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Who knew talking about money could be so fun?
I just got back from San Diego, after being there for four days attending FinCon, a conference for the money media community. Everything about FinCon was awesome: the people, informative sessions, Ally Bank cookies, and the experience of being around people who understand you and geniunely want to help.
This was my first time attending the conference. FinCon has always really intrigued me. I’ve been wanting to go ever since hearing about the 2014 conference. It’s safe to say I’ve been mulling on the decision to go for quite some time. Before I even started this personal finance blog!
I wasn’t supposed to have gone to FinCon16. For the past several months, I’ve been living abroad in Thailand teaching English in a school near Bangkok. It’s been a great, eye-opening experience. Living abroad always has challenges and moments of shock. A particular moment of shock occurred when I tried to sign up for FinCon back in March, only to realize scheduling conflicts would prevent me from going.
The Thai school semester ends on September 30 this year. FinCon16 was taking place September 21-24. Naturally, I felt dumpy about scheduling conflicts that would prevent me from going *cue Daniel Powter’s Bad Day*.
Everything changed when, near the end of August, three weeks before the conference, I got notified I was one of the winners of the FinCon Scholarship and got approved to leave my school early. I crammed my final examination proctoring, took a 21.5-hour airline journey and was suddenly in San Diego.
Wednesday | FinCon16
The first day of FinCon16, a half day focused on getting checked-in and some pre-event buzz. After getting off my plane at 2:30pm, I immediately went to the hotel when check-in opened at 3:00pm.
I loved the badges! They were colorful and your name is displayed prominently on them, so it was easy to immediately know someone’s name upon seeing them (or to refresh your memory if you happened to forget…shhh, don’t tell anyone).
There were a bunch of cool pins you could get in addition to your badge and t-shirt. There were 1st year pins for FinCon first-timers and all the way up to 6-year pins for FinCon veterans.
The people checking me in asked me what my plan was (cause you know…the whole ‘Rebel With A Plan’ thing). Quite a few people asked me this, with a sly smile.
A pre-event happy hour took place after check-in. Through fumbling to find out where it was, I met Debra, a travel blogger at Traveling Well For Less. We walked around, trying to find it, and met Cait Flanders, a blogger who did a 2-year shopping ban and is currently on a road trip around the U.S.!
At the happy hour, on a mission to get food (rather than the free drinks), I made my way to the dessert table and met Colin Jones, from Blackjack Apprenticeship. The dude is a card-counting extraordinaire!
After the happy hour, The Road to Financial Wellness took place. I volunteered with registration and got to meet a bunch of people. Volunteering was a great thing to do to meet a lot of people! Everyone had funny reactions when I prompted them to write down what financial wellness meant to them. One person said financial wellness meant they could have a llama farm!
Thursday | FinCon16
The first official day of FinCon16. I went to two sessions. The first was an informative one on email list building, presented by Chris from Money Peach. He grew his list by 10,000 subscribers in 10 months. The session was filled with lots of useful information and was probably my favorite session of FinCon16.
The second session I attended was Write So Well They Can’t Ignore You, led by the legendary Paula Pant from Afford Anything. Paula was really good about showing ways you could inject more personality into your writing.
After the two sessions and the provided lunch, I went back to my room to take a nap. Originally intended for an hour, I ended up sleeping six hours and missing TradeKing’s party that night. I thought I had beaten jet lag but it proved itself otherwise. Zzzz.
Friday | FinCon16
At the morning breakfast, I got to talk with a financial planner from LA and a woman who runs a podcast guest booking business.
The first session I attended was a Pinterest masterclass on how different online influencers are utilizing Pinterest. The next session was Blog to Brand, which talked about leveraging a blog and influence to become a thought leader. I really liked hearing the humble beginning from the speakers. One of the speaker’s first freelance writing jobs was a post on pimple popping that she got paid $10 for. *Drake’s voice: started from the bottom, now we here*
A theme of the session was the importance of investing in yourself and making personal development a priority in your plans for growth.
During lunch, I took part in a very impactful discussion about encouraging diversity in personal finance. This discussion was another highlight of FinCon16 for me. The financial industry can’t afford to just be old, stale, and pale!
The big event for Friday was Ignite! An evening discussion filled with a diverse set of 5-minute submitted talks. My favorites of the night were: 5 Things I Learned About Business and Money from Professional Card Counting, I Spent All My Money On A Trip Around The World, and How Rihanna Taught Me To Embrace My Inner Rachet.
There was an afterparty where everyone got free entry into the dance club. Who knew money nerds could get down so well?!?
Saturday | FinCon16
Last day of FinCon16. The best part of this day was meeting some more of my favorite bloggers. I got to meet the Debt Free Guys and Stefanie O’Connell, who is so nice and funny.
I attended a session on freelance writing led by Holly Johnson from Club Thrifty. The session was informative but also really amusing because Holly is so lovingly blunt and to the point. There were lots of giggles during the session.
The roundtable discussions dropped a whole bunch of topics into one room. There were tables for each different topic. I met Ms. Frugal Woods and heard her talk about how she started her blog and cultivating the community around it. She talked about how, back when she started the blog while working full-time, she would get up and do blog work from 6am-8am every day before work.
The last events of FinCon16 included The Plutus Awards, which had a hilarious entrepreneur rap along with FinConner’s reading mean comments about themselves, similar to Jimmy Kimmel’s mean tweets segment.
I loved everything about FinCon16. I’m so glad I was able to attend the conference for the first time. Everyone at the conference was so amazingly nice and helpful. It’s comforting to be in a community where people are gracious, helpful, and humorous.
Connecting with people at FinCon happened in so many different ways. Walking down the hallways, being in the expo hall, volunteering at booths, sitting in a corner stuffing my face with Ally Bank cookies…
Connecting was happening everywhere.
My blog name, Rebel With A Plan, was a good conversation starter. During the conference, I was asked numerous times what exactly my ‘plan’ was. Some people even made jokes with it. When I met J Money, while holding a cluster of Jolly Ranchers, he called me ‘Rebel with…Jolly Ranchers’.
Whenever I was holding something, people would say it.
Rebel with a…drink
Rebel with a…cookie
Rebel with a…bag
It was funny but also reminded me about how I’ve never really shared the reasoning of my blog name. It isn’t a name you would usually think of when it comes to a personal finance blog. I don’t have the word budget, millennial, frugal, thrifty, money, rich, or any of the other words many personal finance blogs have. I’ll explain the reason behind the name soon, in a future post!
It wouldn’t be a complete post without including the costs for the conference, right? 🙂
FinCon16 Basic Pass: $0 (I was one of the winners of the scholarship!)
Accommodation: $344.22 (couch surfed for one day and stayed at a nearby motel for the next three nights)
Food: $113.73 (This includes some of the food I got while at the airport)
Flight: $351 (The added cost of flying from Thailand to San Diego, CA then to Texas vs. just going Thailand to Texas)
250 business cards from Vistaprint cost $17.26. Uber rides totaled $72.19. They were higher than I anticipated due to my jet lag. Everyday afternoon I would have to ride back to my room to take a nap because I was so tired. Hopefully next year this won’t be an issue!
Before attending FinCon16, people would always say fantastic things about the conference and all the nice, inspiring, and helpful people who attended it. I wondered if it really lived up to the hype. YES.IT.DID. times 50x.
It’s so wonderfully infectious to be around people who are so passionate and helpful with what they do. I’m still in awe that I even had the opportunity to be able to attend. THANK YOU SO MUCH Philip Taylor for awarding me the scholarship!
I can’t wait to attend next year! FinCon17 tickets went on sale right after FinCon16 and I bought my ticket immediately. FinCon17 is going to be in Dallas, TX! My home state! Ahh, I’m so excited.
Tickets for FinCon17 are currently on sale through Monday, October 3 and at the lowest price they’re ever going to be ($189 for the basic pass). Book now to save big. You won’t regret it! 🙂
Check my Instagram for photos from FinCon16!
Did you attend FinCon16? How was your experience? Let me know!