FinCon is an annual conference for money nerds of all sorts, meaning I was with *my people* for four days (even longer, actually, as the wonderful Kara from Bravely put me up in Austin for three nights)! Two separate podcasts interviewed me (the Plutus award-winning Stacking Benjamins, and the soon-to-be-Plutus-award-winning Fairer Cents), I have half a dozen projects and/or inquiries to follow up on, my closet is now 100% stocked with workout shirts courtesy of exhibit hall swag, and I am pumped full of inspiration and drive.
What I Learned at FinCon:
- Some people are even *more* kickass in person. I actually ended up hanging out with Donna Friedman and her daughter Abby quite a bit and even accidentally “decorated” their bathroom with some errant body paint (for the record, I did clean it up after the costume party, for I will always be a Girl Scout at heart). Donna is a writing legend and you should definitely consider custom coaching or her online course (or both)!
- “All Alaskans are awesome” hypothesis supported by three additional data points: Donna, Maggie, and Maggie’s husband “Mr. T.”
- Branding is important. You know the blog logo? This dog with money in its mouth? Yeah, I was known as “the dog girl” by *pretty* much everyone from my Twitterverse. There are worse things to be known for, and at least they knew me!
- Networking and marketing are both absolutely key. Meeting people in person and putting the face to the name makes all the difference in the world. I actually ended up missing quite a few sessions, as I was having amazing conversations. If you’re thinking of FinCon for the first time next year, definitely try to start making connections online first. Meeting someone for the first time in person after having great twitter conversations is so much more rewarding that meeting someone for the first time ever.
- Mrs. Montana Money really is 6 feet tall, and her hair is picture perfect.
- Revanche really is 5 feet tall, and she’s an absolute riot.
- I’m 99% sure Gwen really does know everyone, except perhaps Fluffster!
- While it may seem like it at times, Tanja is not, in fact, a mechanical writing machine. A machine could not possibly dance that well (or she’s a really advanced android that has attained sentience, in which case, more power to her #AndroidsArePeopleToo)
- SEO basics are not as scary as they first seem. I participated in the one-on-one mentoring program at FinCon, meaning the lovely Emily Yost sat down with me for over an hour and explained SEO in such a way that even I could understand. My favorite takeaway? While the Yoast WordPress Plugin is great, you don’t need to earn the green light to be optimized. In fact, just don’t fill in the keyword so you won’t be stressed about changing your title in a way that doesn’t make sense for the post.
- Metallic body paint is super fun to wear, and one tiny bottle goes a long way. I went as the Fearless Girl / the Defiant Girl for the closing night costume contest and had a blast (highly recommend Mehron metallic powders and the associated mixing liquid — very wearable).
- Stores are apparently not very accurate about inventory over the phone. Notice how the body paint is silver? Yeah, I was initially planning on being a *bronze* living statue (you know, like the actual statue), and I was under the impression that TWO separate costume stores nearby stocked “Mehron metallic powder in bronze,” but in person, neither store *actually* carried it. As I was picking it up last minute, silver it was!
- Steve, while great to talk to, is highly reluctant to paint his head silver, even when the opportunity presents itself.
- Steve and Courtney have a YouTube channel, where post videos about their Airstream-travelling lives, including, but by no means limited to, compost toilet maintenance. Life is understandably weird when people you meet for the first time have watched you change your toilet.
- There are so many random events at FinCon. Some of these are very strictly invite-only (like “The Fidelity Dinner”), while many others simply require an RSVP for planning purposes. To at least be “in the know” for the more general events, definitely join the FinCon Facebook group. I’m not a fan of Facebook, but that really seems to be where a lot of people advertise and hear about parties. Also good to be involved with: FinCon app “activity stream” and the FinCon Slack group (and associated channels). I actually ended up kind of sort of crashing a party, too. I’m pretty sure the majority of people there were party crashers.
- Almost everyone had business cards, and they provided a great way to connect. 100 should be more than enough for the majority of attendees, but make sure you keep a pen on you at all times, so you can write notes.
What’s Next For Fetching Financial Freedom?
Fergus and I are going to sit down and talk about a major site revision. New theme, layout, but also potentially straight up changing the way we do posts (heck, possibly even not using WordPress — gasp!). We’ve had a lot of fun creating interactive calculators like our Multifamily Rent Vs. Buy calculator, or our Early Retirement Visualization calculator, and we’d love to dig in and make more tools where we see a gap in offerings, and to have those tools build intuition around financial concepts and encourage change.
This would mean, well, actually, probably about the same number of posts as we’ve had in the past, just way more awesome and in-depth. We’ll still have some check-in posts on work, life, and my financial independence goal by 30, but we’re going to try to focus more on what we do best, which is creating fun visualizations and simplifying tricky concepts.
Beyond that, there are some potential collaborations in the works, and I will even be speaking about personal finance in the real world for the first time this month (more soon)! Side note: if anyone regularly speaks to high school students, hit me up with your secrets! The last time I spoke to high schoolers as a “STEM professional,” a sophomore called me, and I quote, “so extra.”
Feel Left Out?
Didn’t make it to FinCon and feeling left out? Have some genuine swag anyway! We joined the StockPile affiliate program during FinCon because it gives our readers $5 in addition to us getting $5. Win-wins all around (plus they gave us these cute $5 gift cards for trick-or-treaters)! Bonus: StockPile has ETFs as well as individual stocks. We recommend the SCHB exchange traded fund (ETF), a broad market fund with low fees. Another bonus? That $5 gift can be used for each new account sign up! Super cheap way to teach kids about investing while also supporting our blog. What with the $5 “Trick or Street” cards we handed out, we might actually have profit this year to donate!