This past week I was in DC for my very first FinCon experience. For those who don’t know, FinCon is a personal finance conference bringing together influencers (bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, coaches, etc.) along with brands to network and grow their businesses. For some, it’s a fantastic place to find new opportunities and make that money, and for others (me) it’s a place to meet your online friends in real life.
I’ve been blogging for a few years now, but this was the first time I attended FinCon. Last year I really wanted to go, but it was in Orlando. Pretty much as far away from me as possible. Washington DC wasn’t exactly close but was more manageable. Next year it’s in Long Beach! Yay West Coast and direct flight availability! I’ve already bought my ticket.
Is FinCon Right For You?
This is an important question and one I asked myself plenty of times. I consider myself a hobby blogger. My goal is not to build this blog into an empire that can turn into a full-time career. I’m keeping my day job. It brings in a little money here and there but is yet to run a profit. Blogging is hard guys, and expensive!
That meant that going to FinCon was more for social than business reasons. And that makes it harder to justify the expense. I have no regrets going and am planning to go again next year when it’s on the right coast 😉 I can’t see it being an annual tradition, but when I can swing it, I will be there. If you were suffering a serious case of FOMO from not being in DC, then my advice would be run the numbers and see if you can make it work. Until you go and experience it you won’t know if it’s right for you.
Last November I went to the inaugural CentsPositive retreat, and I’m thrilled I did that first. It was a much smaller event for women and a more relaxed atmosphere to start building connections. I was able to meet a lot of women and had a base of friends before walking in the door at FinCon. If you’re worried about the number of people, then I highly recommend seeking up a local meetup or smaller conference to give yourself a trial run.
Want to know exactly how much it cost me to go to FinCon? Of course you do! And for once I actually tracked everything. Spoiler alert: it’s not cheap. I could have spent a week basking in the sun at an all-inclusive resort for what I paid. It’s about priorities though. And this year my priority was to finally put faces to my internet community. For real, it was one of my 2019 goals.
There are a couple of things you should know. The numbers are in Canadian dollars, and boy does that exchange rate ever hurt. My flights were so cheap because I booked using Air Miles, so that’s just the taxes. That wasn’t my initial plan, but the flights never went that cheap enough to justify paying cash. I also had two roomies at the hotel to split costs. I could have gone less expensive on food, but that’s not my style, and some of my favourite meet-ups were over a meal. Finally the miscellaneous are mostly transport-related. Lyft rides to and from the airport and around town to do some sightseeing and a scooter rental.
FinCon Ticket: $278.32
When booking my flights I decided to fly out later on Sunday to give me a chance to check out some of what Washington DC has to offer. The conference wraps up on Saturday night so it gave me a chance to make a mini-vacation out of the trip. That also added into the cost because of a few extra meals and Lyft rides.
My roomie Bethany also flew out late so we headed over to the National Mall to see some of the monuments, then to the National Gallery and finally ended the day wandering around the zoo. The best thing about DC is that all of their attractions are FREE. Seriously. You just walk right in. It’s so great because you don’t feel like you need to get your money’s worth by looking at every single thing. From what I saw, I thought DC was gorgeous. Tons of things to do and the architecture is stunning. I’d love to make a trip make with the bf to get the full experience.
Tips to Make FinCon Work For You
It Will Be Overwhelming
This year there were about 2500 people who attended FinCon. That’s a lot. It’s the capacity of my favourite concert venue in Edmonton. I’ve been blogging for about four years and feel like I know a lot of folks from Twitter, but there were many times I could walk into a packed room and not immediately recognize anyone. It’s overwhelming. Prepare yourself. Staying onsite was helpful because I was able to escape to my room for a quick break if I felt done with socializing.
You’re also going to have the same conversation with a lot of people so make your story captivating (and bring business cards). What do you do? Where are you from? Why personal finance? Those questions will come up over and over again and the more specific your answers, the more likely you’ll be remembered.
Use the Sessions as an Escape
My goal at FinCon was to meet as many people as possible, but as an introvert, there’s only so much small talk I can handle. You have an easy out though. The schedule is packed with valuable sessions. I didn’t make attending sessions a priority because they film them all and make them available if you get the virtual pass. If I was in a conversation or got invited to something else, then I wasn’t worried about missing one. But, I did go to a few sessions when I needed a break. There were times when sitting and listening sounded way better than standing and chatting.
Use the schedule to your advantage instead of having it determine what you do and when.
Plan, Pivot, Rest, Repeat
FinCon is not your typical work conference. Sure there are presentations, an expo hall with pitches and swag, and endless networking but there are also parties, late nights and alcohol (if that’s your thing).
The advice I heard from others was to go in with a plan and know what you want out of the conference, but don’t be afraid to change things up. I went in with a bunch of sessions checked off but ended up bailing on more than a few because I was busy chatting, eating, or napping. Don’t overdo it during the day. Some of the best conversations I had were at the Russian Vodka House down the street.
Pack the Essentials
I read multiple recaps from last year to prepare myself, and almost everyone said to pack snacks and cough drops. You don’t always have time to stop for a real meal. Larabars were my friend. Ad if you run out of snacks, find Jillian from Montana Money Adventures. She’ll have your back. The cough drops are to save your voice. You’ll be talking a ton so start sucking on them early and often. I didn’t lose my voice and am still surprised by that. I would also add immune system boosters. Late nights, stress, airplanes and a packed conference hall are a recipe for illness so start fighting back early.
Non-food-related items to bring include business cards, a reusable water bottle, notebook, and a portable phone charger.
And now for the part where I shout-out all the fantastic people I met. I took terrible notes, so I’m going from memory. On top of that, I’m writing this list at 10 pm sitting in the emergency vet with my cat. Good times. He’s having some bladder issues (an unfortunately regular occurrence) and should be fine, but it’s not exactly ideal conditions for writing. So please, if we chatted and you’re not on the list then send me a reminder and I will add you!
The Canadian Contingent
Angela from Tread Lightly Retire Early, Bethany from HisandHerFI, A Purple Life, Tanja Hester, Erin from Reaching for FI, Stephonee from Poorer than You, Military Dollar, Piggy from Bitches Get Riches, Kristy Hymans, Kara Perez from Bravely
Ms ZiYou, Penny from She Picks Up Pennies, DivvyDad, Amanda from Dumpster Dog Blog, Finance After 50, Amy and Vicki from Women Who Money, Ask Allea, Champagne & Capital Gains, Kitty from Bitches Get Riches, Adam from Minafi, The FIoneers, Matt Lane, Athena from Money Smart Latina, Diana from Free Fun Family, Moriah from Our Table for Two, Josh Overmyer, Krystal from All She Saves, Liz from Chief Mom Officer, Chelsea from Smart Money Mamas, Emily Guy Birken, ZJ Thorne, Wealth Well Done, Financial Mechanic, Chain of Wealth, Dollar Revolution, Financial Pilgrimage, Erik from The Mastermind Within, Michelle from Frugality and Freedom, Shawn from New Millennial Investor, Bob from The Frugal Fellow, Seonwoo Lee, Financial Panther, One Frugal Girl, Mr Jamie Griffin, Miss Mazuma, The Luxe Strategist, Young Fire Knight, Owning the Stars, Rich & Regular, Harlan Landes, Stop Ironing Shirts, Melanie Lockert, Elyssa from Brave Saver, Lynne Someraman, and Logan from Money Done Right.
This post was proofread by Grammarly.