It’s Sunday and I’m headed home from my first ever FinCon. While I had started blogging before the conference in 2017, I wasn’t enmeshed in the community in a real way at that point and didn’t really think about going.
2018, however, was a very different story. I still didn’t go – much because it was all the way in Orlando as well as bad timing with work, but I had met a number of people in person by that point and was friends with quite a few others, so missing that FinCon very much felt like missing out.
I watched the week unfold vicariously thanks to Twitter and Instagram, but it wasn’t nearly the same as being there physically with all the people there. And so I bought a ticket for this year’s FinCon once it was announced, though I still didn’t think I’d be able to go. I figured I could sell my ticket if need be, but at least in the off chance I made it I’d have paid the lowest price.
Over and over again I told everyone I likely wasn’t going, but Military Dollar wasn’t convinced and left space for me in the Airbnb anyway. And finally, just a few months before FinCon, I caved and figured out how to make those days work and bought my plane tickets and let her know I would be coming and staying in the Airbnb with all of them after all. Of course, as she says. And then, if you read Friday’s Frugal Five last week, I even extended my trip a bit longer by switching my flight home at the last minute.
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While staying on site can have its perks, I almost always prefer staying in an Airbnb, and MilDollar found an awesome one just a quarter mile away from the conference hotel, which was perfect. And I got to stay with some of my favorites, which meant I was guaranteed at least a bit more face time with them because of it. We packed the space full, with Military Dollar, Reaching for FI, Fiery Millennials, Frugality and Freedom, Poorer Than You, Young FIRE Knight, Financial Mechanic, and myself.
The Airbnb also meant I had access to laundry, which was key once I had switched my flight and was flying Frontier home, which meant my luggage was EXTREMELY limited ($39 for a carry on so I traveled with a “personal item” sized 15L backpack instead). I did two loads of laundry over just three days and four nights, which meant I was able to pack very little and still have clean clothes (especially since DC is hot and muggy this time of year).
If you haven’t stayed in an AirBnB before, I would highly recommend it. We love the flexibility it gives us while traveling as a family – full kitchen, laundry, and extra bathrooms, and it’s usually considerably cheaper than a hotel, especially when you travel as a group. If you’re new to AirBnB, here’s a link for $40 off your first stay.
If it isn’t obvious by now, I clearly went to FinCon to hang out with my friends, not to do much of anything in any kind of “official” capacity. I also set very few commitments in stone so I could be flexible as things unfolded during my time there, and that proved to be a very good plan. I ended up filling my days pretty readily once I was there, but I was able to say yes to a lot of things because I wasn’t overbooked to begin with.
I missed the Wednesday night opening party because I didn’t arrive in DC until 4:45am, and then I had time to crash for another two hours before the opening keynote with Tanja Hester and Ramit Sethi. Courtesy of Military Dollar, I blinged out my badge with some awesome stickers she made, including one of my blog logo (ps she also has a Red Bubble shop with some awesome designs on mugs/shirts/etc and all the profits go back into supporting women’s financial literacy in the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group).
Afterward, I did attend a FIRE panel – the one organized talk I went to – and finally got to hug Fiery Millennials in real life. You can get to know someone so well online and get so close to them, but there is nothing like getting to spend time with them in real life. That afternoon was the Women’s Personal Finance meetup, and I was absolutely blown away by the number of women who care to hang out and chat. My heart is so full and I am so glad to be a part of such a wonderful community of women.
That meetup is when I got to meet One Frugal Girl for the first time. She is one of the very first bloggers I ever read, back in 2010. She took a hiatus from blogging for a while, but she’s back these days and I’m loving it. As much as I love her blog though, I love that I got to spend so much time in person on this trip.
As she and I were talking with Jamie Griffin about Saturday night, I read her words silently for some many years (I never left a comment until I had a blog of my own). You never know just who is following along and what impact you’re making on others lives, but I promise it is well more than you realize.
At some point that day, I lost my phone charger cord (I think? Or maybe it was Friday? The days blurred together a bit). I ended up begging charges from a whole host of people over the course of the day (especially Moriah and Ms. Zi You) until Stephonee found a charger cord swag from the VA 529 Plan booth and gave it to me. I’m realizing that my level of forgetfulness and aptitude for leaving things places doesn’t always come through here, but alas, this is a very typical sort of experience for me.
I had originally planned to go to bed at a reasonable hour on Thursday after sleeping so little the night before, but I found it too hard to tear myself away from conversations I was having, so I didn’t get to bed until 1AM.
First thing Friday morning was the sustainability meet up organized by Triple Bottom Line FI, and I met a woman there who will be writing another #PrepperFI guest post for me, which was totally awesome. And clearly, the intersection of sustainability and personal finance is my space. Afterward I carved out some one on one time with Jessica from The Fioneers, which was so lovely. We’ve recorded a podcast episode together (not out yet) and have talked a ton, but it was our first time to meet face to face.
At Cents Positive last fall, I never got any one on one time with Sarah from Smile and Conquer, which was my biggest regret from that conference. Group conversations are great, but there’s no substitute for some focused time as well, so I made time to sit down separately with Jessica as well as a few others throughout FinCon (Smart Money Mamas, Mad Money Monster, and Accidental FIRE to name a few).
This worked well enough for me because I’m so extroverted and could talk through back to back conversations the entire three days, but clearly this doesn’t sound fun for anyone who is probably even a bit more introverted than I am. And even so, I felt like I could have used more time with so many people.
Friday afternoon I finally got to ride the DC metro (serious transportation nerd here) with Champagne and Capital Gains and Beau Humphries when we headed down to the Solvable Happy Hour on the roof deck of the W Hotel just down from the White House. The food was AWESOME, the drinks were great, and it was all free, which was even better. After that, Stephonee and I headed back to the conference hotel in time for the Afford Anything / ChooseFI fundraiser party and then the Plutus Awards.
The Plutus Awards
FinCon’s big event Friday night is the Plutus Awards, where winners are announced for a wide variety of different categories within the personal finance space. I was a finalist for two of the awards this year, Best FIRE Blog and Blog of the Year, and I was excited to just get a photo of my blog name up on the screen when they announced the winners.
The first award announced was Best FIRE Blog, and I had just settled into my seat soon before that. I was completely floored when they actually announced my name (as evidenced by my completely shocked face that Modest Millionaires snapped right after I processed what happened). This blogging journey has been incredible thus far and winning a Plutus Award at my first FinCon was absolutely beyond words amazing. I’m still processing it now. (And thanks to Stephonee and Good Life. Better who will be attending Cents Positive in Seattle next month, I will actually be able to get my Plutus swag home even though I was so limited in my luggage space – thank you so much, friends!)
Again, I stayed up far too late on Friday night and didn’t get to bed until almost 2AM. Saturday morning though I headed straight back to the hotel to record an episode of Marriage Kids and Money with Andy Hill. It was the first time I’d ever recorded a podcast face to face, and it was a pretty cool experience. Plus, it gave us some time to chat in person for the first time as well. (It’s live now! Link here)
The rest of the day was a blur of meals and small chats with a whole host of people before the closing party that night. I’d originally expected to leave soon after lunch, so I was especially aware and grateful for the time I had with people after that point.
I follow a number of non-blogger friends online now, especially after Cents Positive last year, and I had commented on the dress of one friend a number of months ago when she posted it on Instagram. She’s in the process of downsizing before heading on an epic adventure and remembered I liked the dress, so she brought it to FinCon as a gift to me. I wore it to the party Saturday night and took it home with me, a physical reminder of how amazing my friends and this community really are.
Saturday night ended on a high note on the lowest level of the hotel, where almost all of my favorites were hanging out in one of the larger spaces. As much as Tawcan tried to convince me that staying up all night would be the way to go, I headed off to sleep by 1:30am before getting picked up for the airport at 5am.
Not Saying Goodbye
While it probably seems like I listed an exhaustive amount of things over the three days I was at FinCon, I could have written twice as much if I wanted to include everything that happened over the course of the conference. And of course, that would also involve tagging at least another thirty or forty wonderful people I got to have conversations with, some the first time face to face and some another hug and conversation of how we’d missed each other. As Josh and I talked at the pool, some of our very best friends are now the people we know through the personal finance community. It’s amazing, but also sad, as we don’t get that face to face time nearly often enough.
I’ve purchased my ticket to FinCon next year, which is thankfully much closer in Long Beach California. I still refuse to say that I’m absolutely going quite yet, but I’ll admit the odds are higher. I’ll also see a number of wonderful women at Cents Positive next month, which reduces the sting of goodbye a little bit for now.
And of course, anyone who comes through Seattle should know by now that they have a standing invitation to hang out with me, be it getting myself downtown via the bus or feeding people at my home (my favorite). The one person I wasn’t terribly sad about saying goodbye to was Purple, as is probably clear to anyone who reads this blog regularly, since I see her at least once a month at home. Just don’t ask me about when she retires and Seattle is no longer her regular home base.
It’s time to go home and snuggle my guys. FinCon was the absolute best, but I miss my little family and as ready to be back with the two of them. Phone calls are good (and videos of the kiddo being excited about me having a “really, really good time with that REALLY BIG trophy” are great), but it’s time to be back to them in real life. I’ve missed them, and husband I am so grateful to you for holding down the fort so well so I can go to these events and really enjoy myself without worrying about how things are going at home.
FinCon Roll Call
The rest of the crew I spent at least some quality time with over the course of three days (please let me know if I missed you! I’m notorious for being bad at remembering everyone when I try and list them out – even people I’m extremely close to, so please don’t take it as being left out!):
First time face to face time:
Have you been to FinCon before? Do you plan to go next year?
60 thoughts on “The Best Community Of Money Nerds: FinCon 2019 Recap”
Looks like you had a fun weekend and congratulations again on winning the award, that is awesome and you’ll have to make room on the website for the award image:
Nice to hear about Long Beach, I can totally make that work in a frugal way with turning the trip into a hiking/climbing extended adventure with a detour to the Eastern Sierra…road trip !
That is one heck of a list of bloggers you met up with, looks like it was a packed house.
Thank you so much!! And I think I basically have to go next year since it’s so much closer 😉
I was disappointed that you didn’t take my suggestion haha. But it’s probably a good idea to get some sleep rather than staying up all night. We ended up staying up past 3:30. It was great to finally meet you in person.
3:30 😲 yeah, I definitely needed to get the sleep I got 😂 see you next month!
I’m loving these roundups. I (like you previously) just couldn’t make it work this year because of work, but I’ve already planned and locked in next year. I hope to meet you there, or next time I’m in Seattle.
Congratulations on your Plutus Award! I was paying attention to Twitter explicitly for the real time announcements and was thrilled when I saw your win. Well deserved.
Ahhh thank you so much!! And I think there are pretty decent odds I’ll be there next year. And absolutely look me up the next time you’re in Seattle.
I am SO GLAD I got to see you in person!!! IRL snuggles and conversations are the best. I’m thrilled you woman Plutus and had a great time seeing so many people. Miss you already!!
Miss you already!!!! Glad we got some 1:1 time too in the midst of all the craziness.
It was so great to meet you in person. Thanks for all you do for the personal finance community! You are one of my favorites and I enjoyed the conversations we had.
Btw.. I’m typing this from my phone and am drafting my FinCon recap from the phone as well. Maybe one of these days I’ll even be bold enough to post something without extensive editing, but that probably wouldn’t go so well for me and my terrible first drafts lol.
Eh, what’s the worst that can happen if it doesn’t go well? The beauty of not stressing about making the blog a full time thing – it’s okay if it isn’t perfect 😄
So great to meet you, such a fun week! Glad we could hang out 🙂
Great to meet you as well! Amazing that it was just three days for me.
It was SO great to meet you, and the Plutus Award was well deserved.
It is so great having a supportive spouse to hold things down at home. I was only asked who was watching my kids once, HAH.
I’m fired up and ready to get back to it… after a nice long nap and some family cuddles.
Thank you so much!! Glad we got to meet. And not a single person asked me about who was watching my kiddo! Hooray!
Congratulations on your win! That’s so exciting and well-deserved! I’m jealous of the roll call of everyone you met and hung out with…although everyone was incredibly warm and welcoming, introverted me was much to nervous to speak to very many at FinCon. I did luck out when I accidentally ran into Chris of Can I Retire Yet, and was a total dork because he was one of the first FIRE bloggers my husband and I ever followed. So I snagged a selfie with him and he said he’d never had anyone ask for his picture before. BTW, I was the person just behind you at the Playing With Fire screening! Glad you had such an amazing first FinCon!
Thank you so much! And omg you were! Why didn’t we talk then?? 🙁
What a weekend! I was tired reading about it from here! (ok, that and working the whole time at a mad clip because we have STUFF going on at home right now)
Glad you had so much fun!!
Hahaha yeah I don’t think you’re surprised I didn’t have any down time though 😉 OFG and I talked about you too! ❤️
Loved meeting you! Thanks for connecting and bringing the FIRE (well, er … FI) to the episode!
About time we finally had that chat! Glad we made it happen 🙂
I was definitely following along at home in Kansas City, but think next year I may have to join! It looks like everyone had such a good time and love that you got a free dress out of the deal. I have made a lot of connections online, but haven’t met any in person. I have contemplated starting a local meetup also, because I really love the community, and it’s hard sometimes to really connect on a deeper level without that in person interaction time to time. 🤔 Thanks for sharing your FinCon adventures and glad you got to make so many connections!
In person meetups are completely different than online and 100% worth it. I bet there are quite a few people in your local area – maybe out a call out in the women’s Personal Finance Facebook group and get something set up to start?
Great idea 💡 agree and thank you!
It was so nice to meet you in person. I was so excited to see you win the Plutus award and I did see that photo of your facial expression on the announcement. So fun. I also enjoyed the Saturday night festivities on the Concourse level and all the hilarious balloon fighting/popping. Having just turned 60, I bailed just before 1am. You really managed to pack a lot into the time you were there. Also, I cannot believe that you were able to keep straight all of the people you met AND put them in a blogroll. Wow! Hat’s off to you on all fronts.
I’d have to say I disagree on the balloon popping Saturday night 😂 And I bailed just after you, but I hear people were out past 3AM. Glad to meet you as well!
As others said Angela it was a delight to meet you. And thanks for the blog consultation 🙂
Huge congrats on the award and that party got nutty at the end dinnit?
Glad we had some time to chat 1:1! And to finally put a face to the name!
Congratulations again and nice meeting you! I didn’t realize it was your first time at FinCon too, but it was definitely a lot of fun! Glad you enjoyed!
Yeah, everyone expected I had been to at least one before 😂
Any chance of those cool stickers making it to Cents Positive NW next month (I’d pay)? Looking forward to seeing you there!
Yes, absolutely!! I think she could probably ship some more to me ahead of time (maybe) or I at least have a few to share.
Congrats again on your big Plutus win and I am beyond happy to have been there to act as the photographer and catch that fantastic look of surprise on your face! Back when FinCon18 was going on, I was still super brand new to the PF twitter community and you were one of the most welcoming people on there. Ultimately, even though you weren’t sure to attend this year, you greatly contributed to my decision to buy my ticket back then! As you said so well: “You never know just who’s following along and what impact you’re making on others lives, but I promise it is well more than you realize. ”
Great recap and I am so thankful to have met you in person💖!
Thank you for getting that photo!! It is hands down one of my very favorite photos of myself ❤️
It was so unbelievably fun to meet you IRL. For over a decade I wrote about personal finance, but until this week I never had the chance to meet someone who stumbled across my blog or followed my story. I am so honored to know that my blog impacted your life and I’m even more excited to see you ignite the passion for other women! I cannot wait until we meet again!
Amazing how different it is to have those connections bleed into real life friends, isn’t it? So glad to meet and hug you ❤️
I must say that it was super fun watching the Twitter feeds of all the FINCON attendees. It looks like you all had a great time. Also, holy wow, you packed a lot in to such a short period of time!
I had so much fun!! And I clearly packed as much as humanly possible into my time there 😂
We seriously missed out. This sounds like such a blast!! Still so stoked for you on your award – so well deserved! I just found out FinCon is in our relative neighborhood next year… things are looking altogether too tempting!
Absolutely buy your ticket now at least while it’s at its cheapest!!
Looks like you had an amazing time! I’m so glad you made so many connections and enjoyed yourself!
I absolutely did! Perhaps next year we will meet 🙂
Wow! I’m so glad you got to go on a lot of levels but I’m so stoked that you were honored and were there to receive it in person. Your blog has high quality content and keeps me reading. Keep up the good work, Angela!
Thank you so, so much friend!! And getting to receive the award in person was amazing.
Oh man, what a weekend!! So glad you had a lot of fun and enjoyed the conference all together. Congrats on the Plutus Award! You definitely deserved it with all the great quality content you put on here. Good thing next year’s FinCon in on the west coast and in Cali so it will be a shorter flight. I plan to make the trek down there so I hope to see you there!
Thank you so much!! I had so much fun and am quite optimistic about getting there again next year. Would be wonderful to finally meet!
Sounds like a fun and interesting conference and I have been reading a lot of great reviews from others as well. I am probably about where you were in 2017 and not sure where I am taking this little healthcare FIRE project, but certainly glad you shared some of your progression. Like you, I am a long time reader of the community but my first comment on a blog post wasn’t until 2019.
Congrats on the award and thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much! Your journey does sound quite like me on the long time lurking before finally getting on the blog train 🙂
I love Fincon but I had to skip it this year. I’m really hoping I’ll make it next year!
Would be lovely to meet you in person next year if we both make it!
i’m glad you won an award, truly. i might have reason to make it to long beach next year, but might only go to some parties. it’s a short distance from santa barbara wine country.
Thank you so much! And yeah, it’s really just about the parties and the hang outs (for me anyway).