Road Trip Recap & Other Conference/Business Tips!

Well, we survived our 1,600 mile road trip! I never want to get into a car again, but we survived ;) And we even did the first leg out all in one sitting! 800 miles in 15 hours straight – gotta say that was a first. Especially with a baby! (And much easier to do btw when you’re GOING SOMEWHERE COOL than on the return trip, ugh.. We broke that one into two days and I’m still recovering)

Overall the trip was super successful though, and our financial blogger conference was most definitely a success. I got to see all my nerd friends in person instead of on Twitter/Facebook/Blog/Skype/etc, and I met a handful of new ones as well. If your business or hobby ever has conference, I highly suggest checking ’em out!  It’s always nice to be face-to-face with people instead of a computer :) Especially when wooing/partnering up on business…

In fact, here are some other tips with conferences too if you’re interested:

  1. Network network NETWORK! They usually only last a day or two, so no matter how tired you are push through and meet as many people as you possibly can. You never know what sorts of relationships/deals may come from it all.
  2. Always stand near the food and/or doors. This is the prime area where everyone goes and you’re bound to run into everyone at some point :) Whether they’re popular or not. I’ll sometimes stand there for hours just moving from one conversation to another and letting the time flow.
  3. Let your time flow (or, don’t make any appointments!). The best way to network and meet people is to naturally let the time flow and make conversation as it’s presented to you. Nothing’s worse than getting into a great discussion, only to have to hit “time out” and run to a meeting to talk to someone else (or worse – flake out on them altogether). Yeah sometimes you can’t help it and there are advantages to having definite meetings in place, but overall I find it’s MUCH more helpful chatting with people as you run into them as it’s much more natural and, quite frankly, fun. This may only work with social butterflies though?
  4. Smile and be nice. That sounds obvious, but believe me – people don’t do it. You only have one shot at a first impression, and better to come off as friendly to your peers than the opposite!
  5. Ask a lot of questions. We tend to get caught up talking about ourselves all the time, but it’s much better to be engaged and learn about your new friend standing in front of you than spilling your blog stats. And this goes for dates too :)
  6. Follow up with all your new friends! Once you’re back in town and sober, shoot ’em all a note to let them know how nice it was to meet them. People love getting emails/tweets like that as it makes us feel better! And more importantly it leaves the door open for future talks/partnerships cuz now you’re officially “connected.”

Bored yet? ;) Sorry, had to spill my brain while it’s hot and fresh! Maybe you’ll be hitting up your own conference soon and these will help?? No?? You hate conferences? Well $hit. Here, how about a joke to make up for the last 10 seconds of your life:

Why is money called dough? Because we knead it!

Better? :) Here were the (more interesting) tidbits from our trip when it came to money… Mainly, how we ended up spending it:

RENTAL CAR: Came out to almost exactly $350. I *almost* got convinced to pick up extra insurance from them as they always try to do, but I said no and quickly walked away. At $19/day it would have added an extra 50% to the bill! But I still wanted insurance, so I pinged Amex to ask about what they provide as everyone told me credit cards can help with it, and for $25 they cover *entire trips*! Whether one day, or 20 days, $25 covers you if you get in a wreck and you don’t have to worry about hitting your own insurance if you don’t want to.

Only problem was that I signed up for this AFTER I had rented the car, so it didn’t apply and thus we went un-extra-insured for the whole trip. We’ll be covered for the future which is nice, and according to Amex it’ll automatically activate when you use the card to pick up the car in the future which I kinda like… No more thinking about it! Is that what you all do??

GAS: Gas ended up being around $275. About $125 more than I originally guessed, oops. I don’t know what I was smoking though – how could gas only cost $150 for driving halfway across country and back?? Haha…

HOTEL: Came out to about $210 for my portion. Somehow $70 lower than I expected?? :)

So a total of $835 not including food and snacks – that’s not so bad? For being on “vacation” for almost 6 straight days? Especially since we can write it all off as a business expense? ;) Much cheaper than flying all three of us out there to St. Louis and back too, so that was good… OH! And we got to watch part of the St. Louis play off game from a penthouse level suite! It was dope! Made me like baseball just an *ounce* more, haha… Now if only they could speed up the game a bit ;)

Other random nuggets from FINCON:

  • I got mistaken for Mr. Money Mustache. *Twice*. Probably because I exude bad-assity to the max and had nothing to do with my ridiculous ‘stache I wore all week ;)
  • I drank lots of free beer! Another helpful conference tip: Hang around people who don’t drink ;) That way you’re first in line to get their free drink tickets! haha… Or become wonderful blogging friends like 1500 Days who literally drove 850+ miles to bring me some local beer from their Denver residence – so sweet of you all! Thanks so much!
  • I toured the St. Louis Federal Reserve! Had nothing to do with Fincon actually (my cousin works there), but I got to walk around and meet a whole bunch of important-looking people doing lots of important stuff :) And then of course drooled over the stacks and stacks of cold hard cash in the basement! I even had to dress appropriately as to “fit in” the best I could, which really didn’t work well, haha… Hopefully I didn’t get my cousin fired ;)
  • I met a popular card counter! As random as it gets, but one of the co-founders of was there and struck up a conversation with me about getting into the personal finance game (they’ll be doing some financial literacy videos which aims to be pretty hip). Apparently he and his friends took $2,000 and built it into a 7-figure business as well as a documentary you can nab on Netflix. You don’t come across that every day :)
  • I learned that *MARKETING* can often times be more important than the *PRODUCT* itself. I.E. if no one knows about it, you won’t ever sell anything. So Derek Halpern from Social Triggers shared some results when he changed from 20% time focused on content, and 80% on marketing the content (rather than vice versa). Grabbing 100,000+ subscribers in less than two years!
  • I found a penny on the ground while walking my baby to the car – that should go onto the Total Money Tracker, right? :)
  • I wore 60% of my clothes to the conference! Haha… okay, not *that* much, but def. a lot of them ;) So thank for all the tips y’all left on my minimalism post earlier this week! I’m taking them all to heart!
  • Lastly, people in Kentucky are SUPER nice, and I’m also half-way tempted to move to Charleston West Virginia too. One of the most beautiful places we saw all road trip!! Who knew??

I think that’s enough brain dumping for now… What did you all get into this week/end? Anything juicy or exciting? Anyone make some good money or start any businesses?? Anyone want to leave work right now and start the weekend early? ;)

Whatever the case, I hope y’all are good and are ready to have some more fun over the next couple days… If I can ever help you with anything, just shout! I’ll be around all weekend catching up and responding to all your lovely emails/comments/etc. Hope you didn’t miss me too much ;)

See ya on Monday.

PS: That’s fellow blogger Steve Stewart up there from Money Plan SOS rockin’ my shirt from back in the day – remember those? Maybe we should make another run? ;)

PPS: Here are other amazingly cool people “in real life” too, if you’re looking for more people like me ;) Agatha K, Lindsay, Erin, Jim, The Mad Fientist, Jeff Rose, Jesse Mecham, Stephanie, Joel, Beating Broke, Len Penzo, Jesse, Joe, Joe Taxpayer, Neville, Paula, Jaime Tardy and omg like 100+ more people… if I had an extra 5 hours I’d list off all y’all sexy bloggers, but I shall stop there for now… Keep on hustling, everyone!

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  1. Clarrise @ Make Money Your Way October 25, 2013 at 5:53 AM

    Wow 1,600 mile road trip was pretty tough! I love beers too, by the way didn’t you get drunk? :)

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      This was actually my first FINCON where I *didn’t* get drunk, if you can believe that! I certainly got my buzz on, but I was more aware this time around :) It’s amazing what you can remember too! Haha…

  2. Scott @ HomeBuyer Nation October 25, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    Sounds like you had a blast! Drinks + meeting new people = can’t go wrong.
    I just watched that documentary (Holy Rollers) a few weeks ago….one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.
    I’m thinking you should get the petition up now for an “East Coast” FinCon14 :-)

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Oh nice, is that what it’s called? I’m gonna go find it myself and watch – I heard it was pretty good.

      (And no – don’t want east coast! I need new places to go and cause trouble at ;))

  3. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer October 25, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    Everyone has such great things to say about the conference! We are hoping to go next year. Sounds like you had a great time!

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      You should – there’s not many places you can go where everyone not only *UNDERSTANDS* what you’re talking about, but LOVES to talk about it too! Haha…

  4. Lance @ Money Life and More October 25, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    I totally know what you mean about the trip back being worse than the trip there. I’ve been on many trips where the drive home just makes me sad because I’m going back to the grind! At least you have a pretty sweet grind :)

  5. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle October 25, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    Hoping to go to FinCon 2015. Still battling debt and I need time to save up.

    If I went next year it would be on my credit cards and I would be too embarrassed to attend any events.

    1. Sarah October 25, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      I’m in the same boat. Trying to pay down the remainder of my husband’s student loans ($45K). Doesn’t help that he was laid off last month either. :(

      Between having to take time off work, drive or fly 850 miles, 4 nights in a hotel, the cost to attend, and other miscellaneous expenses… definitely didn’t work into our budget this year.

      1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        Definitely something to keep in mind :( Try finding a sponsor though!! A lot of companies are willing to work with bloggers to help each other out. Do you have a favorite product/service/company you always recommend to people? Start there and reach out and see what comes of it :) You might be surprised where it goes.

        1. Sarah October 25, 2013 at 2:01 PM

          Thanks for the tip!

  6. May Bohon October 25, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    Love that shirt!! Make another run, please!! :)

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      I’m strongly considering it!

  7. Mike Collins October 25, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Glad to hear you survived the ride! The longest road trip I ever made was this past summer when we drove from New Jersey to Disney World, a little over a thousand miles one way.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      It’s the kids that make it longer, haha…

  8. Brian October 25, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Hearing so many good this about this year’s year conference. Hoping to make the trip someday myself.

  9. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel October 25, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    I’m definitely not excited for our 22 hour road trip out to Utah next month for Thanksgiving! And if you make that shirt, I may include it in my budget :)

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      Haha will add you to my list, then :)

  10. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions October 25, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Great to meet you J$. I was prepared for some of my favorite bloggers to not be nearly as nice or cool in person as they are on the webz, but you didn’t disappoint!

    FinCon was everything I’d hoped it would be — I met great people and learned something new just about every 20 minutes. I didn’t make any money, but hopefully all the knowledge will lead to some good projects and it has already helped me re-focus my blogging.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      Thanks for the kind words – it was a pleasure meeting you too :) Our family is awesome, isn’t it? The one thing I always take away from these is to just keep pushing hard and BEING YOURSELF. We’re all so different with our experiences, and it’s so motivating to hear everyone’s story. A bit overwhelming, but it needs to be. We have to wait another year to get excited again :)

  11. John S @ Frugal Rules October 25, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    I still say you’re a better man than I am for making that trip. ;) I drove my wife nuts (literally AND figuratively) on the drive home going over all my thoughts from the conference, lol! In regards to the car insurance – we learned a few years back that if you have a credit card through USAA, as well as insurance, they cover you automatically for rental cars…unfortunately we learned about it the hard way – but nice to have!

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      What, really?? I called USAA before Amex and they didn’t mention anything about that :( Granted I talked to their insurance division, but still – they’re usually on top of their game… Making a note to call them again!

      1. John S @ Frugal Rules October 25, 2013 at 9:16 PM

        Yep. I seem to remember that we had to pay a $100 deductible through our MC with them and they covered everything else for my accident. They said at the time they always cover the insurance for a rental if you have a card with them. I don’t know that they really advertise it, but they offer it…at least they did as of two years ago.

        1. J. Money October 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM

          Oh man, well glad they did as car accidents w/ rental cars are no fun as you know :( Sorry you had to deal w/ all that nonsense.

  12. Sarah October 25, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    How much did the conference itself cost to attend?

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      Oh, good question. I think like $100ish? I bought it so long ago that I forgot :( Usually you can get discounts on it too if you pick them up early on, and also at the end of them when you fill out their surveys – it’s pretty cool.

  13. Lauren October 25, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Amex offers that!? That’s pretty amazing I think. I really need to look into their nifty perks more.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Yeah – do it! Pretty good deal in my opinion.

  14. Kim @ Eyesonthedollar October 25, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Since I’m from KY, I’d have to agree about the nice people. I would not be surprised if someone offered to feed you if you were there for any length of time. It was great to meet you and your son is adorable! We’ve driven from CO to KY with a small child and it’s tough, but we did get to stop at Graceland so sometimes the adventures are worth it.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Nice meeting you too! I know I always tell you so, but I really do love your concept for your blog name :) You’re a clever one!

  15. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle October 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    I found the statement that marketing is so much more important than content to be disturbing. I work so hard on providing good content but I am stuck at 150 views per day.

    Maybe I need to work a lot less on content and just post a lot more photos and work on marketing more?

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      It’s not that marketing is *more* important than content, just that we rarely spend enough time doing that as opposed to content. For example, usually people spend hours writing and editing a post, then go drop a link on twitter and facebook and then start all over again. That gets you far, but not far enough. So the presentation was all about cutting back on content a little and using that time and energy to market the awesomeness you just created to give more power and punch. Of course much easier to say and do in theory, but the concept seems to work well for a lot of people :)

      1. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle October 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM

        I have a lot to learn about marketing and everything else connected to blogging.

  16. Retire By 40 October 25, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Oh man, I’ll make sure to pencil in FinCon next year. I don’t know how you pull it off with a baby in tow. Surprising that you got mistaken for Pete. :) His mug is all over his site.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      Mustaches are the perfect disguise :)

  17. Josh October 25, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Hey J,

    I signed up for that rental insurance from AmEx as well. It’s a pretty good deal. But make sure to read the fine print on it. If I remember correctly, it doesn’t include liability insurance.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      You could be right on that one, I’m not sure. I think in that case your personal policy would then cover it, yeah? I think that’s what USAA told me anyways.

  18. Michelle October 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    I’m so glad that we could meet. I’m not going to lie, I was a little starstruck when we met! :) The amount of free alcohol at FinCon was surprising for me, I hardly spent any money! I also received a lot of free drink tickets from those who don’t drink.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      Hah! I was starstruck when I met you! You were so chill and low key which always = to bad assity in my opinion. And also confidence. Hope to hang with you again soon :)

  19. October 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Ah man, I’m so jealous of everyone’s experiences. I’ve not heard one word said yet!! Good tip on standing near the food. Even if you don’t meet people, you get food!! :=)

  20. Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild October 25, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    HELLO! *said enthusiastically with a wave*

    Ah, I miss FinCon already! It was great meeting you IRL and connecting with so many awesome bloggers.

    Thanks for mentioning me! I found some new reads in that list :)

    1. J. Money October 26, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      *waves back and smiles hard*


  21. Kyle | October 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    I was talking to a finance reporter last week (I’ll keep her anonymous) about a story she was doing and she went on and on about how cheap everyone at Fincon is. She sited the free drink ticket thing and how everyone acted like they won the lottery if they scored an extra free ticket. I was cracking up. What else should she expect, right??

    1. J. Money October 26, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      Haha… what’s cheap about getting free drinks anyways? What would she prefer we do – pay for it instead and waste money? ;)

  22. Corey October 25, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    HAha – I was going to ask if you were trying to out-do MMM when I saw you, but got sidetracked. Great seeing you last weekend. Fincon keeps getting better and better. Props to PT.

    Is the Amex a one-time charge? or per year? Does your car insurance not cover rentals?

    1. J. Money October 26, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      Nice seeing you too brotha – sorry didn’t get a chance to talk much, always so crazy!

      The Amex charge is per rental car transaction. The way it works is whenever you get a car and use your Amex to secure it, it’ll automatically ping them to give you the coverage along w/ the fee. Whether you rent that car for 1 day or 1 month. Then when you return it it’s gone, and it’ll start back up whenever you go rent another AND use the amex card for it.

      It’s kinda neat cuz it takes away the worrying/thinking about it and automates everything for you. The downside is if you use a different card by accident and/or you forget you have the coverage and then buy some more there on the spot ;)

  23. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen October 25, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    Sounds like you had a lot of fun!!!! I’m still going through escrow so soon a big chunk of money will disappear into the mortgage! Ahhhh!

    1. J. Money October 26, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      Ahhhh is right! But at least you’ll probably be saving a lot on rent and earning equity now :)

  24. Joel @ SaveOutsideTheBox October 25, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    I enjoyed meeting you as well Mr. Money Mustache, oh wait, I mean J Money! And even if the peeps at the federal reserve don’t like your style I do. That coffee table was my favorite place to network. People always dropping by for a quick pick-me-up in between sessions.

    1. J. Money October 26, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      Yes! Agreed.

      Loved your positive energy too, brotha – it’s refreshing in this world today :)

  25. Aimee October 25, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    I love Kentucky! Some of the greatest rock climbing in the country!! Last weekend I decided I would do a moonlight tax gig this tax season and a couple days ago I got a letter in the mail declaring that I am officially a CPA!

    Conventions are so motivating huh? Did you leave feeling like you could conquer the world? I went to the 2011 Girl Scout National Convention in Houston and on the plane ride home I wrote up plans to change every young girl’s life… of course I haven’t done that, but the energy is incredible!

    1. J. Money October 26, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      Haha oh yeah! That’s the best part – leaving with all that inspiration :) But then if you don’t follow through you feel like a jackal! Haha…

      Congrats on getting your CPA license – that’s huge :)

  26. Kevin Watts @ October 26, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Sounds like you had great trip and had lots of fun. I wish I would get opportunity like this to travel like this.

  27. Dear Debt October 28, 2013 at 2:53 AM

    Nice tips! I want to go next year and meet you in person! Sounds like it was a blast.

    1. J. Money October 28, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      I would love that :) It’s much more fun reading peoples’ blogs when you’ve seen them in person before :) Feels more “real.”

  28. SavvyFinancialLatina October 28, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Sounds like a blast. Going to FinCon 14 is going to be on my 2014 annual goals.

  29. Jacob October 28, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    It was seriously great to met you in person. It was crazy-fest trying to keep up with everything going on, but I made some great connections and learned a ton. I brain dumped once I got home, still have a to-do list a mile long. Thanks for bringing your awesomeness out to St Louis, and I still owe you that beer!

    1. J. Money October 30, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      I’ll most def. take you up on that the next time we’re around too ;) Really cool meeting you in person as well – that’s the beauty of FINCON!

  30. Katy October 28, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Sounds like a good time! I had never heard of Fincon until reading your blog a while ago. I may have to see about going some year!

    P.S. I had to laugh a bit about the part that you visited the Federal Reserve in STL, because I work at the one up in MN. Oh, the things that the common public don’t understand!

    1. J. Money October 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      Awesome! Really??? My cousin would love you :) I was asking him a billion and one questions and a number of times he had to cut me off and say how funny it was that I was asking them since I’m the finance blogger!! Haha… but “personal” finance and “brain smarts” finance are two completely different things ;)

      If you end up going to FINCON next year, do let me know so I can come say hi.