I Got in the Car With Two Guys I Met on the Internet & Went to CampFI

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Yep, that title is a true statement; however, it was not as shady as it sounds. I’m in a ChooseFI local group for northeast Ohio which is where I met said guys. I’ve now known them for over a year so I would say that’s a good amount of time to learn someone’s character.

They don’t look shady, right?!

Additionally, my good friend, Shari, also hopped in the car with us and team O-FI-O went on a road trip to the state for lovers. The purpose was to enjoy some quality time with other FI (Financial Independence) minded folks at CampFI Mid-Atlantic. For me, this was round two of CampFI mid-Atlantic.

I was so smitten with the community after my first camp, that this was my third CampFI event. Furthermore, you might not be reading my blog had I not taken this leap. My friend, Kevin Clack, helped me set up my blog last year at my very first CampFI.

It’s Basically Camp for Adults

All three times I’ve been to CampFI, I’ve had an incredible time and made some lifelong friendships. Sure, there are financial talks by some financial moguls in the community. However, it seems to be mostly an excuse to get together and have fun!

I’ll get to the educational talks in a bit (which were great) but first, let me tell you all the fun things I participated in:

  • Worked out in the mornings with some awesome people (Jessica, Nick, Tinian from DIY 2 FI, Cody from Fly to FI, and James from Rethink the Rate Race)
  • Learned how to paddle board on the James River. Thanks to Doug Nordman!
  • Swam in the pool with my friends
  • Had s’mores by the campfire
  • Had the best time making a fool of myself singing karaoke
  • Broke bread with old and new friends
  • Watched the Sunset over the James River
  • Continued the tradition of making a human pyramid

I know you want to see a picture of the last one so here you go…


At CampFI Southeast week 2, I organized a pyramid of 3 people. This time, we doubled our participation. I would say, that’s pretty good growth, yes?!

Additionally, there were outdoor games & sports as well as indoor board games. All in all, it is an excuse for a bunch of FI minded adults to get together and play! Also, kids are welcome to join. 🙂

Sounds fun, yes?

Awesome friends

The Educational Talks

It seems that everyone who comes to these campFI events is a life-long learner. That being said, CampFI has some educational talks spattered throughout. Furthermore, they are typically done by some serious financial moguls in the personal finance world.

Because they were so phenomenal and I love my readers so much, I’ll give you some takeaways from each talk.

Why the 4% Rule is Not Your Friend

Tanja Hester from Our Next Life gave an awesome talk on this topic. Tanja is also the author of this stellar read:

Anyway, if you are in and/or familiar with the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement, you’ve heard of the 4% rule of thumb. It is based on the Trinity Study which essentially showed that one can retire with 25 times their annual spending saved in at least 50% equity funds and live off 4% for approximately 30 years.

The FIRE community has taken hold of this possibility and all kinds of people are retiring early. The issues are twofold in my opinion. 1.) It was published in 1998 and based on the past performance of the market and 2.) the earlier one retires, the more time they need their money to last.

I still believe it’s a great goal to aim for and as one gets close to their number, they can study the nuance specific to their situation.

Tanja gave a great talk with some cautionary advice surrounding the 4% rule. Here are some of my takeaways from her talk:

  • The 4% rule assumes you spend the same every year
  • Healthcare is increasing 3x inflation
  • The future is unlikely to be like the past
  • 3.5% is safer if you expect your expenses to stay the same
  • 3% is safest if you don’t
  • If you can save 25x you can save 33x

People with exceptions:

  1. Those with military pensions and healthcare
  2. Those who retire 55 or older and expect to get solid social security 

Being that I got a late start, I’m in the latter camp. See there are benefits to getting older!

Transition to Retirement

Tanja’s husband, Mark Bunge, gave this talk. I failed to snap a picture of Tanja talking during her talk but I did get one of her introducing her husband…

Mark told us his story of his working career and how he is now transitioning to a life of retirement. Not surprisingly, he said it took him about 6 months to get into the groove. Here are some of the takeaways:

  • There was still stress
    • A sense of obligation to be doing something (even with recreational things)
  • Total freedom can be a little scary
  • When you are working you have excuses for not meeting personal goals. In retirement, there are no excuses
  • Know thyself
    • If you had a habit while working, chances are you’ll still have that habit in retirement
  • However, retirement allows for the time & space to push yourself to learn new things
  • If you are a couple, make sure you understand each other’s vision for retirement

Grant Sabatier

Grant Sabatier is the author behind the blog, Millenial Money and the book, Financial Freedom.

Additionally, Grant generously gave away signed copies of his book to all the CampFI attendees. I’m excited to delve in and especially because one of my biggest takeaways was from his talk. Here they are (we’ll see if you can guess my biggest takeaway):

  • It took Grant 5 years, 3 months, and 6 days to go from $2.26 in his bank account to 1.25 million net worth. Whoa!!
  • Grant traded 5 years for hopefully 50 but it came at a cost.
  • During his intense period, Grant sacrificed his 20’s, health, and relationships.
  • When one of the attendees asked if would do it the same if he could do it all over again, Grant said no. Rather than going so fast, he’d build a lifestyle business. Hmm…
  • Grant found himself so addicted to the numbers (net worth, stats on the website, etc). However, on his recent book tour, he was reminded that every click had a person & a story behind it. 😉

Grant also said that if you have a purpose in your life and relationships you value, don’t sacrifice them.

I came to camp thinking I might learn how to step up my game and make more $ and/or save more $. When Grant said, if he could do it all over, he wouldn’t go so fast, I was convicted.

I have purpose in my life and relationships I value. Sure some of my work is voluntary, like teaching financial literacy to women in recovery, but it’s rewarding in other ways. I could give this up and gain a side hustle, but that would take away some of my purpose. Maybe the pace I’m saving at is A-okay.

This was by far the most valuable takeaway for me. It also has me thinking about being very intentional on what I allow in my life and what I don’t allow in because some things are just distractions.

Design Your Future Long Before Reaching Financial Independence

Brad & Jonathan of ChooseFI gave this talk. I owe a lot of gratitude to these guys and the work they’ve done as they were my gateway into the financial independence movement.

They posed some thought-provoking questions in designing your future. Here are some takeaways from their talk:

  • Lean into imposter syndrome and push yourself outside of your comfort zone
  • Striving for that number, regardless of the controversy surrounding the 4% rule, is a great thing.
  • It’s a continuum (it’s not not FI or FI)
  • Ingredients:
    • Mastery
    • Autonomy
    • Connection
    • Purpose
    • Identity
  • Be the CEO of your life
  • Give yourself permission to dream bigger
  • Last but not least, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Raising a Money-Smart Family for Next Generation Financial Independence

Doug Nordman of the Military Guide gave this talk. Yep, the same guy who was giving free paddle boarding lessons. Additionally, he lives & surfs in Hawaii. I loved this talk as I have a niece and two nephews and I’m always trying to teach them about money.

Some takeaways from Doug’s talk:

  • It costs money to teach kids about money
  • Doug taught his daughter the difference between a shopping day versus a buying day at Disneyland.
  • Started a mandatory kid 401K with a generous parent match and returns. He wanted his daughter to have $5k by the time she was 16 so she could choose to buy a car (or not).
  • Set them up to make intentional choices
  • Discuss choices
    • Spend money on candy now or save for a bike later
  • You build the rules but build trust by following the rules
  • Consider a parental match to get them to deposit their earnings from their first job into a Roth IRA

FIRE for Fun!

Last but not least, Justin McCurry from the blog, Root of Good, gave the final light-hearted talk. Justin & his wife have been retired for several years now. They are raising their three children in North Carolina and get to be fully present for them.

Some takeaways from his talk:

  • Retire to something not from something
  • What can you do all day:
    • Leisure activities
    • Volunteering
    • Civic Engagements
    • Side Hustles
    • Think back to what you were passionate about as a kid
  • Broaden your horizons
  • Travel when retired can be slower
  • Save money by having time to DIY stuff
    • Ask yourself are you earning more than minimum wage at it
  • Be internally motivated not externally motivated

Break Out Sessions

Typically during the downtime, there are several break out sessions that you can attend and participate in. At this particular camp, I only attended one which was lead by Tanja Hester on healthcare. There is plenty to talk about on this topic!

Closing Thoughts

I could go on and on about how much fun CampFI is but this post is already long enough. Here are some final arguments to consider if you are on the fence about attending one of these…

  • It’s a good mix of organized events and free time
  • Typically held at a scenic retreat center
  • You get to feel like a kid at camp
  • I guarantee you’ll walk away with some valuable takeaways
  • Friends for life
  • Affordable

Community and accountability are key components in achieving most goals. Additionally, having a community is something we all thrive on in order to feel complete. We humans, after all, are pack animals so why not get some of the best people in your pack??

Lastly, if you are curious about attending a camp in 2020, here is the website to check out.

10 thoughts on “I Got in the Car With Two Guys I Met on the Internet & Went to CampFI”

  1. I’m so glad you were able to translate the talks into bullet points like that! I had such a good time at the camp, but my one regret is that I don’t have the ability to review the talks, as I have a hard time focusing long enough to hold on to the plethora of valuable information.
    Great summary overall, you really captured the spirit of Camp FI! Getting to meet new people, as well as meeting people in real life after conversing on the internet for a long time, is such a rewarding experience, and I really enjoyed getting to finally meet you face to face!

    1. Oh good, I am glad you are finding the takeaways useful. There were so many that I was typing fast 😉

      It was awesome to hang out in person. Thanks for pushing me on the workouts too!

  2. I’m so happy to see they’ve got two weeks of Mid-Atlantic next year, and yet I still don’t know if I can make it. But I’m glad I got to see you and meet your other three carmates a couple weeks ago!

    1. It was awesome to hang out with you in O-FI-O, Josh! Thanks for making the effort. The only thing we should have done differently was have you tell us about your journey at the meet up. My poor planning. Anyway, it’s always great to be with you!

  3. Deanna, I just got your story from Financial Samurai and I think what you have done and the message is great. I have been retired for a while and my side hustle has been as a real estate investment adivsor. I help people use real estate to compound there savings and to save years getting to where they need to be. Good luck with the blog.

    1. Hi Howard! Thanks for coming by to comment. I’m hoping to buy some real estate within the next 5 years. Maybe I’ll look you up when I’m ready…

  4. Thanks for the reply Deanna. I believe that you should do that house hack as soon as you can because starting earlier and using some simple strategies will result in a higher return on equity in a shorter period of time compared to other asset classes.

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