2019 United Way Annual Report - Page 17

Alan grew up in Stony Brook,
N.Y., as the youngest of five in
a middle class family.
“We didn’t have a lot of money,” he says. “There
was no talk of how to manage finances. We kind
of all had to figure that out on our own.”
Alan remembers hearing a lot of music growing up.
“My mom used to play the piano and sing songs
from the Great American Songbook, and I would
he used the $500 limit to cover the cost of books
look over her shoulder and try to see who wrote
and supplies.
the songs. It was very interesting to me. It was
like a game of concentration.”
“Little did I know, that little loan would turn into a
mountain of credit card debt,” he says.
When Alan was a teenager, his family moved
to California. His older brother had the idea
After traveling, touring and wandering, Alan
to spend their garage sale money on electric
relocated to New York. He earned coveted slots
at New York clubs and worked alongside music
industry legends, including extended stints
“I bought a purple Flying V and a small little
with Sony Music Entertainment—working under
Grammy Award-winning record producer and
executive Peter Asher and at New Line Cinema
That was all that it took. Having discovered his
during the making of The Lord of the Rings.
passion for playing, singing and composing,
Alan immersed himself in music with the kind of
As Alan’s career and public life grew more
thoughtfulness and determination that can only
fulfilling, his financial life moved in the opposite
lead to success. Success that, for him, would
direction. For years, he struggled just to make
come at a very high cost.
the minimum monthly payments. With no
realistic end in sight, he figured his best bet was
His relationship with debt began the day that he
on himself and his ability to write a hit song that
moved out of his parents’ house. Alan was lured
could save him from the mounting debt. Again,
into signing up for a credit card in the student
he continued to take advantage of new, higher
union building during college orientation. Initially,
credit limits and loan offers. As the number
PAG E 15

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