Steve Vai’s Two Rules for Financial Security

Steve Vai, 2015
(Image credit: Paul Archuleta/WireImage)

These days, when it comes to high-quality budget instruments we've never had it so good. Most major manufacturers now offer wallet-friendly brands that guitarists would be foolish to ignore. Epiphone Les Pauls, for example, are now made "for every stage," while Fender's Squier line is a jamboree of very respectable guitars, many of them at effects pedal prices.

But generating an income from your music can still be tough. Performing is not like a nine-to-five job; there can be good times and lean times and balancing money as a musician can be quite a challenge. 

Steve Vai lives by a couple of simple rules that can help musicians with their economics, as they did him. Here, the man himself shares some humble words of inspiration…

1. Shed Your Anxiety

“There are two things I discovered that were extremely helpful for me back in the day. One was that financial anxiety is the devil. It’s unworthy of you, and unnecessary, and most people in the world suffer from it.”

2. Live Under Your Means

“The other thing I discovered was that the way to alleviate that fear of financial anxiety is to live under your means. When I was making $200 per week, I figured out a way to live on $180 a week. You can do that.

Steve, 2015

(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“I then took 10 percent of everything that I ever made and put it aside, regardless of whether I needed that money or not. It was untouchable. My goal was to one day be able to retire with it and have it make money for me, so that I don’t have to touch the principal and I can just live off the interest. I’m there now, easily, and it’s a really great sense of freedom.

“It can be a challenge to live under your means when you’re not making much, but if you’re making a million dollars and you’re living on 10 thousand more than that, you’re in trouble. I never needed fancy cars and things. I always felt a great sense of empowerment in being able to live under my means. Otherwise you’ve got a monkey on your back.”

Mark McStea

Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.