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Year In Review. SIX Things I’m Grateful For.

Can you believe 2020 is finally coming to an end in a matter of mere hours?  I don’t typically subscribe to the “blame the year” movement that seems to happen every December, but boy has this one been a doozy.  However, I do think moments of transition of worth reflecting on, and as we transition to a new calendar year- I’d like to offer a year in review, and SIX things I’m grateful for. 

(Hint: it’s not my SIX ex-wives, just in case you were wondering).

2020 was a mix of so many different feelings and things.  On the one hand it was personal euphoria, and on the other hand professional depression.  I would like today’s post to serve as a celebration of the good that was accomplished, while acknowledging the pain and sorrow of so many.  As a global community we wrestled with the pandemic and all the unrest it brought into our lives.  We also honor our black brothers and sisters, and remember the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others that brought gigantic and humbling change into our lives.  We must say it, preach it, and prove it every day: Black Lives Matter.

On the personal finance side of things, this blog was born out of 2020.  My own financial awakening started just over a year ago, months shy of my 30th birthday, and sharing the information within these posts continues to be one of the great joys of my life ongoing.  

If I don’t say it enough- thank you reader for simply being here.  For coming back week after week to better your own financial practices and habits.

Maybe you started a real emergency fund this year (I did!), or got into the habit of tracking your income and expenses (Al Roker says 0% chance of over-spending pie).  Maybe you’re rocking a Roth IRA in its first year and starting to lay the bricks of long-term compound interest for your retirement.

In whatever way this blog might have been helpful to you- I applaud you dear reader.  You’re on the right track.

1) Whipped Into Shape – My Health

The first thing I’m grateful for in my year in review is my continued health!  We have spent the last 9 months inside of a pandemic that has taken far too many lives, and rattled even more with terrible illness.  I’m very grateful to continually feel well, and have found ways to take care of myself in 2020.

And honestly, besides just being well- I have actually found ways to improve my physical condition this year!  I’m not saying that to brag (well I’ll brag about my high vitamin D, but that’s a different story for a different day), but actually to serve a point that you don’t need money or crazy resources to take care of your body.  It’s all so fiscally attainable.

The two main sources of conditioning I’ve returned to “day by day” this year are Yoga and Biking.

At the start of the quarantine, my roommate and I felt we needed an activity that could both calm our minds and bodies from the daily uneasiness.  Enter stage left: Yoga.

I had done a little bit of yoga in my past, but nothing consistent.  However, stuck indoors in March/April for what we initially thought might be “four weeks or so”, I took up an online yoga 30 day challenge and never looked back.  I have mostly practiced via YouTube videos this year with Yoga With Tim – and have built the foundation for what is now my favorite physical practice. 

Within days of starting, I began to notice my posture was better, my muscles were stronger, and my thoughts achieved more clarity.  And it was all F-R-DOUBLE-E, Free.

Biking became my go to cardio as the weather began to warm this spring.  I’ve always had an affinity for biking and have enjoyed it as the primary mode of transportation in places I’ve visited like Amsterdam, but I never really thought NYC could be a biking city.

Well with the cars off the road, and the summer sun shining down on us- I got myself a CitiBike membership for near the cost of ONE monthly MTA pass, and it became my primary transport option.

I even completed a 300-mile biking challenge in September in memory of my late Grandpa Billy.  

In such a crazy year, I am really grateful to have unlocked these two habits I will take into the next year, and the years to come.

Great Cycle Challenge 2020
My September Bike Challenge Results!

2) You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught – My Education

I’ve been extremely lucky in my life to receive many quality educations.

My middle school and high school years were spent at Newark Academy in Livingston, NJ.  I gained the best of lifelong friends in those 6 years, and also an education alone that I’m confident would have provided me the tools I needed to face the world one day.  I learned how to both understand and appreciate other cultures here.  I learned a love of drama and art that will buoy the rest of my personal and professional life.  I began to learn about the kind of person I wanted to be in a community of people I care about.  

My undergraduate degree is a BFA in Musical Theatre from The Boston Conservatory.  Another crop of friends here I will labor to journey the rest of my days with.  Receiving a degree in musical theatre is a very different experience from more conventional studies- it’s not only an education of the mind, but of the body and soul also.  My collegiate friends bring so much joy to my life, and they continue to teach me new things about myself regularly.

A year in review also reminded me that education never stops.  I started this blog as a means of providing education to those that seek it.  I taught theatrical producing this year over Zoom (heard of it?) to curious folks who represent the next generation of thoughtful and empathetic producing.

For Thanksgiving this year, the thing I proudly felt I was most thankful for was my weekly guitar lesson with John Krause (Of Broadway’s Hadestown, Hey Teach!).  We spend a half an hour together on video every week, and the practice of bettering myself at a hobby I enjoy so much has lifted my spirits all year long.  No one is pressuring me to be better at guitar, which has actually made the progress that much more meaningful.  A special Gil & George sh’t-out to John, find him on Instagram @johnakrause for your guitar needs.

And now as we look towards the new year Creative Financiers, I’m so excited to let you know I’ll be starting an MBA program with University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign!

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
MBA Candidate Broadway Joe starting Jan 2021!

I’m constantly ruminating on the concept of legacy, and I decided this year that my legacy included graduate studies.  I’m confident that the tools and experiences I take away from this MBA program will directly enhance what I’m capable of as a producer, entrepreneur, and finance aficionado.

3) Easy Street – My Tools

Banks, banks, and nothing but banks!  Ally, DCU, Netspend, Dobot!  Asparagus and Watercress! (wait, what?)

Ok but seriously- a year in review MUST include all the incredible financial institutions I am truly so happy to hold accounts with.  Early in the new year I’m planning on doing a comprehensive breakdown of the many banks I use, but one joy of the year for me was realizing how many great banks and credit unions there are out there- and how I didn’t need to limit myself to working with just one or two.  Working with ALL of them is living on Easy Street.

You might remember how much I LOVE my online bank, Ally Bank.  

Or why I like to keep $1,000 in an account with DCU because of the insane interest rate they offer (6%+!)

Part of my financial journey has been educating myself about all of these banks and tools available to pretty much everyone and using them to my advantage.

It’s no secret here at Creative Finance how much I love the Roth IRA account for every working American over the age of 18 generating income.  This year really helped me focus in on how useful these investment accounts are for myself, and for my contemporaries working in the arts. 

But it’s not just limited to the arts community.  Maybe you’ve stumbled along here and have no association to the arts whatsoever beyond patronage.  Maybe you just happened to “plumble” into my blog, and you’re thinking “Well I’ve got a 401k so I’m in a good shape”.  Possibly!  Everyone’s financial picture is different, and yes, you’re likely doing alright with your 401k alone (especially if you’re getting an employer match!), but everyone should consider the power of an IRA in their life, either Roth or Traditional.

Financial freedom isn’t limited to one area.  Your 401k is just a slice of retirement pie.  Learning to invest, and what accounts are available and useful to you- well you’re on your way to owning the whole pie shop at that point.

And not to forget our favorite micro-savings apps!  My little Dobot works so hard for me every single day.  Stashing away little bits of money I’ll use for goals I’m saving for.  Take a look if you haven’t already- here’s a referral link where you can learn more and sign up.

4) Wherever We Go, Whatever We Do, We’re Gonna Go Through It Together – My Friends and Family

I won’t get too gushy in this section, but I would be severely remiss to examine a year in review and not include a nod to the friends and family that have gotten me through this incredibly tough year.

When I doubt myself, they are there to support me.

When I accomplish something, anything really, they are there to celebrate me.

If I have done anything right in this calamity of a year, I have kept the nearest and dearest folks nearby (as much as safely possible), and my life would truly amount to very little without the good people I have the pleasure of sharing it all with.

I think the only point to make here is- kindness is free.  Good friendship is free.  Familial love is free.  Trade those emotions without fees, fill those heart coffers to the brim, and honestly money aside- you’ll have most of everything you need in life.

5) Show People – My Industry

Chances are if you’re here reading my blog, you have some kind of tangential connection to the entertainment industry.  I’m very proud to work in live theatre, and proud to be a part of an industry that is progressive, empathetic, and full of the greatest magic that has the potency for mass comfort and healing.

When the pandemic took hold in March and we all retreated to our homes, where did we turn?  Never forget that we turned to artists.

We streamed television, we listened to music, we read books- we found ways to dance, sing, and express ourselves in the comfort of our own homes.

Theater has been around for thousands of years, and will be around for thousands more- because no matter what happens in life it is essential to the human spirit.  I truly believe our inclination to gather and share stories will never, ever leave us.

So, what do we do now?  We continue to wait.  We continue to dream up new stories for the future.  We plot the great next chapter of history, and the new theatrical renaissance that will soar through our consciousness in a bold new way- a way that can only be felt deeply through the pain of knowing what we’re missing in this very moment.

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?  Every, every minute?” 

We sure will now, sweet Emily.

In the meantime- go ahead and stream Hamilton on Disney+.  Maybe you can go find the legendary recording of One Man, Two Guvnors the National Theatre in London aired earlier this year. I hope you caught the marvelous live stream of the Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol with Andrew Lincoln.

Or as my small circle is prone to do, gather your pod-squad and read a new play out loud.

It’s all just words on a page, and you have the power to bring it all to life any moment you choose.

To my theatrical colleagues- I simply can’t wait to get back into the room with you all.

Show People Curtains
A Special Kind Of People Known As…Show People!

6) Finale Thoughts – The Blog and You

To put a beautiful bow on this year in review, let me end with you dear reader.  

When I started Creative Finance earlier this summer I truly couldn’t envision what this blog might be even 6 months later.  I had hopes, I had ideas and dreams- and because of you who venture back here week after week, it’s already grown more than I ever could have hoped for in half a year.  

I believe turning points are a time to reflect on where you’ve come from, but also where you are headed.  

I’d like to take a moment to double down and promise that 2021 will yield even more.  More content, more engagement, more Creative Finance.

The financial journey is a long one, and nothing about this blog should ever feel like “get rich quick”.  That’s not why we’re here.

But I hope after 6 months you now have the foundation of education of some of these topics- and let me say now, I’m really excited about what’s still in store.

So, THANK YOU for being a reader.  Thank you for taking your finances seriously.  And thank you for trusting me in offering the knowledge and tips I’m sending your way.  

Please feel free to reach out directly to me at any time.  Personal finance is a conversation I relish in- and let’s continue to find ways to be honest and open with each other.  Knowledge is power, and the power is all yours.

Folks that want to study personal finance and know more about it for our own betterment?

We’re one of kind, no category.

Very Best,

Broadway Joe

Year In Review

year in review

year in review

year in review

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