What I learned (and taught) at Fincon 2018

Greetings from sunny and sweaty Orlando, Florida!

It's been a long, lovely, crazy week behind the scenes at Get Rich Slowly. I've spent the past ten days hanging out with fellow money nerds at Fincon, the annual “money and media” conference. Fincon started in 2011 with just 225 attendees. Now there are over 2000 attendees — including nineteen of us who have been to every iteration.

Here's a quick run-down of what I learned (and taught) at Fincon 2018.

Paula Pant and Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Bond with Friends and Colleagues

Fincon is first and foremost a chance to meet and bond with friends and colleagues. When you're a money writer (or money podcaster or money YouTuber, etc.), you spend a lot of time holed away by yourself. It's a lonely existence. It's rewarding to see each other, even if it's only once a year.

It's been eighteen months since I've seen Mr. Money Mustache, for instance, but we got to be temporary roommates this week, and are now spending a couple more days together (with other friends) at a post-conference retreat in Clearwater. Plus, I got to make new connections with folks like Piggy and Kitty from Bitches Get Riches (my favorite money blog), who are even more awesome (and hilarious) in person than they are on the cyberwebs.

Like me, the Bitches are huge fans of Harry Potter. Actually, they are huger fans than I am, considering I haven't yet read the final two books. (Sorry, I didn't like Order of the Phoenix.) Talking with them made me realize that although I've always self-identified as a Ravenclaw, I am actually a Hufflepuff. (“You're a Hufflepuff with Ravenclaw rising,” Piggy suggested, and I think she's right.)

It's strange to think that although I see these people only one week each year, they're almost like family. We're able to pick up where we left off twelve months ago and continue as if we'd never been apart.

Teach Everything You Know

Fincon is also a chance for us to teach everything we know in order to help others improve their sites, podcasts, and channels. The unrestrained sharing of info and experience is astounding. In a lot of other fields, people would be jealously guarding their secrets. Not here. Here, folks are dropping knowledge bombs all of the time.

As always, I've been involved in a couple of presentations (in addition to the bajillion casual conversations in bars and lobbies).

  • On Thursday, I joined my pal Jim Wang (from Wallet Hacks) to give a talk on how blogging has changed during the past decade. We had fun exploring the ways in which this world has (and has not) evolved since we started in 2004 and 2006.
  • On Friday, I moderated a panel discussion about “the four flavors of FIRE”. Our small group discussed the rising popularity of financial independence and early retirement. Why is the subject suddenly resonating with so many people? Is it an idea that's only applicable to tech workers without children? How does retiring early affect relationships?
  • On Saturday, I participated in a panel about Playing with Fire, the upcoming feature film about financial independence. This project has been in production for more than a year and is finally nearing completion. In fact, Fincon saw the world premiere of the Playing with Fire trailer! (To learn more about the movie, check out the Kickstarter page.)

I don't really like public speaking. I turn down a lot of requests. And when I do agree to speak, I'm often very nervous. But I'm always happy to do whatever presentations I'm asked to do at Fincon, and I'm nearly never nervous doing them. Not sure why that is. Maybe because I'm completely comfortable and in my element?

Partner with Like-Minded Companies

Lastly, Fincon is a chance to meet with potential “partners”, companies who want to advertise on our channels or who want to pitch their shiny new money apps.

I’ve never actually done this in the past and probably won’t do so again in the future. This year, I over scheduled. (In fact, I nearly collapsed from exhaustion on Friday evening — for real! — and had to return to my room for a few hours until the empty, hollow feeling and dizziness wore off.)

The real problem, however, is that many partner pitches just aren't appropriate for me — or for you. Fortunately, some are. I was impressed with three companies in particular, and hope to work with them in the future (whether or not there's financial compensation involved).

This year, I came to the startling realization that I, as a man nearing his fiftieth birthday, really ought to be working with AARP, the national non-profit whose mission is to “empower people to choose how they live as they age”. It was hilarious during my meeting with the AARP rep to watch the light switch on in both of our heads: “Oh, our missions are well-aligned, and there's an opportunity here to collaborate and make the world a better place.” We don't know what that collaboration would look like yet, but I'd be surprised if we didn't work together extensively in years to come.

J.D. Roth and Gwen Merz, podcasting

The Future of Get Rich Slowly

Perhaps the biggest Get Rich Slowly news to come out of Fincon is that I've found somebody to come on board to handle the technical side of the site. As loyal readers know, I'm a writer. All I want to do is write, to share stories and strategies for better managing money. I hate hate hate dealing with the technical and business aspects of this business. (And make no mistake, this is a business.)

Tom Drake trading cardWell, my friend Tom Drake from MapleMoney does not hate the technical and business side of things. In fact, he's the sort of nerd who digs this sort of drudgery. (For him, it's not actually drudgery.) We haven't hammered out the details yet, but we've agreed that some sort of partnership is in order. In fact, he's already begun working behind the scenes to clean things up around here. Yay!

I still have a couple of days left here in Florida. I'll return home to Portland on Wednesday. (Then, almost immediately, Kim and I will dash off to the Oregon coast to celebrate her birthday.) Next week, things will be completely back to normal at GRS.

Meanwhile, I already miss my Fincon family. I know I'll see many of my closest colleagues several times in the months ahead, but I won't see most folks for an entire year. The 2019 edition of the conference will take place in Washington, D.C. (where I've never spent any substantial time), and I can't wait.

I also can't wait to resume writing for you money bosses. There won't be anything new tomorrow, but it's my goal to publish a new substantive, real article on Wednesday. See you then!

Sunset in Clearwater

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Tom Drake
Tom Drake
1 year ago

It was great hanging out with you at FinCon, as always, and I’m looking forward to working with you! I still remember the very first FinCon, we were the last people still there and closed it out by going to dinner with J Money and Martin Dasko!

William Mize
William Mize
1 year ago

I’m about 20 minutes away in St. Petersburg!

Enjoy our lovely area and beaches. You just missed the red tide attack, which is good. There may still be some smelly remnants here and there, but for the most part I believe that everything is cleaned up.

Glad you had a good time, glad you are back in the GRS saddle.

Docupop
Docupop
1 year ago

How exciting! One of our Docupop team members also attended FinCon this year and had a great experience. What was your biggest take away? Are there any new trends that you are planning to incorporate for your business?

Perhaps you crossed the path with our bubbly Liz at FinCon?

Piggy
Piggy
1 year ago

JAYDEEEEEEE! We already miss your Hufflepuffness. Hanging out with you really made our trip. Thanks as always for your advice, patronage, and friendship. Also for listening to our VERY strong opinions on Harry Potter. Catch you next time.

Piggy
Piggy
1 year ago
Reply to  J.D. Roth

Excellent. All is going according to plan…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
1 year ago

I’m so happy to see my picture here in this post – thank you so much for taking it!

It was great chatting with you this year and Fincon was amazing this year. I can’t wait until 2019!

Jim @ Route To Retire
Jim @ Route To Retire
1 year ago

It was awesome to finally meet you J.D. and to hear you and Jim speak. You seemed as comfortable in the stage as could be and I really enjoyed the session.

Hope our paths cross again at some point!

— Jim

S.G.
S.G.
1 year ago

I’m posting just so this mutual admiration society meeting doesn’t get weird.

Freedom 40 Plan
Freedom 40 Plan
1 year ago

J.D. – It was great to see and hear you during all of your presentations. Thanks for sharing so much of your time and experience with the rest of us out there. We didn’t get to meet in person, but perhaps next year in D.C!

Seonwoo
Seonwoo
1 year ago

I still don’t get this Ravenclaw rising nonsense

Fincon was such a blast. Can’t believe I waited this long to go to one.

stellamarina
stellamarina
1 year ago

I shall look forward to seeing you show up in the AARP monthly magazine one day. It would be a very good match …….I joined up AARP at 50 just because of their wonderful magazines and bulletins that are so full of info…including personal finance.

Dave @ Accidental FIRE
Dave @ Accidental FIRE
1 year ago

Great to finally meet you JD. Your session with Jim from WalletHacks was great and informative, keep up the great work and hope to see you next year in my hometown!

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
1 year ago

Sounds like a blast JD! It was fun following the action on Twitter from SF.

Love the beach pic in the end. Almost my happy place.

What was the one big difference this year than in previous years?

Is there a new online trend you noticed?

Thx

Sam

Jake Jacob
Jake Jacob
1 year ago

One day I’ll be courageous enough to join the folks at Fincon and share my ideas on finance. But till then it’s through these posts and the one another I read at Four Pillar Freedom to get me all the buzz about such conferences on money. Thanks, JD.

Jim Wang
Jim Wang
1 year ago

I had a lot of fun during our talk. I’m normally super nervous too but it felt like two old friends sharing new ideas. Thanks for agreeing to do it AND come up with so many great ideas we could share with others!

Nick True
Nick True
1 year ago

Always an absolute pleasure to hang out with you JD. Thanks for everything you’ve done to give back to this community. You’re truly the real deal my man. Maybe I’ll catch before FinCon19 if we can make it up to Portland!

Josh
Josh
1 year ago

Had a blast hanging out with you at various different points at FinCon. Can’t wait to get the whole gang back together in DC next September!
Hufflepuff is the best, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Jason Butler
Jason Butler
1 year ago

I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself to you this year. I was all over the place. We have to catch up in DC. I want to hear more about your extended travel and your thoughts about Savannah, GA.

Jake Jones
Jake Jones
1 year ago

Sounds like a lot of fun. It is great to be surrounded by like-minded people.

Hoping to make my way to Fincon next year! Maybe I will see you there!

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