It’s been a few days since I flew home from FinCon 2018, and boy are my arms tired!
Actually, it’s just me that’s tired. But in a great way.
Last week, I wrote all about impostor syndrome, introversion, and heading to FinCon. Before I went, I thought FinCon was for “real” bloggers, not people like me. But it’s the only place on earth I get high fives for my 2.75% mortgage, and talk about money for an hour straight without peoples eyes glazing over. Who wouldn’t want to hang out at a place like that?
Today I’ll talk about my trip to Orlando to hang out with my money friends all week, announce that this is now an AWARD WINNING blog, and share the recaps of a bunch of fellow FinCon goers. Why? Because if you’re on the fence about going, or suffering impostor syndrome, I want to share with you stories of someone like you who went and had a great time.
If you were at FinCon, you may recognize me from one of four descriptions:
- Red shoes
- Red dress at the PLUTUS awards
- The lady who asked Mr. Money Mustache the question about diverse perspectives in FIRE
Pre-FinCon 2018 Preparation
In the week immediately preceding FinCon, I had been away from home for work from Sunday evening through Thursday evening. After getting home, spending time with family, and doing meal prep for the time I was gone – there wasn’t much time to pack.
So I employed my patented “throw stuff on the floor” method of non-packing. This is when I make piles of stuff so I can quickly pack it up. Yes, it’s not the most organized method. But it works.
I even went shopping, that’s how much I enjoy FinCon. I had been honored to be nominated for two PLUTUS awards – Family Finance and best series for my Breadwinning, Six Figure, Millionaire Women series – and thought it would be fun to dress up. I didn’t have anything nice, so I went off to my favorite consignment shop and spent $10 on a nice red dress. Paired with my awesome red $300+ fancy shoes (that I also got for $10 from the same consignment shop), I had a lovely and thrifty outfit. Perfect for a financial gathering. I hate clothes shopping, so doing this shows you just how excited I was for FinCon.
I came home a bit early from work to work remotely on Tuesday afternoon, so I wouldn’t have to drive home after a long workday and THEN pack. It was a wise choice, too, because I ended up on a conference call until after 6 PM. I was packing while talking on the phone.
Why? Because it was early to bed and early to rise for CMO. My flight was taking off from CT to Orlando at 6:20 AM. Luckily, I was not the only financial person awake at 3 AM for a flight, and was able to do some chatting on Twitter before takeoff.
Being on the plane reminded me that I HATE FLYING. Once I’m in the air, I’m OK, but takeoff really unnerves me. Ugh.
Luckily, the flight was uneventful and smooth. We touched down right on time in Orlando, where it was (of course) hot and humid. I was fortunate that I had connected with a few friends waiting for me at the gate – Erin from Reaching for FI; Accidental FIRE; and Andrew from Shift Upwards. We were met shortly thereafter in the baggage claim area by Felicity from Fetching Financial Freedom. We split a Lyft (always frugal), and then I walked from the hotel across the street to my Airbnb.
I had met Erin and Felicity before in person, but not AF or Andrew. The funny thing about meeting people at FinCon, though, is it’s like reconnecting with old friends. Even if you’ve never seen each other before.
At the Airbnb, I met Stephonee from Poorer Than You (and soon the Money Middletons-stay tuned for that one!), Ruby from A Journey We Love, and Jacquelyn – someone who doesn’t blog but is a personal finance fan. This wasn’t even her first FinCon! And you thought it was just for bloggers/podcasters/YouTubers.
Yes, I stayed at an AirBnb (my first one, by the way) with three strangers from the internet. I’m pretty sure my mother was politely horrified at the idea. But it worked out so well, was only $100 for five nights (five!), and we all spent most of our time at the conference anyway. It came with a kitchen, fridge, and plenty of room for all of us.
FinCon 2018 – The First Few Days
I put my stuff down, met my new roomies, and then headed over to the hotel. Once there, I got my registration (after standing in the wrong line!) and started meeting friends new and old. Some I knew from Instagram, others from Twitter (mostly Twitter, if I’m honest), and some from last years FinCon. And of course there were the big-deal bloggers/podcasters/money personalities there.
I got registered, had lunch with Josh Overmyer, and went wandering to meet people. In the evening, I went to Stephonee’s birthday party with 20+ other people. I got back after midnight, which is par for the FinCon course but late for an old lady like myself.
The next morning, I had to do a bit of work, but was fortunately able to head over to the Women Who Money meetup. I was so sad I didn’t get there at seven! At FinCon, there are always more people to meet than there is time to talk. That day I went to pro networking, where I spent the morning talking with different brands about what I was doing, and what they were doing. The afternoon was spent wandering around the Expo hall and meeting people. I even got to hang out for a while in the giant flamingo, which had quickly become THE FinCon 18 place to be.
That evening, I went out to dinner with some fintech companies, and my friend Joe Saul-Sehy from Stacking Benjamins was kind enough to give me a ride there and back. It was an interesting and fun time, learning more about the different fintech companies. And I sat at a table with Lynette Khalfani Cox – she was an amazing woman with a fascinating story. I also went to bed way too late this evening, which you’ll notice will be a recurring theme.
The next day, I got up earlyish again to head on over to the FIRE panel at eight. It was very crowded for being so early in the morning, especially with so many people staying up late at night. I did some more wandering around the expo hall, sat and talked with friends, and had a great time.
PLUTUS Award Winner
I went back to the Airbnb to rest up for a bit before the award ceremony, and change into my amazing consignment shop gear. I headed back over to the hotel to get my photo on the “green carpet” before the awards.
It was crowded, and I got to sit with the other nominees in a special roped off section (fancy!). The ceremony started with our amazing emcee Bethany Bayless, who has more energy at 8 PM than I have at 8 AM with four cups of coffee.
It was a shock to me to actually win one of the categories – Family Finance! What an honor, especially because my fellow nominees (Andy from Marriage, Kids and Money; Chris from Keep Thrifty; Chelsea from Mama Fish Saves; and Jillian from Montana Money Adventures) are all doing such amazing work.
OH MY GOD I WON 🎉🍾🎈🎊 pic.twitter.com/MwgiXxOUN8
— Chief Mom Officer (@LizOfficer) September 29, 2018
I wasn’t the only one shocked at my win. My friends Penny from She Picks Up Pennies and Amy from Life Zemplified were both in tears as they walked up to accept their awards. I was so happy to see their, and all the nominees, hard work paying off.
I want to take a moment to thank all of you. If not for you reading this site, commenting, sharing your stories with me, and generally enjoying what we have here at CMO Central – none of this would have been possible. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Wrapping Up FinCon, Speaking, and Heading Home
Saturday was a day full of sessions. I caught Felicity’s talk about designing interactive content, and then I spoke about being a business. More on the lessons from that session on Friday – and don’t worry, they apply to any kind of business, not just blogging.
During the Saturday closing keynote is when I asked Pete from Mr. Money Mustache the infamous question, and from that moment through the end of the conference, I had people thanking me for doing so. The thanks even followed me the next few days onto Twitter. Apparently many people feel that there’s a need to spread the word that FIRE stereotypes just aren’t true, and that they’re damaging a movement that’s brought so many such happiness and financial freedom.
On Sunday I again woke up early to pack and catch my flight back to CT. No rest for CMO, though! I drove straight from the airport to a shuttle to catch my middle son in a parade. This past weekend was our towns apple festival, and he was in the parade with the band for the first time. Only later did I get to rest at home, and then the next day it was back to the grind.
Why I Went to FinCon 2018
This is a big sacrifice of time, and money. I actually got my ticket comped by FinCon in exchange for speaking (pro frugal FinCon tip – sign up to speak!), but between the hotel, food, many coffees, and the flight the trip cost about $500. A lot to go hang out with my friends on the internet, right? Plus the prior week had been crazy with work travel, next week I’m traveling again, and this week work is nuts. My boys missed me – and I missed them! I wish they could have come with me, but during the school year they can’t be away that long.
I’ve never felt quite so at home as at FinCon. It inspired me to keep going after I almost gave up on this whole “blogging” idea last year. The recognition from my peers, and the fact that real people really enjoy what I write about, means more to me than money. I’m by nature a pretty shy and private person in real life, and I don’t usually enjoy chatting with people. But at FinCon, that’s all different.
A few days away from work – I can recover from that, and work a bit extra this week. A few days away from home – luckily we have Skype, and in a few years my kids probably won’t even remember I was gone. But getting the knowledge, tools, inspiration, and meeting people – who help me spread my passion to succeed with my purpose – is completely worth it.
I’ve always wanted to pay back the universe for the people who shared their stories, who inspired me when I was young to think I could succeed. If I can be that person for someone else, this is all worth it.
What I Took Away from FinCon 2018
- The joy of meeting and talking with new and old friends.
- Learning about products and services offered by various companies.
- Reinforcement that I’m doing good work here, and should keep it up. And do more.
- Courage to be the person to ask hard questions. Because someone has to.
You thought it would be some blogging secret, or tips to become a blogging millionairess? Nope, sorry. I was hoping to learn more about how to start a podcast (still on my to-do list) but sadly missed all those sessions. The virtual pass will need to come to my rescue there.
Instead it’s about the people, the passion, and the purpose. People at FinCon are passionate about what they’re doing, and feel a sense of purpose. There may have been over two thousand people there, but there are millions in America (and billions around the world) who could use money help. We all amplify each others reach when we collaborate, and help each other see the true value of our work.
So if you want to hang out with the coolest money nerds around, find your passion and purpose, learn how to increase your reach, and generally have fun – FinCon is the place to be.
Rounding Up The Recaps
I promised you a round-up of recaps – and CMO always delivers. Here’s what I’ve found so far around the internet. If you write a recap after this article is published, tag me on social – I’ll add yours to the list!
Steve from Think Save Retire shared the one thing he learned at FinCon.
Josh went to hang out with his friends, and had such a great time he snapped up his FinCon19 ticket right away. Then he told some secrets about MMM, Jonathan from Choose FI, and talked about being the FinCon bodyguard.
Erika Williams had a great time – and filmed it!
Carl from 1500 days gave some random musing from the pink flamingo (the flamingo is the real FinCon star!).
Eric Rosenberg introduces Jordon Cox’s guide to being British.
And Frugal Chic Life recorded an awesome vlog.
Ally had some fun with pancakes – posted by Navicore.
All She Saves talks about why FinCon was one of the best weekends of her year.
Do you want to hear an English perspective of FinCon, with Dr. Nikki? Yes you do! P.S. I take full credit for her presence, since she won the scholarship I tweeted about! Woo hoo!
Budgeting Wife talks about her FinCon experience and first-timer tips.