The last week of September took me to Orlando, Florida for a money and media conference called FinCon. FinCon is a conference for financial brands and influencers to connect, build better content, make money and be a positive change in the financial literacy conversation.
As I prepared to go, I was often met with both skeptics raising their eyebrows and hustlers giving me high-fives.
At this conference, there were bloggers, freelance writers, podcasters, authors, big name brands, small companies, you tubers, and more! This is not your typical financial conference! From giant flamingos to late-night gatherings, FinCon is known for little sleep and amazing networking between people and across platforms.
Here are some of my highlights, takeaways and favorite moments from this year:
Last year, after FinCon17, Chris Browning and I discussed starting a mastermind group to keep us accountable and on-task with everything we learned. Out of those conversations, we formed a mastermind group with other bloggers, podcasters and digital influencers.
Our group is spread out throughout the U.S. and in three different time zones. However, the value and consistency this group has brought over the past year was evident as we all gathered at FinCon18. This was the first time many of us met each other and the first time our group was in the same space together.
Each person in our mastermind group specializes in different areas of digital media. They are all amazing! I grew a lot from being around them, and hearing how they approach their businesses.
I just want to take a few minutes to brag on each of them! If you do not follow them already, check out their websites, podcasts, and social media platforms. You will be inspired, grow and learn a lot from these people!
Allison Baggerly from Inspired Budget is a teacher, a wife and mom with some powerful budgeting tools and resources. Allison and her husband paid off over $100,000 of debt in 4 1/2 years and share their story of how they budget, plan and gained control over their finances. Allison also brings expertise in Instagram and how to build a tribe on social media.
Jen Smith is writer, author and podcaster over at Saving with Spunk. She is incredible — with wisdom on how to save money, live frugally (yet fully), earn extra income through side hustles and sharing her story on how she paid off over $78,000 with her husband in less than 2 years! Jen is also co-host on the Frugal Friends Podcast and spoke on how to become a best-selling author at FinCon.
Chris Browning from Popcorn Finance brings financial literacy and insights in the amount of time it takes to make a bag of popcorn. Chris was featured on the Stacking Benjamins Live show recently in Orlando, Florida; and recently received a Plutus Award for being one of the best new financial podcasts.
Greg Gates Jr. of Greg Chats Cash is a podcaster, social media guru and Emotional Health and Wealth panel speaker with Emilie and Tyler this year at FinCon. With a focus on bringing financial literacy to youth, Greg creates fun, quick social media posts and stories for high school students. He’s known for his Daily Dish, where he shares financial tips and stories while he washes his dishes.
Emilie Cleaver from WiseMindMoney shares her story in real-time as she and her husband are paying off a combined $120,000 of debt. Emilie shares her experiences and how to achieve a wise mind when it comes to money. Emilie also spoke on the panel about Emotional Health and Wealth this year at FinCon.
Katherine Pomerantz is the Bookkeeping Artist. She started off as an actress, and soon found the growing need for artists and creatives on how to run a business. Katherine has contagious energy and is insightful on how and what new business owners need to know. She has been a go-to for me on many questions, and brings an incredible knowledge to the table.
Tyler Mohnay from the When the Money is Good shares her personal life journey as she builds wealth and shares personal finance tips and stories. At FinCon this year, Tyler lead a session on emotional wellbeing and how emotions influence our financial decisions. It was a much needed and insightful conversation for many of us attending.
Caroline Vencil and I met for the first time at FinCon this year. She blew me away with how talented and knowledgeable she is. Caroline is an entrepreneur, mom of four, money-saving & money-making expert! Caroline brings a lot of fun, experience and laughter to our mastermind.
One of my BIGGEST takeaways from FinCon18 was how much value was added to the experience from having a mastermind throughout the year. Being in community with each of these individuals, brainstorming, and building our projects together brought added value to my FinCon experience and this past year.
Rachel Cruze & the Hero’s Guide to Personal Finance
One of the opening keynotes for the conference was Rachel Cruze. Rachel shared what it was like to grow up as the daughter of Dave Ramsey and how she grew in her own personal finances.
Rachel shared how money is a hopeless topic for a lot of people, and how we — the voices of personal finance — have an opportunity to break down walls and connect with people.
During her keynote session, she shared on how many people try to step into someone else’s story as the hero. But, we were never meant to be someone else’s hero. We are meant to be the guide to help them navigate their own story and become their own hero.
We rise by lifting others up.Robert Ingersoll
Rachel also reminded us that we are who we are for a reason. We were given our personality for a reason. We are here on earth at this time for a reason. Our lives and our work are purposeful and valuable.
Pancake Faces, Caricatures & Conversations
Throughout the conference, there was a lot of one-on-one meetings, a community service project, huge selection of sessions and an expo hall to explore.
The most valuable element of FinCon for me is the face-to-face moments with other people. This year, I had a chance to meet and spend some time with Ellie and Bethany from Money Millhouse Podcast, Alex Felice from Broke is a Choice, Lee Huffman from Bald Thoughts, Allea Grummert from Ask Allea, Sarah Allison from Mother of Marketing, 19-year-old YouTube creator Apple Crider, and so many more amazing people!
Another valuable moment for me was the mentoring session provided by FinCon to help get questions answered from other individuals who have more experience or knowledge. This year, I was paired with Eric Rosenberg who took his side hustle to full-time and also was the DJ for FinCon 2018! Eric and I discussed various WordPress elements and plugins that help manage your blog and WordPress site. It was a more technical conversation; however, it was really helpful and beneficial for me to get his insights and input on what works well and managing those pieces.
In the expo hall, one of the vendors, Ally, had pancake artists doing selfies at a booth. I committed to standing in line for about 45 minutes to get this pancake. While I waited in line, I meet Joseph and Tasha from One Big Happy Family. Check out their website where they share about balancing family life, building wealth and living happy.
I wanted to take advantage of opportunities and say YES as much as possible this year. I agreed to meet with vendors, financial entities, other bloggers and influencers, and… I said YES to the video booth. Budget Girl and Dollar Dude managed the video booth, Dave Campbell got me setup and I did my first video ever! Huge thanks to Apple Crider, Greg Chats Cash, and Popcorn Finance for letting me interview you!
Fidelity also had artists doing caricatures! I debated about whether I wait in line (again) for the caricature, and finally decided why not. During the wait, I visited with Andy Webb from Be Clever with Your Cash. Andy and I chatted about both money matters, travel and etymology. I learned a new phrase: as different as “chalk & cheese.” This phrase references two things very, very different from each other.
Unexpected down day
On Friday morning of the conference, I woke up feeling out of sorts. I wasn’t sure what it was that hit me. I just didn’t feel well.
My assumption was that the four days of non-stop conferencing had caught up with me. I took my time in the morning to get going and made it downstairs around 10:30 am. I left my bags, notebook, and extras upstairs while I pulled on a soft, cozy sweater.
The momentum of the day was in motion, and I was barely beginning. It felt like I was walking in slow motion. I lingered around the expo hall and went to one session before making my way back upstairs to lay down.
Darren Rowse mentioned in one of his sessions the importance of building in self-care. I really appreciated how he built this into his session because it carries a lot of truth. In building businesses, relationships or other endeavors, some times we neglect or forsake areas (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual) in our life that need attention and care. The lack of self-care can and often will catch up with us. It is important to recognize our needs and care for them. When we attend to our needs, we can better attend to others. Friday was my self-care day. Instead of trying to push and accomplish everything, I took a breather. I gave myself grace. And, it was ok.
Perhaps one of the things you don’t expect at a money and media conference is feeling emotional. One of the main components of FinCon is the Plutus Awards. The Plutus Awards are celebrating accomplishments within the personal finance community.
Cheering and supporting others in their accomplishments, improvements, goals and aspirations is good for us, individually and as a community.
At first, I thought I was the only one feeling emotional at the Plutus Awards. Later I overheard other influencers talking about how they felt emotional too.
Within the FinCon, personal finance and FIRE communities, there are some AMAZING people doing AMAZING things!
While I’m proud of every single person, two highlights at the Plutus Awards for me were celebrating my friend Chris from Popcorn Finance receive an honor for Best New Personal Finance Podcast, and Crystal Hammond from the Sophisticated Spender acknowledged for her service work.
Was it worth it?
In conclusion to a FULL week of people, passions, and profits, you might be wondering… was it worth it? I mean, after all, it’s just a “side gig.”
Yes! Every moment of my time in Florida was well worth the costs, time change and lack of sleep.
You see, most people talk about doing something different with their life, or working a little more to pay off debt, or changing habits. The people and individuals I have met at FinCon and in the FinCon community are the ones putting action behind those desires and dreams to accomplish a different result. They are talking about their lives and stories, vulnerable topics like debt and they are making the choice to live differently.
As I am growing and learning in my own personal finance, I see such a difference in the conversation and mindset, in myself and in others. The great thing about personal finance is just that — it’s personal. What I am seeing is that the conversation around the table at FinCon and with personal finance influencers isn’t full of complaints, excuses and justifications. It’s conversations of dreams, actions, movement and change. That conversation is inspiring in and of itself.
Curious to learn more? Comment below or send me a message and I’d be happy to tell you more about it.
Want to come next year? Sign up or learn more details about FinCon 2019 here.