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Thursday afternoon, just a little over 2 weeks ago. I’m checking my creditcard statement and there’s only one thought in my mind: “What have I done?!” After a few financial setbacks in just a short period of time, the plan was to budget a bit more. To make more money, so save more money. And yet, I’m receiving all of these confirmations in my mailbox: a ticket, a flight from Amsterdam to Orlando, Florida, a rental car, a hotel, an ESTA. I’m really going to do this. I am going to FinCon 2018!
Time really flies when you’re having fun; it’s been about two weeks later now, and I’m back in the Netherlands. With a jetlag and a head (and note book) full of ideas. And of course: a FinCon 2018 Recap! (Oh, and this one will definitely be updated throughout the week 😉 )
Four days of FinCon
The convention (or conference, I’m not sure if it’s one or the other) was four days: from Wednesday until Saturday. To ease into it a bit, I signed up for some volunteering on Tuesday evening.
Even though I only had three days to prepare myself, I was able to check out the program at home. I picked out a number of workshops that sounded interesting to me. Since there were multiple workshops at the same time, I had to go for those I thought would be most important to actually attend, for example the one about Google Analytics. If I had any questions, I would be able to ask them.
On most days, the program started early. Having (wanting!) to be there at 8 or 8:30 AM was no exception. The official program usually lasted until 5 or 6 PM. After that, there were non-official meetups. To eat, but also to talk and just have fun. For a lot of bloggers, this is the one event in the year where they meet up, so they really like to make the most of that.
Since it was my first time, my focus was mainly on the program. I’m a bit of an introvert and connecting to 2,000 people is kind of overwhelming. But: that is something that I would like to do more at my next FinCon (Yes, if I can, I certainly will be attending again!). Since I also had the Virtual Pass, I could easily check out the workshops at home, which means there would have been more time for socializing. To be honest; I hadn’t even thought of that until someone else suggested it.
Of course, I did meet people, including Jillian from Montana Money Adventures. It was her article about FinCon that gave me the final push to go, so I really appreciated the fact that she made some time to talk to me.
It’s no getting rich scheme
At FinCon 2018, I met a lot of people who make a fortune blogging. Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, Grant from Millennial Money, and Rosemarie Groner from The Busy Budgeteer, to name a few. They’ve earned millions through their blogs, which might lead you to the idea that making money blogging is easy. Or something to do overnight.
They’re all just very smart people and hard workers. They use their time efficiently, only focus on the most important stuff (and eat that frog in the morning), they strategize, and often also work when others are relaxing. They’re just hardworking entrepreneurs.
I liked that reality check: it isn’t easy, and it isn’t hard. It’s all about putting in the effort and being smart about it.
And every way to actually be smart about this, is discussed here. From special systems to tripwires, from the best mailing campaigns to story telling, from video to social media marketing. FinCon offers a wealth of knowledge and experience, and everyone is willing to share. That’s what makes this convention special!
Huge to do list
So, what did I come home with? First off: a huge to do list. I think I’ve written more during these four days, than during the entire past 4 years. And maybe even 14 years. Notes, remarks, to do’s; I have to sort them through, but I can tell you this: FinCon gives you inspiration for at least the 360+ days until the next one.
One of the major points I want to focus on next is video. I’ve dreaded that for a long time, but thanks to one of the workshops from Leslie Samuel, I’m now actually looking forward to it. Of course, it’ll require some practice, but that’s the case for everything.
Other focal points are making the website more user-friendly. I also have a Dutch website on personal finance, LekkerLevenMetMinder.nl (which translates into something like ‘living more with less’), and I’ve already made some progress there. In the next few weeks, I’ll sort through my notes, to see what else would be most important right now.
And of course: a lot of inspiration. I really loved the vibe at FinCon, and being a FIRE enthousiast, it was great timing to be there when the trailer of Playing with FIRE was released. I’ve been inspired by all the new knowledge I gained, the people I met AND by just seeing other people putting in the work and being willing to talk about that and share their experiences.
All ’bout the money: how much was all of this?
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of knowing how much everything exactly was. I know I should be, heck, I’m a personal finance blogger! And from a business perspective, it’s also important to know what you’re investing (and what you want to get out of it). That’s why I made an exception and actually wrote down everything. And to be completely honest; I would have liked to know a bit more about this myself as well. I for one hadn’t counted on the 18$ parking costs at the resort. By the way, these will be around 40$ next year!
Entrance: $652.81 (including virtual pass and a small discount, but last minute, so the most expensive :(, 570 euros)
Flight: $500 (440 euros)
Hotel: $369.91 (not at the resort, 320 euros)
Rental car: $285.42 (251 euros)
ESTA Visa: $14 (12 euros)
Cash (for parking, toll, food): $160 (150 euros)
Fuel: $73 (64 euros)
Total: $2055.14 (approximately 1783 euros)
I’ve not included some personal costs, including touring from the east to west coast (of Florida), drinking from the Fountain of Youth and swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
Was it worth it?
More than 2000 dollars is a lot of money. More than I usually earn per day 😉 But was it worth it? Will I join George in Washington?
Well, I’m not really big on planning a full year ahead, but I certainly hope so! I actually did already buy my ticket. If for some reason I’m not able to go, I can always sell it. And now I know what it’s like, I can focus a bit more in preparation. Talk to people ahead of time, so it’s more easy to connect there.
And it would be a great opportunity to attend some ‘follow up’ workshops. Now, everything was interesting. However, if you’re scratching the surface everywhere, you’re not really digging in. It made sense now, since my focus just isn’t as razor-sharp as it can be, but that’s something to work on before next year.
I would also make some other choices. FinCon 19 will be in Washington, and parking will be $40/day there. I would consider staying at the convention centre or very near, so I don’t need a rental car. I’ve been to Washington before, and you really don’t need one there. Public transport works just fine.
Of course, I already bought the ticket now, including the (free) virtual pass, which is a big saver. And I’ve created a Skyscanner alarm for cheap flights.
I don’t regret it
All in all, I really don’t regret going to FinCon 18. It was not only inspiring, but also offered a lot of practical knowledge and insight. And on top of that, it was the perfect fit with what I aspire to do: creating a platform that will help people create richer lives, both in terms of money and fulfillment. Even though I’ve done quite a lot of courses in the past year, this was by far the most valuable investment.
Of course, I’m just one of 2,000+ attendees, and this is not the only recap. I’ve collected a couple of those for you, if you have written one and want to be included, let me know.
The Frugal Fellow: FinCon 18: Money, Friends, and Flaminogs (This was also Bob’s first FinCon, a fellow introvert, and fun to hang out with)
Freedom40Plan: FinCon2018 – Meeting My Tribe (this blogger is still keeping his real identity under wraps, but I have good hopes that that will change soon!)
How to make the most of your FinCon experience – introvert style
To round it off, I’ve got a few practical suggestions that will help you get the most out of your FinCon experience, especially if you’re an introvert.
First: buy the virtual pass! I liked the workshops, but there’s no way you can attend all of them. And if you’re attending a workshop, you cannot talk to your peers and collaboration partners, which means that you might be missing out on some awesome opportunities. So be like the pros and get yourself that virtual pass. Talk now, watch later.
Second: focus on meeting people. Know who you want to meet. Set up your mentor meetings in advance (I was too late for that, but would have really liked that), and just go find those people! It’s only four days and there’s a lot of people, so just winging it usually won’t do.
Use the app. Especially if you’re a more introvert person. That really helps with laying some groundwork. I actually met a few people who recognized me from the ‘it’s time for some introvert time’-pic in the app.
Make sure you have your business cards with you. I noticed that in the community, a lot of people had business card with their picture on it. Since I just did a photoshoot that same week, I decided to put in a last-minute order of business cards with my picture. It helps you stand out a bit and people don’t have to remember you just by your name. And since you’re meeting A LOT of people, it’s just very convenient to GET business cards with someone’s face on it. It just makes everything so much easier and so much less awkward.
Join the meetups. There will be a lot of spontaneous and non-official meetups with people with shared interests. Make sure you join at least a few of them. It helps you meet new people in your niche and it might result in some new collaborations. I joined in on the FIRE blogger meeting and a spin-off of the ChooseFI meetup. Next year, I’ll hope to do a few more. Maybe some meetups with food? 😀
If you’re doing the workshops: get over yourself and sit in the front. Sound isn’t always great in the back, and it’s much easier to take pictures if no-one is sitting in front of you. I’m usually a permanent fixture in the back, but have been a front-row-seater this entire convention.
I hope this recap answers any questions you might have. If not; let me know! I’d be happy to answer those as well! And if you have your own recap to share: let me know, I’ll add your link!