Holy moly! What a crazy, awesome weekend! The Financial Blogger Conference started off with a bang, like a starter’s pistol, and didn’t let up until my tushy was back in an airplane seat!!! To give you a little backstory before starting my rundown, FINCON11 was held in Chicago, IL from September 30th to October 2nd. I took a direct flight there and back from Houston, TX. I will tell you about those flights in a separate post soon just so I can vent, but this post is all about the fun!
I landed in Chicago at 11:30am on Friday and made it to the hotel by noon. My plan was to check in, change, and call my blogger friends that were already there so we could hang out. Instead, I walked into the hotel in my stretchy pants, sports bra, and t-shirt to find myself looking directly onto a lobby with bloggers. I spotted Jesse Michelsen from PF Firewall first and then spotted who I assumed was Suba from Wealth Informatics right next to him (I racially profiled, sorry Suba, lol – I was very happy I was right or I probably would have been given the stink eye). Those are two of my close online buddies, so I ran over for hugs.
Right after quick hi’s, Jesse turns and introduces me to a guy named JD. I hold out my hand and get through half a sentence asking which blog he runs, when I spot his name badge, my jaw falls open, and I shake hands with JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly. I must be the only person who hadn’t seen pictures of him before. I started my blog because of Get Rich Slowly, Free Money Finance, Frugal Confessions, and My Open Wallet. Needless to say, I was blown away temporarily but my chatterbox started up just fine. 🙂 Apparently Jesse had been talking me up to JD because he seems happy to meet me! Thank you Jesse!!!
That lobby was dynamite!!! I quickly ran upstairs to change so we could go to lunch, came back down, and ended up piling into Suba’s car with Suba, her husband (now nicknamed Mr. Suba – he is totally funny – I’m a big fan), Jesse, and JD. JD, Jesse, and I were in the back, so it was a good thing that we all lost weight this year!!! On a side note, looking good JD and Jesse!
After a fun and talkative lunch (aka business write-off for JD – thank you!), we headed back, I signed in and grabbed my name badge, and set off to the introduction races! I met Khaleef from KNS Financial and his very cool wife (un-nicknamed so far, lol), FMF, Jason from Live Real Now, Beating Broke, J Money from Budgets Are Sexy, his partner in Love Drop, Nate, Mighty Bargain Hunter, Ashley from Money Talks, Jeffrey from Money Spruce, and about 50 other bloggers that I had been reading for the last 2 years! All of this was just in the lobby from like 2pm-3pm.
Then we piled onto a bus to go to the Love Drop event with Phil’s Friends sponsored by Adaptu. I sat and chatted on the bus with Financially Consumed, hung out with Kris from Everyday Tips and Thoughts and Suba while we labelled greeting cards for cancer patients, and got to know So Over Debt, Daily Money Shot, and The Digerati Life a bit better.
Daily Money Shots is an awesome new blogger with the same dirty sense of humor as me, so we all hit it off great, lol. Suba and I refused to stop working when the pizza was served (I’m Irish stubborn and decided that Suba is too – we wanted to finish our list of names, hahaha), so we ended up grabbing cold slices and scarffing them down quickly before piling back on the bus.
We made it back to the hotel around 6pm, I networked in the lobby even more, and I then went out for a 2nd dinner at 7pm with Kay Lynn from Bucksome Boomer (my roomie), Len Penzo, Dr. Dean from The Millionaire Nurse, his very sweet wife (I’m not sure if her name is public so I won’t share, lol), and Miranda Marquit (freelance writer extraordinaire). Thank you to all of you for a very fun couple of hours and a special thanks to Len for my drink and Dr. Dean for my 2nd meal. 🙂 I had a blast.
We made it back to the hotel at around 10pm, headed over to the welcome reception and speed networking session, and I then met about 200 bloggers all at once. I will just name a few – Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, MD from Studenomics, Sandy from Yes I Am Cheap, Squirrelers, Money Reasons, The Family CEO, Eric from Narrow Bridge, and a bunch of others that just amaze me regularly.
I sort of clinged onto a combination of Jason from Live Real Now, Jesse Michelsen, and Suba while meeting others. I didn’t end up heading off to bed until around 1am.
Saturday started at 7:00am with me and Kay Lynn trying to convince ourselves to get up. JD from GRS was the first speaker and hit the show off with a Klingon (Benny Lewis)! His speech covered a lot, but what I took away from it the most is that I need to reconnect with all of you through stories again (which is how I try to write, so yay!) and that you are what truly make my blog into what it is. Thank you all.
I spent my day going to different sessions with Suba, Jason from LRN, and Kris from ETT. I met so many people, grabbed some awesome swag, enjoyed a yummy lunch, enjoyed a few more great speakers, and never left for a much needed nap. I would go into more of the session details, but I am pooped and am still processing it all. In short though, you will be reading more personal stuff from me. I am also going to put even more time into developing my advertising business since I think that is my personal product to the world right now.
By the time we went to the Plutus Awards at 5pm, I was beat. Money Reasons and I sat down with some fellow blogging friends like Khaleef, Jeff from Sustainable Life Blog, and Yes I Am Cheap, and clapped as we all lost. 🙂 It didn’t feel too bad for me since I lost to Donna Freedman and J Money, but I still very much enjoyed the Happy Hour that followed so I could drown my “sorrows” with as much Zinfandel as I wanted. Our little group kept getting free drink tickets from people like the main contact (Tim I think) from Ally Bank (the main sponsor). Yes, I had about 6 glasses of wine before we headed over to the main lobby again to chat and order pizza.
By the time all of that came together, it was at least 9pm or 10pm and the pizza that Jason ordered was delivered. We were then kindly asked to take outside food and drink out of the lobby, so Kay Lynn and I hosted a pizza party in our room while most of the conference attendees went to a fantastic after party hosted by Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Dancing isn’t my thing though, so I was very happy to just geek out with a little group of friends. And yes, Chicago Deep Dish Pizza is delicious. We wrapped up our little party at about midnight to 1am.
We repeated the wake-up-way-too early routine Sunday morning and attended another great conference morning that was started by Adam Baker of Man vs Debt (who was awesome) polished off by Pat Flynn and the end-of-conference wrap up. I was overwhelmed by this point, but still having a great time. I Tweeted on and off throughout the conference, met some great people representing businesses I love like Credit Karma, and ended up hanging out in the lobby a bit after it was all over as well since my flight wasn’t until 6pm. Jason from LRN was nice enough to drive me to a burger place for lunch before he started the drive home. I said my goodbyes to Jesse, his wife, and his baby as well as Khaleef and his wife and Suba and her husband. I then got to know J Money, MD from Studenomics, Mighty Bargain Hunter, Money Smart Life, and Jake from Debt Sucks Blog a little better before catching a joint taxi van back to the airport. I landed in Houston at around 9pm Sunday night.
I spent all day Monday catching up with my email that came in over the weekend and am writing this post at 2am Tuesday morning. I’ll be adding the hundreds of links to all of these great blogs in this post tomorrow and putting this up for you.
Let me know if you have any questions! If I met you or hung out with you and didn’t mention you in my lack-of-sleep daze, I am sooooo sorry in advance and feel free to remind me in the comments! I really had a great time with everyone I chatted to for more than a couple of minutes, but my brain is overloaded and foggy.
In short, FINCON11 was amazing. I am still reeling. It may take me a bit to wrap my head around everything I learned. I am already ready and waiting for the FINCON12 signup! A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE ORGANIZER, PHIL AT PT MONEY!!! You really made it happen and for that, I am sure we are all thankful!!!
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!