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The Financial Blogger Conference 2011 – What a Weekend!!!

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. 

Jesse Michelsen from PF Firewall

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. 

Happy Hour with My PF Peeps
From Left to Right: Jason from Live Real Now (big teddy bear), Suba from Wealth Informatics (so cool), Hunter from Financially Consumed (well, part of him, sorry), Squirrelers (behind me), Me (redhead in the middle), Money Reasons (in the back), Kris from Everyday Tips and Thoughts (bff, lol), Jeff from Sustainable Life Blog (in the back right), and Khaleef from KNS Financial (front right)


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 $70,000-$90,000 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!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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52 thoughts on “The Financial Blogger Conference 2011 – What a Weekend!!!

  1. Great recap. It was cool to finally catch up with you on Sunday in the lobby. I got the idea for the “no thumb” challenge from that conversation. Then J.Money, Tom Drake, and I ended up sitting in that lobby for 5 hours just chatting. Time flew by.

    Btw, I left the comment with my name since I didn’t once introduce myself as “MD” to anyone here.

  2. It was GREAT to meet you. Love your energy, and your sick sense of humor…. It doesn’t surprise me you guys got kicked out of the lobby, bunch of wild childs….

    Looking forward to next year!

  3. It was great finally meeting you. I loved the pizza party in your room – had a great time. I am still blown away by how many great people were there – I didn’t expect to like everyone that I met (can’t have 250 great people, right?), but I did!

  4. @Jana, hehehe. 🙂

    @Jeff, it was great to meet you too! I really appreciate a man who smiles in pics and it was awesome to hang out!

    @Molly, well he is trim and fit and apparently about 10 years older than me. He was also just a normal guy who likes to grab life by the horns. 🙂

    @Martin, wow, not calling you MD is going to be tough, lol. It was great to meet you!!!

    @krantcents, I look forward to meeting you next year!

    @Funancials, I should have taken even more pics but it was so crazy busy!

    @Laura, I can’t wait to meet you!

    @Dr. Dean, it was great to meet you and your wife too! You two make an absolutely awesome couple! See you next year!

    @Jenna, it was nice meeting you too! Thanks for hosting a fantastic event!

    @MoneyCone, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and hope I get to meet you next year!

    @Buck, I apparently will have to speak…it was mandated by several people so far, lol. I get nervous and speak really fast, so I would need to take yoga or something before taking the stage… 🙂

  5. @DrCabler, it sold out a month beforehand, so it just wasn’t meant to be this year, but I look forward to geeking out with you in 2012!

    @Khaleef, the pizza party was my favorite part. It was really great to get to know a small group even better. And yes, out of 280 pf bloggers, I could count on one hand the number of people I actively avoided, lol. Not shabby at all!!!

  6. It was so amazing to meet you, you were exactly as I imagined, a sweet little firecracker full of energy! You really made the conference special for me, and I hear, for many others.

    PS my wife said, “she called me tall, no one has ever called me tall!” you made her day hehe

  7. So awesome the Yakezie crew got together for the picture! Love the diversity and the funny thing is, the picture reflects in my mind’s eye pretty much what I thought y’all look like. Is that weird?

    Next year for sure!


  8. @Jesse, I like that “firecracker full of energy”… 🙂 It was just really great to get to know you better and your wife is damn adorable. 😉

    @FSYA, I look forward to meeting you next year too!

    @Christa, it was amazing!

    @cashflowmantra, I hope you can make it!

    @Funny about Money, it was really just amazing – I will be going a day early next year…

    @Sam, LOL, I didn’t realize we were all Yakezie until just right now. Woot Yakezie!

    @Briana, email me any questions. 🙂

    @Ashley, I TOTALLY SPACED, I really enjoyed meeting you!!! I’ve corrected my glaring mistake! And I meant what I said, you do not look like a woman with kids…

    @First Gen, next year, you’ll be there if I have to drive you myself, lol.

  9. Hey, you are right, we are the same height! 🙂

    I am still exhausted from the weekend, and I did not do as much as you did! There were so many great people to meet, and unlike Sam, most of the people did NOT look like I imagined. My “mind’s eye” must be way off!

    I sure hope I can attend next year! The conference was even better than I imagined it would be.

    Great write up, and I love the picture!

  10. So jealous you got to have lunch with JD (no offense to Tom and Khaleef whom I had lunch with).

    Nice to finally meet you. You are so full of energy. I can see now how you get som much done.

  11. I second the comment above from Jesse – that you’re a firecracker full of energy. It seemed that wherever you went a cloud of positive energy followed you. I’m not sure if we officially met while there, but we were definitely in the same spot many times – and I thank you for your wonderful positive energy and spirit!

  12. Kris – You are EXACTLY what I thought you’d look like. Sh*t you not! lolLoving mom of high schoolers. Khaleef described himself pretty well in his Fat Guy Skinny Wallet post, and Ray from Squirrelers, I thought about Ray Romano.

    Don, yep, I remember he said he had a nice head.

    And Jeff, I thought young buck from Wyoming who is into the great outdoors! That’s him!

  13. I’m super bummed that I didn’t get to meet you last weekend, Crystal! I’m sure I saw you several times, but didn’t know it was you…and when I finally did see you and identified you by your name tag, I had to keep hustling as I was delivering something to my wife (who wasn’t feeling well due to accepting too many unwanted drink tickets).

    Oh well, FINCON12?

  14. This was probably the first and only conference where I didn’t want to go home!!!

    I truly had a blast it it was great meeting you and Kris in real time, along with all of the other great pf bloggers that I met. Jesse was great too, I never realized what a class act guy he is!!! What a great group, we pf bloggers are! 🙂

    Thanks for being as awesome as I thought you would be…

  15. Awesome wrap up. This may sound creepy and kind of stalker-ish, but it is nice to see pictures of people who I have been reading their blog for almost two months now. 🙂 I can’t imagine not knowing what JD looks like before meeting him. haha.

  16. Sounds like an awesome time Crystal! So cool to see pictures of some of the Yakezie members. I seriously cannot wait to come next year! i talked to the fiancee and she is excited to meet everyone. Hopefully it’s on the West Coast hehe.

  17. It was awesome to meet you finally Crystal!!! I think EVERYONE had a great time. I can’t wait for next year’s conference. You should consider giving a talk…

    I missed the pizza party. I came down and the only folks there were all waiting for the after party shuttle. That party was loud. Oh well, there is always next year…

  18. @Kris, I love the picture! I’ve been sneaking peeks at it during the day just to daydream – it was so awesome! And I told you I was short too. 🙂

    @Glen, LOL, my husband calls me hyper or a nutball depending on the day, hehehe. And I was extra amped at the conference, I felt like a puppy running after 3 balls at once…super happy but so much to do!

    Lunch was great – it helped me stop worrying about meeting everybody since even JD is just a regular guy who had an idea and worked to develop it – just like all of us. 🙂 He is one heck of a worker though…he has even more energy than me!

    @My University Money, the best piece of advice I heard was to keep in mind what your readers want. Write stories for them and remember that you only exist online because they choose to read you, lol. I already knew I was all y’alls bi*ch, so I wasn’t surprised but it was good to be reminded, lol. 😉 Seriously though, I am truly thankful for my readers and supporters every, single day.

    @Peter, awww, thank you! I don’t know if we shook hands either, but we met in a group once for like 3 seconds, lol. I am so glad I leave a nice lasting impression. You did too by the way. 🙂

    @Financial Samurai, cool. I already knew what to expect with Kris and Jesse, but it was nice to actually have real faces to put with names in my head.

    @Travis, FINCON12! Since I didn’t get the chance to at FINCON11, please know that I am very thankful for all of your supportive Tweets!!!

    @Money Reasons, thank you for being the person I expected too – sweet and through-and-through proud papa. 🙂

    @Donna Freedman, don’t laugh, but I saw you like 20 times on Friday and kept putting off meeting you because you were a speaker, which I equate with being a big dawg, lol. By the time I got over being silly (realizing that I could speak to the big bloggers too without being a nut), you were surrounded at all times. You were popular! I will definitely meet you next year!!!

    @20s Finances, I felt so silly not immediately recognizing him, lol. Oh well, I will definitely know him next year. 🙂

    @Jon, woot for FINCON12!

    @Jeffrey, yeah, yeah…sounds stressful, lol. 🙂

    @Suba, we tweeted you for the pizza party, but at least you went to the after party! Loud but fun, right? Next year, I will stalk you down personally and drag you towards the pizza. 🙂 I think I will have to go to every conference you do just so we can hang out more than once a year!!!

    @Hunter, it was great to meet you! I am sorry your face didn’t make it all the way into the pic…next year I will take WAY more photos so I’ll have backups. 🙂

    @Jacob, I actually didn’t see how the pic turned out until I got home, so I was soooo happy to see that it was as good as it actually was. 🙂

    @Ben, I have had ideas, but none as good as hair farming, lol.

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