lessons from, and he seems to agree that living in the crappy neighborhood is a bad plan.  I just want to make sure he's not being unmustachian. I don't think he is though....he doesn't have any debt and loves Costco.  Secret mustachian??

Carlin

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 05:46:59 PM »
There are a lot of things I would do with the extra space, such as group classes for kids age 2-4 and 5-8, video recording, band rehearsals. 

Freedomin5

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 06:52:14 AM »
I taught piano for several years, and I also took piano lessons from someone who taught out of their home.

Personally, I think it is important to live in a decent middle class neighbourhood. For many years, I walked or took public transit to my teacher's home for lessons after school. I don't my mom would have let me walk there if the teacher lived in a sketchy or up and coming area. You have to consider that some of your older students may be coming over after school on their own.

Also, driving distance is another concern. During my younger years, my parents would drive me to lessons. The three teachers I had over the course of my childhood were all located within a fifteen minute drive of our house. For people who can afford $40/hour lessons, I'm assuming they don't live in shabby neighbourhoods. It may be helpful for you to live relatively close to your students.

trollwithamustache

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 08:14:00 AM »
The exact format of the plan doesn't really matter. Write down what you want to do, how much you want to do it, how often and put some numbers down for costs, billing rates, ect into a budget/scenarios.  Maybe make a sample schedule since you have to schedule around other peoples lives and can't say have lessons only from 1 to 5 pm.  While its impossible to think of every detail and cost, strive for a reasonably complete document. When new stuff reveals itself just add it and try to make your plan better.  The only magic is to keep working this whole improvement thing.

The only test I use for mine is if I can convince my wife it makes sense, but I am bad at asking for help when I should. An accountant will happily poke holes in your assumptions for you. A lot of towns have small business groups that offer some kind of mentoring. Seriously, things like Rotary are kind of old man cheesy but also in some towns can be incredible networking machines.

Fishindude

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 08:26:06 AM »
Cool way to make a living, doing something you love anyway!   How many hours of piano lessons could you legitimately book per week?
Sounds good, but if only a couple hours per day, that $80 doesn't pay as well as your $13.40 / hr steady, reliable job.
I'd take it on part time until you can build enough clientele to outpace the income of your existing job.

Being located close to higher income folks that can afford $40/hr lessons definitely makes sense, but don't over spend just to achieve that.

Sockigal

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2017, 08:28:45 AM »
Buying a home is an investment. You do not want to make a bad investment and buy a home you will have a hard time selling in the future. Make sure you buy in a good neighborhood with good schools so it will be a desirable home for future buyers. If you do not have a business license, obtain one. I have a home based business and can write off the square footage of any area I use for business purposes (even storage). You can also write off expenses like your cell phone, percentage of utilities, office supplies, ect.... I am also a parent of a teen who takes music lessons. The teacher actually is contracted by the high school to come to school during the school day, before or after to give lessons. His teacher has also come to our house for lessons when it didn't work out during the day. My son took piano lessons through a Music and Arts retail store also. The teacher and students meet at the business. They have little rooms in the back for lessons. If you get into this business full time, you might want to consider traveling to student homes,  schools and/or music stores. Most music teachers I have known do a variety of lessons in different locations.

Laura33

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 09:00:38 AM »
Also, driving distance is another concern. During my younger years, my parents would drive me to lessons. The three teachers I had over the course of my childhood were all located within a fifteen minute drive of our house. For people who can afford $40/hour lessons, I'm assuming they don't live in shabby neighbourhoods. It may be helpful for you to live relatively close to your students.

+1.  I have walked to lessons, and I now send my kids to stuff like this.  My #1 rule for Generic Decent Kid Activity is that it has to make my life easy.*  I chose the orthodontist my DD can walk to after school, the tuba lesson a block away, the karate lessons 3 blocks away, the school clubs on the days when the activity bus runs, etc. etc. etc. 

Sure, if my kids were going to be auditioning for Julliard, I'd suck it up and drive them to the best teacher I could find.  But that's not my kids.  And it's also not your target audience -- I am.  People like me, whose kids don't have any special musical talent, but who think music is a good idea for their kids to learn, and piano sounds like a good baseline, and gee I'd love to fit this in if it's cheap enough and I can find room in the already-busy schedule.  I don't need perfect, I need "good enough."  And I have plenty of those in my town -- so why would I even look at people farther away?

Note that this doesn't necessarily mean you need to be in a rich neighborhood -- I think people with a lot of extra money are likely to search out the "best" teachers and care less about convenience or price, so they are not your target audience, either.  But I do think that a borderline-sketchy neighborhood won't serve you as well as a solid MC one would.  Sorry.

*OK, I lied -- #1 is that it has to be reasonably priced, but "easy" is a very close second.
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trollwithamustache

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 04:46:50 PM »
Cool way to make a living, doing something you love anyway!   How many hours of piano lessons could you legitimately book per week?
Sounds good, but if only a couple hours per day, that $80 doesn't pay as well as your $13.40 / hr steady, reliable job.
I'd take it on part time until you can build enough clientele to outpace the income of your existing job.

Being located close to higher income folks that can afford $40/hr lessons definitely makes sense, but don't over spend just to achieve that.

she needs ~2.75 hrs each day for 5 days to match the day job cashflow. Now the day job has some (?) benefits that are worth more, and the business has some ability to shield income that can make its income worth more.   

We don't know anything about her day job to say that its actually secure on a long term basis.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 04:54:05 PM by trollwithamustache »

Carlin

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Re: House Decisions, Career Decisions
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 09:15:36 AM »
Nope! Day job is a temp job with no benefits that could end any time without warning! I use my husband's benefits....we kinda pretend the money I make isn't there as much as possible.