Shame

By Josh October 31, 2018

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines shame as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. Synonyms include humiliation, regret, disgrace, odium and reproach.

I think we are all guilty of feeling shame sometimes. Some of us feel it more than others. I often feel like I live my life in shame. A lack of self-esteem and/or pride in my accomplishments makes me feel unworthy. As a 35-year-old man, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never really dated or the really shameful truth that I’m a virgin. [Isn’t that crazy? If I were a female, it might be seen as a symbol of purity, but as a guy, it makes me feel like a total loser, incapable of finding any woman to love me.]

Other people might feel shame for their lack of educational attainment, or their debt. Some people are shamed by their friends or family for the choices they’ve made in their life, perhaps especially if their family is religious. People are dis-communicated for having a child out of wedlock or for coming out as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

SNL Church Lady via Giphy

Popular culture has turned it into a joke, of sorts. The walk of shame is when someone is caught wearing the same clothes the following day after a night of an unplanned sexual encounter. The Urban Dictionary definition describes the walk of shame as “when someone leaves the home of a sexual escapade (quite possibly with someone you met the night before) in the morning; hair sticking out in all directions, lines on your face, and missing at least one article of clothing.”

Shame is also a weapon to be wielded against your detractors. To shame (v) someone can mean to best them in a competition, to disgrace them, or to cause them to feel guilty. Shame is an invisible force, with so much power to strike to the core of a person and make them feel unworthy of even the smallest appreciation from others.

Via GIPHY

Feeling shame can affect the way we live our lives, and especially how we spend our money. A lot of people would never be caught dead wearing store brand sneakers or workout clothes, so they pay 5x as much for the Nike, Under Armor, Adidas, or Lululemon version of the same thing. A 3-year-old Toyota Camry costs 1/3 of the sticker price of a new BMW (and will definitely be cheaper to maintain and probably will last longer), but there’s nothing sexy about rolling out of the dealership in a 2015 Camry with 45,000 miles on it. People will pay-up for an extra bedroom or for a specific school district (even when they don’t have kids) for the feeling of prestige that owning a 4-bedroom house in THE school district gives to them, meanwhile they pay much higher property taxes on top of the much higher sales price (financed for 30 years).

So, what can we do about these feelings of shame, inadequacy, and self-doubt? How can we fend off the urges to spend more for something showier that will cost more money in the short-term and possibly the long-term? By taking pride in your unique accomplishments and your path that led you to where you are today. Respecting yourself and knowing that there’s no one else like you in the whole wide world. Honoring yourself by following your own journey, not by trying to keep up with the Joneses or meeting the unrealistic expectations of others. Making conscious decisions about your present and your future, then mapping out or reverse-engineering a strategy to get you there. It will be much more fruitful than taking a backseat in your own life and watching in shame as everyone else seems to pass you by.

I think we should feel a modicum of shame when we make rash decisions or act foolishly, but we can take pride and feel honor by putting our best foot forward and making thoughtful, honest decisions in our daily lives.

WTF is a Middleton

By Josh October 23, 2018

Yesterday, an awesome new curation site went live called The Money Middletons. You may be asking yourself, “WTF is a Middleton” and you would be right!

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Stephonee from PoorerThanYou created this site, along with Emilie from WiseMindMoney, to help answer the questions like “what is Middle Class” and “how do I succeed as a middle-income earner?”

Depending on your household size and the area in which you live, you might identify as Middle Class or the highlighted term “Middleton.” Generally speaking, I think it means folks within 80% to 200% of the area median income, although a younger Josh would have said 80%-140% because those were the terms required by the grant application that I was successful in achieving in 2014 for my underwater mortgage.

Frankly, I identify as a Middleton as a single, mid-30s male working a professional job in local government. I grew up the oldest of two kids in a solidly Middle-Class family (dad worked 6 days a week in a factory, and mom worked in the office of a construction company). Middle Class is all I’ve ever known, even if I aspire to one day rise into the Upper Middle Class or opt out of the class system entirely by becoming an Early Retiree.

I was the first in my family to go to college, and I graduated in 2005. I was fortunate to “only” have $15,000 in student loans due to a combination of local scholarships I was awarded from my rural hometown community, working summers through college and an on-campus part-time job all 4 years, and I lived on campus for 4 years (which allowed me to lock in year 2 and year 4 room & board rates at year 1 and year 3 prices, respectively).

After college, I struck out on my own, leaving the comforts of the only area I had ever lived, East Central Indiana, for the warm, sunny climate (and better job prospects!) of Southwest Florida. When I was a kid, my family would vacation here almost every year since I was in 5th grade, and I did an internship between my Junior and Senior years of college down here, as well. I knew this was a great place for me to get started in my career (city planning) and make something of myself that wasn’t possible in my little hometown of 5,000 people.

I bought a house at the ripe old age of 23, and you can read about that whole ordeal here.

While the house may have been a huge mistake for me the past decade, it is also what has allowed me to make huge strides in my net worth and financial security. Think about it – I effectively locked in 2006 living expenses for 30 years. The number one reason my savings rate is north of 50% as a single person is because my living expenses are literally half of what my next-door neighbor is paying in rent (these are identical townhouses). The delta between my mortgage payments and their rent payments is almost enough to max out a 401k every year, and they are paying Post-Tax dollars for rent, while I am contributing Pre-Tax dollars to my 457, so that allows me to get even further ahead of where I’d be as a renter in this market.

I still don’t make a ton of money, and that is expected when you work in local government. I made $15.68/hour when I bought this townhouse in 2006. I got up to $20 an hour in the last month of 2011 when I started with a local Town government. By 2014 I started working in State government and made $22/hour for the first couple years, and $27/hour by the time I left in May 2018. With all of my knowledge and experience, I was able to negotiate my highest salary to date ($31/hour) when I started 5 months ago. While it feels great to be earning nearly twice as much as I did 12.5 years ago, I know I cannot allow lifestyle inflation to eat up a large chunk of the increase, or I will never get ahead.

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When I got the raise from $22 to $27 last year, that was the point where I made myself max out my 457 plan for the first time, in addition to my Traditional IRA contributions. 90% of my raise went straight into Future Josh’s wallet in the form of this deferred compensation plan. When I started this new job a few months ago, the Payroll office made me sign and initial multiple times that I was “absolutely sure” I wanted that much taken out of my bi-weekly paychecks, but I needed it to be high so that I could hit the maximum of $18,500 for 2018. Apparently, I’m a money unicorn when it comes to that step with my employer?

I still have money struggles, most recently when I needed 4 new tires (hello new commute) and my water heater went kaput the same weekend. Due to being a natural saver, I had money squirreled away in different places, and I didn’t have to take on any debt to pay for those abrupt expenses (although you can bet your sweet bippy that I put them on credit cards to earn travel miles/points!) 😊

Deanna from Ms. Fiology has a thought-provoking post about whether single people should plan for their future Financial Independence as a single person or if we should include a future spouse and potential children. While I do love kids, and would someday loved to be married, I’m currently putting those thoughts in the realm of improbable, but not impossible. I definitely consider myself a single Middleton for the foreseeable future. And I think that’s a great place to be!

I love the personal finance and FIRE community! I know I would not be where I am financially today without the excellent content and some of the advanced techniques and strategies that are covered by prominent bloggers and podcasters in this community. But I also see that there is a gap in financial content for those who are just starting out, or who may even be afraid to start out, based on current stock market prices, turbulent politics, and debts incurred trying to make ends meet. It is my sincere hope that The Money Middletons is able to curate the best in financial content that can help to fill a void in financial and debt payoff coverage to help a new set of Middletons achieve a little more financial peace in their lives. That’s what this community has done for me, and I hope I can be some small part in showing the way for the next batch, even if it’s just to point out some of the really stupid things I have done, so they can avoid those mistakes themselves.

A primer on Flood Insurance

By Josh Overmyer October 14, 2018

Four days ago, Hurricane Michael became the fourth Category 4 Hurricane to impact the United States in the past 13 months, when it struck the Florida Panhandle with 155 mile per hour winds and an estimated storm surge of 14 feet. The other three Category 4 Hurricanes were last year as Harvey in Houston (perhaps the wettest storm in history, dropping over 50” of rain in some locations), Irma in the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida, and Maria decimated the US territory of Puerto Rico. Untold millions of lives were disrupted by these 4 storms and their impacts across the coastal states of the Southeast US.

Last month, Hurricane Florence weakened just before landfall from Category 4 to Category 1, but still became the wettest storm to ever impact the Carolinas, dumping more than 35” of rain in some areas. This heavy rainfall led to weeks of flooding as the inland rainfall flooded rivers all over North and South Carolina, and that water in the rivers had to make its way back down to the Atlantic Ocean by rushing down through watersheds throughout the area.

Unfortunately, most of the people impacted by these storms, and the others that have ravaged this country in the past several years, do not carry flood insurance. Many people incorrectly assume that their homeowner’s insurance covers them from all perils, including flooding, but homeowner’s insurance very rarely covers flooding, which is the most common natural disaster in the United State. The term “flood” is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties.1 A flood does not mean a burst pipe, or an overflowing bathtub, both of which may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Some people incorrectly assume they will be eligible for free money from FEMA if their house is damaged by flooding or a hurricane. While FEMA does have programs that give cash payments to survivors of certain storms, these typically require the storm to have impacted a large area and have done widespread damage, enough to meet the damage thresholds required under the Stafford Act for a Presidential Damage Declaration. If the storm is not sufficiently damaging to a large area or a high enough total cost of damages, many of the elements triggered by a Presidential Damage Declaration will not become available. Even when things like FEMA’s “Individual Assistance” (IA) program are activated, the average IA payment from recent storms have been $5,000-6,000, compared to the average National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance payment of $90,000+. Just 3″ of floodwater inside your home can cause $12,000-$30,000 in damage to the structure and contents.

Other available programs include the Small Business Administration, which offers low-interest loans to people and businesses needing to rebuild, but these loans must be paid back. Long after the storm, mitigation assistance funding becomes available through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, but a homeowner typically needs to have already been working with their local government on a plan to mitigate or buy-out their property for the community to prepare a grant application and submit to their State or FEMA for HMGP or other mitigation funding.

By now, I hope you are seeing that Flood Insurance is the best option to protect the largest investment most people ever make in their lives – their home. Did you know that over the course of a 30-year mortgage, homes in the “Special Flood Hazard Area” or ‘flood zone’ has a 26% chance of flooding from a 1% annual chance flood (commonly referred to as a 100-year storm)? That’s about twice as likely as suffering a house fire, yet almost all of us carry insurance that covers fire.

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Flood insurance is most often sold through your typical flood insurance companies, on behalf of the NFIP, which assumes the flood risk. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, and businesses. For residential properties, the maximum structural coverage is $250,000, with a maximum of $100,000 in contents coverage. Renters don’t need to carry the structural coverage to be able to purchase up to $100,000 in coverage for their belongings. Non-residential properties can purchase up to $500,000 in structure coverage, as well as $500,000 in contents coverage, since many businesses have expensive equipment necessary to run their business.

The private insurance market is small but growing in this country. Many private insurers may have similar coverage limits as the NFIP policies, while some have their own underwriting standards and coverage limitations. A hybrid approach is also available, with coverage up to the maximum of the NFIP coverage limits, and then a policy with a private insurer for “surplus lines” in excess of the NFIP limits. This is advantageous to the private companies because the NFIP flood insurance fund is on the hook for the first $250,000 in structural damage and the first $100,000 in contents. The surplus lines coverage would not have to pay out unless/until a major disaster wiped out at least a quarter million in the home’s value.

Some reasons that flood insurance may be cheaper through private insurance companies because NFIP premiums are collected into the National Flood Insurance Fund, which pays out flood insurance claims, flood insurance studies and mapping for participating communities, and for hazard mitigation programs such as Flood Mitigation Assistance and Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant programs. In addition, the Flood Insurance Fund is paying interest on money borrowed from the US Treasury to cover past claims, especially Hurricanes Katrina (mostly forgiven by Congress in 2018), Sandy, Harvey, Irma and Maria. Furthermore, FEMA has been tasked with building a reserve fund to pay future claims without borrowing from the Treasury. FEMA also has purchased “reinsurance” from large global insurance companies for the past 2 years to help spread the risk exposure of the NFIP.

The NFIP makes flood insurance available in over 22,000 participating communities nationwide that have agreed to adopt and enforce development standards in their identified floodplain areas. Among these 22,000+ communities, approximately 1,500 communities have joined the voluntary Community Rating System that awards flood insurance premium discounts to policies in those communities for adopting higher standards than the minimum, and for other public education, outreach and other floodplain management-related activities. The three goals of the Community Rating System (CRS) are to:

  1. Reduce and avoid flood damage to insurable property
  2. Strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP
  3. Foster comprehensive floodplain management.

The CRS program is a points-based program, offering a 5% discount for every 500 points that a community earns from 19 Activities and 92 specific elements, subject to meeting certain perquisites. Discounts range from 5% for many beginner communities in the CRS program, up to 45% for 1 community named Roseville, California, which has earned the required 4,500 points to earn the highest rating of Class 1. These discounts are applied automatically to NFIP policies in the CRS-participating communities, so be sure to check the “declarations page” of your flood insurance policy documentation for a CRS discount. While “only” about 1,500 communities participate in CRS, those communities represent over 70% of the policies in the nation. This make sense, as the largest communities and areas with the highest rates of flood insurance coverage stand to gain the most by documenting their efforts to reduce and avoid flood damage in their communities. The community I live in currently saves its residents over $14M per year in flood insurance, and the community I work for saves over $6.6M per year.

To find out if your property is in a “Special Flood Hazard Area” or ‘flood zone,’ please check out the FEMA Map Service Center website. You can enter your address and it will load the current Flood Insurance Rate Map for your area.

If your property is not in a “Special Flood Hazard Area” or if you have been recently mapped into the SFHA, check with your insurance agent about receiving a Preferred Risk Policy. These typically can be had for a few hundred dollars per year, rather than the full-risk rate which may cost $1,000 or more, depending on the specific flood zone and/or the elevation of the finished floor of the home. The only way for an insurance company to properly rate a policy is with an Elevation Certificate prepared by a licensed surveyor. This will show information such as the community name and community ID number (for application of any potential CRS discount), the flood zone and required Base Flood Elevation, the elevation of the finished floor of the home or structure, the elevation of any attached garage or enclosure, and the elevation of any machinery or equipment servicing the building. All these factors are factored into the rate that each policyholder will pay for their unique flood risk on their property.

To recap:

  • Your homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage.
  • Flooding is more frequent than ever and has affected all 50 states since the year 2000.
  • Individual Assistance from FEMA averages $5k-$6k, while flood insurance pays out an average of nearly $90,000.
  • Your community is probably already working hard to earn you a discounted premium. If they are not, ask them to join the CRS to save their residents and property owners money on their flood insurance.
  • If your home is flood-prone, there may be mitigation grant money available to buyout or elevate the home.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, as I am a Certified Floodplain Manager, with experience in coastal and riverine communities, along with 3.5 years working in the State Floodplain Management Office in Florida. I currently serve as the Secretary of the Florida Floodplain Managers Association board of directors, and I was fortunate to give a presentation at the Association of State Floodplain Managers annual conference in June 2018 about my experience with the Community Rating System pilot program in Florida. I can be reached at Josh.Overmyer@gmail.com.

1 FloodSmart.gov, the official website of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Would you believe it – FinCon edition

By Josh October 3, 2018

Yesterday, I put a post on Twitter asking people “Which of these events actually happened at #FinCon18 ??”

If you are a literal person like I am, you read the answer in #4, but it didn’t stop 43% of voters from choosing one of the first 3 options.

So here’s the backstory on all of them:

  1. Before the Plutus Awards, Piggy and Kitty from Bitches Get Riches were having drinks in the Headwaters Lounge with J.D. Roth and Tanja Hester. I joined them, as an internet friend to the 3 ladies, and a new acquaintance to J.D. (we met two days earlier). After a while, J.D. reached out to Pete (Mr. Money Mustache) to see if he wanted to join and meet the Bitches Get Riches, and he joined us a little while later. J.D. had another meeting scheduled (he literally had about 40 on his must-attend schedule, plus others penciled in) so he took off. A few other bloggers joined, but pretty quickly everyone realized that Plutus Awards started soon and most ran off to grab a bite for dinner before the ceremony, including MMM. In his haste to head to dinner, he neglected to pay the bill for his beer and the beer of his girlfriend. At this point, it was just me and Piggy & Kitty, so I scooped up the bill and paid for Pete’s beer. I’ve certainly learned more than $20 in knowledge from his site over the years. No big deal.
  2. Instead of attending the closing party on Saturday night, a group of about 7 of us started out in the pool, and as the night wore on, upwards of 40 FinCon people joined us. But early in the night, I watched Jonathan from ChooseFI do a lap of the pool doing Butterfly, and a little while later he and Brad raced a lap of Freestyle. Being a competitive person, I was looking to get into a race myself. I was an excellent swimmer in my younger days, but I definitely don’t have the athlete “look” nowadays at 6’5″ and 300+ lbs. So we raced, and Jonathan was out to an early lead, but Butterfly is a stroke necessitating endurance and good technique. I kept by his side for half of the pool, then slowly crept up and passed him, using only 4 breaths for the approximately 35-40 yard pool.
  3. Putting details from those two stories together, I’m a 6’5″ 300+ lb guy, and friends with the increasingly popular Bitches Get Riches. After the self-proclaimed “humble Bitches” (read their blog, they actually use that term) won TWO Plutus Awards on Friday night, I served as a bodyguard of sorts. I carries the spoils of their victory (backpacks full of goodies, trophies and drink tickets) while watching out for guys who were trying to get too close or who wouldn’t leave them alone.
  4. All of the above are true stories.

Join me next year in DC to see what kind of hijinks go on at FinCon19! No really, buy your tickets now because the pre-sale pricing ends Thursday October 4th at midnight, and prices will never be this low again. (www.finconexpo.com/fc19)

Takeaways from FinCon18

By Josh October 1, 2018

Along with half of the Twittersphere, I just returned home from Orlando where I attended FinCon 2018. FinCon is an annual conference for money nerds of all kinds, from bloggers and podcasters, to financial advisors, companies and media. And then there’s people like me, that do not fit neatly into one of those categories, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet with other personal finance enthusiasts for 4 days (and nights) of presentations and panels on our favorite financial topics.

I purchased my ticket last year on the day that FinCon 2017 (in Dallas) ended. And this year I followed suit and bought my FinCon 2019 for Washington, DC next September 4-7. But what did I get out of the conference that made it a Must-Attend for 11 months from now?

#1 – A vote of confidence in who I am

As I mentioned before, I don’t feel like I am a blogger, and I’m definitely not a podcaster, financial advisor, vendor, etc. But I am an enthusiast, having read personal finance and FIRE content online for the past 6-7 years. I routinely comment, like and share other people’s articles. I participate in conversations on Twitter. I subscribe to email lists from several of my favorite bloggers and take a few minutes to write a reply when they provide something that speaks to me.

So even though I may not be a “content creator” in the way that so many of the FinCon attendees are, I got positive affirmation from literally DOZENS of people that I was meeting for the first time in real life. I would walk up to someone I “know from the internet”, introduce myself, and would get a reaction bordering on a ‘tween meeting Taylor Swift. Ok, maybe not quite that excited, but it sure was a boost to this “nobody’s” confidence to know that people knew who I am, liked me, and appreciated my efforts in the community, even if I’m not on a consistent posting schedule and don’t have a large blog audience.

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Feeling the FinCon love on Twitter

#2 – Killed my imposter syndrome

After getting that confidence boost I talked about above, I didn’t have to self-identify as a kinda-sorta-wishy-washy blogger anymore. I was Josh, personal finance enthusiast, who happens to write sometimes on his site to share stories about my personal investing failures, among other topics. Everyone seems to share all of the wonderful things that are going on in their lives, and the investments that allow them to reach financial independence and/or retire early.

But it wasn’t just that confidence boost that ended my imposter syndrome. I had conversations with all different levels of personal finance and FIRE personalities. Some are wildly famous in this community, and still feel Imposter Syndrome. Instead of thinking “this person has been writing for 20+ years and still feels like an imposter sometimes” and holding onto my insecurities, I flipped that coin and shed the feeling altogether. Because I’m not a guy trying to break into the personal finance scene as a famous blogger/writer/book author, I can embrace the role I hold in this community as a favored cheerleader of my friends. I can speak My Truth without worrying how others will see me, because the people who matter already told me they love what I put out into this community.

#3 – Encouraged me to get back home and get to work

So I just admitted that I’m not trying to be a big blogger or content producer, but I am finally resolved to put my voice into this space and hopefully continue to cover content that hasn’t been said 1000 times.

And speaking of putting my voice into the space, I recorded my first podcast interview on Friday, while in the pool, so that was definitely something outside of my comfort zone. Pete, from DoYouEvenBlog, was interviewing several of us first-time attendees and bloggers a chance to do our first podcast interviews. Pushed by Penny, which is a recurring theme around here, I gave an awkward interview answering 3 questions that Pete posed to us. The awkwardness came from my inability to put into words what was my #1 takeaway from my first FinCon. After a few seconds that felt like at least a minute, I babbled on and gave an answer so that I could move on to the third and final question. But at least now I’ve got that first interview under my belt (I didn’t literally wear a belt in the pool, BTW), and the next one won’t be so bad.

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#4 – I made the best damn friends a guy could ever have (this part is really long)

Since I’m a spreadsheet geek, I spent some time ahead of the conference to type into Google Sheets the names and Twitter handles of around 50 people I really hoped to meet. I knew it was far-fetched that all of them would be in Orlando, but I set out to try and turn those names into IRL friends and contacts.

Within my first few steps into the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel, I saw famous personal finance people such as Carl and Mindy from 1500 Days, PT who founded FinCon, and Brad Barrett from ChooseFI/Richmond Savers/TravelMiles101. I checked into the hotel, had a quick chat with Brad about “It’s weird to hear your voice right now because I was just listening to your episode with TheRideshareGuy on the way up here” and then shared an elevator with PT.

The next morning, I saw Brad and Jonathan walking around the hotel, and joined them to find coffee. I had already been to the hotel 3 years ago for a conference in my line of work, so I became their unofficial tour guide for the next hour and a half. Since they are celebrities in our online community, they tend to draw a crowd; which on Wednesday morning included JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly and John from ESI Money and Rockstar Finance. Down the hallway, USAA was hosting their DigitalMillEx session, and during a break in the session, out walked Doug “Nords” Nordman from The-Military-Guide, Gwen from Fiery Millennials and Fire Drill Podcast, and Tanja Hester from Our Next Life/The Fairer Cents Podcast/author of Work Optional/Founder of Cents Positive. Gwen came flying out of nowhere and nearly tackled JD with a huge hug, and Tanja followed suit. I was standing next to JD at the time, so I said Tanja’s name and waved, which caused her to come running at me with another huge hug. That’s also when I met Felicity from Fetching Financial Freedom, Matt Lane from Optimize Your Life and Karsten (Big ERN) from Early Retirement Now. After a little while, I decided I should head back to my hotel room to get cleaned up and ready to check into the conference at noon, but while I was walking through the massive convention space, I saw a tall brunette that I knew immediately must be Jillian Johnsrud from Montana Money Adventures. I think she figured out who I was even faster than I recognized her, because she increased her pace faster than I could, and she gave me yet another huge hug (I’m her self-proclaimed favorite person on Twitter).

Back in the hotel portion of the property, I saw Deanna from Ms. Fiology talking to Jim from Route to Retire, so I introduced myself and chatted for a bit. Then Robin from Side Jams came and met up with Deanna, so we grabbed some waters from the coffee shop and sat down to chat for about a half hour. I ran into Mr. Jamie Griffin in the hallway, and he looks 100% like his avatar.

Continuing with Wednesday activities, I checked in and wandered aimlessly, hoping to find more people I knew from Twitter. I had changed into my “Reaching Dollar” tshirt that I had printed specifically for the conference, which was a reuse of the logo that Military Dollar created in support of their respective entries in last January’s Rockstar Rumble. Military Dollar shared the original logo with me, so that I could surprise Erin from Reaching for FI with a tshirt with their logo. When Erin saw my shirt, her reaction was priceless. I hadn’t even met her yet, but I was already wearing her logo. I let her know I had two more printed for her and Military Dollar to wear later on at the conference.

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Drew from GuyonFire was in that conversation, too. I also met Emilie from Wise Mind Money and Stephanie from Poorer Than You, who will be launching Money Middletons together in about 3 weeks.

After a little while, I ran into Liz from Chief Mom Officer and we decided to check out some of the on-site dining options for lunch. After lunch, I met the fantastic ladies behind Women Who Money and Women’s Money Talk, Vicki Cook from Make Smarter Decisions and Amy from LifeZemplified. Later on, I met Laura from Everyday By The Lake, also a part of WWM.

I flipped through Instagram and saw that Champagne & Capital Gains (“Annie Ray”) was in the area between the hotel and the convention area, so I messaged her that I would like to meet, and she said she thought she saw me walk past her a little earlier. After chatting for a little bit, I headed back to the conference area to attend the first-timers session, and I ran into Krystel from All She Saves and Jenny & Jimmy from Living Life Loving Us before the opening Keynote. I saw Allea Grumert from Ask Allea and Duett walking towards the Keynote, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to attend. I stood in the back of the room for a little while, when I got a Twitter DM from one-half of the dynamic duo known as Bitches Get Riches. Kitty had arrived earlier in the day, while Piggy was stranded in NYC with a delayed flight. I sat with Kitty for a while and we teased Piggy that we had already met, and sent a selfie together to make her super jealous 😊

After the Keynote, a group of us headed off-site for a belated birthday party for Stephanie at Uncle Julio’s. If you haven’t heard of Uncle Julio’s, you need to stop reading this right now and do a Google search for their Chocolate Piñata. I sat at one end of the table with Andrew from Shift Upwards, and nearby Military Dollar and Erin, plus Kitty and Piggy arrived about halfway through the 3.5 hours it took for our meal. I got to meet Lisa from The Give and Get, and she commented on my shirt, which is the same one from my Twitter profile picture (I wore it on purpose). I also met the wonderful Miriam Joy, Ruby, and Jenny from Good Life Better. I felt so bad that I didn’t get to meet everyone at the other end of our 25-person table.

On Thursday, I volunteered again for 4 hours at the registration desk/standing around giving directions. As I was standing in the hallway, I got messages from Penny at ShePicksUpPennies, but since she is an anonymous blogger, I had the most difficult time finding her. I actually had seen her around the halls a little bit, but I was never able to see her nametag, so I didn’t really consider that it might be my Twitter bestie. Once she figured out who I was, she came up to me and I stumbled back a few steps, unwilling to believe I had finally met the wonderful Penny! I continued giving directions to people, and I actually met up with 3 more people in my area of Southwest Florida, including The Money Twins and Colleen Kelly. I met Vicki Cook’s other half, Jeff, and chatted with him quite a bit.

After my volunteer shift, I learned that some folks were out by the pool, so I joined Penny, the Women Who Money, and Chris from Apathy Ends for a couple drinks. I also met Abigail from ipickuppennies while enjoying my drinks.

On Friday, I really got to meet people in the pool, including Chelsea from Mama Fish Saves, and her husband Papa Fish Saves (Jeremiah) was there too. Pete from Do You Even Blog was busy even while relaxing in the pool, recording us first-time podcast guests.

And with apologies to everyone else involved, I am sure I am leaving out a whole bunch of people that I met in the past week. I spent quite a few separate times with Tori Dunlap from Tomorrow Ideas and Victori Media. I finally met Carmen from Make Real Cents, who had the huge accomplishment of paying off her debt on Friday of FinCon!! We’re pictured here the following day:

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I met the duo behind Financial Panther (Kevin and Thomas), Chelsea and Lauren from The Financial Diet, and Denis and Katie from Chain of Wealth. I met Cody Berman from Fly To FI and FireBelowZero Podcast. I met Adam from Minafi, Laurie from The Three Year Experiment, Olivia from Birds of a FIRE, and Lily from The Frugal Gene.

I had a beer with Jordan from DiverseFI and I had a beer with Pete from Mr. Money Mustache before the Plutus Awards (which my friends freaking killed! S/O to Penny, Liz, Des, Tanja, Brad & Jonathan, Amy, and more!). Had a nice chat with Craig from Retire Before Dad right then, too. I met Jim Wang from Wallet Hacks and Brandon from the Mad Fientist, both of whom remembered me from past email conversations we’d had because I’m signed up for their email lists. I met Erik from The Mastermind Within and Simple Minded Millennial podcast, and J from Millennial Boss and Fire Drill Podcast. Justin from Saving Sherpa and I chatted about his 1.8 million Hilton Honors points.

I finally got to meet Taylor formerly of The Freedom From Money, and she was as sweet as I always suspected. I met Nick True and Andrew from Family Money Plan. And I finally met Bianca from Miss Mazuma, and her guy Stephen from CampFI. I met Stefanie O’Connell, J-Money, Coach Carson, Paula Pant, Paulette Perhach, Leif from Physician on Fire, Modern Suzy, Keith from The Wealthy Accountant, Gerry from Millionaire Educator and so many more. And now I can’t wait to go back to FinCon in DC so I can meet even more and catch up with my new old friends!!

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