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The Financial Blogger Conference 2012 – COMPLETELY KICKED BUTT!!!

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I have been out of town for the last 5 days thanks to the Financial Blogger Conference 2012, which was being held in Denver, Colorado from September 6-9. It was amazing, exhausting, and I just cannot wait until FinCon 2013!!!

WARNING:  This post is my FinCon journal…it really is probably way too long for anybody that doesn’t want a complete run down of 5 days of my life.  So feel free to skip around, check out the pictures, and come back on Wednesday for my normal, shorter posts.  😀

Wednesday

I decided last year that I would come to all of these conferences a day early. It is simply awesome to be able to get squared away without rushing. Plus, since my close blogging buddies did the same thing, we were able to “stalk” the lobby by hunkering down in comfortable chairs, chatting, and saying hi to every blogger we could find as they arrived. It was a ton of fun!

Plus, Suba from Wealth Informatics was even earlier and performed restaurant reconnaissance for us in advance.  Knowing where to eat is really half the battle, hahaha.

Overall, Wednesday went very smoothly.  I landed in Denver at 10am and rode in to the hotel on the same shuttle as Jason from Live Real, Now.  We met Suba in the lobby and headed out for lunch.  Later in the afternoon, Shane from Beating Broke and Ashley from Money Talks joined our little group and we all welcomed the bloggers that we saw walk through the front doors.

JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly and More Than Money actually recognized me from last year, came over right from the front door, and asked for my contact details for the future – how cool is that?!  Huge ego boost, lol.

We had dinner later at Rock Bottom Brewery, which was just yummy.  I did quickly realize that my shoes were going to suck for the amount of walking that was going to be necessary for the weekend, but Payless didn’t have anything more comfortable for less than $35.  And I am stubborn…I simply could not bring myself to spend $35 for a pair of tennis shoes that were more expensive and less comfortable than the pair I have at home.  Oh well.

Thursday

I started on Thursday realizing that I must have just been ignoring the signs of altitude sickness the day before.  I was dehydrated, my throat was already getting sore, and I would have tiny bouts of vertigo…I would just suddenly feel like I was in an elevator coming to a stop randomly throughout the day.  But I wasn’t even considering slowing down.

Right after getting up, a small group of us decided to track down some breakfast.  So I headed out with Jason from Live Real Now, Jesse from Manteresting, Flexo from Consumerism Commentary, Adam Baker from Man vs Debt, and Rob Bennett from A Rich Life (and BFS commenter).  We ended up buying mediocre breakfast burritos, but the walk was nice.

The rest of the morning was spent preparing the 20 winner bags for the Plutus Awards and stuffing 400 swag bags for all of the attendees of FinCon12.  I then walked to lunch at a yummy Vietnamese place with Marie from Family Money Values, Don from Money Reasons, Jason from Live Real Now, and Shane from Beating Broke.

View of Denver from the Plutus Awards Room
It was a truly amazing view to see as we got the winner’s bags for the Plutus Awards put together…
Plutus Awards Winner's Bag Crew
From left to right: Marie from Family Money Values, Rob Bennett from A Rich Life, Jason from Live Real Now, Flexo from Consumerism Commentary, Shane from Beating Broke, Jackie from MoneyCrush, and Suba from Wealth Informatics

The rest of the afternoon was all about the Plutus Awards rehearsal, running up to the 4th floor of our hotel to take some pictures, hanging out in the lobby with awesome bloggers like Emily Guy Birkin, and then attending the evening Ally Bank Welcome Reception and Plutus Awards Ceremony.

View from the Walking Track of Our Hotel
There was a walking/jogging track on the 4th floor of our hotel that circled their tennis court. When I saw this church framed by sky scrapers, I knew I had to share…

Kevin from Thousandaire started it off with a very funny bang by performing yet another singing montage that he is famous for…it was hilarious!  I performed my duties as Swag Mistress pretty well, although I think I nearly made Joe Taxpayer fall over with his loaded up backpack…I forgot to unclip a pretty important clasp between the backpack, so it was just not able to be put on properly.  He was a real sweety about it though.  I think I also ate my money’s worth of boiled shrimp and mini-appetizers.

Afterwards, I stayed up until 1am chatting in the lobby with Jason from Live Real Now, Erin from Dog Ate My Wallet, Shane from Beating Broke, and Flexo from Consumerism Commentary.  These evening sessions in the comfy lobby chairs were one of the best parts of the whole conference.

Friday

My throat was even worse Friday, which had me really worried about my speech on Saturday.  HUGE thanks to Kylie Ofiu for hooking me up with some throat lollies (cough drops) that morning before I had the chance to run to 7-11 for a bag of my own!  Thank you Kylie!  Side note, Australian cough drops actually have a butterscotch flavor available…it’s yummy…

After a quick carb-loaded breakfast (my choice) sponsored by Sallie Mae, I grabbed tons of sponsor swag and headed in to see Adam Baker.  His opening speech really moved me.  Life is truly too short to waste.  I then went upstairs to listen to Donna Freedman’s suggestions on finding your own blogging voice.

I then ended up missing the next two sessions of talks because I received several messages that my grandparents were in the hospital with what seemed to be a bad flu.  They are in their mid-80’s, so a major flu can be truly scary.  This is also when my laptop cord decided to stop working, so I called my uncle for an update and then called grandma to see how everything was going in the hospital.  It was a pretty emotional afternoon.

I ran out to see Jesse’s speech on WordPress security (you did great btw!).  Then there was a nice Chase Lunch Buffet.  Right after that, quite a few bloggers headed out to help clean Lincoln Park, but a few of us stayed behind.  I simply did not pack the right clothes or shoes and a few friends stayed to keep me company I think.

Jason from Live Real Now, Corey from 20’s Finances, Don from Money Reasons, and I wandered around for a little while, but it really got interesting when JD Roth sat down with us to just hang out for a couple of hours.  It was just fun.  This is also when we found out that JD was really leaving GRS soon and starting to write again at More Than Money (jdroth.com).  Make a note.  😉

Then our little group, headed over to the Tarantula Pool Hall for another fun reception – Happy Hour with GoBankingRates.  Don kicked my butt at pool.  But there were not many vegetarian options for Suba by the time she and Khaleef and Sherrian from KNS Financial arrived, so we ate at Chili’s right afterwards too.

This is where everyone was reminded how innapropriate Jason and I can get when we have each other to bounce jokes off of…oops.  I keep this blog super family friendly, but “in real life”, I have a potty mouth and a pretty dirty sense of humor if I am around the right group.  Voila.  We also found out that Khaleef can bring his “black” out at will, hahaha!  Seriously, “Yo, yo! Lady with the tote!”  I was laughing sooooo hard.  Then I had to bring out the stereotypical southern twang.  Suba thought we were all losing our minds.  😀

Then we ran to get to Ignite FinCon with Payoff.com, but left pretty quickly…crowds and noise seemed to be getting to us…nerds at heart just don’t mesh well with loud bars…

I once again stayed up way too late (1:30am) chatting in the lobby with Shane, Jesse, Jesse’s wife (don’t think she wants her name public), and Joe Taxpayer.  I was very relaxing.  But my throat was absolutely killing me while I tried to sleep.

Saturday

I grabbed a quick bite to eat from the EverBank Continental Breakfast with Suba, Don, and Barbara Friedberg before we walked in to listen to the State of the Personal Finance Blogosphere.  Then Ramit Sethi shared his take on growing a product audience.  He seems like an egotistical marketing genius…worth paying attention to but probably not a guy I would hang out with for fun.  I then headed over to hear Jeff from Good Financial Cents talk about video blogging before I had to step up to speak in the same room.

My speech went very well, although I think there were only 17-18 people there to hear it.  After Jeff left, the room just cleared out except for my close blogging buddies and a handful of people I had not met yet.  I think that was actually a good thing overall since I had zero nerves when I figured out my audience was way less than I thought it would be.  It was like talking to a group of friends at my house.  I covered my tips for preparing for self-employment and then we all ran to the Fidelity Lunch Buffet.

Since my throat was still hurting, and my adrenaline rush fell off after my speech, I napped for the next 2-3 hours of the afternoon.

I only woke up to go see an All-Star panel talk about whatever they legally could about developing and selling their blogs for millions.  Jim from Bargaineering, Flexo from Consumerism Commentary, JD Roth, and Will from Wise Bread were excellent and very informational.

From there, we went to the quick Happy Hour with Bankrate.com at a local pub and then came back to the hotel.  We ended up having a pizza party in me and Suba’s room with Shane, Jason, Don, Dave from Debt Black Hole, Khaleef and Sherrian, Erin, Marie, and Suba.

We had an excellent time talking about pretty much everything.  Plants can feel pain.  Khaleef and Suba are not nearly as game and movie nerdy as the rest of us.  We even talked about the fact that Jason’s mother-in-law was a certified hoarder before she died a few months ago and he had to perform an Easter egg hunt from hell for months in her home.  He could easily find hundreds of dollars or cases of soap in the same pile of stuff that contained used sex toys or personal diaries way more detailed than any son-in-law should ever come across…cannot believe how much work it took to get the place ready simply to be renovated…

Most of our group headed to bed right after midnight, but a few of us went downstairs to hang out while the people that attended the Adam Baker dance party wandered in from their evening out.  I was happy to be in the comfy chairs once again since I was able to get to know Travis and his wife way better (I do not know if she would like me to publicly use her name).  They are such a cute couple and we all had a fantastic, funny time just sitting around.  I should have headed to bed right after 2am when they all headed up.

Instead, I stayed up until 3:30am with the dance party group that returned.  I am not a good fit with party people apparently.  Some lady drunk from a blog I never heard of before was also super rude for the second time in 2 days for no reason, so I now have someone new to ignore completely from here on out.  Sort of hope her blog just burns out.  I was too tired to deal with bitchy drunks.

Sunday

I honestly think the conference completely kicked butt overall, but Sunday really was the end of the drive for me.  I woke up late, spent an hour trying to pack up everything including my new swag, and then got dressed up a little since JD had me in a 10 person lineup of people he was going to talk to onstage.  Then I grabbed a quick bagel at the PowerWallet Continental Breakfast.

Thanks to a “short” speech by Fidelity that went on for 25 minutes, I and a few others had to be cut from JD’s plan.  I seriously considered closing my 401k and two Roth IRA’s I have with Fidelity…I am over that now, but it felt good to think about…

I then spent the rest of the afternoon before the flight home with Jason, Suba, Shane, Erin, Ashley, Khaleef, and Sherrian.

Group Photo
Huge thank you to Marie from Family Money Values for getting this one!!!
From left to right: Me, Suba from Wealth Informatics, Khaleef and Sherrian from KNS Financial and Fat Guy Skinny Wallet, Shane from Beating Broke, Jason from Live Real Now, and Jesse from Manteresting
Blogging Buddies
From left to right: Sherrian, Khaleef, and Suba. We took this picture right after we realized that the big hang out crew picture was a blurry mess. Shane and Jason already headed out to the airport, but you can see them above.

Phil from PT Money came over a few minutes before I had to rush off to the shuttle…I couldn’t help begging to hold the conference somewhere else the next year since I never got over the vertigo or sore throat problems of Denver.  I literally stepped off the plane in Houston, TX and my throat went from burning to just being overused and a tiny sore.  Denver and I were not made for each other…

I know that I will once again be hovering at the computer next time conference registration opens up – ready to hand over my credit card details to sign up once again.  Big, huge thanks to PT and his crew for yet another AMAZING conference!!!

Catching Up

I will be spending the next week catching up with everything I’ve missed while I was out. I should have an updated house post for you later this week…although they didn’t seem to do much last week other than finish the brick and paint most of the walls. I’m also hoping to write way more from here on out so posts can once again be scheduled a couple of weeks in advance. I couldn’t believe I didn’t have anything set up for today.

Were you at FinCon12? What did you think? If not, how was your weekend?



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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30 thoughts on “The Financial Blogger Conference 2012 – COMPLETELY KICKED BUTT!!!

  1. I wasn’t and really want to go! I wanted to go this year but it was the first week of the month and I can’t leave work the first 5 or 6 business days of every month because I am an accountant. BOO! Please schedule it mid or late month next year, or just schedule in Panama City Beach! Glad you had fun and just makes me want to go even more next year!




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  2. I had such an amazing time. It was great to hang out with you! Adam Baker’s speech really resonated with me as well; and there are several videos I need to watch of sessions I missed (Paul’s write right and Travis’s come to mind).

    Now I am working on my blog with so much added inspiration and direction. Such a difference!




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  3. What a delightful commentary, Crystal, I feel as if I were right there with you guys! Flexo and JD seem cool as hell. (I had a teensy snicker regarding the comment about a certain intensely self-absorbed marketing genius. And that drunk chick? Sooo dying to know who now. Hopefully not a Yakezie.) So glad your group had such a great time and I hope your throat is recovering from all the excitement.




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  4. So sorry I missed it again this year. Can’t we make it teacher-friendly and schedule it in the summer?! Seriously, I don’t know if I’ll ever make it if it’s within the first 3 weeks of school but I’ll definitely shoot for next year. 😉




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  5. I can’t even come close to creating a recap like you just did. I think I’ll just point everybody here and say, “yeah, that.” 😉

    Seriously, it was so awesome seeing you and the gang again this year. I’ll be hanging out on the computer along with you waiting for tickets to fincon13!




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  6. @Kathleen, we’ll be sure to see each other next year!

    @Jacob, LOL, see you next year!

    @Lance, I have zero pull with the conference planning, sorry. I was just begging Phil to put it anywhere other than Denver…I don’t actually think my single vote will matter. But good luck!

    @Michelle, me neither!

    @Amanda, I brought away that I need to keep my site as personal as possible. We’ll see soon if any other changes come to mind.

    @Tushar, it was good to meet you too!

    @Evan, it worked out like this last year too. Our little group just gets along really well together.

    @Jennifer Lynn, I emailed you, lol.

    @Savvy Scot, I looked her up today and now know who to avoid. 😉

    @Buck Inspire, hopefully!

    @Travis, LOL, yeah, it was awesome!!!

    @Cat, poor Sherrian had several nose bleeds. I really hope we return to Chicago next year…or maybe try Austin, TX, hahaha.

    @Little House, I can see it being hard for teachers. 🙁

    @Shane, hahaha, I used some of the boring times to make notes of my day so I could remember a ton just for this recap since I had big missing gaps in my memory last year. 🙂 I will be keeping an eye out for you again next year!!!

    @Kim, I hope I get to meet you too. 🙂

    @Money Beagle, hahaha, I could see how she may have gotten a little peeved. 😀




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  7. Crystal:

    That’s a super write-up. It made me happy to meet you and the others on Thursday morning. I am jealous of the fun conversations you had staying up in the lobby to 1:30 in the morning. Part of me wants to try to do that myself next year. The other part knows that at my age it would kill me! In any event, I will definitely see you again next year.

    Please take care.

    Rob




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  8. It sounds like it was an awesome experience! I might not have been there in person, but I got to live part of it vicariously through this post. I’m also curious about the bitchy blog! It sounds like you had a great time overall, even with that.




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