2018 Lola Retreat Recap – An Amazing Weekend With Money Smart Women

2018 lola retreat

I just got back from an awesome weekend at the 2018 Lola Retreat in New York City – where I was not only attending, but also had an opportunity to speak. Today I’m going to recap the discussions for you, and talk a bit about the importance of women having frank money conversations.

About Lola

This was the second Lola Retreat, with the first one being held in Portland last year. I had seen tweets and photos from my friends that attended this one – you can check out Miss Mazuma’s recap here. And of course I was jealous. A whole weekend talking about money with other women? Yes please!

Lola was founded by Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt (you can read my review of her awesome book here) and Emma Pattee. In their own words:

The Lola Retreat is about facing your fears, owning your dreams and figuring out a plan to be in control of your finances. It’s going to be a weekend filled with deep discussion, impactful workshops, delicious snacks + drinks and the chance to connect with other like-minded women. We’ll be hearing from some of the boldest, bravest, funniest women in finance on topics like money mindset, money in the #MeToo generation, investing, side hustles, getting out of debt and more. You’ll get to learn from a group of experts how you can build a solid financial foundation. 

Each part of the retreat has been designed to bring you financial confidence, accountability, and a roadmap that you can put into action the moment you get home.

 Somehow that “group of experts” included yours truly – I was humbled to be offered a spot on a panel talking about preparing for and dealing with a financial disaster. This is a cause close to my heart after the near-death of my husband six years ago.

I was so bummed I had to miss the kickoff evening party on Friday – it felt like FinCon all over again.

Honest John in Peter PanBut as a working and hustling mom, I have to make certain decisions to balance my life, and this is one of them. My middle son has been working very hard for six plus months on a production of Peter Pan – practicing four hours per week, and three plus hours a day leading up to the play. He was cast as Honest John Darling, the older brother of Wendy, and his play happened to be on Friday and Saturday night this past weekend. I always want to be there for my kids big events, so my Friday night was spent watching him do a really great job in the play.

And this isn’t one of those situations where it’s a terrible kids play and I’m saying he did a great job because I’m being nice. He really did a good job. He was the one reminding other kids of their lines, and stayed in character all the time.

So I got to hear all about the awesomeness I missed once I got to Lola on Saturday.

Getting To Lola

My husband attempted to wake me up at 3:45 AM with coffee, although I actually managed to get out of bed at 4:15. He’s the kind of guy who will set his alarm for 3:30 AM so he can wake up and make me coffee before a trip like this. Isn’t he awesome?

Since I slightly overslept, I had to kick it into high gear. I had to be at the train station at 5:40 AM in order to be able to get to the retreat by 9. This time of the morning, trains to NYC only run every hour from New Haven, CT, so if I didn’t get this train I would be late. Luckily I was all packed and my clothes for the day were all set. I took a quick shower, did my hair, decided to skip the makeup and do it on the train. Then I said goodbye to the kids & hubby and ran out the door by 4:40.

It takes about 40 minutes to get to the train station from where I live, and fortunately i made it in plenty of time. I got on the train (which was fortunately on time) and was on my way!

We arrived in NYC at 8 AM, into Grand Central specifically. I then walked the seventeen blocks down to 25th street, because I wanted to walk after all that sitting. I managed to get there a bit before nine, which was early, but better than being very late.

Grand Central Station

2018 Lola Retreat – Day One

After an awesome breakfast the day kicked off with a bang with a presentation from Erin Lowry from Broke Millennial. Her presentation was awesome, informative and professional – I can see why she’s found success in speaking events. If my work ever needs someone to come talk about finance with early-career team members, I’m going to tell them to call her. Her book was also given out in the swag bags, although since I was a speaker I sadly didn’t get one. I’m going to continue to keep an eye out for it in the library, though.

Next was Kristin Wong, journalist and author of Get Money. She talked about “Powering Up” your money, and gave a ton of actionable tips to the audience. Her talk went a bit short, but I’ll tell you, Lola attendees will take all the breaks they can get to talk to each other. Then we heard from Kristin Sutton of Debt Free Black Girl, on how to demolish debt like a boss. I love a good debt destroying talk!

Lunch came after, which was a taco bar (yum). Then a talk about the importance of having a F&@k Off fund by Paulette Perhach. Not just a fund of money, but also an overall plan, to get out of a bad situation if you need to is so important. Many women I know – and likely many you know – have needed to get out of a bad situation quickly. Having a plan and money to take care of what you need to is freeing when something bad happens.

Then came my favorite panel I’ve ever seen. It was called “The Importance Of F&@k Off Funds In The #MeToo Era”, with Paulette, Kristin, and Diane Harris (former editor in chief of Money magazine). I’ll admit that when I first read that title I was skeptical of whether it would be an awkward panel, or the discussion would be forced. I can distinctly remember a panel discussion at a conference I went to for work, where they discussed the concepts behind Lean In, and it was pretty bad.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. The moderator, Ashtin Berry, was amazing and energetic. The discussion was powerful and passionate. I’m not going to say specifically what was discussed, because what was talked about there stays there. All I’ll say is there were tears shed, and I don’t think anyone wanted the panel to end. It ran 20 minutes long and it would have gone on even longer if Melanie hadn’t reminded us all we needed to keep on schedule.

Last, but most certainly not least, was a great discussion on negotiation by Mary Pharris from Fairygodboss. It literally made me feel like I should go ask for a raise at work today.

After the end of the talks, some folks hung around to chat, but I decided to check into my hotel. It was fortunately around the corner from the conference, because I was feeling pretty tired by now. See also – that 4 AM wake up. So I checked in, put my stuff in my room, and chatted with my husband and two of my boys. Then I headed out to grab a quick dinner, taking my milkshake back to my room to crash.

NYC tweet
This is what you do on a Saturday night in New York City when you’re old like me.

2018 Lola Retreat – Day Two

I slept in until 6:30 AM, which is very late for me. Then hung around the hotel, talked with my family a bit, got ready, and headed over at 9 AM for Day 2. We had a leisurely brunch, then got an energetic talk from Sandy Smith of Yes I Am Cheap all about side hustles. She said two things that really stuck with me:

  • “I was chasing the American Dream. But since when does the American Dream mean being $120k in debt?”
  • Never be dependent upon one source for 100% of your income

She also gave a great list of side hustle ideas, which I immediately texted to my husband to give him some ideas of things to do while at home with the little guy.

Next up was Mabel Nunez, founder of Girls On The Money, talking about Investing 101. We have a lot in common – we’re both MBA’s, we’ve both loved investing since we were young, and she even loves to read the WSJ like I do. I thought her talk was great for people who are just starting to learn about investing, and trying to make sense of it all.

And last, but certainly not least, was the panel I was on about preparing for-and dealing with-financial disaster. My fellow panelists were Natalie Jean – Baptiste from My Student Loan Counselor and Emily Johnson of Fabric. I’ll tell you, after I told my story, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. There was total and complete silence. I think people were struck with just how bad it was, and could likely picture how having your husband almost die at 31 with two young kids at home would completely change your financial life. I’ve talked before long ago about how I have public speaking experience – I once spoke in front of 30,000 people– and it’s really because of that I feel good about speaking in front of groups.

After the panel, multiple people came up to me to share their stories. I’m not the only one who has experienced bad things, and I’m always struck by the amazing stories people have to share once they know what I’ve been through. I won’t tell their stories because I didn’t ask permission to put them on the site, but suffice it to say, people were very touched. And, I hope, inspired to be prepared for a financial disaster.

If anyone wants to learn more about creating an emergency plan, be sure to check this article out.

Talking at Lola Retreat
I’m the one holding the microphone. Thanks to All She Saves for texting me the pic!

Then I headed on home, tired and drained, but also energized from getting this amazing opportunity.

Goings On Back Home

As the mother of three, when I’m away from home or traveling for work as a breadwinning mom I’m never off from my “mom job”. Luckily my husband, as a stay at home dad, is a pro at handling all the goings-on of the boys.

Boy scout campout
First Boy Scout campout!

My middle son not only had his second play on Saturday, but also his very first camp-out as a Boy Scout rather than a Cub Scout. Note – you can check out more about the financial side of Boy Scouts here So after getting up at 3:30 AM to make me coffee and wake me up, my husband drove the boys to camp, stayed there until around 2:30 with the three of them, drove back to town, took our middle son to his play setup, got dinner, went to the play, brought our middle son back to camp, and went back home again. Oh, and our oldest son came down with a low-grade fever on Saturday afternoon. Lets also not forget going to get our middle son from camp pick-up the next day. And taking care of a three year old obsessed with the water pump at the camp.


And did my husband complain about it? Make snide comments about how I shouldn’t be away? Talk about how he’s babysitting the kids? Guilt trip me about being gone while one of our kids has a fever? Leave me a big mess and a pile of laundry to take care of when I got home?

No. Because my husband isn’t an jerk. He’s also very supportive of me and proud of my success. He would never dream of doing or saying any of those things, and in fact he also cleaned the house while I was gone.

Ladies, if your husbands do or say any of these things, your husband is a jerk.

I Want To Hear From You

Questions for me? Want to hear anything else about Lola, the speakers, or anything else?

And tell me – if you could create a money event for women, what’s one topic you would want covered?

Let me know in the comments!

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19 thoughts on “2018 Lola Retreat Recap – An Amazing Weekend With Money Smart Women”

  1. It sounds like you had an amazing time! I’m going to keep it on my radar for next year. I can only imagine the ideas that are floating around in your mind after that conference. Sounds like your story had a really powerful effect on the attendees, too. I’m sure going through something like that is part of the reason you and your husband are such a great team now. You both allow each other to keep your household running smoothly, and that’s so important. Honestly, that’s one of the best financial resources I think people can have–a happy, functioning marriage where both partners contribute and help each other, rather than tearing each other down. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Yes, it definitely changed a lot of things about our lives and perspectives. It’s sad to me when I read about successful women who have husbands who not only don’t support them, but actively try to tear them down. Or expect them to do all the housework after a long day/weekend at work. We’ve certainly had times where I did have to do everything-but that was really only after he got sick and was trying to recover. Partnerships need to be real partnerships, or else you’ll get resentful

  2. Sounds awesome! Definitely on my list for next year. And I’m with you on the supportive spouse thing – they are incredible, amazing, and altogether too rare!

  3. Liz! It was so great meeting you at the Lola retreat and hearing you share your story on the panel. It was such an amazing weekend and I can’t wait for the next one.

    As promised, I am not only lurking, but actually commenting! And keep an eye out for my upcoming article as promised.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Hi there Anna! Was great to meet you, and nice to see you commenting! 😃 Looking forward to your article-I’ve got a calendar reminder set up to check in by the end of the month with both of you.

  4. I was waiting to hear this recap! It sounds like it was a wonderful time. And it is sure interesting that if the roles were reversed, no one would call you a rockstar for hanging with your own kids while your spouse was out of town 😉

    1. chiefmomofficer

      YES. Exactly. No one thinks “oh what an amazing mom. She took care of her own kids all weekend while her husband was away at work-and even cooked and cleaned! Wow!” And yet when it’s reversed many people can’t wrap their minds around it. I feel very sad for any woman who has an unsupportive spouse/partner.

  5. Really enjoyed reading your round up about the Lola retreat – sounds amazing, a very practical, productive event. I’m jealous all over again about being on the wrong side of the ocean to attend.
    (And also your comment about “this is what you do on a Saturday night in New York City when you’re old like me” made me snort with recognition)

    1. chiefmomofficer

      Ha ha, I was so tired I had to fight with myself over whether to go to bed or get something to eat first. Eating won, but not by much.

  6. Lola looks great fun!

    And hats off to Mr CMO for waking up to make you coffee, that is going above and beyond. And I agree looking after his kids for the weekend is cool, and it’s kinda sad we feel we have to praise men for it in this day and age. It should be the norm.

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