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Creative FIRE

As we skirt past the two-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic, it becomes harder and harder to remember the start of this whole experience.  Yet those formative months at the beginning of 2020 have shaped the world we now live in and have been the catalyst for macro changes we’re experiencing now and in future months and years to come.  Today I’d like to go back in time to the beginning of the pandemic and see if there isn’t more to learn from that strenuous, odd, and “unprecedented” time in our lives.  Let’s talk about how it all relates to Creative FIRE.

Back in the middle 2020 I wrote a post about the FIRE movement.  For those that are unfamiliar, this acronym FIRE stands for “Financial Independence Retire Early”.  There are many layers to this movement, but in basic terms achieving “FIRE” is all about saving enough money so that one becomes financially independent, meaning you no longer need to work to earn an income to support yourself.

A normal retirement in the United States begins in the mid to late 60s.  Would you be surprised to know that serious FIRE chasers are settling into retirement at a MUCH younger age?  As in 35, 30, and sometimes even in their late 20s?

You’re telling me people are retiring in their 20s Broadway Joe?!  How is that even possible???

It’s true.  It’s math.  But it’s incredibly grueling and emotional hard work to retire that young.  More realistically certain people will aim to achieve an augmented FIRE, such as Lean FIRE or Fat FIRE.  Today I’m going to introduce a new subset of FIRE that members of the creative community should start to think about, and that’s Creative FIRE.  Let’s go back in time a bit…

City On FIRE!

It’s almost two years to the day that we began our new normal, life with COVID-19.

Theaters everywhere shut their doors and dimmed the lights, and we retreated to the safety of our homes.  Not exactly sure of what would come next.  One thing became certain though after only a few short weeks…this pause wasn’t going to be as short as we thought it might be.  And the weeks became months.

Suddenly, artists found themselves with immense amount of free time.  Supported by a lifeline combination of boosted unemployment, hardship grants, and hopefully savings, we took each day one step at a time. 

It’s worth mentioning that some found their solace in trying to keep as “busy” as possible.  Even if busy meant things like daily walks, a new online class, or that sourdough starter everyone seemed to be trying on social media.  And others found their peace in not doing much of anything, but perhaps sitting with their thoughts, a daily coffee, and a nighttime Netflix show was enough on its own.

Zoom theatre was created, podcasts launched, drawings rendered, and even blog posts were written!

Creative FIRE
It’s me!

When you zoom out thought, it’s interesting to consider the notion that we the creative community got to participate in a large-scale experiment without being fully aware.  We got to experience a slice of retirement.

Obviously, it’s not that simple, and life was a lot more chaotic than we hope it to be in retirement.  But hear me out on this- what is retirement, if not finding ways to pass your time on a fixed income?

Often, we think about retirement as something that only happens when you’re older.  That’s because most frequently it’s going to take someone their entire working career (decades) to save enough money to fund that fixed income ride into the later part of life.

But we were given a chance to experience it firsthand.  Some folks working in the arts, like myself in my early 30s, got to “try retirement” on for size. 

What did I think of it personally?

It didn’t take me very long to realize I’m going to absolutely love retirement.  I’m very much looking forward to my financial independence. And more specifically my Creative FIRE.

That’s Who I’d Be, Creative Me

When life gave me nothing but free time in March 2020, what did I do?

I had the time to slow down and start listening to my body.  It’s been well documented here on the blog that I found a love of yoga and biking, and dedicated time and energy towards the kitchen.  I used my given time to take care of myself physically in a way I hadn’t been able to fathom only months prior when work lunches were a rotating door of local quick food shops near the office.

I started this blog in that downtime!  I can’t escape the notion that I am inherently in love with story-telling, and Creative Finance with Broadway Joe became my new outlet to tell stories about finance with a purpose.

I made a life altering decision to go pursue higher education, and I’m about 55% of the way through an MBA program (but who’s counting credits, right?).

The point I’m trying to make is, life gave me time, and it was up to me to decide what to do with that time.

Not to mention the great triumph of 2021 which was continuing work on a new musical I’m producing, Far From Canterbury by the brilliant Danny K. Bernstein, ultimately leading to a premiere professional production at The Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth, New Hampshire.

Photo Credit: Evelyn S. Lamprey

How was it possible to do all these things?

As far as I’m concerned, that’s Creative FIRE.  Because amidst all that I was giving to myself, to my body, my heart, and my mind- I also had space for my creative pursuits.

Finale Thoughts

Here’s the point dear reader.

For lots of people in the world, retirement as a goal and construct does mean no longer having or wanting to work.

But for those in the arts- we love what we do.

We love what we do so much that we pursue it against all odds.  And if we’re lucky enough to make a life in the theatre possible (or film, art, dance, music, any of it), chances are we’re going to do that thing for as long as there’s breath in the body.

So, for a creative person, perhaps retirement isn’t about not working.  It can absolutely be doing what you love with the financial independence to support it and help relieve the pressure of art as a function of your economic survival.

And doesn’t that just sound over-the-moon pie fantastic.

So how do we get there?

Keep investing.  Slow and steady.  Manage your money so you’re spending less than you’re earning and take those extra coffers and get on that Creative FIRE track.


Because FIRE means more time for you, to pursue the things you love.  Whether that’s family, friends, hobbies, or yes, even “work”. 

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