You may be wondering, like I was, what is Chautauqua?
At first, I thought it was like a living history gathering I attended once in Wyoming, which was also called Chautauqua. That one featured talks, music, entertaining exhibits and friendly competitions.
Sort of like a Renaissance Fair, but more of a Mountain Man Rendezvous where people dress up in buckskin clothing and wear knives and carry powder horns for their rifles.
Not what I expected to be reading about on personal finance blogs.
So just what is this other Chautauqua spoken of by personal finance bloggers and members of the Financially Independent Retire Early (FIRE) community?
Uh, no, there are no horses, rifles, or knives. Whew!
The original Chautauqua was held near Lake Chautauqua (hence the name), in New York in 1874 and expanded into a traveling tent show that was popular until the mid-1920s.
These early Chautauquas were a mix of art and entertainment and featured superstar speakers, muscians, actors, scientists and politicians.
Modern Chautauquas still exist as living history events, desiged to educate, enlighten, inform and entertain.
But the FI Chautauqua focuses more on money, saving, investing, early retirement and financial independence.
. . . Chautauqua is an experience.
Quoting from Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Jim shared that Chautauqua is . . .
“…an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenmet to the ears and thoughts of the hearer.”
Jim said he wanted to “bring together groups of exceptional people in amazing locations for fascinating conversations about life, freedom, happiness and investing.”
He called this event a Chautauqua.
Jim’s previous Chautauquas were held (and continue to be held) in Ecuador, but we discovered they were sold out for this year.
There was one spot left for a couple at Chautauqua UK. I wondered “should we grab it?”
Chautauqua UK was billed as a week of talks and one-on-one sessions with some of the biggest names in the Financial Independence (FI) space, where we would learn about FI, investing, and retirement.
And it was set in the English countryside, in Stratford Upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare?
And we would get to stay in a castle?!!
We decided to go.
What did we love about Chautauqua?
My husband and I both loved meeting and spending time with positive, like-minded people. We felt immediately at home, because this was our tribe!
We also liked the fact that the speakers were so welcoming and accessible. We appreciated the time the hosts and speakers gave us, which was way more than just in the one-on-one sessions.
All the speakers and their presentations were fantastic, top notch!
It was like a dream come true to meet and hang out with Jim of JLCollinsnh; Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life; Brandon, the Mad Fientist; Kristy a.k.a. FIRECracker of Millennial Revolution; and Alan, PopUp Business School side hustle expert.
There were many extra activities and fun surprises, too. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at an Indian restaurant, where we tried England’s National Dish – Curry!
Just kidding about the National Dish – we did enjoy curry, but the English food we tried included black sausage, toad in the hole, fish & chips, and spotted dick.
Our group toured Windsor Castle, enjoyed high tea and a tour at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and we even got to act in a murder mystery dinner.
Our hotel in Stratford Upon Avon was amazing! An ancient English mansion built in 1060AD, it really was like a castle, surrounded by lovely gardens and it’s very own 12th century chapel.
We had one free day, when we walked around the town of Stratford Upon Avon and visited the church where Shakespeare is buried.
I also got to give an impromptu herb walk while in Stratford Upon Avon! You can read about the herb walk and see more pictures here.
What did we get out of Chautauqua?
My husband and I enjoyed this event and thought it was the best vacation we ever took together.
We just floated through the week on a wave of happiness.
Attending Chautauqua turned out to be a terrific way to reinforce all that I have been learning about the path to FI.
It was a chance to further inspire and motivate myself while at the same time getting my husband more on board without any pressure.
The one-on-one sessions that we had were so helpful and really gave us direction for our next steps on the path to FI.
We met interesting people and made new friends! Our group became very close and we continue to keep in touch.
I feel a deep sense of gratitude for each person in the group.
Now I have a supportive network of people to turn to that “get it” and who I can trust to answer my questions on the path to FI.
What would I say to someone considering attending a Chautauqua event?
If you can afford it, go. You will absolutely love it!
You can learn all about FIRE and the path to FI on your own by reading blogs and books.
But attending Chautauqua and spending time with positive, like-minded people who really get what you are trying to do with your life and your money is a unique experience.
At Chautauqua, you will have the opportunity to ask all your financial questions.
Even better, your questions will be answered and you’ll be inspired to take the action needed to reach your financial goals.
Question: If you could snap your fingers and be anything or do anything, what would it be? The Mad Fientist asked us this because it is important to consider what you will do once you actually retire. What will it be for you?