Article hero image

Kevin Bacon: Money is Hard for Creative People

Wealthsimple makes powerful financial tools to help you grow and manage your money. Learn more

Wealthsimple is a whole new kind of investing service. This is the latest installment of our recurring series “Money Diaries,” where we ask interesting people to open up about the role money has played in their lives.

After high school, I moved to New York City. That’s what I did. I didn’t have anything lined up, and I started working in restaurants, first as a busboy, and then as a waiter. My relationship with money was very loose. I had no budget, no savings, no credit cards, and no bank accounts. I was a cash-only kind of guy. I’d get paid out at the end of the night, spend some of it at the bar, wake up the next day, and check my pockets to see how much money I had left. There was never a budget or any kind of longer-term financial plan. I’d make money, spend it, pay rent, spend more money, and hope that when the end of the month came around, I’d have enough to put up another month’s rent.

You have to have a kind of responsibility with money, and to a certain extent, I still struggle with that.

That was kind of my first adult work experience. But in a way, the most formative job was my first one. I was sixteen. It was in a warehouse where we packed and shipped medical books. I worked out on the loading dock. When an order came in, we’d locate various boxes of books in the warehouse, pile them on pallets, use the forklift to load them onto a truck, and then do the whole thing over and over again.

I wasn’t the kind of kid who exercised. I was never an athlete. And this was constant heavy lifting. You’d check out the order slip, pack books into boxes, load boxes onto a pallet, load pallets onto a truck. Then another truck pulls up—over and over again. It was a repetitive job. But there was an interesting dynamic with the guys I worked with. They had a hard edge and initially saw kids like me as soft fucks who’d slow things down and get in their way—waste their time and make their jobs harder. They didn’t haze us, but they showed little interest or respect for any of us until we proved ourselves worthy of it.

Here’s the thing, though. I have a really strong work ethic. And the guys there, they figured that out within a couple of weeks. The job itself had no inherent meaning to me—we were just moving pallets of books around—but working hard and earning those guys’ respect meant a lot, so I found a way to make it happen.

There’s a kind of joy in seeing something in a store and pulling out the cash to buy it for yourself.

Decades later, I still think that experience was really meaningful. At the book warehouse, you couldn’t help but watch the clock. An eight-hour day felt interminable. But now when I’m working on a movie, we usually work fourteen-hour days; an eight-hour day goes like wildfire. It’s nice to know that if I could load books for eight hours, I can handle acting for fourteen.

My parents weren’t wealthy, and they didn’t really teach us much about money. We just kind of assumed we’d have enough to get by, and we always had food to eat. My dad was a pretty old guy, and after he retired, I remember him trying to figure out how to make money. He hadn’t planned for retirement. So, without much guidance, it took me a long time to come around to the idea that you have to have a kind of responsibility with money, to keep an eye on it. To a certain extent, I still kind of struggle with it.

You sometimes hear about an actor whose business manager walked away with millions of dollars. I’ve learned to keep a closer eye.

My advice is for people to understand the basics—where their money is and how much is there. It’s tempting to hand off your finances and let someone else do all the work, to say to them, “Hey, you take care of it.” But it’s important to be watchful with investments and stay personally involved. You sometimes hear about an actor or musician whose business manager has walked away with millions of dollars that didn’t belong to them. I’ve learned to keep a closer eye. Understanding money may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but it’s a necessary evil. If you’re a creative person who doesn’t understand money easily, you may not want to admit how essential it is. But ultimately if you stick your head in the sand, you’ll be sorry.

These days, I still like having cash in my hands—I never walk around with less than $200 or $300. In some ways, I’m still a cash-only guy, like I was in my restaurant days. There’s a kind of joy in seeing something in a store and being able to pull the cash out of your pocket and buy it for yourself.

I was outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, not too long ago, and I Googled this giant guitar store in a tiny little town. It was closed for the day, but the owner answered the phone and said he’d open back up. I dropped by and found this beautiful old Gibson guitar. I had one already, but this one spoke to me—it was really special. It wasn’t particularly expensive—I was able to pay for it with the cash in my pocket—but it had incredible value to me. It’s important to me to invest in things that have meaning. It’s something I’ve already gotten a lot of use out of and am going to treasure for a long, long time.

As told to Davy Rothbart exclusively for Wealthsimple. Illustration by Jenny Mörtsell. We make smart investing simple and affordable.

Wealthsimple uses technology and smart, friendly humans to help you grow and manage your money. Invest, save, trade, and even do your taxes in a better, simpler way.

Money Diaries


Awkwafina Tells Us the Money Secrets of Viral Fame


Get the best stories from our magazine every month

Sign up for our email newsletter

  • Money Diaries

    Shangela Would Like to Remind You to Tip Your Drag Queen

    The perennial crowd favorite on 'RuPaul's Drag Race' talks wig economics and why resourcefulness is a vocational imperative.

  • Money Diaries

    How 24kGoldn Went From Selling Shoes to Ruling Spotify

    Twenty-year-old Golden Von Jones — AKA 24kGoldn — is a rap star and TikTok king. His single “Mood” has racked up a billion-plus streams and hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, Rock, Alternative, and Rap charts — a first. The root of his success? Hustling sneakers.


    A new kind of financial company

    Invest, trade, save, spend, and even do your taxes in a better, simpler way.

    see-more cta
  • Money Diaries

    Love and Crypto: The Hackatao Story

    Just before their show at Christie's, the crypto-artist duo talk to us about money, marriage, and the blockchain.

  • Money Diaries

    Money Diaries: Pride Edition

    For the last four years, our “Money Diaries” series has been all about telling truths. In honour of Pride Month, we share some of greatest conversations we’ve had with LGBTQ+ icons.


A new kind of financial company

Invest, trade, save, spend, and even do your taxes in a better, simpler way.

GET STARTEDright arrow icon

Our best stories, once a month.

Sign up for our newsletter

The content on this site is produced by Wealthsimple Technologies Inc. and is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be investment advice or any other kind of professional advice. Before taking any action based on this content you should consult a professional. We do not endorse any third parties referenced on this site. When you invest, your money is at risk and it is possible that you may lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Historical returns, hypothetical returns, expected returns and images included in this content are for illustrative purposes only. By using this website, you accept our (Terms of Use) and (Privacy Policy). Copyright 2022 Wealthsimple Technologies Inc.