He Makes Money From Beer and Music. Now He Wants to Save

Danny Schroeder has found a way to turn beer and music into regular paychecks. And now he wants to keep some of it in the bank.

The 2014 Eastern Washington graduate works as a special projects assistant at Silver City Brewery, in Bremerton, Wash., where he helps in the production of experimental beers, such as a recent Mexican-style lager, an amber lager and some barrel-aged beers. During football season, you’ll find him playing the bass drum before, during and after Seattle Seahawks games in Blue Thunder, the NFL team’s drumline, which also performs at parades and other events.

“I’d like to stay in the brewery business and see how far I can take that,” the 26-year-old says. “I’m learning a lot about the brewery process.” Eventually, he would like more experience in distribution, sales and marketing as well. He says he’s interested, somewhere down the line, in starting a home-based brewery business, perhaps a mobile tap room that he can drive to weddings and parties.

But first, he would like to get his finances in order. He makes $14 an hour at the brewery, or about $460 a week after taxes, and $15.75 an hour playing with Blue Thunder, or about $3,000 a year in take-home pay.

With his girlfriend he shares a house for which he pays $900 to $1,000 a month on rent and utilities. Other monthly bills include gas, $180, groceries, $200, eating out, $80, and $200 for the couples’ phones. He drives a paid-for 1997 Toyota Camry.

Mr. Schroeder owes roughly $2,000 on a couple of credit cards, for which he says there were some delinquent payments. He pays $150 a month and is being charged interest rates between 24% and 30%.

He and his girlfriend have talked about marriage, he says, and buying a home. But they want to get their fiscal houses in order before they take those next steps.

ADVICE FROM A PRO: Nadia Reynolds, a certified financial planner at Seattle’s Laird Norton Wealth Management, says that considering his age, Mr. Schroeder has plenty of time to shore up his finances.

He shouldn’t feel as if he has to tackle everything at once. Financial security can be a long-term process, broken into steps, she says.

As a first step, she recommends he start monitoring his spending closely, perhaps using an online tool like Mint.com. To Ms. Reynolds, it doesn’t look like Mr. Schroeder is living extravagantly, but knowing exactly where his money is going could help him find opportunities to belt-tighten.

This might “provide a little bit more flexibility to do other things like pay down his credit card or start saving a little bit to add to his financial stability,” she says.

She suggests he set up automatic payments for his credit-card deb, set at least to the minimum payment, so that he can establish a history of making on-time payments.

Ms. Reynolds would also like to see Mr. Schroeder devote all of his Blue Thunder earnings to savings and paying down his debt.

If over the next year he can get a handle on where his money is going, pay down his debt and make a habit of saving, Ms. Reynolds says he then should consider opening a Roth IRA. Even contributing $50 a month will help, she says.

“At his age, 40 years down the road when he’s going to start drawing on that, it will serve him well,” Ms. Reynolds says.

Mr. Kornelis is a writer in Seattle. He can be reached at reports@wsj.com.

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