Over the past few years I have enjoyed each and every aspect of FinCon. This year was no different as I decided to enter my second year of volunteering in the nation’s capital Washington DC. Let’s take a journey down the road of FinCon through the lens of a FinCon volunteer.
After volunteering last year in my home state of Florida in Orlando I immediately bought a ticket at the exclusive early bird rate. It’s the best and cheapest ticket you will find all year.
They only offer it for a few days after the completion of the conference. Right now for example you cannot even buy a ticket until 2020, exclusive right?
Last year I volunteered at Fincon in Orlando because I was still trying to figure out what was next in my career and my business. While I had a great opportunity at CampFI in Arkansas it dawned on my while I was there to get involved in FinCon in any way that I could. An email and a couple connections later and I I was a volunteer for the entire event.
This year was a little different, I had every intention to be one of the 2500 or so attendees. I purchased the ticket at the early bird rate while I was in Orlando and had plans to buy my flight and hotel later in the year.
I was even trying to get the artist formerly known as Mr. Money Mozart to come this year. You know bring his wife and we could make it a little FinCon vacation. Apparently switching jobs, moving, and having kids makes that more difficult. I forgive you.
I follow the FinCon Facebook private group pretty regularly so when Jessica Bufkin the director of events mentioned she was looking for full time volunteers. I knew it was a sign that I was destined to be a volunteer in Washington DC this year.
Here’s the thing I really enjoyed my volunteer experience last year. I was able to talk with all of my “internet friends” who have become more and more my “real friends” over the past years.
I mean my wife and I went out to Colorado just recently and made sure to see Carl and Mindy aka Mr. and Mrs. 1500 days. Carl and Mindy are the creators of the very popular website 1500 days and Mindy hosts the very popular podcast Bigger Pockets Money (check out episode 67, that guy is the coolest).
We shared a meal, which was amazing. Had a beer at their home and maybe one or two more at Left Handed Brewing. It’s become more and more that internet friends are becoming real friends. I have already given warning to Coach Carson in 2020, beware we may be coming to see you!
I consider myself a loyal person. It’s probably why I have a small group of friends from high school that I still consider to this day to be my best friends.
It’s also why last year when I emailed PT aka PT Money and he gave me the opportunity to volunteer based on such short notice that I have built a loyalty to helping out PT and FinCon. I’m usually a pretty good judge of who a person really is and PT is what I would call a “good dude”. I have heard zero objections to this claim so far.
The team or staff involved in FinCon is a really fun group who works so hard to make things flow so smoothly. I’m sure everyone says this about them but I have first hand knowledge that they really are great people to work with.
I mean I remember the first time I met Jessica in Charlotte in 2015, I thought she was going to rip my head off. It was Day 1 of the conference and something had gone wrong with the badges. In fact I don’t think they actually had one for me. Her facial reaction said it all. Now that I know some of the behind the scenes and how hectic the first day it all makes sense.
Turns out Jessica is one of the nicest people to work with, I can’t say enough. Just as fun is interacting with Susan who is the Admin of the group. She has a great energy to her and also understands my jokes and lack of taking things too seriously.
I do my best to ask the staff like Libby who does such a great job with the creative side of things if I can help with anything. Truth be told I rarely get turned down as they are always busy doing 100 things.
The camera crew is usually busy and heading to a conference room to get a speaker set up or get the filming ready. I was able to have a conversation with Paul who was taking everyone’s head shots. Let’s just say I hope he sends me his pictures of Iceland.
I’m even Facebook friends with a few of the staff and volunteers from last year. The now famous person behind “After I pay off my debt, I want to take a nap” who was live and on stage with IWTYTBR Ramit Sethi. Which leads me to the beginning of FinCon 2019 or should I say FinCon Volunteer 2019.
After avoiding Hurricane Dorian in South Florida my wife and I made our way up to DC arriving nice and early in the morning. Because my wife needed to start work ASAP we took an Uber. I had an internal struggle with this as a frugal person. Make the wife happy and moving on.
After arriving at the Hilton I felt right at home as I checked my name at the door that I wasn’t admitted to only for a minute or two. Glad I asked one of the great volunteers(although this person was paid as I talked with her later for about an hour while we helped guide and direct).
I walked downstairs and saw our fearless volunteer leader Josh Overmyer. I ran into Josh last year during FinCon. Josh may have been the most excited participant based on his candid reactions to meeting people and very clever VTSAX shirt that was the perfect amount of nerdy.
After getting a couple FinCon t-shirts, badge, proof I was a volunteer or “staff” in this case with my “Staff” pin I felt right at home. I’m pretty sure they make every single staff or volunteer room the same, so I felt like I knew the place instantly.
Truth be told I had no idea where I was. Which floor I was on. Where anything was at. Welcome to FinCon.
Since this is literally about 80% of the questions I get asked while volunteering I made it a special point to learn. I took the first couple of wonderful FinCon explorers and not only tell them where things are, but actually walk with them, talk with them, and find out if I told them the truth.
It’s my FinCon volunteer secret.
Most of the day is just saying hello and getting people to where they need to go. It gave me an opportunity to catch up with Craig from Retire Before Dad who I originally met at FinCon 2015 as we were both up for a Plutus Award.
It’s always fun to catch up because so many times it’s hard to follow what’s going on in everyone’s lives because as you guessed it we all have busy lives of our own.
The first day for me is always a blur. One of the reasons I volunteer is I get so physically and emotionally drained by being “ON”. Yes this needs capital letters.
Being a volunteer allows me to have regular conversations and still have tasks I need to complete. It helps me be more of who I am rather than this roller coaster of emotions that flies off the guard rails into a heap in my hotel bedroom.
Being a volunteer also gives me the chance to catch a lot of people when they are just hanging out. So it was great to talk with Grant Sabatier and Cody Berman as they worked on getting ready for the Financial Summit. It’s just a great opportunity to meet and talk with great people.
Because my wife was working remotely and she was unsure of how late she would be working that we decided against getting a community pass so she could attend some of the events offered. So we tried Ethopian food for the first time. Then called it an early night ready for action the next day.
This was probably my favorite day of FinCon.
Watching a mascot race sure starts off the day with a lot of energy, even if they have nothing on the Brewers sausage race. I’m sure they were unavailable.
I had the opportunity to sit and listen to the big ideas given by Tanja Hester (featured on the blog) from Our Next Life and keynote speaker Ramit Sethi who gave a really great presentation. Here were my takeaways:
I also consider Tanja one of my “internet friends” and I love seeing those around me do so well. Remember I’m a loyal person so it gives me joy to stop by a presentation from a friend and just let them know they did a great job.
The big difference from volunteering last year and this year is I am now a financial coach. Last year I was just trying to figure out the next steps in my life and while I certainly thought it was going to involve coaching. This year I was a financial coach. I mean I even received a Financial Coach pin and water bottle from the wonder folks over at Fiscal Fitness Phoenix who hosted a happy hour for coaches.
I’m involved in their Facebook group called Financial Coaches Unite and I highly recommended to join if you are looking to get into coaching. If you are interested in coaching check out my post “What is a money coach?” for more information.
The happy hour was perfect as FinCon in all of it’s knowledge understands how difficult it is to reach 2500 people. But this year they have allowed more of the niche groups like financial coaching, FIRE, and many more the opportunity to create their own event not specifically affiliated with FinCon.
Meeting so many coaches like Nick Elkins at Family Finance Freedom and Ben Watson over at Fiscal Fluency makes the happy hour and the trip to FinCon so worth it.
It also gave my wife and I the opportunity to talk with all of the coaches at the event as well. I share a lot with my wife about my coaching wins and struggles so she knows a great deal of what goes into leading a business as a financial coach.
What was also great was my wife talked with Kelsa from Fiscal Fitness whom my wife really loved talking with. While I talked with Michael her husband about a variety of things. Besides catching up what I mostly remember is how he thinks the Detroit Lions are going to be good this year. Growing up a Packers fan I took great humor in his declaration, but I suppose that’s what happens when you are 0-0.
I talked with many more coaches not only at the happy hour but throughout the conference. It was great saying hello and meeting some of the people I interact with in the coaching group. As a close to the night my wife and I walked to the hotel still laughing and chatting. As we reached the hotel we were ready to call it a night.
I’m still trying to remember Friday. This day was mostly filled with sessions. When this happens I am either outside directing people the right way or checking badges making sure everyone participating has bought and paid to attend.
What usually happens is I’ll attend a session for a little while once everyone is settled in. Most of the day is conversations with new people. Catching up with old friends. Learning a little bit here and there throughout the day from the different speakers. It’s a full day of interactions.
Every now and again I talk with someone from year’s past like Jim Wang aka “Boss” from Wallet Hacks. It just happened that this year I didn’t call him boss and instead we talked about his recent trip to Italy and the wine aficionado knowledge he shared. Apologies I retained nothing.
I was able to talk with a few people from CampFi which I attended in Arkansas including James from Rethink the Ratrace who’s new chapter in life is quite fun and intriguing. I’ll spoil it a little but he’s off to Greece indefinitely.
I heard great things about the Plutus Awards, but for my wife and I it was a near miss on a Michelin restaurant that happened to be closed. Instead we were able to settle with a Peruvian restaurant nearby that was also some sort of Michelin award finalist. The meal was delicious as expected.
Because we are a little crazy, my wife and I could be found swimming in the pool before it closed. Our hopes and dreams of a whirlpool jacuzzi were met with a “heated pool” and a cool breeze instead.
Spending time with my wife is one of the most important things to me in my life, this trip was no different.
The final day. Similar to Friday this was another day of sessions,catching up, and supporting the people I have met over the years.
It was fun to stop in on my favorite Money Nerd Whitney Hansen who was essential in becoming a financial coach.
Listening to my doughnut buddy Andy Hill from Marriage Kids and Money give a presentation about podcasting.
Walking with my favorite editor and FinCon presenter Victoria from Quicken Loans to get a coffee. Although she chose to buy a can of Coke for $3.25. I already struggle with purchasing any extras while I’m at the conference, but this one made me laugh a little, sorry Victoria!
A quick espanol chat with Coach Chad Carson and his wife, a Spanish teacher and we were off to the airport all too soon. My wife the native Spanish speaker did most of the talking. I just made sure my volunteer duties were all set and our luggage was packed and ready.
The story of course does not end there. An Uber ride with Clint The Wallet Wiseguy as we talked about life, writing, coaching, and our websites made the ride back smooth sailing. My beautiful but ever forgetful wife leaving her purse either in the car or at the hotel made the trip a little more hectic.
A few messages to Clint and Chad and we were a round trip Uber ride away from getting on the plane back to South Florida. A big thanks to Chad for finding and delivering the purse to us so we would only miss one flight that day, haha.
As the Fincon 2020 location was announced in Long Beach, California it didn’t take long for me to purchase tickets for both my wife and I for next year. I might just volunteer the entire event again next year. Although my thank you message to Jessica has not been returned so maybe I’ve been fired as a FinCon volunteer. If so it’s been a great run!
This year like year’s past was a fun event. I tell people I’m going to a work conference except we have fun the whole time. Because to me that’s what FinCon is. It’s true.
I don’t volunteer to save money. Although sure it’s nice to not pay for an event you really enjoy. I volunteer because I enjoy meeting and talking with my “internet friends” and in some cases now real friends.
I like helping out the staff however small it may be. Who knows, maybe next year they will hire me on as a staff member. I like helping the newcomers figure out what the heck is going on. Just as important is helping those who have been here for a while where the heck they are.
What’s so great about FinCon is you can have a conversation with Brad Barrett from ChooseFI even though he’s from Richmond Savers in my book, while waiting for an elevator and receiving daggers from those waiting for the elevator that wasn’t coming.
Avoiding Gwen from Fiery Millennials like she has the St. Louis Cardinals plague and I’m a Cubs fan. Chatting with Miss Mazuma a person with such great energy and a smile from my old days in Chicago.
I was also able to grab J Money from Budgets are Sexy to chat about the sale of his website. He is also clearly is to blame for not allowing me to bring water to my wife. Although he did convince my wife that she should have stayed for the dance party and DJ later that night. I can promise you I won’t get away with this in 2020.
There were so many little conversations and introductions that happened over the course of the conference that it’s difficult to add each of you into this recap. With all of that being said, here’s to seeing many familiar faces at FinCon 2020 in Long Beach, California. Let the rap battle begin.
— Even Steven #MoneyCoach (@EvenStevenMoney) September 12, 2019