Sweet sounds, sweeter deals

I’m a firm believer that life should have a soundtrack. From sweeping orchestral pieces to rapid paced hip-hop beats, each moment -– no matter how mundane or miraculous -– requires background music.

Since music holds such a high place of honor in my heart, I need it in my life and want to pass that passion along to my daughters, too. However, from music lessons and instruments to purchasing CDs or digital tracks, this life source can get pricey quickly. Don’t even get me started on the price of concert tickets.

You can be a music lover (and give that love to the next generation) without dropping a load of cash. Here are some of my favorite tips to keep the rhythm in your heart and those dollars in your wallet.

Streaming services

Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Apple Radio –- there are oh-so-many music streaming services available to listeners. It’s difficult to know which to choose and how much to spend. Each program has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s difficult to say which is “best.” Most of us would be wise to stick to those programs that have a free platform.

Sure, you may have to listen to a commercial or two, but in the grand scheme of things that’s a small price to pay. Amazon Prime’s music offerings ranks as my favorite option simply because its program is bundled together with not only expedited shipping but also video streaming options for thousands of TV shows and movies and online photo storage. You’re getting more bang for your buck with these additional services.

No matter which program you choose, or if you opt for a limited time free trial of anything ever, be sure you read the parameters and act with wisdom. Many times programs auto renew at the end of the free window and charge the credit card on file. Be smart and watch out for those deadlines.

Lessons and instruments

I know what you’re thinking. Your little Bobby or Suzy has the right stuff. He or she is going all the way to Carnegie Hall. You’ve never seen such a virtuoso. Or perhaps, their aspirations are more about catching Blake Shelton’s ear or snagging that allusive golden buzzer. You head to the nearest guitar chain to snap up every book, piece of gear, and of course a top-notch instrument so your burgeoning superstar can jam it out.

Sometimes our excitement outpaces our budget. Six months later, we find discarded musical paraphernalia spread all over bedroom floors and a child who couldn’t care less about practicing. If your child wants to begin learning to master a musical instrument, start small. Ask talented relatives, friends, neighbors or even local high school students if they would be interested in teaching basic music instruction to your child for a short season.

If you discover the child has a lasting passion, you can move them along to a more intense program and spend a bit more money on lessons. Look for used instruments at pawnshops or on Craigslist and wait to invest in a quality model after you’re certain that the child is going to remain committed to regular practice and pursuit of musical education.

Live experiences

Broadway musicals, rock concerts and symphony tickets, while the music is diverse, all have one thing in common -– a high dollar price tag. In some cases, there’s just no getting around that cost. However, don’t forget that your community offers numerous free or affordable music experiences, too. Look at community calendars (such as the Free Time guide in the Thursday Daily Journal) for free concerts.

Many symphonies (including the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra) offer brown bag programs where music lovers can take in a lunch break concert for as little as $5 per person. Local high schools brim with talented young men and women whose creative endeavors you can support with your ticket dollars, too.

For headlining rock bands, you may want to check discount ticket vendors such as Stub Hub or even Craigslist for those who have purchased tickets but need to unload them for one reason or another. Use your shopping savvy, making sure your tickets are indeed legitimate and know where your seats are located, too.

Don’t skip a single beat or miss a riff. But be wise about the way you enjoy music so that your passion doesn’t overcome your budget.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.”