|FinCon 2016 – San Diego Bay|
Hello, GRQ readers! I’ve just returned from FinCon, a financial blogging conference and that’s what I’m talking about today. As a result, this post is going to be heavy on the operational side of GRQ; a deep dive into the world of blogging. So if you’re here for a blog post on personal finance, getting rich quick’ish, or early retirement, then check out the ol’ archives page for posts I’ve already written, or you can check back later this week for my next post, Get Rich Quick’ish by Taking Your Time. For my personal finance blogging friends, please read on for a peek behind the curtains from a first time FinCon attendee.
I’d hoped to have this post published early this morning, but after being away from my full time job for the past week, I was a busier than I’d expected with work and wasn’t able to spend as much time writing as I wanted to. Oh well, such is life, right?
This post will have two main sections. First, a recap on the cost of attending FinCon followed by my review of the conference as a first time attendee, and what I’d do differently for next year’s FinCon in Dallas, Texas.
Table of Contents
COST OF ATTENDING FINCON
A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was headed to FinCon on the cheap. I’d projected that attending would cost me a grand total of $365. How’d I do? You be the judge. Here’s a look at my projected vs. actual costs:
- Projected: $0.00
- Actual: $0.00
- Result: Right on track. So far, so good. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship from FinCon so projecting this cost was as easy as it gets.
- Projected: $100
- Actual: $105.20
- Result: Taxes and fees on my buddy pass win this round. I was off by $5.20.
- Projected: $0.00
- Actual: 0.00
- Result: Nailed it! I crashed at my college roommate’s house, saving a small fortune by doing so.
- Projected: $115.00 ($70 for a rental car and $45 for fuel)
- Actual: $203.79 (an even $100 bucks for the rental car [how’d that come out so nice and neat??]; $39.79 for fuel; $64 for parking)
- Result: Off by $88.79 – ouch. This was my biggest miss. I failed to account for parking at the expo hall, which was $32 per day. Bummer.
- Projected: $150.00
- Actual: $60.79
- Result: Finally, a miscalculation in my favor! I was off by $89.03, which totally offsets my transportation whammy. I missed so badly here because dinner on my first night was picked up by my host (by the way, I highly recommend the chicken enchiladas at Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen in Brea), breakfast and lunch on my first full day at FinCon were covered by the conference. Those three free meals ended up saving me a few bucks that I’d planned on spending.
- Projected: $365.00
- Actual: 369.78
- Result: I was off by $4.78. I’ll take it!
So that’s the budget breakdown. I’m going to say exactly what you’re thinking: nice job, Ty!
Why thank you. Thank you, very much! I’m quite pleased with myself!
REVIEWING THE FINCON EXPO
OK, so now my review of the actual conference, what I liked, and what I’ll be doing differently next year. I’m channeling my inner Clint Eastwood and breaking this down into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Plus a bonus: The Freaking Awesome!
|Wonder Woman & Super Man at the IntegriShield Booth|
I showed up to FinCon by myself, as a relatively newbie blogger. I knew literally nobody, and if I’m honest with myself (and with you), I was really nervous about being there, which took me by surprise. I’ve always fancied myself as the personable and outgoing type, but for some reason I was finding it very difficult to approach people on my own. Thankfully my nervousness was all for naught because the conference attendees were as advertised. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was so genuinely nice, kind, and welcoming. Once I was finally able to break out of my shell I began meeting the who’s who of the personal finance blogging community.
I bumped into Mr. and Mrs. Mad Fientist. #StarStruck. Brandon and my wife actually have something in common: they both married up. I was geeking out while talking to Brandon, but he couldn’t have been any cooler. Sensing my awesomeness he invited me to meet up for beers later that night. I don’t drink, but I’ve gotta tell you, I strongly considered starting just so I could take him up on the offer.
I was also able to meet the man himself, J Money. After reading his blog for years, and listening to him on The Money Show podcast, I felt like I knew the man, even though we’ve never met. He was exactly what I expected, and also highly in demand. It seemed like J was always being pulled away by someone eager to meet him. While I was stalking him, looking for my own opportunity to pounce, I never once saw him get annoyed or frustrated. He seemed genuinely happy to be meeting everyone. What a stud!
I also met briefly with Ms. Our Next Life. She’s as kind and charming as you’d expect. I got her name and snapped a picture of her, which I could post, but then she’d have to kill me, and that wouldn’t be good.
@GetRichQuickish BTW: You just missed @DerekCOlsen. I’ll introduce you to him later pic.twitter.com/OVTjhBGF6i
— Steve Stewart (@SteveStewartMe) September 23, 2016
As I was passing by the table where podcasts were being recorded I bumped into Steve Stewart. Steve absolutely went above and beyond to make me feel welcomed. As a veteran of FinCon, Steve seemingly knows everyone, and he literally took me around the expo hall and introduced me to people he knew. People like Nick Loper from Side Hustle Nation and Derek Olsen from How Do I Money. Steve even took me to lunch where we bumped into Jessica Moorhouse….the Jessica Moorhouse. As in ‘I’m a big enough deal that I’m actually Twitter verified’ Jessica Moorhouse.
FinCon Tip: If you are an introverted person, the first thing you need to do is find an outgoing attendee (they’ll eventually find you if you don’t find them first). The extroverts among us will have no problem introducing you to anyone and everyone they know. Thanks for helping me out, Steve!
@GetRichQuickish they actually totally forgot about me so it took like 20 minutes lol. Nice to meet you to!
— Jessica Moorhouse (@jessi_moorhouse) September 23, 2016
Melanie Lockhart from Dear Debt, Gwen from Fiery Millennials, Taylor from The Freedom from Money, Joe Udo from Retire by 40……the list of bloggers I got to meet goes on and on. When you can casually stumble into having lunch overlooking the San Diego Bay with Retire Before Dad and Lindsay from Notorious D.E.B.T. then you know you’re at a great conference!
— Melanie Lockert (@DearDebtBlog) September 23, 2016
Chris Peach from The Money Peach delivered one of my favorite presentations on building an email list. When I stopped him later that day to say “hello and thanks,” he was wasn’t content with just exchanging pleasantries. Nah, he wanted to stop and make sure that all of my questions were answered, offer some additional advice as well as some encouragement. He’s a genuinely good man.
This post is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. If I were accepting my Grammy, right about now is when they’d start to play me off, but I’ve got more to say so I’m going to keep going. Hang in there, I’m nearly at the best part, plus I’m almost done!
The opportunity to make these connections is what makes FinCon special. This unique opportunity to connect with so many, so quickly, is what makes FinCon worth the investment in both time and treasure. Which leads me to my next section…
Let me be clear, I have nothing bad to say about FinCon. Some people might (I know there were some grumblings about the keynote speaker on the final night), but personally I don’t have anything bad to say. The only negatives you’ll find in this recap are a result of my own screw ups. If you’re planning on attending a future FinCon, learn from my mistakes.
First mistake: I didn’t say on site at the Sheraton. This is by far my biggest regret. The magic of FinCon isn’t in the presentations, but in the networking, and soooo much of that networking happens in the hallways of the hotel, or in the lobby after hours. Sure I saved a ton of cash by staying with a friend, but it caused me to miss out on some of the best networking and friendship building opportunities that FinCon has to offer. I was staying about an hour north of town, but even those that were staying in neighboring hotels also expressed regret about not staying at the hotel where the expo was being held. The takeaway for me: stay at the hotel where the conference is being held. Don’t miss out on the real magic of FinCon just to save a few bucks. Besides, just take a look at that line of brake lights. Sigh….and to think that I could have been at an after party. :/
|My nightly California Commute|
Next mistake: I came late and left early. FinCon is a four day event, but I was only there for Days 2 and 3. Day 1 is admittedly pretty light, but there is a session on Day 1 for new attendees called “How to make the most of FinCon.” In retrospect, I should have attended that session. It took me a full day to come out of my introvert shell. Had I been there for Day 1, I would have been able to attend that class, pick up some useful pointers, and I may have broken out of my shell even earlier.
I also missed all of Day 4 to catch a flight. The takeaway: flying in late and leaving early saved me a few bucks, but the money I saved wasn’t worth the experiences and opportunities that I missed out on. Next year I’ll do my best to be there for the full four days. My mistake. Don’t repeat it.
There was no ugly. Move along.
THE FREAKING AWESOME
FinCon offers a mentor program, which is included with your FinCon pass. The mentoring sessions at FinCon offer a chance to work one-on-one with a fellow attendee on a specific topic. I expressed interest in the topic “Create – Writing and Blogging“. About a week before FinCon started, I found out that I’d been paired with a mentor and that our session was to take place on the morning of Day 4.
The only problem was that I was going to be flying out of town at the scheduled time. Unfortunately, the timing just wasn’t going to work, and I reached out to decline the opportunity which was a major kick in the pants because my mentor was none other than Mrs. Frugalwoods.
I was crushed because opportunities to get one on one coaching from the pinnacle of the personal finance blogging world just don’t come along very often, but what else could I do? Luckily for me, Mrs. Frugalwoods is as awesome as you’d imagine her to be because she graciously rescheduled our meeting for a time when I was available. Thank you so much, Liz!
Hands down, the highlight of my FinCon experience was the 90 minute, one-on-one mentor session I got with Mrs. Frugalwoods. I’m not going to get into the granular details of what we talked about and the advice she gave me, but I left our session with about 5 pages of notes and a much clearer vision of what I want from Get Rich Quick’ish, as well as a strategy for how I’m going to achieve that vision. What more could a FinCon attendee ask for, right?
In total I spent a paltry $370 to attend FinCon and had to use 3 PTO days at work in order to be there; time and money well spent for for my 1:1 mentor session alone, but there was so, so much more than just that. Here’s a quick recap of the entire experience:
- If you can attend a future FinCon then I highly recommend signing up for the mentor/mentee program. If you’re an established blogger that happens to be reading this, I’d encourage you to offer your support to the community by volunteering to become a mentor. Pay it forward, if you will.
- Don’t fly in late or leave early to save a few bucks. In fact, fly in and out the day BEFORE and AFTER the conference begins and ends. Remember that you’re going to a professional conference and it’s going to cost a few bucks no matter what. Make sure you do it right, even if it costs you a bit more.
- Stay in the hotel where the expo is being held. You might save a few bucks by staying elsewhere, but in my opinion you’ll miss out on a lot more, namely the opportunity to make personal and professional connections.
- Almost everyone recommends that you focus on networking at FinCon rather than attending the sessions live. That’s probably good advice, but if there is a session that really resonates with you, take the time to attend in person. It’s a good chance to meet with the presenter face to face. I don’t regret attending any of the sessions that I went to.
So that’s it. That was my FinCon 2016 experience. I attended FinCon on the cheap, came away with a clear vision for this blog, learned a few lessons, and have already purchased my 2017 tickets (plural; I’m bringing my wife)! See y’all in Dallas 13 months from now!
If you have any questions for me, ask away in the comment section or hit me up on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading and let me know if you’re planning or thinking about attending FinCon2017.