Why We Need Community – a Tribute to CampFI Southeast

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I was blessed to be able to attend CampFI Southeast week 2 and do a human pyramid for my birthday! When the decision was made last minute, I still had to see if the pieces would fit together. Amazingly I’ve already got all of my PTO scheduled for 2019 with a ski trip in February, CampFI Mid-Atlantic in May, my little brother’s destination wedding in June, and FinCon in September. Woah – it’s gonna be a good year! Anyway, I was able to squeeze in this weekend getaway and enjoy some community.

Why We Need Community?

I don’t care if you are an introvert or an extrovert, we all need one another. Life is so much better when lived in a community with people of a common goal, faith, and/or mission.  While the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) is spreading, we are still a relatively small community. As a blogger with a full-time day job, I can sometimes feel like I’m in my own little silo. I give & get a lot of love with the personal finance community on Twitter...BUT, it doesn’t compare with face-to-face time.

If you are on the margin and are not quite sure if you should take the dive and experience one of these camps, this post is for you. Or if you are curious about this community, this post is for you. Additionally, if you’re doing your thing and sometimes wonder if it’s making a difference, this post is for you. Furthermore, if you want to be reinvigorated or reinspired on this path towards financial independence, well, this post is also for you.

We Love You

It doesn’t really matter where you are at on the FI (Financial Independence) spectrum, we love you. Everyone wants to hear your story and trajectory towards FI. We all just find this stuff fascinating and never tire of stories. Have you discovered some funky new hacks? Well, there are people who want to hear about it and you’ll find a whole slew of them at CampFI.

I was never bored with the conversations at CampFI. The only downside, Nick True & I discussed, was that when you get into these conversations, you don’t want to leave. This eventually leads to being tired of sitting or standing in one place for too long. However, the conversation is so good that you just cannot bring yourself to move. That’s a good problem to have, right?! Do your day-to-day conversations do that for you?

What to Expect at a CampFI

It’s essentially a camp for money nerds where the taboo topic of personal finance is anything but. You’ll meet some people who are certainly farther along on this journey but then you get to glean all kinds of wisdom from them. I’ve found everyone to be incredibly generous and encouraging.

It’s a good balance of organized sessions and free time for whatever catches your fancy. In the downtimes, there were people doing all kinds of things that you could join in on:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Talking
  • Playing games (indoors & outdoors)
  • Break out sessions on specific topics (I participated in two – financial coaching and health insurance)
  • Working out
  • Napping
  • Writing
  • Canoeing
  • Ropes course

The scheduled talks, in my opinion, are the meat of the weekend.  There were 6 speakers scheduled and I’d love to give you a little review of that since I found it so inspiring. I took some of the pictures. Additionally, I obtained some from the CampFI Southeast week 2 Facebook group. Furthermore, I stole borrowed some from David of Fiology.

Joel from FI180

The first talk Saturday morning was from Joel who writes over at FI180. I had the great pleasure of first meeting Joel at CampFI Mid-Atlantic 2018 where he also gave a talk. Joel & his wife, Alexis, were one of my favorite ChooseFI interviews because they just seemed like normal folks who turned their financial ship around.

Joel gave a talk on a comparison of two families, the Joneses, and Stashes. Both families ended up living in the same house and driving the same car; however, one family (Stashes) did it a little more optimally. Furthermore, the Stashes did not have to be tied to their 9-5 job indefinitely. It was a great comparison to recognize that a life of frugality and intentionality does not necessarily mean depravity. It just means doing things a little more optimally.

If you want to watch Joel’s talk for yourself he has it up in his latest post on his blog. Additionally, Joel and another awesome member of this community, Lauren, started a new podcast, In Love and Money. It just launched this week and you can check it out here.

Noah & Becky

Noah & Becky from Moneymeta Game gave an awesome talk on their financial beginnings & how they were able to take a gap year and travel around the country. They’ve made a lot of right choices from the beginning, including caddie scholarships for college.

Photo credit goes to David Baughier

I just loved their takeaways on how to blur the FI line. Rather than thinking in pre or post FI terms, find ways to blur the line and live your FI life now.

Chad Carson

Photo credit goes to David Baughier

If you are interested in real estate, Coach Carson is definitely your guy. Chad also launched a new podcast this week. Are you sensing a theme here?? You can find all of these podcast in iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Chad talked about retiring early with real estate. He showed the numbers and compared how to get to the same number using real estate versus market investing. It was very compelling. I’m looking forward to dipping my toes into real estate in the future.

Chad brought his wife and daughters to camp and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with his wife, Kari.

Photo Credit goes to David Baughier

Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson of Uncommon Dream gave a talk packed full of some good stuff. Ultimately, he focused on geo-arbitrage. Both Michael & his wife, Ellen, achieved financial independence at 33, retired at 36, and now raise their two adorable children in Colorado and abroad. Per Ellen & Michael, The Earth Awaits is a great website for investigating cities around the globe…in case this catches your interest.

Furthermore, Michael along with Sean of 2 Frugal Dudes started FI Clubs as a way to connect this community. Carl of 1500 days has a  great little article introducing FI Clubs.

Michael also spent a good amount of time talking about setting & achieving goals. Michael mentioned using the app Streaks for achieving his goals. One of the camp attendees, Sylvia from SMI Financial Coaching shared that she uses the app called Habit Share. The thing that sounded cool about Habit Share is that you can share your goals with others for accountability. I’m all about accountability and have found that has been the key ingredient to my success in sobriety, debt-freedom, and living an honest life.

Furthermore, Micheal shared some happiness experiments that he has done through the years.

Perhaps the best part of camp was when Michael & Ellen’s son colored me a picture. You can see my prized possession right here. →

There were several families who brought their kids with them to camp. So if you have kids & that is a deterrent to you coming, don’t let it be! Everyone enjoyed having the kiddos around. I ate a couple of meals at the kid’s table as I’m quite comfortable there. 😉

Michael also gave out free T-shirts for all those aspiring goal diggers, which, um, was everyone at Camp.

I’m sporting my t-shirt back here in balmy Cleveland.

Thanks, Micheal & Ellen!

Jillian Johnsrud

Aah, I adore Jillian of Montana Money Adventures. I found that Jillian’s talk spoke the loudest to me and my particular journey. Fortunate for me, Jillian was also my roommate for CampFI so we were able to do a lot of talking.

Bianca from Miss Mazuma, who is another phenomenal woman in this community, introduced Jillian and her talk.

Jillian talked about finding your superpowers (or gifts). Moreover, Jillian shared that we all should strive to use 80% of our superpowers 80% of the time…regardless of where we are at on the FI spectrum. Funnily, she mentioned that often times when we find a career that we are able to utilize our superpowers in, we often get promoted out of them. The reason is that we are probably doing such a good job.

I really thought long and hard about that last statement because ultimately I want to work in my giftings but I also welcome promotions. During the Q & A, I asked, “what is an appropriate thought process if we find ourselves working in our superpowers but get offered a promotion?”

Archie, a camp attendee, had a really good response to me. She said I should ask myself if the promotion is something that interests me? If so, I should highly consider taking it. Furthermore, she advised remaining in the position for 1 – 2 years before fully assessing it.

Nick True

The last talk of the weekend was given by Nick True of Mapped Out Money.  Nick and his wife, Hanna have found a way to FIRE without firing. Essentially they are digital nomads who travel the country in an RV while working & making money from their online businesses.

Initially, they did all the things that were expected of them – good grades, good degrees, good jobs, and good life. Upon learning about the financial independence movement, Nick decided that rather than diving in quickly, he’d take the time to assess if it lined up with their values in life.

Once they came to the conclusion that it did, they reverse engineered their life. They are living the life they want before actually achieving financial independence. Pretty cool, eh?

Nick ended with some questions we can all ask ourselves now to create the life we want to live.

Closing Thoughts

It’s About the People

CampFI is about community. It’s about relationships and inspiration. I met & talked to so many different people who are at different places on their journey to financial independence.

In addition to the talks, I did:

  • A circuit workout with 3 other friends
  • Participated in a ropes course and balance challenge with an entire troupe of friends.
  • Shot a bow and arrow
  • And just hung out

If this article has piqued your interest in attending a future campFI, check out the website and schedule. There are camps all over the country.

Enjoy some final pictures from my CampFI experience…

Photo credit goes to David Baughier

Ropes Challenge

12 thoughts on “Why We Need Community – a Tribute to CampFI Southeast”

      1. Naw, sadly she won’t be there, but I’m hoping to drag her out to some of the partying surrounding FinCon when it comes to our city in September.

    1. This was my second one & I highly recommend them. You meet so many amazing people and hear so many awesome stories. Additionally, you get to hang out with your tribe!

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