FinCon 18- My Best Yet!

This past week, I went and hung out with a bunch of money nerds. Two thousand of them, to be exact.

FinCon, created by Phillip Taylor, is a conference that started as a way for the personal finance media (mainly bloggers and independent outlets) to get together and converse. It’s hard being a money nerd online, imagine how much harder it is in person! The conference has substantially grown over the years and is now the place where media and finance meet. Not only are big names now keynotes (Chris Hogan & Rachel Cruze this year alone) but major financial players are now sponsors and exhibitors in the expo hall. To quote one of my fellow personal finance nerds Eric Rosenberg, “It’s kind of a big deal.”

Now, a lot of people argue whether they should, or shouldn’t, go to FinCon. I’ve gone every year since 2012, only missing the very first one. It wasn’t financially feasible for me to do so but I go, if only for a few days. I’ve gone when I wasn’t that serious about blogging and I’ve gone when I’ve felt really motivated, like this year. I’m going to happily share my recap along with points why I think you should go, even if it’s only a hobby for you at this time.

The Relationships

Seeing how it’s my 7th FinCon, it would be obvious that I know some people at this conference. But, some of these people I’ve met at this conference are now some of my good friends.  I even met my BF at FinCon.

I hate the saying you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. However, I do agree with the saying that birds of a feather flock together and like attracts like. Some of my friends from this conference aren’t only my colleagues and partners on certain projects but they are successful on their own terms. I learn from them and I’m inspired by them daily. They are good people who I hang out with outside of the conference. That’s amazing.

It’s important to have people understand you in all stages and areas of your life. The really important part of that is to recognize they won’t always be the same people. Just like some of my friends can’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher, some aren’t going to be able to understand how excited I get over learning SEO. Some aren’t going to understand why after my day job I go home and run my business for an additional three hours. And that’s okay. Because I have a support group of others who will pick up where someone else leaves off.

The Professional Opportunity

I go back and forth on what I want to do professionally, like so many others in their thirties. I love that I got my degree in criminal justice and criminology. I love my career in the non-profit sector. But like so many others in my age bracket, I have champagne tastes on a beer budget. And I wish my career alone covered everything I want to do during my time here on Earth. I also suffer from several autoimmune disorders so let me tell you, it’s expensive being sick.

So, I’m happy FinCon allows me the chance to combine my passion for helping others with a passion I learn about daily, personal finance. I’ve found like-minded people to collaborate with. I’ve found brands to work with who actually want to help the consumer and not take advantage of them. And I’ve also found clients who help me achieve the goals I’ve set for myself and help cover some of my living expenses when I’ve needed it.

One of the greatest things about FinCon is knowing that I have the possibility to make a living online if the day comes where I can’t physically go into the office every day. And that’s freeing.

The Growth

When I attended my first FinCon, my intention was to just meet my online friends in real life.  And sure, sometimes I’m more focused than others but the majority of my time has been sightseeing and catching up with friends. This past FinCon, it was about making money. What changed?

I can’t save what I don’t earn. 

And quite frankly, I’m tired of being broke. According to the National Partnership For Women and Families, Latinas make 54 cents for every dollar a White Non-Hispanic male makes. This isn’t okay, on so many levels that as a Money Smart Latina I don’t even have to get into. But my real takeaway, and what I want you to remember, is this:

“You can’t save what you don’t earn.”

It’s mathematically impossible and one of my biggest gripes that I can’t even get into right now but definitely will soon enough. But no matter how many times I pack a lunch, I can’t save it if I’m not earning it. And I took advantage of earning it this year, at FinCon. I met with as many brands as I possibly could. If someone offered to make a connection or introduction, I took them up on it. I talked to almost every table at the expo this year and walked away with a few client offers.

I set the intention to have a positive attitude and make money. And sometimes it is right, your attitude will determine your direction. It certainly did for me in this case. Now I have a new perspective on what I hope to accomplish for myself, for my brand and how I want to serve you, the readers.  And I have FinCon to thank for that.

The Community

I already raved about the relationships I’ve been blessed with because of FinCon. But right now, I’m going to take the opportunity to rave about something else directly related to this- the community.

The majority of people in the personal finance community are so giving. I say the majority because you know, not everyone is perfect and it’s not everyone’s passion or job. And quite frankly, that’s okay. It’s not everyone’s job to serve or help you. But in my personal experience, I find that the more giving and helpful I am, the more my cup seems to be filled. And I love that I can connect with so many others at this level at this conference.

Along with a community service project sponsored by NEFE, there is also philanthropy at every corner. This year, I had the opportunity to meet with the Center For The New Middle Class. What amazed me more was when I stopped by their booth to play trivia. Not only was an Amazon GC up for grabs but so was the chance to pick out someone’s loan to be paid in full on their behalf. I’m highly competitive (just ask my FinX team!), so I was happily surprised and proud when I won. But, I invited all of the other bloggers playing trivia to help me pick out who’s loan to forgive. It was a meaningful experience for me and aligned perfectly with my mission to help others.

Another way the community is supportive is through the Plutus Awards and the Plutus Foundation, both founded by Harlan Landes. With full disclosure, I do help with the Plutus Awards and I’m close to several members on the team. But in all honesty, I love when the community can come together and acknowledge people who work hard on their websites, brands and serving others. My heart was especially full when my friend Crystal over at Sophisticated Spender was given the Plutus Foundation Service Award. She owns a boutique called Sip and Sew Old Town and took it upon herself to make over 100 cloth bags full of supplies for victims of Hurricane Harvey and Maria. Talk about someone with a big heart!

And I can’t end this part of the community without talking about another project which is quickly becoming near and dear to my hear, the Elevate Financial Influencer Conference. I met the founder, Sandy Smith, years ago at FinCon and she’s not only become a mentor but also a friend. We were able to meet with more members of our mastermind and break bread while discussing what we want the next year to look like leading up to our conference and how we can strategize to best help the communities we serve. Definitely stay tuned for this Latinas!

To Experience Something New

The last reason I would highly suggest coming to Fincon is to experience something new. Attending this conference has helped me in more ways than one and all of it comes from trying something new!

Before FinCon, I had only been to two conferences for my career and had never attended a networking event. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when introducing myself and was winging it for the most part. I have a hard time with change sometimes so when I find myself comfortable, I tend to stay. My level of comfort stunted me professionally but I had no idea because when something is all you ever know, it’s all you ever know.

By going to this conference, I was taken out of my professional bubble and given new opportunities that have advanced me professionally. I learned how to properly network with others and utilize it to my advantage. People actually refer to me as knowing everyone or “will know someone who…” and it amazes me that I’ve grown so much. I’ve mastered my pitch and while I love storytelling, I can get to the point if needed. I’m a better writer which has helped me academically and professionally. And I’ve traveled all over the U.S, all thanks to FinCon!

In Closing

This has definitely been my most successful FinCon to date! I had a blast, took time to relax when I needed it and networked my butt off. I hung out with friends old and new, and I also spent time with my BF for a few days afterward in a nearby city. This was definitely needed seeing how I had to hit the ground running when my plane touched down in Phoenix.

I definitely have a lot more to share about a few of my experiences this year, which warrant their own individual posts. I’m also going to be pivoting my direction with my website and what resources and information I start providing here. Sure, I want people to save pennies but again, we can’t save what we don’t earn.  So, Mondays will be related to money (earning, investing, manifestos, some frugal living since I don’t like spending money I don’t have to) and then Thursdays will be related to life aka thriving (relationships, travel, life hacks, etc.). I feel good about this direction and about partnerships and products I’ll be sharing here.

Did you go to FinCon? If so, how was it for you? And if not, what’s stopping you?

 

#FinCon16

I know I’m totally late on writing about the awesomeness of FinCon but I usually run late in life. So, this just keeps everything in line, right? 😉

For those who may not know what FinCon is, it is the premier personal finance blogging conference. Since there is so much digital media, blogging has become a new way for writers to reach an even more vast audience. I love blogging because I find it can reach a wider audience than traditional media and many media outlets have taken notice of this. Companies such as Business Insider and USA Today have now established blogs on their sites they outsource to writers who started their writing careers by starting blogs such as this one.

While FinCon technically started on Wednesday ( even earlier if you participated in DigiCoLab or the XY Planning Network), I flew in late Thursday and met my BF and friend at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina located directly on Harbor Island. Along with beautiful views, it was amazing to wake up next to the water everyday and hang out while catching up with friends I only get to routinely see once a year. ( side note: I met BF at this conference years ago so we work along side each other at one of the premier events!)

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BF and I at the closing party!

 

Thursday night was spent catching up at the Trade King Kick Off Party held at the Coasterra restaurant about a mile from our hotel. Friday was a bit busier as I had meetings in the morning but I left the hotel to enjoy a nice gluten free lunch with my blogging bestie Jana from Jana Says. BF tagged along but then we sent him on his way back so we could have a girls day of fun before a podcast dinner. Speaking of podcasts, we may have a secret one in the works and I’ll have to keep you informed as things are planned.

Jana and Athena's Day Of Fun!

Jana and Athena’s Day Of Fun!

Saturday was quite busy, as it was the last day of FinCon, but I crammed in as much as possible. I was on a guest on a podcast again this year, attended a session on traditional vs. self publishing, attended the Plutus Awards run though, hosted the Plutus Awards happy hour and live tweeted the Plutus Awards before the FinCon after party. The Plutus Awards is an exclusive awards ceremony where winners are chosen by their peers, all in personal finance. This is my fourth year helping with the Plutus Awards, which I actually do year round.

The Plutus Awards!

The Plutus Awards!

I have to say, this was probably my best FinCon yet and so far, I’ve been to all but one of them, with it being in it’s sixth year. While New Orleans was my favorite location, San Diego is definitely a close runner up. I’ll have more tips this week for attending a conference but I did want to say a few of my takeaways here:

Focus on relationship building. 

You never know who you are going to meet in your life, especially at conferences. I know plenty of people who have attended this conference along with others and now work full time for people they met while there. Along with working for others, some have met their partners ( I’m not the only FinCon couple!). So put down the phones and make some in real life connections while you can.

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BF and I hunting for dolphins!

What can you provide for others? It’s not the other way around.  

A lot of people like to say you are the average of the five people who spend the most time with and like to use this as a way to say you need more established friends. I don’t know if this is true but I do know the more friends I make in my life, the more inspired I am to be a better version of myself. But, asking what other people can provide you, such as a network or earning potential, is not a great way to make a new friend. I suggest working on yourself and being the example of a person who want to actually be around.

Be you. In a big sea, you are the only starfish! 

Sometimes blogging seems hard. We are all competing for the same clients writing about the same thing. *yawn* I totally get it but don’t let this deter you. You and I are both different people with different audiences speaking differently and using different examples with a common goal of educated others. There is only one you and you can shine no matter what if you just put your heart into it!

Don’t be afraid to try new things!

Honestly, I am probably the most scattered blogger on Earth. I come up with great ideas and then promptly forget them. I don’t spend time on what I need to and then feel bad afterwards. But, I realized a lot of it has to do with the fact I get bored and need to shake up my blogging routine, along with mediums I experiment with. Who says I just have to write? Along with starting a podcast, I’m also going to be looking into video and writing a course. Maybe writing isn’t your speed but talking is. Try new mediums and see what you enjoy! The world needs you!

Did you go to FinCon and have a blast like I did?