Growing up, I had a lot of good friends, but never really any close friends. I attended multiple proms as a friend ask, not because I was ever actually dating my prom date. This continued in college, where even in my degree program where we took over half of our courses with the same 20-25 students the last 3 years, I was friendly with everyone but never matched up with any of the cliques. There were 3 of us who were studious and fun, but we called ourselves “the misfits” and we usually teamed up for group projects. I even roomed with the two of them during a week-long conference in San Francisco during our senior year, despite me being the only guy among the 3 of us.

So I don’t have the same fond memories of hanging with my buddies in college, or getting together years later to reminisce about the good times we had together. I’ve been back to campus several times and I have attended some of their sporting events both on campus and down here in Florida. Bu those have always been by myself or with my parents if they wanted to sit and watch a football game from the cold bleachers in Indiana.

But I do get that college reunion type of feeling when I visit the annual FinCon conference. While this was only my second year attending, even my first one in Orlando in 2018 felt like I was hanging out with old friends, even though I was meeting them all for the first time! We had inside jokes, we bought/brought each other gifts, and we protected each other from weirdos and scumbags. We watched each others luggage, shared rides to/from venues and even invited each other to celebrate a birthday with 20+ other attendees.

My best friends attend FinCon, and CampFI, and Camp Mustache. The ladies turn out quite well for Cents Positive, Statement and Lola Retreat. People I’ve interacted with for nearly a decade, like J-Money, recognized me last year and were genuinely happy to meet me and chat for a bit. Tanja gave me a tackle-hug when I waved hello, and JD asked me to write a guest post on driving rideshare within 30 seconds of meeting me. I felt that I was welcomed into the community with open arms, and despite my initial feelings of imposter syndrome, I got over all of that quickly!

This year, I stepped up my involvement in the conference as I took the role of Volunteer Coordinator. This led to a whole new batch of people on the lookout for me, as the volunteers reported for duty. It also meant that I was out and about throughout much of the conference wearing my Staff t-shirt and looking all official 😊 But it also helped that I’m tall (6’5”) and know so many people, I always had people coming up to me to see if I knew where so-and-so was, or if I’d seen them lately. Usually I was able to either point out where I had *just* seen them or I’d make a quick pass through FinCon Central and find them for the requesting friend.

I also made sure I always tried to make introductions of my friends from Twitter with my other friends from Twitter. I was sad to hear that there were so many missed connections during FinCon18. This year, I vowed to try and make sure if there was someone who’d hoped to meet someone I know, I would keep an eye out for both of them at the same time.

I’m so fortunate to be a part of this collection of friends who roll 2,500 deep into our nation’s capital for a week to hang out and nerd out about money. As I mentioned, my very best friends show up at FinCon – the ones I text or DM with daily, the ones who I’ve shared deeply personal stories with, the ones I’ve visited in different parts of the country, and the ones who take time to talk with me no matter how famous they are in this community and beyond. I swim with their kiddo (Hi HP, Uncle Josh wants you to keep working on blowing bubbles) or chat about swim team with the kid’s proud dad!

I shed tears talking about refocusing and plans moving forward. I cried myself to sleep knowing that I never feel so much love from so many people all at once, something I am definitely missing in my daily life. I smiled and laughed as stories were shared, friendships were grown, and new connections were made.

Best tips were shared on travel hacking, real estate, and tax optimization. Sites were seen, drinks were drank, and fried chicken was eaten – well almost, because Popeye’s hours of operation were listed wrong on Google Maps! I immediately made the edit on my phone to avoid future disasters 😊

Tanja’s Big Idea Talk was about authenticity and being honest with your audience. I hope anyone who met me felt like I was exactly what they expected, even if Champ thinks I’m maybe a more amped up version of myself at FinCon than I am in real life – and she’s not wrong!

Friends I got to meet for the first time this FinCon:

(apologies in advance for missing anyone)

The Fioneers (Jessica and Corey)

A Purple Life & Ms. Mod (because I almost never saw one without the other)

Financial Mechanic (Jess)

Tread Lightly, Retire Early (Angela)

Bravely (Kara Perez)

Dumpster Doggy (Amanda Holden)

Berna Anat (Hey Berna)

Diania Merriam

Melanie Lockert

Brynne Conroy (Author of The Feminist Financial Handbook)

Cameron Huddleston (Author of Mom and Dad We Need to Talk)

Sarah Li-Cain (Beyond the Dollar podcast)

Whitney Hansen (The Money Nerds podcast)

Erin Lowry (Broke Millennial)

Kayla Sloan

Kristy Hymans

Liz Eischen

Bethany Bayless

OurTableFor2 (Moriah)

Daniella and Alexandra (iliketodabble)

Melanie (Partners in FIRE)

Financial Pilgrimage (Mark)

StopIroningShirts (Robert)

Kim at The Frugal Engineers

How to Fire – John and Sam

Paul David Thompson

Lynne Somerman

Elyssa Kirkham (glad you found your laptop!)

Kathleen Celmins

Jamila Souffrant

Jackie Beck

Amanda (Debt Free in Sunny CA)

Kassandra Dasent

Lance Cothern (Money Manifesto)

Dragon Guy and Dragon Gal


The FI Old Guys

One Frugal Girl

Kristen – The Frugal Girl

Full Time Finance

Ms. ZiYou

Young FIRE Knight

Elizabeth (Owning the Stars)

Sarah (Smile and Conquer)

Jessica Moorhouse

Bob (Tawcan)

Becky (TwentyFree)

Kate Dore

Steve Stewart

Miranda Marquit

Amanda Abella

BC Krygowski

Waffles on Wednesday

ZJ Thorne

Michelle Black

Andy Hill

Bobbi Rebell

Rich Jones & Marcus Garrett (Paychecks and Balances podcast)

And my roommate Dollar Revolution (Dillon)

Returning friends from last year’s FinCon or another CampFI or Playing with FIRE event:

Military Dollar

Erin – ReachingForFI

Gwen – Fiery Millennials

Bianca – Miss Mazuma

Stephonee – Poorer Than You

Liz – Chief Mom Officer

Champagne & Capital Gains (Annie)

Pete McPherson – Do You Even Blog

Chelsea Brennan – Smart Money Mamas

Allea Grummert – Ask Allea

Penny – She Picks Up Pennies

Abbie – I Pick Up Pennies

Donna Freedman

Kevin – Financial Panther

Lisa – A Lawyer and Her Money

JD Roth

Jim Wang


Tom Drake

Tanja Hester (I met her husband Mark this year)

The Luxe Strategist (wasn’t at FinCon last year, but we met up in NYC later that fall)

Michelle – Frugality and Freedom

Bill and Amanda from Wealth Well Done

Piggy and Kitty – Bitches Get Riches

Leif, plus his wife Rayce and their two boys – Physician on FIRE

Carl and Mindy Jensen (1500 Days and Bigger Pockets Money podcast, respectively)

Brad and Jonathan from ChooseFI (Plus Ed and the whole crew, many of whom I met at the Richmond Playing with FIRE event)

Scott and Taylor Rieckens (Playing with FIRE)

Julien and Kiersten Saunders (rich & Regular)

Chad Carson

Refined by FIRE

Karsten (Big ERN)

Michael, or was it Ellen? 😉 (Uncommon Dream)

MK and Jason Williams

Vicki and Amy from Women Who Money

Laura – Every Day by the Lake

Lisa Duke

Silvia Moe Inks

Sean Mullaney (FI Tax Guy – whom I met at CampFI SE)

Jillian Johnsrud – Montana Money Adventures

Deanna Broadus – Recovering Women Wealth

Holly Grosvenor – Microstuff

Elizabeth Colegrove

Jennifer Mah (Confessions of FI and ChooseFI Admin)

Mike Damazo

Seonwoo Lee

Stephanie – Xennial Blogger

Krystel – All She Saves

Mr. Jamie Griffin

Doc G


Jessica Bufkin

Nick True

Eric Nisall

Steven – Even Steven Money)

Cody Berman (Fly to FI, The FI Show, Financial Freedom Summit)

Justin Taylor (Saving Sherpa, The FI Show)

James and Emily (Rethink the Rat Race)

Adam – Minafi

Kyle – Money @ 30

Stephen and David Baughier

Michelle Mangen (who I’d just met a week prior at the Cabeese)

Chris Browning from Popcorn Finance

Paula Pant – Afford Anything (and pictured above which we took to send to our friend Brenda Olmos)

Emily Guy Birken

Jana Lynch

Doug Nordman

Claudia and Garrett Pennington

Harlan Landes and Athena Valentine

Despite so many amazing friendly faces and growing or renewed friendships, I won’t be attending FinCon in 2020 in Long Beach, California. I’m still fairly new in my current job, and I don’t have a lot of vacation time saved up. Most of the vacation time I’ve taken in the past 11.5 months have been to attend FI-related events such as two FinCons, a CampFI, plus 5 long-weekend trips to NYC, Charleston SC, San Diego, Richmond VA, and Lake Geneva Wisconsin to visit FinCon friends. I have an idea of saving up some vacation time for a true vacation next year, but we’ll see if I can stay away from all the fun.

I have decided there are 5 potential ways I end up in Long Beach next year:

  1. If I am a Plutus Award Finalist (and not just a trophy sponsor)IMG_20190906_214918
  2. If I am accepted as a FinCon speaker
  3. If I repeat as the Volunteer Coordinator
  4. If I somehow wind up changing jobs (although lack of vacation time would still be an issue)
  5. Or something else highly unlikely (like win a lottery that I don’t actually play?!)
      1. Yes, I’m glad we met last year. I didn’t feel so alone when you were around. This year is one more of many, I hope!

  1. Josh it was so awesome to firstly meet you and secondly having you take on that role to help us meet/connect with our online friends (especially as an anonymous blogger)! I truly appreciate it and think you did an excellent job as volunteer coordinator too. You are amazing and I’m glad to be able to call you a friend! I’m hopeful that you’ll attend FinCon next year despite the challenges, and if not, we will hangout again for sure in the future!
    Cheers friend!

    1. Aww, it was so great to meet you and chat a bit as well. I enjoyed being VC, but it seriously hampered my socialization time!! 😁 Whenever I attend again, I plan to be a social butterfly and spend way more time with my favorite peeps!

  2. We haven’t had the chance to talk, but I was one of your volunteers (Wed 1:30 to 4:30 pm) handing the giveaways. I was so hungry, I stole one burrito in the staff room after my shift. Hope you guys don’t mind.

    1. I think by 4:30 you were fine! I had some volunteers grab food before the Staff got a chance to eat, and there was concern we’d be short, but it worked out. Thanks for volunteering!

  3. This was my first FinCon even though I’ve been blogging for 4 years. I like the college reunion, although I like FinCon more because we share a common vision of adulthood that’s money-related. My life view has changed since I was in college and the fact that I haven’t stayed in touch with most of them since I graduated in 2008.

    I most likely will be missing Long Beach as well because of time constraints. It was great being able to briefly meet you in the hall in DC.

  4. It was great to meet you, however short it was. I’m likely not going to be a 2020 either. There are some long shot possibilities for attendance if something changes. One year is a long way, who knows maybe we’ll both be there having a longer chat.

    1. It was TWO very short conversations, and I thank you for stopping me that second time to say a few words. Yes, we’re still over a year away (haven’t even hit the one year anniversary of FinCon18 yet and now I’ve been to two!) and so much can change!

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