I’m a financial planner with a secret: in the evenings I sometimes sneak out, belt on a sword, and sing love songs to strange women in Italian.

I’ll admit — it’s a bit odd. But the combination of opera and financial planning is dinner party dynamite. Whether I’m at an arts function or a financial shindig, my answer to the question “What do you do?” tends to get at least a slight eyebrow raise.

As different as they may seem, my life in opera has shaped the way I think about money, and I would wager that the lessons I’ve learned on the stage can help you with your money, whether you’re a great diva or just an enthusiastic shower crooner.

Lesson 1: You’re never beyond the fundamentals.

I have spent more than 10 years and thousands of dollars learning how to breathe. In opera, your breath is the core of your technique.

With money, it’s the same. Your cash flow (inflows and outflows) is the key to every major financial decision you’ll ever face. How much insurance do you need? How much should you save for retirement? How much can you afford to invest?

Some people want to skip the fundamentals and focus on the fancy stuff. However, without a good handle on your daily cash flow, you’ll never truly master your money.

Lesson 2: It’s not over until it’s over.

Opera is long. It’s a marathon, and its masters have incredible stamina. It’s not enough to just sing a great first aria. You need to have enough left in the tank to nail the final high note, too.
Figuring out that pacing can take years and has taught me a lot about how to think about later-life financial planning. People talk a lot about retirement and your golden years, but I relate more to the idea of pacing. How do you balance enjoying the moment now with the need to have enough resources to hit the high note when you get older?

The answer will be different for everyone, but we can’t forget that the whole show matters. You shouldn’t completely sacrifice the present in the hopes of a wonderful retirement, or ignore planning for down the line when buying that toy or trifle today.

Lesson 3: Passion is the key to getting ahead in your finances.

Confession: I don’t love my budget. But I do love that my budget helps me manage things like the costs of a long-distance relationship with my wonderful opera-singing partner.
Don’t waste time trying to convince yourself to love finance. You can leave that to us nerds. Spend some time really identifying the things that you do love, because that’s what good financial tools can help you achieve.

Obligation rarely inspires action. But passion can turn a few black notes on a page into a masterpiece, and it can make your money jump into action to create the life you want — even if it’s a bizarre combination like financial planning and opera singing.

For more tips that will be sure to earn a standing ovation, check Chris out on his blog, www.ragstoreasonable.com.