Georges Elchakieh

Georges Elchakieh

Founder and CEO of el-live Productions

Good morning beautiful people!  This is G, straight from the Grand Hyatt Shenyang, China.

Important stuff today, especially since we’re living through one of humanity’s greatest pandemics.

Let’s cover a 12-month income period for the sake of this exercise. Now, as accurately as possible, calculate your income from every gig that you’ve had within that period. “Ballpark” if you’ve lost count.

List your cost of living expenses from A-Z;  rent; electricity, laundry, phone bills, food, transportation; you own a car? gas, maintenance, parking. And don’t forget about “fun money”; outings, dinners, drinks, movies, treats… anything else that you can think of.

Time to crunch some numbers.   

I’m using el-live Productions as an example because it’s what we do and how we live, although I know that not every gig offers all of these perks but let’s just go through the exercise anyway. Imagine finally traveling overseas, enjoying life-changing experiences, creating memories, and saving money.  Yes, all of this is totally possible.

When we started touring, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I used to live on 10% of our combined salaries, so we managed to save 90% of it.  We did that for real and at the time, we were earning a humble salary.  So combined, we would spend part of our 10% allowance for dinner on our day off, we’d also use some of it to treat ourselves to “non-necessities”.  Every gig lasted 4 to 6 months, so we created a reasonable budget to upgrade our wardrobe, and depending on where you travel to, clothing and accessories are usually extremely affordable. Obviously, sometimes we cheated and spent a little more, but rarely.   In time, we managed to buy a house back home and to pay it off very quickly.  We were able to save because our contract covered most of the basic necessities. 

I know what you’re thinking, “What if a gig doesn’t cover expenses”?

Well, we experienced that as well; I gigged for 10 years in Montreal before coming to Asia.  So if a gig paid $200, I would tell myself that it only paid $160 and I would put $40 towards my savings. Sometimes, instead of chasing the big paying gigs that only come once in a while, it makes sense to do a gig that’s more stable because, in the end, it’s all about what you’re left with at the end of the year.

What worked for me is that I bought a property very early on so I had no choice but to pay my mortgage. This is called “forced savings”.

Try to forecast what financial shape you’ll be in, say 20 years from now. If you learn how to discipline yourself to invest in the most modest way, you will astound yourself. However, obviously, we can’t invest unless we have savings. So think of it this way: “Time is an investor’s best friend”. The earlier you start saving, the sooner you can invest.

Here’s one of el-live’s initial Covid-19 experiences upon receiving breaking news:  we immediately flew out over 70% of our artists in one day, and the rest within 4 weeks due to logistics and Covid-19 rules and regulations.  Furthermore, we still have some of them who are still stuck in various countries and simply can’t return home. Aside from these very challenging times, from a financial perspective, those who suffered the least, are those who had savings. 

It’s not what you make, it’s what you save.

As always, I share my thoughts and experiences with you in hope that you find it helpful.

This is G signing off from Shenyang.