What up, y’all! Just got back and sobered up from our financial blogging conference, and thought I’d share some of the highlights from it.
Namely, the handful of new financial companies that were part of our yearly fintech competition I helped judge! It’s always so interesting to see how people use technology to solve our problems out there, and just like last year’s competition this one did not disappoint.
But first, gotta give it up to PT Money for organizing this amazing event each and every year (it was my 7th one attending!), as well as to all the other bloggers who volunteered their time to make it happen. If you’re a $$$ blogger or podcaster or just plain obsessed with personal finance, you NEED to come out to it one year and experience what it’s all about! I promise you will leave incredibly motivated or I will shut down this blog forever ;) (Or at least buy you a beer to cry into – hah)
So what happened at FinCon 2017?
Here are a few of the more exciting highlights… Because good luck telling social media people that what happens at FinCon stays at FinCon! ;)
Rapper Dee-1 crowd surfed while rapping his hit song, Sally Mae Back (Crowd surfed! At a financial blogging conference!)
Best selling author David Bach (of Automatic Millionaire fame) popped in to share his wild story on getting on Oprah for the first time, and how the Latte Factor is “not about the damn lattes!” Haha… Rebuking the hate he so often gets when people say they will never give up their coffees no matter how sexy compound interest is ;) He may or may not have also dropped a few F bombs on stage showing that he is definitely not one of the more stuffier financial “experts” out there. Super cool to run into him around 1 am on the last night too to talk shop! (Interesting fact: he’s fairly short)
Darren Rowse shared his story of how he became one of the world’s first professional bloggers when one of his camera reviews went viral over night. He’d later go on to start two majorly successful blogs, including the one most bloggers are familiar with and learn from: ProBlogger.com
Chris Guillebeau of The $100 Startup and The Art of Non-Comformity talked about how it’s perfectly okay to let a side hustle be just that – a side hustle! There’s no rule that you need to turn it into a full-time job if you’re perfectly happy with your current one. Just let it be your creative outlet while you bring home some extra side money! (I agree with this 100%!! Not all of us are born to run companies!!)
Cait Flanders held a presentation on writing Rockstar content that was packed solid which we think/hope went over pretty well! Interweaving the back story of Rockstar Finance and how it’s evolved over the years as well. (Cait curates it with me, and is one of my favorite bloggers on the scene)
A bunch of people from our community created a parody of The Office called The Floor which was shown at our annual blogger award ceremony and was downright HILARIOUS. Then ended with a surprise live musical performance by American Idol contestant Dalton Rapattoni! (It was all about the music this year, haha… Thx for putting it together, Scott Alan Turner!)
And lastly – we had one pretty damn fun Halloween party to wrap up the conference! Erik from The Mastermind Within said it best: “it was hilarious to see people with $1 million+ net worth’s singing Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back”.” Haha… That’s how we roll! If you can’t live it up, what’s the point of all that money??
As for the best costume of the night? I gave it to this guy. Can you tell why? ;)
(full back story here – he totally shaved his head for this!!)
Other interesting gems pertaining to yours truly: I randomly got interviewed in the bathroom, and I was presented with the International Blogger of The Year award from UK’s SHOMO awards. Where I then made an acceptance speech that included “Long live the queen!” which I thought was pretty clever? ;)
Now to the Fintech Competition, and the 10 new financial companies to watch out for!
As I mentioned, I was one of the two judges for it again this year, where our ratings made up for 50% of the votes with the audiences’ making up the other 50%. We awarded two prizes for the night – $1,000 for first and $500 for 2nd – and below are my honest opinions of each, along with what they do. I’m not getting compensated by anyone listed here, and there are no affiliate links included at all.
Follow along and see if you can guess who won! :) In no particular order:
Agreeable (AgreeableApp.com) — Agreeable was one of my favorite apps who presented, and was built to help solve the problem of no shows whenever you go to meet someone off Craigslist or Facebook. Whereas currently you’re just $hit out of both luck and time when the buyer/seller doesn’t show up, with this app you’d actually get *paid* an agreed upon amount if anyone bails, ensuring that it’s in both parties’ interests to make the scheduled time. There were some privacy concerns I first had with this as it tracks both of your locations to confirm that the two sides made it to the meet-up okay, but after talking w/ one of the founders at a party afterwards I was impressed with their patent-pending solution to this. We’ll see if this puppy takes off, but I’m personally rooting for it to! (Also can be used for soooo many other areas in life too – imagine if Comcast or other services were forced to pay you if they never show up when they’re supposed to?? We’d all be rich! ;))
Birch Finance (BirchFinance.com) — This app was another killer idea, which I SWORE already existed but I guess not (a good sign that they’re onto something!). Basically, you tell Birch what credit cards you have and use, and then it’ll analyze them as you’re out shopping and tell you which ones to use to reap the *best* rewards, as well as *how much* you’ll get back by them, rather than you having to guess all the time. It’ll then show you other cards out in the market, and compare what would have happened had you used *those* cards instead of the ones you currently have. And since it’s all based on your specific transactions and spending patterns, you can see first hand exactly what your cards – or future cards – are worth to you. A pretty epic tool for any card hackers/lovers. (I’ll never use it since I’m a minimalist with just my one USAA card, but I’d be allll on it if I were in the rewards game!)
Budgit (BudgitApp.com) — Budgit is an automated budgeting and savings service that organizes your bills and spending so you can save for your goals. I tried real hard to figure out how these guys were different from all the other budgeting apps out there – and even posed the question during Q&A time – but even after doing so I was honestly still just as confused. They actually have this question posed word for word at the bottom of their website (“How is Budgit different?”) but the 3 answers given were “No ads ever”, “Hassle-free”, and “Secure and private.” Which I’m pretty sure most apps are?? All that said, as a budget guy I don’t think you can have *too many* apps out there spreading the good word, so I very much wish them all the luck and success as they can get. (PS: This app is not the same one as BudgIT)
College Backer (CollegeBacker.com) — These guys were pretty cool as they help get people to gift their child 529 contributions instead of more toys and “stuff.” Something I very much try to do every year too and rarely succeed! ;) And while like Budgit I couldn’t pin point how exactly this service is different than the others out there on the scene (there’s quite a few who let families and friends jump in to make this happen), I did like the general purpose of it and hope they take me up on my recommendation to pair these gifts with some sort of physical item too so the kids don’t totally hate opening up the gift of 529 funding, haha…
Honeyfi (Honeyfi.com) — Honeyfi is a new app *for couples* that makes sharing your budget and managing your money much easier together. Which I absolutely love! Honeyfi allows you to collaborate, link accounts, and even message each other at any time through the app so everyone in the relationship can be on the exact same page. There’s not many apps I can think of that focuses mainly on couples (actually, I can’t think of one?), so I’m really hoping this one takes off as I think they’re onto something good here… Budgets are even sexier when TWO people are involved!! ;)
KINFO (GoKINFO.com) — KINFO is an app for DIY investors that brings together information from hedge funds, insiders, analysts, bloggers and other private investors so you can see what everyone else is doing along side you. Particularly bloggers which the founder seems most excited about as it helps put all of our personal recommendations into one spot for people. Though as many of you know mine would look pretty boring as it would only show one fund: VTSAX :) I’m not sure if looking at what others are doing adds more or less noise into the decision making process (probably more?), but then again I was influenced to go All In with Vanguard from my peers so it could prove to be a pretty helpful resource.
Squeeze (Squeeze.com) — Squeeze is an app that helps you save by finding the best deals, promo codes, and coupons directly related to your current spending. It sounded a lot like the others in the field so I had a hard time putting them into their own special bucket, but needless to say you can’t have too many coupons in this hyper consumer world of ours… And as for branding, they absolutely NAILED it. Some of the other fintech names were pretty random!
Take Command Health (TakeCommandHealth.com) — These guys won my personal award for the best presentation, if only for the inclusion of photoshopped Trump and Obama pics littered throughout :) But their app was def. no joke. In a nutshell, Take Command helps you easily find the best option for health coverage by using big data to help source the best, and cheapest, health care options for you both on and off the exchange. They also shared the release of their small business feature which helps companies offer better and cheaper plans to their employees as well – something that many places are struggling hard with right now. So while the topic of health insurance typically doesn’t turn heads (at least for good reasons!), these guys had our immediate attention and I wouldn’t be surprised a bit if they hit a home run with this.
Qoins (Qoins.io) — Do these guys look familiar?? They should! I featured them here last year the second I came across them because they’re the FIRST to finally apply “rounding up” technology to debt!!! Which is something severely lacking in our industry… And while I had to recuse myself from voting on this one since I was definitely biased (they donated $$$ to our Community Fund over at Rockstar Finance), I was beyond pleased to see them here and thought they gave a great presentation. You can find my review of them here (I was the first ever blogger to share them!) but in a nutshell they round up all your transactions to the nearest dollar, and then uses the spare change to help pay off your debt every month. It won’t clear all of it, but every $30 or $40/mo helps!
WizeFi (Wizefi.com) — WizeFi is a paid app ($8/mo) that helps organize your finances, analyzing everything from your assets and liabilities to your insurance and spending habits. Once hooked up it’ll then estimate your future net worth if you continue spending the way you’re currently spending, and then compare it to your future net worth if you follow your custom WizeFi wealth-building plan. It comes with a super slick interface and the focus on net worth of course turned me on, but at the end of the day not too sure that alone is worth the $8. Especially since it doesn’t physically *move* the money for you like Digit or Acorns does and still requires you to take action (which most people won’t). I was also turned off by the mentions of an affiliate program for customers to make more money, both in the presentation as well as on their website (it’s prominently listed as the #3 reason to sign up?!), even though I’m sure the founder meant well. Overall would have been better if you had the chance to test out a free version, with an option to upgrade later to “pro” or something similar if interested…
Alright… Ready to guess who won?? Any really stand out to you??
Here were the 1st and 2nd place winners after all the votes were tallied up:
Honestly though, ALL of these guys came out winning as they not only got to pitch in front of tons of $$$ influencers and enthusiasts, but also landed on this illustrious blog here!!! Haha… Surely that’s worth at *least* $10.00 right? ;)
So congrats to everyone who participated. I wish I were smart enough to come up with my own money app! If you want to take a look at last year’s competition and results, you can find that here: Fintech Competition 2016
Next Year’s FinCon Event…
If you can believe it, plans are already in the works for next year’s conference! If you’ve always wanted to visit Orlando, Florida – now’s your chance. We’ll be partying it up with Mickey next year :) More info soon to come: finconexpo.com
So there we are – another great conference on the books :) THANK YOU thank you THANK YOU to everyone who came out and put up with me over the weekend! It was a blast hanging out with my 2nd family in the flesh, and I wish you all a most successful next year.
Special shout out to the following who really made me smile throughout: Chelsea Norton, Cait Flanders, Steve Adcock, Jim $, Shin, Bobby Lee, Pete McPherson, Latoya Scott, Fritz, Hélène, Hannah Rounds, the Tiller Team, Miss Mazuma, Optimal Finance Daily, John and Sharon Duffy, Shannon Austin, The Dumpster Dog, Miss Thrifty, Maria Nedeva, FIREcracker, and Romeo Jeremiah.
See y’all in another 11 months!