A list of personal finance events, conferences, and retreats

Last week, my colleague Patrick from Cash Money Life pinged me on Facebook. “Hey, J.D. What are some of the other personal finance conferences out there?” he asked. Patrick and I brainstormed a list of money events, and I realized that this might be useful for GRS readers.

(Well, this list might be useful eventually. Right now, during COVID, this list isn’t useful to anyone haha.)

Here’s a quick list of the various personal finance events, conferences, and retreats that I’m aware of. If you know of others that should be on this list, please drop me a line. I’m happy to add them.

General Personal-Finance Events

At the moment, I’m aware of three general personal finance events. The first (Fincon) is heavily skewed toward content creators and influencers, but there’s usually plenty of material for the average person.

  • Fincon Expo is the oldest and largest personal finance conference. Philip Taylor started Fincon as a way for money bloggers to come together each year to share ideas. During the past decade, it’s grown substantially. I think roughly 3000 people attended in 2019. Each year, there’s more stuff for a general audience. Targeted at the financial media (especially “influencers”), but open to everyone. Founded 2011. (I have attended Fincon every year, and probably always will.)
  • Plutus Voices is a series of one-night workshops held around the U.S. While specifically created for folks involved with financial literacy, Plutus Voices is useful to anyone interested in money. Open to everyone. Founded 2018. (I was scheduled to host a Portland event in April but…well, COVID.)
  • EconoMe is a new conference designed to “explore a new American Dream”. Put together by Diania Merriam, EconoMe has roots in the financial independence movement, but also aims to increase financial literacy. It wants to reach both ends of the spectrum. Open to everyone. Founded 2020. (I am helping Diania recruit speakers and sponsors for the 2021 edition.)

In 2016 and 2017, Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich produced his Forefront event, which was tangentially related to personal finance. I attended the first Forefront in NYC in 2016, and I thought it was great. If it returns (which it probably won’t), it’s worth checking out.

Also, Chris Guillebeau started World Domination Summit in 2011. While WDS is not a personal finance event, it frequently features speakers and workshops related to personal finance. This conference is coming to an end, but past talks can be found online. (I was on the WDS planning team for the first few years, and have both presented from the main stage and held workshops.)

Money Events Targeting Women and People of Color

While general-purpose money conferences are great, there’s a real need to address the concerns of certain specific communities. Maybe these audiences feel excluded at general events. Maybe they have specialized needs or concerns. There’s a growing number of conferences and retreats targeting specific populations.

  • My friend Melanie Lockert runs Lola Retreat, a smaller event intended to help women learn and share how to “go after whatever their heart desires”. I’ve heard good things from previous attendees. (In the past, GRS has sponsored a Lola “scholarship”.) Women only. Targeted at people who want to build better financial futures. Founded 2017.
  • Statement Event is for women in the financial industry: “Our mission is get all the change-makers in one room so we can amplify the conversation around women and money.” Organized by Stefanie O’Connell and Emma Pattee, and filled with an all-start line-up of presenters. Women only. Targeted at financial influencers and service providers. Founded 2018 (I think).
  • Cents Positive is “a retreat for women to talk about money and financial independence”. Billed as a “safe space just for us” so that women can discuss money without feeling unwelcome. Women only. Explicitly not focused on influencers, but on individual financial journeys. Founded 2018.
  • Elevate Influencer bills itself as “the premier event for personal finance professionals and influencers who speak directly to individuals of color”. Started by Sandy Smith of Yes, I Am Cheap. Anyone can attend. Focused on helping content creators to address under-served communities. Founded 2019, although the community has been around much longer.

I’ve talked with several people who have attended these targeted money retreats, and all of the reviews have been positive. People especially seem to like the Lola Retreat and Elevate.

Events Targeting the FIRE Crowd

As most of you know, FIRE (financial independence and early retirement) has been the hot topic in the world of money for the past five years or so. While that heat seems to be subsiding, some of the best personal finance events were created for folks interested in the subject.

  • The annual F.I. Chautauqua is the brain child of the sagacious J.L. Collins. It’s a week-long gathering in a luxury European resort for what Mr. Money Mustache once called “crazy rich-people talk”. This is the premier event for those serious about financial independence and early retirement. It’s targeted at folks who already have high net worths, although that’s not a requirement to attend. Open to everyone. Founded 2013. Moved to Europe in 2017. (I’ve attended J.L.’s chautauqua twice.)
  • There’s a second, splinter Ecuador Chautauqua run by Cheryl Reed of Above the Clouds Retreats. (I’m unclear as to why J.L. and Cheryl parted ways — and I don’t need to know.) This event tends to be less money-focused than its European cousin, delving into wellness and happiness. Targets folks who want to build a richer life, whatever that might mean to them. Open to everyone. Founded 2013. (I’ve attended Cheryl’s chautauqua twice. I think she should rename the event to prevent confusion.)
  • Camp Mustache is a weekend retreat for folks who subscribe to the ideology of Mr. Money Mustache. This is not organized or run by Mr. Money Mustache himself, although he does attend. Very egalitarian event, which I like. Tickets sell out in seconds. Open to everyone. Targeted at folks interested in financial independence. Founded 2014. (I’ve been once. I was going to attend this year, but…well, COVID.)
  • Camp FI started life as Camp Mustache Southeast but has since become its own thing. Unlike any of the other events listed here, there are multiple weekend Camp FI retreats around the country each year. Targeted at anyone curious about financial independence and early retirement. Open to everyone. Founded 2017. (I’ve attended six times.)

I should point out that the Financial Freedom Summit was scheduled to hold its inaugural event in May, but…well, COVID. Its future is unclear at this point. Intended to introduce general audiences to the concepts of financial independence and early retirement. (I had planned to attend.) Founded 2021?

I should also note that I’m aware of at least two other events that are in the top-secret planning stages. At least one of them ought to be big and aimed at a general audience. As I can share more, I’ll add new money conferences and retreats to this list.

Postscript: The amazing Emma Pattee had a direct hand in creating several of these events. (Emma is one of the most remarkable people I know — and she’s very tolerant of the fact that my dog is a jerk to her dog.) She played a direct role in founding Camp Mustache, Camp FI, Lola Retreat, and Statement. Emma tends to stay out of the limelight, but she’s had a profound positive impact on the personal finance community. She deserves a medal.

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