Family Finance Lessons: John Roderick

Musician John Roderick

The most important lessons we learn about money don’t come from our accountants or our radios. They come from our family.
 
Each week, we invite someone to tell us about the money tips they inherited from the people they grew up with.
 
This week, our guest is John Roderick, lead singer of an indie band called The Long Winters. The money strategies he learned from each of his parents were very different. He says his father was a care-free spendthrift but, for his mother, Roderick says "saving money was a way of feeling secure."

As a musician trying to make a living, he says it was tough to reconcile those two lessons. "When I first started making music, the idea was still based on a kind of hit-the-lottery idea of how a band became successful." Roderick had a chance to witness that kind of success first hand when he was a touring member of Harvey Danger, the pop rock group that had a huge hit in 1997 with "Flagpole Sitta."

He formed The Long Winters in the early 2000s, and would manage all the finances himself by piecing together a steady income with smaller releases on an independent label. When the band would come across a financial windfall — maybe something like a song placement on TV — he had to decide whether to spend or save.

Roderick tried to strike a balance between the two approaches of his parents. "You have to recognize that money cannot heal you. It can't heal you by spending it and it can't heal you by saving it. And I think adopting that [philosophy] has absolutely improved the quality of my life and I think made me a better artist."

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