FinCon18 (and, coincidentally, my last post) was almost three weeks ago at this point, so it seems a bit ridiculous to go into a long, detailed recap of what I spent and what I did each day. So I’m not going to (although it’ll be long anyway because that’s how I operate #verboseforlife). You can thank the fact that I’m STILL, an entire week later from when I realized I did not escape unscathed, recovering from some sort of crud I picked up at either FinCon or Disney, which meant I spent most of last week in bed (dear lord, can I just be better already??), for the extreme tardiness of this post ?♀️
Doing too much but not enough
It was my first FinCon, and yes, I went to sessions to hear people talk about personal finance and blogging and connecting to your audience and all that jazz. I am totally side-eyeing the organizers for scheduling all of my friends to present at the same time so I had to pick and choose which sessions to go to; I’ve got a lot of sessions to catch up on that I had to miss because it’s not actually possible to be in three sessions at once.
But the sessions were not the highlight of my experience. And I didn’t learn anything groundbreaking in them. Really what I learned at FinCon is that I’m not at all doing enough for my blog in terms of promoting myself, branching out to other forms of social media, writing posts the right way about the right things, general Things, etc. There is SO MUCH I’m not doing!
Buuuuut, I’ve also written about needing to branch out and declutter other areas of my life. And among the bloggers I follow in the slow living space, it seems like it’s a general consensus that we as content creators are feeling the need to cut back or do things differently. It’s honestly very likely I’m going to cut back to one regular post a week once I hit the two year mark. I’m making zero decisions on that at the moment, but it’s something I’m thinking about.
So I guess I’m both not doing enough and already doing too much for the blog. Cool.
You know what that actually means?
That I should continue ignoring absolutely all advice about blogging and keep doing my own thing. I think I can do that!
Turns out I accidentally did a good job with branding and making myself stand out at FinCon. Not because I’d printed out my Twitter icon to hold up over my face in photos (pro tip, if you want to control your photo as an anonymous blogger and didn’t think to bring something to cover your face, make sure the photos are taken on your phone. That way you can emoji them up before you release them to the internet). Not because I did anything on purpose to make myself stand out.
No, the second I got up to our hotel room, Military Dollar dyed my hair teal; I’d totally forgotten that we’d talked a few weeks earlier about whether she should bring the teal temporary dye for me so we could do fun hair colors (she went with purple) for FinCon and Disney afterwards. So all of a sudden it was easy to find me or reference me in conversation. Because I was the girl with the blue hair (or rather, one of just two or three people with blue hair).
Beyond the blue hair, I will say one of the most gratifying things was handing Pete from Do You Even Blog my business card—which features the railroad track picture that’s my header—and him saying “yep, I see that photo and I know exactly who I’m talking to!” For someone who doesn’t have a logo (whoops. Told you I’m great at this blogging thing!), that was a pretty awesome thing to hear. So despite the fact that it would be fun to make my Twitter logo my onesie photo, it’s staying as is. Girl on railroad track in the middle of nowhere, that’s me!
Women care about finances too!
If you didn’t know, the reason Angela and I became such good friends very quickly is because we spent a LOT of time talking to each other last January in the process of putting together the list of women in the financial independence sphere. I’m proud of that list and I’m so happy Angela thought of making it in the first place.
But that list happened almost a year ago. And sometimes it still seems like the stereotype of FIRE-pursuers as white male (–insert high-paying profession like engineer here–)s just won’t die. To the point that we mentioned it many, many times in my FIRE Drill Podcast episode, and Tanja wrote about this stereotype recently. Also in a few weeks I’m going to the Cents Positive retreat, where a bunch of female-identifying people are going to spend a weekend sitting around talking about money. So it’s beyond me why the stereotype still persists (although I have no doubt that it’s because a lot of the sexy stories of people who have already retired early—and who blogged about it publicly—are white males. No national publication is reaching out to ask me about my journey, that’s for sure! And that’s because I’m just at the very beginning of a long slog and that sure as hell isn’t a sexy story that’ll get a lot of traffic. I don’t make for a very good clickbait title ?♀️).
But I’m doing my best to help smash that stereotype into a million pieces. Because it’s absolutely not just men who care about money!
A few months ago, Military Dollar texted me saying she was thinking about making a business card to hand out at FinCon with a list of a bunch of us female bloggers on it and did I think it was a good idea? Absolutely I thought it was a good idea! Angela and I helped her narrow down the very large list to a smaller list of 45 or so that would actually fit on the back of the card. And then we handed out a bunch of these cards to everyone at FinCon.
Military Dollar also made some stickers, too.
Thanks to @Military_Dollar (with help from @TreadLightly_RE who is sadly only here in spirit), the goal is that no one leaves #FinCon18 saying “I just can’t think of any women blogging in the FIRE sphere ?♀️” pic.twitter.com/QHJSL4awVL
— Erin | Reaching for FI (@reachingforfi) September 26, 2018
Don’t worry, y’all, I’m bringing the leftover ones to Cents Positive. (And if you want to complain about who is or isn’t on the card
not that I’m talking about anyone in particular, maybe don’t.)
I’m trying to declutter, so I didn’t go around picking up all of the shirts and tote bags (no, I didn’t grab one of the Vanguard totes!) just because. I did, however, leave with some awesome swag. I’m just going to leave these tweets here:
Remember the bumper sticker @Military_Dollar made when the two of us were in the same bracket in the @rockstarfinance Rumble earlier this year? Because he’s the best person ever, @Jovermyer1 made us Reaching Dollar shirts! ? #Fincon18 pic.twitter.com/PbsERQI7rY
— Erin | Reaching for FI (@reachingforfi) September 28, 2018
— Erin | Reaching for FI (@reachingforfi) September 27, 2018
— Stephonee | PoorerThanYou (@stephonee) September 27, 2018
In case you’re wondering, I sampled the end of my hair, which had broken off from the rest of the pancake. It tasted awful, which I guess is what you’d expect from a bunch of colored chemicals masquerading as pancake mix!
A personal finance blogger’s dream evening
There was a ChooseFI meetup one evening during FinCon with other Florida people besides the ones at the conference. Except that the venue for the meetup was way too small for everyone. Luckily I saw this on Twitter right before I braved the humidity to walk across the street, so I didn’t work up a sweat only to find that I couldn’t join in the meetup. While everyone else figured out what to do, a group of us (including Wealth Well Done) went to an escape room instead.
The plan was to buy Groupons to make the experience cheaper, but M$ is a genius who said we should wait until we got there to see if they even had any availability.
The only room they had available at a time we could do was one that wasn’t included for the Groupon. And it was $28 per person. But were we with a conference? Yes? Okay, let’s do the hospitality industry discount for the hell of it, which made the escape room $16 instead. Oh, and if we showed them the receipt for the escape room, we’d get 10% off at the burger place next door, which was where we were planning on eating dinner anyway. Score!
It was a haunted house-themed room. Yes, I’m jumpy. Yes, I might’ve jumped a couple of feet back into M$ at one point there after the lights turned off and the wall opened to reveal another room.
We escaped the room. Barely. And they gave us some extra time, although in our defense we had a clue figured out but wasted about 10 minutes because something wasn’t lined up just perfectly so we could use that clue to move onto the next thing. So the extra time was only slightly sorta cheating.
We definitely saved money on the experience though!
Um, goals? What goals?
People would ask me what my goal was for FinCon. Um… I don’t know, meet and hang out with my friends? Get back to actually blogging my regular two times per week? Mission certainly accomplished on the first front! It was awesome hanging out with so many of my PF friends, both old and new. Highlights included:
—the PF blogger party with Dave, Andrew, Liz, and Felicity in our shared Lyft from the airport #frugal
—JD driving a Cadillac SUV (whaaaaaat?! It was a rental, don’t worry) and blasting Taylor Swift (oh, and getting to tell him about my tattoo)
—Did you know chocolate piñatas are a thing? They’re amazing (and it almost made up for the 2.5 hour wait for our food)
—meeting Penny and her husband and HP!!!
—a #bitchesgetriches dinner/ice cream meeting with The Bitches, Tori, and Stephanie (not featuring this Ferris wheel because get outta here with that ticket price)
—after parties that turned into pool parties
—cheering so loudly for ALL OF MY AMAZING FRIENDS who won Plutus awards
—hanging out with the other members of the #Disneyfab5 (Military Dollar, Gwen, Erik, and Michelle) for a few days of…well, mostly eating ALL OF THE FOOD
And on the second front, well, I’m working on getting back to it! I stayed up way too late to write this post, after all. I know everyone missed me dearly, so you’re welcome for this!
So what I learned at FinCon is that I’m not A Serious Blogger (I knew that already). If I’d gone in hoping to come out with some freelance work lined up, I guess FinCon would’ve been a bust. Maybe I should’ve had that as a goal. But the experience was completely worth it because I got to spend so much time with so many awesome people. I’ve said before that this community is a huge part of why I willingly spend all of my free time writing this blog; a lot has happened in my life in the last year and a half because of the people in this community.
FinCon was expensive (even without paying for my ticket. Still so thankful I won a scholarship!) and ate up a bunch of my vacation days. But my first one was an absolute blast, thanks to the people. Plus last year’s FOMO was real, even if it seems like a sort of rite of passage to miss out on the first FinCon after you start blogging. And yes, I’ve already bought my ticket for next year because it’s in DC (even if it’s possible I may not be living here by this point next year?? And a complicating factor is that my lease is up literally days before FinCon, look, I don’t know. I’ll figure this all out later). Who knows if I’ll continue going in the future, but for now, I’ll be at FinCon19.
And that, my friends, is A Very Unserious Blogger’s recap of her first FinCon. Tune in on Thursday for another post written by someone who isn’t changing anything about her blogging after attending the conference!