FinCon is like high school: You get out of it what you put into it

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As I bask in the afterglow of the FinCon18 festivities, I’m reflecting on my experience (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Interestingly, FinCon was very reminiscent of high school for me.

I was a grateful scholarship recipient for FinCon18. A big thanks to PT for the opportunity and ESI Money for the selection. I loved meeting and talking with both of you.

Don’t miss the dance party!

Goals at FinCon

I’m a goal-oriented person and typically am highly driven to meet and beat all of my goals. However, I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect so I decided to treat this first year as more of an experiment.

Sure, I set several goals:

  1. Being intentional about meeting people
  2. Tell people about my blog
  3. Figure out what I don’t know

However, the best advice I was given ahead of time was from Guy on Fire. He told me to enjoy the organic conversations and if I was in one, don’t abandon it to attend a session.

It’s About Relationships

I took that advice seriously. Everything in life comes down to relationships. We humans need one another. The whole purpose of my blog is to help other people. By helping others, invariably I’m helped. It’s a beautiful cycle.

I keep pouring out and yet my cup overfloweth.

I shared an Airbnb with three other awesome women. One of whom I knew previously; two who became new friends.

I got to meet people who have poured into my short blogging life. I was able to thank them face-to-face. My advice is to always thank others who have helped you whether directly or indirectly.

Some people who have helped me on my journey

Virtual Becomes Physical

Blogging is a strange new world to me where I bare my soul and people comment. I’ve discovered, that if you’re open, you’ll form some virtual relationships.

As I delve deeper into the blogging world, I discover more and more inspiring blogs.

Military Dollar gave me the awesome advice to get on Twitter early as a blogger. Twitter is like this Utopian society where you promote other’s awesome work, and that goodwill comes back twenty-fold.  #MindBlow on how generous this particular social media outlet works.

So far, I’ve only encountered one troll and I consider that as my right of passage.

Anyway, with the forming of so many relationships virtually, I could not wait to spend some time in person with these awesome folks.

Virtual relationships make the world smaller. In person, relationships make life richer. Don’t get the former without someday entering into the latter.

A throwback to High School

So how did I revert back to some high school like behaviors? Well, I got distracted which is probably the best word I can use to describe my true H.S. experience.

In actual H.S., I was an insecure yet outgoing gal. If you’ve read any of my stuff, you probably know I got sober 8+ years ago. I was a party girl in H.S.; although, for me, it was not just about having fun. I was driven to drink/drug due to a complete lack of self-worth. These outside substances allowed me to feel comfortable in my own skin. The security I got from drinking & drugging, however, was all smoke and mirrors.

With this liquid courage, I became the girl I already was – funny, smart, pretty, and outgoing. In H.S. I made a lot of friends and skated by with my studies because relationships were more important.

Today I still believe relationships are the most important thing in life, but I also know the value of studying. In H.S. the only classes I applied myself in were mathematics (#myfirstlove). However, if I could do H.S. all over again, I’d apply myself in other coursework as well.

FinCon is Like High School

Coming into FinCon, I knew the most valuable thing I could gain would be relationships.  Fortunately, I got that. However, I let myself get pulled in many directions.

It can be a bit overwhelming. At FinCon there are:

  • Workshops
  • Keynote speakers
  • Meet-ups
  • One-on-one mentoring
  • Networking events
  • Companies to meet with
  • Podcast recordings
  • Parties, parties & more parties

The workshops are free and packed full of good content. For anyone who might be considering FinCon next year, I advise downloading the app and reading about each workshop to figure out which ones pique your interest. Then you can star them and set reminders.

I still go back to what Guy on FIRE told me which is to not walk away from a good conversation for the sake of a workshop. Although, you can still be intentional about which ones you’d like to attend.

Everything to Everyone

I found myself flitting around and trying to meet and hang with everyone. This is not possible. This was also my style in high school. When I’m trying to be everything to everyone, I can lose myself and motivation which ultimately leads me off track from my true purpose.

Fortunately, I did not revert to drinking at FinCon or anything like that. But I did lose a little focus. Thanks to some awesome girlfriends who talked me into reigning it back in, I was able to re-group.

Girlfriends & Selfie Sticks

On Thursday afternoon, I went back to the Airbnb and rested poolside for a few hours. I pondered why I came and why I want to blog in the first place. The answer was obvious because I’ve taken the time to write a mission statement.

My purpose is to help other people and to narrow that down further, it’s to help other women overcome adversity whether it be from addiction, debt or a combo of both.

My purpose is tied to the greatest mountain I’ve yet to climb – addiction. I have a unique skill set in that I’ve gained some life experience from living it, hitting a bottom, and asking for help.

Not only did I get sober, but I chose to dig deep to expose the roots of why. This has proven to be the best use of my time yet. I’ve gained a true sense of self-awareness which allows me to be real, go deep, and live my best life. Now I get to help others do the same.

Sometimes I still feel insecure. When you’ve played tapes in your head for years (especially in the formative years) like I’m unlovable, unworthy and stupid, they have a way of creeping back up from time-to-time.

Imposter Syndrome

Those tapes surfaced at FinCon for me and I started to doubt everything I’m doing. I found myself thinking, who the heck do I think I am calling myself Ms. Fiology? What am I doing here with all of these financially savvy people? Am I doing enough?

I started thinking about re-branding for all the wrong reasons. Considerations of quitting surfaced. Furthermore, I doubted my worth and wanted to run away.

Fortunately, I’ve learned how to re-frame situations and as a result, I switched to asking myself more constructive questions. For example, what is my motivation? Who is my target audience? Who am I best suited to help? As a result of pondering these questions, I’m giving myself permission to zone in on a niche. The niche that is probably helped most by my message and experiences are:

  1. Women in recovery
  2. Women wanting to gain control of their finances
  3. Anyone who needs the inspiration to know it’s not too late

Anyone can read & support my blog (please do!) but I’ll be writing to the above audience.


I did attend several valuable workshops and have some technical things to work on as a result of FinCon. I’ve discovered some fairly easy ways to improve the SEO of my work:

  • Adding conical links where appropriate
  • Making sure keywords are in my titles, main heading, and first and last paragraphs
  • Adding a meta description for each previously written post
  • Limiting my categories to no more than 10
  • Adding tags for more granular descriptors

Moreover, I’m thinking about how I can make it easy for the varying levels represented in my readers. While I love learning and writing about investing and working towards financial independence, I also want to be a place for entry level folks. Heck, most people in recovery have money problems and need some guidance on getting started. I did.

I won’t go into all of these things here in this post but as I work on them, I’ll be sharing a future post on step-by-step instructional advice as I navigate the waters.

Closing Thoughts

FinCon is just yet another experience which has shaped me into being a better person. We are either growing or dying and I choose growth! I have some valuable takeaways from this week and overall it was an amazing experience.

Take ‘em or leave ‘em but here are my takeaways:

  • Listen to people and learn their stories
  • Foster relationships
  • Know how to give your testimony in 90 seconds or less
  • Be a sponge and learn
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Have fun and dance (BTW, the closing dance was the best time evah!)
  • Think about your goals ahead of time and strategize on how you’ll meet them
  • Let organic conversations happen
  • Take the Monday after FinCon off 😉

And last but not least, my biggest takeaway is…be true to oneself!



27 thoughts on “FinCon is like high school: You get out of it what you put into it”

  1. Deanna I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences at FinCon. Since I did not get to go this year I was very interested in getting the perspective of others who did and your post really helped me a lot.

  2. I was bit concerned at first, “Like high school? Do I want to even go next year, now?” Great summary and information. Sounds like a great time was had by all!!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience of FinCon, as I’m sure it can be overwhelming for the first time. I will be attending FinCon 2019, and am looking forward to it. I would love from a woman’s perspective any tips. I’m very happy to see you met some great women that helped you stay balanced and you stayed on track with your sobriety. As we both know God is good, and does provide. Cathy

    1. Amen, Cathy. Yay on you attending 2019! I just bought my ticket last night. I am hoping to spend some quality time with you and Fred in DC. God always comes out on top.

  4. Being my first FinCon as well, I feel we share a lot of feelings and similar goals from the awesome experience. The advice you got from GuyOnFire was similar to what I read ahead of time at RouteToRetire and that was to get the Virtual Pass so you can see the sessions later and concentrate on the people. As a result, I sure enjoyed a longer and rich conversation meeting you in person.

    It is hard to describe the bond formed between so many of us. I think it is because the work we are doing is a gift that we are giving to others as best as we can with what experiences we bring from our life stories. I can see that is definitely what you are doing, which is really great. Thanks for a great recap.

    1. Beautiful comment, Susan. Thank you. Route to Retire is a pretty wise man. I glean from him too.

      The rich conversations, like the one I had with you, are the gems I take with me and are the seeds to new relationships. Way to mix metaphors, huh? Lol.

      I love what you wrote about our work being a gift to others. Again thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  5. You were easily one of my favorite new people I met! Glad to hear you got so much from the experience. Your story is awesome and I’m already sharing with my friends.

    Thanks for having a real conversation with me and being so open with you experiences.

    1. Wow, Rocky! That is the kindest thing anyone has said to me. *blush*

      It was great to meet and have an in-depth conversation with you. That is my favorite thing to do – go deep. I’ll be on the lookout for what you’ll be doing.


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  7. I really enjoyed reading your recap and I appreciate you sharing your struggles with raw honesty. It’s a shame I couldn’t spend more chatting with you beyond a simple “hi”. Your story is fascinating and I wish I could have gotten to know you even more. Hopefully we’ll get a chance next year in DC 🙂

    1. Thank you, Doc. Invariably when I’m honest someone seems to be helped, so I just keep doing it.

      I just bought my ticket to FinCon19 so yes, we’ll have to talk more!

  8. Glad you got so much out of the conference. I definitely have missed workshops sometimes because I was in the middle of a good conversation.

    I think most of the people there have at least a bit of Impostor Syndrome, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Next year you’ll see people from this year and feel at ease.

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  10. Nice write-up, Ms. Fiology! I should have taken Monday off: I barely made it through the day. Thanks for encouraging me to step on the dance floor: I had a lot of fun!

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