Earning

How Grammy-nominated artist Dave 1 of Chromeo went from 'back-of-napkin budgets' to 'perfect credit'

"Stay on top" of your finances, because "one day you'll need that credit."

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Chromeo with the 2021 Escalade.
Photo by Indigenous Media

Dave Macklovitch, 43, did not grow up talking about money. One half of the Grammy-nominated electro-funk band Chromeo, Macklovitch, known on stage as Dave 1, comes from a "middle-class intellectual home" in Canada, he says. Out of social principle, "money was never something you discussed."

The band recently teamed up with Cadillac for a video featuring both the company's 2021 Cadillac Escalade and a Chromeo original tune, "Real Breezy." "The song has a very California vibe because it's like breezy and sunny," says Macklovitch. "You can just imagine listening to it cruising down the [Pacific Coast Highway]."

On the heels of the video's release, Macklovitch chatted with Grow about the money lessons he's learned about how to save and spend, his best financial advice, and how he achieved "perfect credit."

Growing up, it was 'kind of uncouth to talk about money'

Macklovitch grew up in Montreal, Canada, the oldest of two boys. His mother, who's originally from Morocco, was a translator and his father is a linguist. He describes his parents as "very European" in their attitude toward personal finance. It was "kind of uncouth to talk about money" at home, he says.

"We grew up with not a lot," he says, adding that, "Our wealth was cultural ― we would watch David Lynch films at 14 years old. That was our wealth."

His mother would stress the importance of freedom: "In other words, don't make decisions based on money." But as far as the day-to-day dealings with earning, budgeting, saving, and so on, "I had to learn everything myself," he says.

'I started working summer jobs at 14'

Among his first lessons was how to earn money. "My mom didn't have enough to give me an allowance half the time," he says. "So I started working summer jobs at 14."

His jobs varied: "I worked at a lumberyard. Then I was a bike messenger. Then I worked at a hardware store and then I was a parks keeper," he says. Jobs paid around minimum wage, $9 or $10 per hour in Canadian dollars.

He'd save for big purchases, like a mountain bike, or for moving out of his parents' house during his undergrad at McGill University. But "I knew how to spoil myself," he says. He'd spend money on "records, sneakers, or going out to a restaurant with my friends."

What he could get with 'perfect credit' — and his best money advice

Throughout college and in his early adulthood, Macklovitch wasn't always diligent with what he earned and spent. "I did little back-of-napkin budgets," he says, "and always spent a little more than I could afford."

It wasn't until Chromeo began taking off and they got a business manager in 2009 that Macklovitch became meticulous about his finances, including making sure to pay off his credit card every month and to do his taxes every year.

Dave 1 in the "Real Breezy" video.
Photo by Indigenous Media

In fact, by 2016, he'd built up a good enough credit to make his biggest purchase yet: a home in the hills of Los Angeles. As he was looking into loans, "my business manager was like, 'Bro, this is too much money. This is really ambitious. You sure you want to do this?'" he says.

Macklovitch was sure. His manager "called me back two days later," he says, and "he's like, 'You have perfect credit. You got the loan.'"

These days, his biggest piece of financial advice is, "Stay on top of your s---." That means, keep track of and stay current on your bills, your mortgage, and your taxes, he says. It all matters "because one day you'll need that credit," he says.

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