My FinCon 2018 Experience
“There are few things in life that live up to all the hype surrounding it. After reading the FinCon reviews from last year, I shrugged them off as just a lot of marketing hype. However, after attending the conference this year, I cannot wait to attend the next one in Washington, D.C.!”
-Peerless Money Mentor
*This pay may contain affiliate links*
What is FinCon?
In my post 10 Signs You’re a Personal Finance Addict, I wrote that FinCon was a conference where awesome people in the personal finance space get to meet up to network and “learn to create better content, reach their audience, and make more money.”
Although it seemed like a place I should be, I thought it was too pricey. I did not know if I could make the numbers work.
After checking out the link he posted, I realized I qualified to apply for the award. To be eligible I needed to meet two requirements:
- You have started your blog since January 2017
- You haven’t already registered for FinCon
I submitted my scholarship application, and crossed my fingers!
If selected, I told myself I would go to FinCon, if my job approved my time off. I would find a way to make the numbers work by applying the financial lessons learned from reading personal finance blogs.
A couple of weeks later, I got an email from Jessica, the Director of Events, saying, “We’re thrilled to report that you won a full scholarship to #FinCon18 in Orlando!
Time to Apply the Financial Lessons I’ve Learned!
Using Southwest Flight Credit
After receiving my scholarship award, I focused on looking for ways to reduce the cost of my trip even further. Since I hadn’t used the flight credit I was awarded from completing my HSA Travel Hacking Strategy, the cost of my flight to Orlando would be $11.20 (you still have to pay taxes).
This would reduce the cost of my first FinCon substantially, but I was still not satisfied with the total cost. The convention hotel price for my 4-day stay would be $715. No bueno!
Although I was hesitant at first, I decided to post my information on the FinCon roommate spreadsheet. A couple of days later, a guy named Kevin emailed me saying that he was interested in splitting the cost of the room.
We called each other the next day to discuss our reasons for attending FinCon. He seemed like a cool guy so I added him to my hotel reservation.
Now with my travel plans in place, it was just a matter of waiting a month to attend the conference…Time flew by, and before I knew it I was traveling to New Orleans at 4 AM to catch my 9 AM flight.
Time to Travel
From Baton Rouge to New Orleans
The night before FinCon I could barely sleep. I kept pacing around my room to make sure I packed everything I needed. My plan would be to drive from Baton Rouge to New Orleans at 5 AM in the morning.
However, when I woke up at 4 AM, I decided to leave out early to beat the traffic. I wanted to make sure I did not miss my flight!
New Orleans to Orlando
After arriving at the airport two hours early, I boarded my flight and I was off to Orlando! Upon landing, I texted my roommate Kevin so we could meet up.
From the airport, we took a Lyft to the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel, where we would be staying for the next four days. Since our room was not ready, we completed the registration process first. The registration process was quick and easy. We picked up our badges, and then we ate lunch at one of the restaurants inside the hotel ($18 burger with tip).
While eating lunch, Kevin spoke to me about this YNAB (You Need a Budget) Fans Facebook Group he’s the admin of. The group currently has over 30,000 members. After hearing my roommate explain how the budgeting tool worked, I told him I would check it out. Supposedly you can do a three month trial. When lunch was over, we headed to the First Timer Orientation.
First Timer Orientation
Along the way there, I ran into my friend, who owns the blog The Mastermind Within. We exchanged pleasantries and he gave me one of his t-shirts. When I got to the room where the orientation would be held, I got a twitter message from another blogger friend Jason who owns Winning Personal Finance asking if I was at the conference yet.
It turns out we were both in the first timers session, so we located each other and linked up! We chatted for a minute and then class began. Nick True from Your Mapped Out Money would teach us how to get the most out of our first FinCon!
During his speech, he took a break for members of the audience to interact with one another. We had to share with those next to us who we were, why we were at FinCon, and what we expected to get out of it.
To be honest, I had not really thought about this, so I kind of fumbled my words when introducing myself to others. Also, I realized I had no business cards to hand out like some other first timers.
Afterwards, Nick encouraged us to attend some of the classes but go with the flow if you were invited to dinner. When class let out, I headed to the Keynotes and Big Idea Talk in a different room
Keynotes and Big Idea Talk
There Bethany Bayless did a wonderful job hosting the event. The three speakers were Jean Chatzky, Rachel Cruze, and Talaat & Tai McNeely.
While all the speakers did a wonderful job, the speech that stood out the most to me was from Talaat & Tai McNeely. They spoke about using our platforms to have a positive impact in our communities. As someone who cares deeply about the community I am from, their message really resonated with me.
After the event was over, it was time for my roommate and I to check into our room. Kevin from Financial Panther recognized me in the hallway, and we shook hands.
I got to the room, hopped in the bed, and fell asleep. Being up since 4 AM that morning had finally caught up with me. Day one was in the books and I was looking forward to day number 2!
Thursday began with me waking up and deciding what classes I would take in the morning. On the FinCon app, I had these three classes checked:
- The Art of Slow Travel–The Benefits, Challenges, and Why it’s a Life-Changing Experience
- Freelance Writing 101: What Every Rookie Needs to Know
- New Blog Strategies from Two Ancient Bloggers
I learned a lot from each class I attended. Plus, I got to see one of my favorite podcasters Paula Pant from Afford Anything speak about a topic I am interested in (Freelance Writing!).
After attending those classes, I was ready for lunch. I saw someone on the FinCon app recommend Beth’s burgers across the street so I walked about a half mile there. The meal set me back $13. I didn’t quite finish the burger, so I got a container to take it back with me to the hotel.
On my way back, I met the guys who run the Pour Not Poor podcast. After giving me there card, I caught up with three other guys.
We started asking each other questions, and then I realized I was talking to one of my favorite writers. Doc G from DiverseFi! He introduced me to his roommates Accidental Fire and Physician Philosopher. I am a big fan of their work as well.
After putting the remainder of my lunch in the room, I headed to FinCon Central. This was a spot where creators could interact with sponsors/brands.
At FinCon Central, I met a lot of companies that offer impressive financial solutions/resources. Here are two companies that I was really impressed with:
- Earnin – Offers a way for consumers to get access to their paychecks earlier without taking out payday loans
- Max Rewards – Helps you manage your credit cards. It can suggest what credit card to use to get the maximum benefit. In my opinion, this product is most beneficial for those who love travel hacking. The beta version will be available on October 15th.
More Connections/Dinner Invite
While walking around, I ran into Physician on Fire. He recognized me from the Real Money Series on Business Insider he and I contributed to, along with some other money bloggers! It was really nice meeting him because I am a huge fan of his work.
After chatting with Physician on Fire for a moment, I ran into a guy by the name of Damien who runs Wealth Noir, a site that focuses on teaching affluent Black people how to manage their money. Damien’s story was very interesting to me; he is a former employee of Facebook. Him and his wife have recently moved to Spain.
He introduced me to a woman named Acquania who does freelance work for him. She is the founder and CEO of RRD Investments (real estate investment company). Later on she and I would go grab some Thai food about 15 minutes away from the conference hotel. We spoke about our blogging goals, real estate, Earnin and some strategies we can use to be successful going forward! When we finished eating, we head back to the hotel to catch an event called Ignite FinCon presented by Medavine.
I actually missed most of this event (I fell asleep), so I cannot tell you much about it. From the little I do know about the vent, presenters had five minutes to do a speech. I walked in on a hilarious speech about financial fornication by Tarra Jackson.
When the event ended, I ran into Ms. Fiology again in the hallway. She introduced me to some of her roommates and told me about this party Carl from 1500 Days was throwing.
While I didn’t know Carl, I decided to go with the flow like Nick True suggested. The party ended up being a lot of fun. I got a chance to connect with some people, especially a guy who calls himself The Incredible Cash Dummy. Our stories are similar in that we both made a lot of mistakes and now we are turning things around!
When the party ended, there was so much beer left. I remember a woman coming up to me demanding that I take a few bottles to my room. After hanging around and connecting with some more people for a while, I went to my room to rest up for another day of learning and fun!
On Friday, the only thing I had planned was to link up with Jason from The Wealth Hound at some point. He had posted something about not having business cards on Twitter, and I commented on it.
Before leaving out of my hotel room, I got a notification from Financial Pilgrimage saying he wanted to meet all of the Rockstar Finance scholarship winners by the FinCon Central entrance. He is responsible for that picture I showed you at the beginning of the post!
I hung around FinCon Central for a while and had lunch with Jason. During that time, I discovered there was a ChooseFi Meetup at 4 PM. For those of you who read this blog, you know that ChooseFI is one of my favorite podcasts. I have called into the show a couple of times to leave a voicemail. To make sure I did not miss this event, I went up to the room and took a nap.
After waking up from my nap, I walked around to see if anyone else was going to the meetup. I saw Ruby from A Journey We Love and decided to ask her. “Yes I am going. Are you taking an Uber there?” was her response. I told her that I could book an Uber if needed.
The Uber conversation ended when we ran into another friend of hers. He decided that we were going to walk. Our destination was only a mile away, so we could handle it (Savings of $2).
When we got there, the restaurant was filled to capacity. Jonathan recognized my name and remembered playing a couple of my voicemails. A woman named Laura was generous enough to buy beer for ten people waiting outside.
While outside, I got a chance to speak with Gerry from the Millionaire Educator and another guy for a while about the journey to FI. I mostly listened to him and the other guy go back and fourth about tax optimization (good stuff!).
After about an hour or so, people started to leave. The Plotus Awards were starting in a few hours. A guy name William approached me inquiring about what I did. It turns out he works on IT projects for ChooseFI and is one of the moderators for their Facebook group.
Chinese Food for Dinner
We talked for a minute, and then I mentioned the fact that I was hungry. He was hungry as well, so we decided we would go grab some Chinese food from down the road. Another moderator named Seanwoo and a woman from northern California joined us!
Although we spoke about a lot of topics (programming languages, blogging, podcast, etc.), the one thing that stood out to me was the fact that everyone at the table listened to their podcasts on 1.5x speed or greater.
When everyone finished their meals, we head back to the hotel to attend the Plotus Awards.
“The Plotus awards are for this community to support each other and advocate for itself and its legitimate place within the larger community of financial media.
The Plutus Awards was a 1.5 hour event that honored some of the best bloggers, podcasters, Youtubers, etc. I cannot put my finger on why, but to me, this was one of the least exciting events of FinCon.
However, it was fun seeing Amy from Life Zemplified win an award (Go Amy!). It was also nice to see my digital friend Tia from Financially Fit & Fab be awarded a grant for her closing the racial wealth gap program in Indianapolis. A program that provides free financial education to some children in the urban community!
After this event ended, conference attendees moved to the Plotus Awards After Party in another room.
Plotus Awards After Party
The after party is where I linked up with some really awesome people. I ran into Deanna from Ms. Fiology again! For the most part, I spend a lot of time conversing with Jason from The Wealth Hound, Rocky from 30-0, and Josh from Damn Millennial. When the after party ended, we moved our discussion to the bar in the hotel room around 12 in the morning.
At the bar, we discussed our blogging goals multi-million dollar ideas, and shared stories. Rocky from 30-0 stole the show with the retelling of some of his personal stories. His stories really kept our attention because 12 AM quickly turned to 4 AM.
Around 4 AM, a woman by the name of Katie joined us who was at the conference to promote Earnin. We got a chance to ask her questions like how the company was funded and what was the business model. Afterwards, she told us about some of the commercials that was made to promote the program.
That’s when Rocky decided he should star in one of the commercials. We went down to the grocery store in the hotel and started filming his Snapchat ad. It was so much fun! Sleep eventually caught up with us after our commercial shoot, and we went our separate ways.
It was a struggle for me to wake up the next morning. My plan was to get up at 9:30 to attend Liz’s (Chief Mom Officer) Be a Business – MBA for Digital Entrepreneurs class but those plans fell through. I chose to get some more rest instead.
These are the two classes I attended on Saturday:
- How I Increased My Organic Traffic 3,727% in Less Than a Year by Deacon Hayes
- Building Audiences: How to Become Your Own Public Relations Team by Winnie Sun
FinCon Closing Party Presented by Bloomly
At the closing Party, I spent most of the time connecting with Damien from Wealth Noir and Marcus from Paychecks & Balances.
When they decided to hop on the dance floor, I remained on the sidelines. That all changed when I ran into Ms. Fiology again. She encouraged me to step on the dance floor with her and some friends.
While I do not know what I was doing on the dance floor, I had a blast! When the party ended, I met up with Kevin and Thomas from Financial Panther in the hallway.
More Bar Talk
Eventually we moved our discussion to the hotel bar. I enjoyed Thomas telling me the story of how him and Kevin became good friends (they went to the same high school).
Kevin does all the writing for Financial Panther and Thomas handles the IT. As the conversation continued, I learned they are both from Washington, D.C.
They told me if I needed a place to crash at next years FinCon, to let them know!
Before going our separate ways at 2AM, I was able to meet Krystle from All She Saves. Since our flights were leaving around the same time, we decided to share an Uber in the morning!
And just like that, FinCon was over. I woke up around 10 something and packed my bags. After packing my bags, I reached out to Krystel from All She Saves to see if she was still interested in splitting an Uber.
On our way to the airport, we spoke about why we created our blogs. I told her I would have to link up with her, Erik, Kevin and Thomas if I visit Minneapolis.
I hopped in my plane…landed in Baton Rouge after an hour, where I had to return to work the next day 🙁
Since this post is already long enough, I will make this closing short and sweet. If you want to network with like-minded individuals in the personal finance space, purchase your ticket as soon as possible! I highly recommend it, and so does Pete from Do You Even Blog!
Read Other FinCon 2018 Articles
- My FinCon 2018: Friends, Inspiration, and Motivation by Adam at Minafi
- FinCon 2018 Summary: Awesome Memories, New Friends, Great Fun by Janet at My Twenty Cents
- Finance and Flamingos: 10 Takeaways from FinCon18 by Money Saved is Money Earned
My name is Jerry, and I am just a personal finance nerd who writes from a bottom to top perspective. I believe anyone can improve their finances by adopting certain habits/strategies taught by the financial independence community.
In my popular post From Broke Phi Broke to Financially Woke I wrote, “While I am not 100% debt free yet, I hope the financial independence community welcomes me with open arms.”
Since writing that article, the financial independence community has embraced me as one of their own. I have even gotten a chance to do some amazing things like write for Business Insider.
Well, enough about me. I want to hear from you. Feel free to reach out to tell me your million dollar secrets 🙂