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**Content warning, this post will probably contain the most profane language of any other of my posts.** **Updated 12/23/21 added links to speeches that are available at this time.**
How It Started
I started the morning at 5:45. Started the coffee pot and double-checked my checklist. I decided to pack my weekend bag to practice 1 bag travel. Also, there was a slight chance I may meet up with someone who would split their hotel room with me. Spoiler alert, the effort paid off.
The morning started off with registration and getting my name tag. I instantly recognized the superfan, Josh Overmyer, helping me with registration. Of course, he didn’t recognize me with my mask and winter hat on, and understandably so. Josh has also met hundreds, probably even thousands, and my adrenaline was high so my feelings weren’t hurt at all.
The first person I recognized was cfiresim. Of course, she would be the first one, as she was one of the handful of people who were the reason I attended. I wouldn’t have been here if not for her. Also, she was able to keep me in check from being so starstruck the whole time.
Breakout Session 1: Self Employment & Entrepreneurship
I’m not going to detail the sessions and the speeches too much, because the lessons and the learning really came from socializing. Which if you know even the slightest about me is difficult as hell. Team introvert here. I did most of my talking when I started drinking, but we will get to that.
So here I am. Just a little after 9 am. I go and check out the first breakout session because I’m interested in remote work and monetizing the blog eventually. Also, my partner is an entrepreneur at heart so the session would really benefit us both.
Holy shit. I’m in a room of about 50 people. The session leader is THE Paula Pant. Yes, Afford Anything Paula Pant. I’m in the same room as one of the MOST PRESTIGIOUS bloggers/podcasters in the FI space.
So right before the session ended, I told myself, go introduce yourself to Paula. You might not get another chance. Of course, I was nervous as hell. But long story short, (and shaken nervous self aside) I got to meet Paula Pant AND Doc G at the same time. As I finished introducing myself, I see Cody from the FI show and he gave a wave and said “Hi Chad.” In 5 minutes, I got to see in person some of the most influential bloggers in my FI journey.
Introduction to Econome
Diania Merriam started the upcoming speakers off by sharing a bit of her story and the concept of the FI is better with friends quoted in the title. She showed pictures of her meeting FI friends and being able to enjoy activities on random weekdays rather than living for the weekends.
Weekend Game Changers: Bitches Get Riches
And here friends is where shit gets real. The Bitches and I had a small rapport previously built through Twitter. At this point in the conference, is where I was the most excited. I knew their speech was going to speak to me. I didn’t realize HOW QUICKLY this would happen.
The first key takeaway that spoke to me was “Fucking up is a natural consequence of trying.” As I said earlier I was nervous as hell meeting Paula and Doc G, and I’m sure I fucked up stumbling over words and sweating bullets, but I tried. And I’d do it again.
*Temporary pause as the Bitches will make multiple appearances later, spoiler alert (hence the Gamechangers title)*
Debt Crusher and Complete Badass: Naseema McElroy
If you don’t know Naseema’s story, she paid off over a million dollars in debt. A MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS. She paid off more money than I might see in my entire lifetime. But she also worked her ass off AND helped so many people along the way. She looks out for nurses and takes care of them.
*Temporary pause 2 as another spoiler alert I actually got to sit down with Naseema at dinner. *
Generosity Breeds Wealth: Jeremy Schneider
Diania introduced Jeremy as the next speaker and gave a brief introduction to his story. I thought that I probably wouldn’t relate to anything he had to say (and pre-judged him going into Econome as well). I was so damn wrong (sorry Jeremy if you read this!)
Quick overview, Jeremy built a few small businesses where he had some tough choices to make. Jeremy recalls having anxiety and chest tightening with the extreme outcomes of some of these decisions. So damn relatable. But he also talked about the most likely outcome being somewhere in the middle. Long story short, Jeremy became extremely successful because of his generosity to others and for making the world a better place. I am still working on improving my writing quality so if it sounds cheesy as fuck, go watch his speech when it’s available.
*Even shorter temporary pause as Jeremy makes an appearance at lunch which was right after his speech*
Lunch at Chipotle: Even Rich People Eat
Of course, being in a “frugal cult” I shouldn’t expect that insanely high net worth people eat at Chipotle. But it’s still surprising to me. My partner, being the lovely smartass she is, messaged me, “Rich people have to eat too.” The women in my life always love to smack me in the back of the head with a dose of reality and I thank them for it (yet another spoiler alert). I just like to spoil things, don’t I?
After Lunch: The Bitches In The Wild
For anyone reading this that doesn’t know (friends not in the Financial Independence space), Bitches Get Riches is their moniker and term of endearment. *sidebar* My mother has slapped me across the mouth for calling her a bitch and I will never forget it. Was the last time I called her that too. End sidebar.
As I was walking back from lunch amongst the rich and internet famous, I got stopped by Josh Overmyer to introduce myself to The Bitches. (Thank God Josh caught me off guard and introduced me to them as my anxiety would’ve been immeasurable at that point). Then thankfully after Josh brought me back to reality he pointed out that We Want Guac was also sitting with The Bitches and I missed introducing her to myself. (Another fucking spoiler, you tired of them yet? I and We Want Guac became weekend Besties ;))
Do you know what it’s like to have someone (or someone’s? plural?) you look up to and want to emulate tell you they love you? It’s fucking humbling. (Which I’m sure they understand as again spoiler alert I actually got to spend HOURS talking with The Bitches, insert all the feelings here).
Breakout Session 2: Minimalism & Simplicity
I was late to this breakout session trying to find the damn room. Probably still nervous from meeting The Bitches. Thank fuck because I needed to recharge and probably couldn’t handle meeting any more influential bloggers at the moment. It was nice to just get back to minimalism and get rid of shit. Because, once again spoiler alert, session 3 was going to take A LOT of fucking energy.
Breakout Session 3: Slow FI Superstars
Holy shit part 2? 3? 4? I don’t know. The whole damn day was so exciting for me. Walked into the Slow FI session (#teamSlowFI) and instantly recognized Fiery Millennial (even with her growing her hair out). I offered some of my gluten-free cookies as an introduction but was rejected. Later I find out why and it makes total sense, but I can’t say my ego wasn’t slightly crushed until then.
The next fun surprise came when I was still in awe and taking in the scenery of people around me and I glanced over at the person’s phone next to me (bad habit) and saw who I was sitting beside. Military Dollar if you’re reading this sorry!! Just still in shock of being surrounded by awesome people and my manners were out the window.
The Weekend Climax
Towards the end of the session, I hear someone answering a question from across the room. I instantly have two thoughts. 1. I don’t know any other geologists in the FI space. 2. I know that fucking voice. That’s Slowly Sipping Coffee!! Holy shit (there’s another).
So again I went up to Josh Overmyer (because he is so recognizable and since we met before Econome I’m not as anxious around him) and I said, “YOU HAVE TO INTRODUCE ME TO SLOWLY SIPPING COFFEE.” Well lo and behold my dumbass was talking to Josh WHEN HE WAS TALKING TO SLOWLY SIPPING COFFEE. “Chad, this is Jay from Slowly Sipping Coffee.”
*jaw drop* He was standing on my left as Josh was on my right. Can you see the emotion I’m conveying when I type this? I can feel the anxiety (butterflies?) as I rush to type this all out and the memories it brings ups.
Come For The Speeches, Stay For The Socializing
I don’t think I mentioned it earlier, but he was one of the most memorable people on the ChooseFI podcast to me. He was the one who first made me feel like I could work towards FI on my income. The idea of the Fully Funded Lifestyle Change was what pushed me towards FI. At the time I didn’t hate my job, I just hated the income I had. I wanted to save up to do all the cool shit all the FI bloggers and podcasters were doing. I wanted to be part of the team.
Also in between going back to the mainstage and post-breakout session I mentioned that I had my overnight bag in case a hotel had an open room to SSC (SSC is so much easier to type than Slowly Sipping Coffee). He offered to let me stay in the extra bed he had.
Shoutout to my friend Michelle from Michelle Is Money Hungry. If she ever gives you advice, FUCKING TAKE IT. Not only will it pay you back tenfold, but she is also an expert. And I don’t throw that term around lightly.
Also, my wonderful friend, cfiresim, had to keep me humble after I told her that I was staying with SSC. This is an actual exchange from our Twitter DM’s:
“Let me stay with him” lol
“Don’t be too starstruck, Chad. We’re all just hanging out!
Remember the women in my life smacking me back to reality? Yup, there it is again. But yes, eventually it would go from meeting top-notch financial bloggers to friends hanging out. (Yet another spoiler alert)
Back to the Main Stage: More Powerful Speakers
Paula’s Afford Anything Speech
I don’t want to glance over anything during everyone’s speeches (because they are fucking awesome) but the speeches will be available in the future and the purpose of the post isn’t to rehash the speeches but to document the awesome fucking people I met over the weekend. I’m pretty familiar with Paula’s story and the Anti-budget so it was more of taking in Paula’s story after getting to meet her and see her speak live.
Mr. 1500 And The Funniest Speech Competition
Again, one of the must-watch when available speeches. But I will give one spoiler as it’s relevant to this post.
I knew Mr. 1500 and his blog posts/tweets were funny. I stand correct. He is FUCKING HILARIOUS. The Bitches are fucking hilarious. Who is more hilarious? I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole.
Spoil me Chad? You shouldn’t have. Yes, this tweet will make a future appearance. As well as Mr. 1500, and yet again The Bitches.
Healthcare is bullshit and something I’m passionate about because it is so close to me. It’s a burden on the FI community and stops many from living an even more extraordinary life. Diania described Angel as feisty and absolutely correct. Angel is feisty and an advocate against a broken system. Another must-watch speech. Angel was one of the few I saw around but didn’t introduce myself or talk to. She made an appearance at the after-party, and like the other speakers, is a hell of a dancer. If I am ever on the stage, along with learning public speaking I am going to have to learn how to dance. Hahaha
Diania has a natural talent for finding next-level speakers who encompass the word “badass.” My biggest takeaway from Rich was to build yourself into a badass. His speech hit hard, and the FI community will probably start using the term “Invest In Your Life Portfolio” and I’m all for it. He also said, “Give Yourself Permission.” I wouldn’t have had the extraordinary time I did over the weekend had I not listened to this great advice from Rich. Again, watch his speech.
The Panel Discussion
If the panel discussion is available later on as well, watch it. (Update: It’s broken up into several pieces). There was so much value from the panel. I wish I could’ve heard more from Kiersten from Rich & Regular. I wish I had words to describe how she talks. Intelligent and next-level doesn’t describe it the way I would like. She knows her shit. My the best advice I can give if you are fortunate enough to hear her talk. Listen.
Another panelist (and another spoiler as she makes another appearance in this post) was Naseema again. She has a term for helping people she calls “Bubble Up.” Bubble Up your friends, or elevate them, help them rise to your level. It’s powerful. Little did I know, Naseema would be helping me Bubble Up, right after that panel discussion.
Let’s Eat: Dinner With Rich People Again
After the speakers, SSC and I went to dinner. It was on the way to dinner I got to talk with Fiery Millennial a bit and mentioned I noticed her even with her hair grown out. However, I was quickly corrected to “growing out.”
Astounded as I was, I forgot who else was on the walk with us. I remember Military Dollar borrowing the scooter and taking off. I also remember Stephen, founder of Camp FI, holding the door open and briefly chatting. All 4 of them also make an appearance later. (Damn, I hung out with a lot of bloggers/creators for a long ass time during the weekend).
Aside, from shooting the shit with SSC, I was focused on pizza. I don’t normally eat pizza and I was so ecstatic that I could get a cauliflower crust pizza. It’s the little things right.
Of course, my insecurities came out during dinner because I was sitting beside SSC. And then Naseema joined us. And my smart mouth made comments to hide my insecurities around sitting with fucking superstars.
Naseema definitely humbled me and helped me “bubble up.” I joked about feeling like the dumbest person in the room. Paraphrasing she said something to the extent of “that means you’re doing something right.” I also joked with her about her paying off her debt and being where she is now, I could’ve reached FI 3 times over on that amount. California vs. Ohio am I right?
But it was all in good fun. Naseema is passionate, caring, but most of all she is fun as hell. This is the turning point where I felt more of hanging out with awesome people rather than an imposter among celebrities. Insecurities starting to fade away a tiny bit.
After Dinner and After Party: Filter Comes Off and Fun Begins
Pre Game: Hopscotch (the bar) & Guac (the weekend bestie)
After my humbling experience with Naseema, back to hang out with SSC, cfiresim, and We Want Guac. (Out of the 4 of us, I’m the only one without a cool moniker, maybe that’s why I’m poor? hahaha). So we had a quick beer. I’ve had quite a bit of time to be acquainted with SSC and Cfiresim, so this is the turning point where I and We Want Guac started to become besties.
We talk about following each other on Twitter and our banter, and our basic backgrounds and such, and continue talking on the way to the after-party. Like almost every conversation I have at the beginning of the weekend, I need to be more confident in myself and my income-generating skills.
After Party: Lose The Filter
We go to the after-party and of course, my drinks are paid for even though:
- I hate accepting gifts from people
- I’ve learned not to turn down things from people or you miss out. My rule is to ask, “Are you sure?” Once confirmed, then I reluctantly say yes
- I don’t really drink often, especially around people when my filter comes down. I could too talkative, but the other problem with losing my filters is the likelihood of saying dumb shit, and then with saying dumb shit comes the self-awareness of knowing I said dumb shit after the fact
As I’m three drinks in and clearly at the point of “I should shut the fuck up mode” after some deep and emotional conversation with SSC and some commonalities we share, (shitty, negative ones, unfortunately, but some happy ones too) we decide it’s a good idea to go out in the hall away from the music.
BIG FUCKING MISTAKE (in a good way).
Mr. 1500 (who has clearly been drinking as I believe his introvert filter was probably down and knowing he enjoys different beers) INSTANTLY FUCKING RECOGNIZES ME. Holy shit. Of course, I know his “numbers” and that’s fucking staggering already.
But Mr. 1500 looks at me the first time I meet him and KNOWS WHO I AM. (At this point in the writing I’m trying to keep the non-quoting/paraphrasing profanity to a minimum, but this is probably going to be as profane as an article from The Bitches and I’m ok with it)
“CHAD!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOUR TWEET.” The earlier tweet about the speech competition. I INSTANTLY knew his voice before I even saw him. Filter off, I straight bear hug him and start tearing up with joy. Had I not been between drunk and shit-faced I probably would’ve frozen in my tracks and just been a hermit.
Remember when I said I packed an overnight bag just in case? Had I not and mentioned needing a hotel, I MAY NEVER HAVE MET Mr. 1500 OR ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS AFTER THIS POINT IN MY WEEKEND.
At this point the after-party is slowly ending, I recall sitting in a chair starting to type this article. (I got to Breakout session 1 if you’re curious. So yes part of this article was written while intoxicated). The Bitches, SSC, Josh, and Rich were standing around chatting. I put my tablet away and recall talking with The Bitches a little bit, but at this point I know I was drinking too much and just kind of retreated into shut-up status. Listen and be attentive. I don’t actively recall much from the conversation. Could be the alcohol.
After After Party: Hilarity and the Coffee Conundrum
Meeting More Superstars
SSC and I are walking back to the hotel because some of the superstars were playing board games and having a few beers. So SSC and I stumbled back to the hotel. I jokingly say stumble but it was more of we were lost but enjoying checking out the campus. Again, chatting away like we knew each other for years.
I walked into the lobby with SSC and instantly saw some of my favorite FI personalities. I saw Joe Saul-Sehy and J.D. Roth earlier at the conference, but I really got to see (and kind of know) them at the hotel lobby hangout. Military Dollar and Fiery Millennial were also hanging out when I got there.
I was very humbled that Joe knew a bit about me and was familiar with me. J.D. on the other hand thought I looked familiar but wasn’t aware of my Twitter shenanigans. But I did recap my story with J.D. and he was interested and made me feel like I was reaffirmed in the choice of my niche.
I also got to talk to Stephen from CampFI a bit more and we took a picture to tease his brother, David from Fiology. My next humble goal is to make out to CampFI one day, perhaps as an attendee or perhaps as a speaker. Either way one weekend with these amazing people is just not enough time. I need my FI time back!!!
The Coffee Conundrum
I don’t normally drink plain coffee. I drink functional coffee with mushrooms meant to improve focus. Add alcohol on top of that and my body was thrown off by what the hell I was doing to it.
Keep in mind that I had already had my functional coffee at 6 am, the second cup at 9 am, and the third cup at 1 am. One in the fucking morning. After staying up 3 hours past my usual bedtime laughing my ass off. *side note* Joe is funny on the Stacking Benjamins podcast. Joe is fucking hilarious around everyone else when he doesn’t filter and have to keep it PG-13. I definitely felt at home with my fucked up sense of humor around everyone.
I eventually had a caffeine overload and was up until 4 am along with SSC. I tried to go to sleep around 3 am but was having too much fun with my usual Twitter shenanigans and throwing in caffeine, adrenaline, and alcohol, the party just didn’t stop.
Jungle Jim’s The Huge Ass Grocery Store
Tossing and turning all night and getting up at 9 am or so, We Want Guac and I made plans to go check out Jungle Jims.
We kept chatting some more and learning about each other’s backgrounds on the half-hour drive to the store.
Two money nerds getting excited over groceries. Isn’t that the quintessential FI life? Seriously, there was some cool shit at Jungle Jim’s and we ended up trying some interesting items. I got a couple of rum cakes. We both got some kangaroo and ostrich jerky. We Want Guac let me try some mushroom jerky as well and ended up giving me the bag. She also got some marzipan and let me try it as well as some other candies and almond cream soda.
We met up with SSC and another conference-goer for some Lebanese cuisine. I had the Beef and Lamb Shawarma and for dessert had my Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake from Jungle Jim’s. Both were absolutely delicious. After more goofing off and conversing we decided to try our hand and meet up with everyone at Fowling. Since We Want Guac and I went to Jungle Jim’s in my car we all just piled in and headed to the alley.
WTF is Fowling?
Apparently, it’s an indoor warehouse set up with a beer pong or cornhole style board with bowling pins set up on it. But instead of bowling balls/ping pong balls/bean bags, the choice for throwing is apparently a football.
According to SSC, it’s a lot harder than it looks. I skipped out on the fowling and was too encompassed in the conversation. I got to sit at the table of “Badass Women Changing the World.” Along with We Want Guac, cfiresim, The Bitches, Fiery Millennial, and a few others coming and going, I think this was the highlight of my weekend. This is where the camaraderie came to be and I was my most vulnerable self.
With Great Fowling Comes Great Responsibility (Or Some Shit)
If it wasn’t for these women, I may not have attended the conference. I may not have developed the friendships I did. May not have gotten to meet some amazing people I get to look up to. I may not have had the chance to become what I’m going to be. It’s impossible to believe not only the generosity of these women with their time, talent, and money, but how fucking amazing they are as people. I cannot compliment them enough.
Kitty (from The Bitches) and I had some amazingly deep conversation, along with cfiresim jumping in at times. The ups and downs we shared with each other, along with the advice I received was so fucking humbling. The impact that Kitty has made on other people’s lives as well has been made on hers just made me feel so in the moment. She made me believe in myself and what I was doing, at that moment, so much that I was in tears more often than not.
It wouldn’t be a fun time without laughter though. Of course, Kitty said (and did, insert finger the hole, beer spilling joke) things that made my ribs hurt from laughing. Just the way these women talk and treat people is next level. They aren’t just celebrities. They are humanitarians. Heroes. Luckily in our talk with Kitty, she sees the same heroicness inside of me. I aspire to be at that level someday.
All Good Things Come To End, Until Next Time
To end out the day I got to meet one more of my online friends. Tap Dancing to FI joined us at the Badass table and hung out with We Want Guac and me for a while. I wish I had a photographic memory for all the great quotes that stick in my mind that I didn’t write down, but unfortunately, I have to paraphrase. I think he said something along the lines of “Chad is about to do (or is doing) great things.” Hit me right in the feels. It was a great way to close out the day.
Of course, we couldn’t stay forever. Kitty and We Want Guac had to catch their flight and I had to help We Want Guac to grab her stuff from my car. It was the best time to call it a day as most everyone was heading out and I had the two-hour drive home. And then it happened. As we were hugging it out I was caught off guard. KITTY PICKED ME UP OFF THE GROUND IN A FUCKING BEAR HUG. I looked up and saw the entire warehouse of probably 40 people looking up at me while I’m IN THE FUCKING AIR. Damn superhero strength. Of course, I tried to return the favor and I’m clearly out of shape. Oh but the fucking fun of it all.
Diania, if you read this, thanks for working your ass off for putting on an event that just changed my entire fucking life for the better. I appreciate it so much. And thank you to the anonymous people who subsidized my expenses so that I could see what it was like to have fun without worrying about money.
With the utmost respect and no sarcasm whatsoever,
Check out other posts in this series: An Extraordinary Life On An Ordinary Income