Ever since I jumped into the world of personal finance blogging with my first post in January of this year, I’ve been hearing great things about FinCon. It sounds like an awesome conference, but as a noob, I figured it wasn’t for me and I didn’t think too much about it. I just assumed that it was a conference I’d seriously consider attending once I felt like my blog had “made it”….what ever that means.
Well after a turn of events, and a bit of good luck, I’m going to FinCon in a couple of weeks and I’m pretty stoked about it! No, I don’t feel like I’ve ‘made it’ yet, but I have done a few things that will allow me to attend FinConn for less than $200 bucks. Even an overly frugal guy like me thinks that’s a bargain!
Below are the things I’ve done, and am going to do, to attend FinCon 2016 on the cheap.
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SHOULD A NEW BLOGGER ATTEND FINCON?
I know most people say you’re not supposed to jump into blogging just to make money, but that’s one of the reasons I’m doing this (and I secretly think it’s one of the reasons my blogger friends do it too, even if nobody wants to admit it). There are other reasons why I blog as well, but ‘to make money’ is one of my stated goals. If I’m serious about making money from Get Rich Quick’ish, then I need to get serious and figure a few things out, like:
- Is switching over to WordPress worth the time, hassle, and money? Or should I just stick with Blogger? It works just fine. I’m starting to get some traction with visitors and Ad Sense. Should I make the switch to the blogging platform that everyone else seems to think is superior? Would switching help me make more money? Would it be a better experience for my readers?
- I actually really like my blog name: Get Rich Quick’ish. It captures exactly what I’m trying to do, and I think it’s got great brand potential. Should I spend some money to have a professional logo designed so that I can begin to put a look to my brand?
- I need to dedicate a certain amout of time each day/week/month to the blog, otherwise it’s too easy to get steamrolled by life, fall into a rut, and not spend the time I need to in order to grow this site. What can/should I cut out of my life in order to make time for this site?
- I need to invest in myself as a personal finance blogger. One way to do this is by going to FinCon, the financial content expo. Nowhere else can you connect with so many other like-minded individuals, get relevant training, and stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of personal finance.
Attending FinCon should be considered mandatory if you want to take your finance blog to the next level, which I do. That said, I’d pretty much decided that I was going to pass on attending this year. After all, I’ve only been at this blogging thing for nine months…could I really justify taking time off of work, buying conference tickets, booking flights, getting a rental car, reserving hotel accommodations, and paying for all of the food I’d need?
That’s a hefty price to pay for someone that has, to-date, spent a grand total of $60.00 on this blog.
Then I found out that Phillip “PT” Taylor, editor at PT Money, FinCon founder and CEO offers a scholarship for us newbies, so I threw my hat into the ring thinking, what have I got to lose? Time passed and I’d completely forgotten about the scholarship until I got an email from PT out of the blue telling me that I’d won one!
I had conflicting reactions to finding out that I’d won. My initial thought was ‘Yes – I won!’ Followed almost immediately by “Damn – now I have to buy a flight, book a hotel, etc. etc.”
When I applied for the scholarship, I really didn’t think I’d get one. And had PT not hooked me up with the scholarship I could have said “well, at least I tried” and then gone on my merry way. But that’s not how this played out. I’d gotten my free pass and had committed myself to going. Although my entry to the conference was now covered, it still left a lot of other expenses to take care of. Or did it? Hmmmm…….time to get creative. Here’s how I’m travel hacking my way to FinCon.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ATTEND FINCON?
Travel hacking FinCon is already off to a great start thanks to the scholarship I received. All it took was me asking for it. Easy peasy, and probably a life-lesson in there as well. If you don’t ask, the answer is always ‘no’.
- Cost of attending the conference: $0
- Total savings by receiving a scholarship: $449
Normal fare on my airline of choice is coming in at about $300, round trip. However, my sister works for an airline and has told me that I can use her buddy pass and fly for $50 each way. The only catch is that I have to fly on stand-by, so the seat isn’t guaranteed. She tells me, however, that the flight I need rarely fill up, so my odds of getting a seat are very high. And there are multiple flights daily, so odds are very good that I’ll down get to sunny Southern California with no problem.
- Cost of flying: $100
- Amount saved by using a buddy pass: $200
FinCon is being held at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. The conference was offering a discounted rate on lodging at the Sheraton, but that block rate is now gone. The cheapest room available is $245 per night; almost $900 total for the entire stay, after taxes. However, my best friend lives in the San Diego area. Not in San Diego, but close enough that I can drive from his home to the conference every day. He’s agreed to let me crash at his house. So I get to party with you finance nerds during the day, and my best friend at night – perfect! I wouldn’t want it any other way.
- Cost of staying with a friend: $0
- Amount saved by staying with a friend: $900
Because I’m not staying at the hotel where the conference is being held, I’ll need to rent a car for a few days. The price of an economy car (a “Nissan Versa or similar”) is $17 per day, with unlimited mileage. The total, after taxes, is $70. I’m guessing I’ll drive about 500 miles total going to and from the airport, then from my friend’s home to the expo and back. Averaging about 35 MPG and assuming $3.00 per gallon for gasoline, I’m looking at about another $45 in fuel.
- Total cost of renting a car: $115
- Savings: N.A.
I’m budgeting $150 for food. I’ll be in town for four days, but only two of them will be full days. The other two days will be spent traveling, so the number of meals I’ll need is pretty small.
- Total food cost: $150
- Total savings: N.A.
TOTAL COST AND SAVINGS
If I didn’t have friends and family and scholarships to help me out, I’d be looking at about $1,914 to attend FinCon. An average of about $475 per day. Not terrible if you look at this as an investment in yourself and a killer opportunity to learn, grow, and connect.
But I do have friends, family, and a scholarship to help me out, so my actual cost to attend FinCon is only going to be $365. A huge savings of over $1,500!
That’s too sweet of a deal to pass up. So my PTO is booked, as is my flight. My car has been reserved and plans with my friend are being made. Now all I have to do is wait for FinCon 2016 to start.
I’m pretty excited and want to give a shout out to my smokin’ hot wife who is more than willing to let me ditch her and the kids for a few days. I get to go to a conference in San Diego, meet some of you, hang with an old friend, and pretty much have a great time, and she gets to stay home with our four kids.
Who’s got two thumbs and is getting the better of that deal?
If I haven’t said so already, I’m pretty excited. Also a bit nervous if I’m honest. I’m most excited to meet as many of you as I can. So please let me know if you’re going to be there and let’s be sure to connect! See you in a couple of weeks.