Last week, I went to a money and media conference.
I didn’t take many notes. If you’re looking for big takeaways to help you 10x your life or your brand, look elsewhere. Why? In the spirit of full disclosure, I attended exactly one session.
It’s not because I wasn’t excited for the speakers. I was. I knew that there was a veritable fount of knowledge coursing through the convention. It was a little bit the result of our travel schedule, but it was mostly because I was busy doing things that I can’t do with the Virtual Pass. I was making new friends and reuniting with old.
I sound like the Girl Scouts song. Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold. Or something like that. I think I earned three badges before I quit. I cannot say this earnestly enough: camping is not for me.
Corny as the song seems, there’s real truth in it. For me, FinCon, blogging, and this entire journey toward spending and living more purposefully has been about growth and connections. That doesn’t come without lessons of its own. While I might not have a notebook filled with notes because of it, here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Don’t Swap Herds.
Every person at FinCon is doing something to set themselves apart from the herd. The vast majority of people who are looking to be more intentional with their finances are doing something to set themselves apart. Why, then, are we so quick to swap one herd for another?
If you tell your story exactly like someone else’s, whose story are we remembering? If you script your life to mirror someone else’s, whose life are you living? This experience was a great reminder to take the formulas, take the templates, take the lessons, and then put your own stamp on everything. Authentically.
Lift Up Others.
The very best part of FinCon was looking around and seeing people working on lifting up others. Inside the expo hall. Outside the registration booth. At restaurants and bars. By the pool. There was always someone willing to ask questions, share ideas, and create connections.
If you have a platform, use it. There’s nothing new with that concept. But what was remarkable was watching the way that everyone was choosing to use their platforms. This wasn’t just about networking to seal new deals for themselves. People were genuinely looking to push others toward their goals—whatever the goals may be.
There’s Less of Us Than You Think.
I’m not an introvert. But I’m not totally extroverted either. To be honest, I think the Myers-Briggs test is about as easy to manipulate as a Cosmo quiz and has only slightly more value. (That was a hot take, my apologies.) I do know that regardless of where people stood on the personality spectrum, I heard people comment about how many of us there are both at FinCon and on these financial journeys.
Newsflash: there aren’t. Not really. Of course, this conference was incredibly well attended. But when you think of the world as a whole and how many people struggle with money, there aren’t that many of us on these paths. And there are even less of us who tell our stories
publicly while hiding behind a photo of spare change I found on the ground.
You Shouldn’t Hate It.
Challenging and frustrating, sure. But if you hate what you’re doing, think long and hard about what you’re doing and why. It was the second night of my stay when a quick conversation turned into an hours-long chat. In asking about the ways in which my blog has grown since last year, I didn’t have any real numbers to share. Instead, I revealed something else.
“It’s good. I don’t hate it anymore.”
I’ve been blogging for over three years now. I’ve been on this purposeful spending journey for a bit longer. And there was a stretch of time when I spent every day thinking about quitting both. I wanted to reclaim my time. I wanted to take the pressure off. I wanted to go buy ice cream at Walgreens on a hot day without a sale or a coupon just for the heck of it.
Right after the last FinCon, I gave myself permission to take breaks. I reconsidered how much time I would spend writing. I also reminded myself that it’s OK to spend money. I’m not blogging because I want to build a brand or because I owe anyone an explanation. I’m blogging because I love to write and because I have something to say. Over the past year, I’ve fallen in love with the journey again.
Make Time to Laugh.
There are parts of blogging that are frustrating. There are parts of trying to overhaul bad financial habits and replace them with new ones that are heartbreaking. This isn’t easy.
So laugh. Laugh a lot. Make an effort to surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Even if it’s at their expense when they fail to rub in their sunscreen at the pool. It’s as much about the journey as it is the outcome, and when the journey gets rough, it’s those connections that make it all worthwhile.
Thank you for for sharing your journey, Penny.
Thanks for reading and for commenting. It means the world!
1000000% agree! I hope you made it back home safely and uneventfully. As with last year, I’m bummed we didn’t get more time to chat, but you were so so popular! I’m so stoked for you that you won the Plutus award, and I’m thrilled to hear that you plan to keep blogging. Your voice is such an important one, and I’m so glad you’re here. <3
Thank you so much, Tanja. Your support and Clueless GIFs mean the world <3
“Make time to laugh”. I was reminded this weekend how true that is, when I was enjoying myself and laughing (a lot!). Usually, I get too bogged down in focussing on work, trying to achieve things and saving money that I forget life is to be enjoyed and I need to be less uptight.
Thanks – you make it all so much clearer.
Amanda from the UK
I actually needed to hear your comment, Amanda! It’s sometimes a bit too easy for me to type things and then forget how important they truly are. Hearing them echoed back is valuable. Here’s to more laughs this week and always!
Matt | Financial Imagineer
It was great having met you in Orlando. Quality of any output increases naturally if you like what you do and even the more if your passion starts to shine through so the readers can start to feel it. Cheers to having fun blogging and to an open minded opportunity mindset to learn from and with each other. It’s more fun and yields to higher quality output this way!
You were honestly one of my favorite people to chat with, Matt! Great meeting you!
“I’m blogging because I love to write and because I have something to say.” Amen sister! That is some of the best advice I’ve read yet. This approach shines through in the writing of all the people whose posts I read beyond the “Top 5 ways to blahblahblah your finances”-type titles that proliferate in the finlit space. They love what they do and they do it with a purpose.
Good on you! Great post.
Thanks, Doris! My rankings take a beating sometimes (OK, most of the time), but I’ve realized that I’m happiest when I let myself write however I dang well please, SEO plugins be darned! 🙂
Love it! So true!
Thanks, friend! Hope to chat more soon!
Evidently congrats on your award! I’m sorta surprised you didn’t lead with that one! I think it doesnt matter how far along you are in any journey at some point you hate it. I’m on my last course that I need to get my professional designation… its an 8 month slog. If I could pay someone to do it at this point I would… I hate it. I will probably burn the 200+ page paper that will be the end result (I’m like 80+ pages in). So I feel your pain. But in the immortal words of my friends and family “you’re old and you’ll forget it… or you’re young and you’ll get over it!” So this too shall pass and once done I can go back to the always fun stuff, like agility with my pooch!.
Unrelated keep blogging as you are one of my first checks every monday and wednesday!
I’ll have to do something separate with my award. I’m thinking of a post just full of tiara GIFs. I kid, of course!
“You’re old and you’ll forget.” HA! I love that! Thank you for always stopping by, Jo-Anne.
Please do one full of Tiara GIF’s… and hip thrusts
And it will be dedicated to you, Jo-Anne! Bahaha.
I second Tanja on her opinion about your voice. It is unique and while I come and go on blog reading, yours is one I don’t miss. You keep it real. And that is a quality in short supply in the community and the world in general.
Your comments keep me blogging more than I could ever tell you, Oldster. Thank you!
Great takeaways! I’m disappointed that I didn’t meet/find you and your little one around in FinCon. But I guess it’s hard to find people with the whole anonymity thing 🙂
I am so bummed. Next time, we will have to be more deliberate about planning a meet up!
I also agree that myers-briggs is barely more useful than a cosmo quiz. Have you ever read the history of it? Neither of the women who created it were psychologists, statisticians, or really anything more than huge Carl Jung fans.
It was really good to see you, and congratulations on your award! It’s so good to see my blogging friends take home the big awards!
It was so great to see you, Hannah. I wish we could have talked more! It was also a total joy to watch you strategize and work. You are SO good at what you do. I was totally inspired!
Mrs. Picky Pincher
Argh, I’m so sad I missed FinCon this year! I’m thrilled to live vicariously through posts like this. 😉 I love your point about authenticity. That’s the one thing that makes the blogosphere so interesting! We all have written about budgets at some point I’m sure, but it’s HOW you talk about budgets that is the key.
Exactly. And I wonder if I appreciate this more as an English major. Every idea has already been had. It’s how you share the ideas that matter!
I agree it was hard trying to balance the sessions and catching up with everybody. There was a lot of good sessions this year. It’s a blast every year I cannot wait until D.C.!
I just bought my DC ticket! YAY!
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early
I’d you hate it, stop. Funny how hard it is to quit something long after it does us any good. And then on the flip side, that same feeling can get us considering giving up something good just because it’s also hard.
I believe that if you’re at a point where something like blogging is becoming more of a chore than being fun then it’s really time to consider quitting. It’s not worth your time to do something where their is no happiness and getting nothing out of it.
I’ve been blogging for over a year now and I still love writing my stories and share them to others. Add to the fact that I enjoy interacting with other bloggers on Twitter. My only hope is that people reading it can learn something from and/or enjoy them. If their came a point where I don’t enjoy writing them anymore then I would seriously consider quitting.
I love this post and am amazed at how people lift one another up in this community. It’s my favorite part.
So, so bummed I did not get to meet you. It will happen someday.
Congrats on the Plutus award! At least I now know what you look like so I will find you next time 🙂
Hopefully I won’t be crying when we meet 😉 I hope our paths cross before next year!
Shawn @ ThesmartFi
This post 10X’ed my night. It was only an hour ago, I was reading an article on SEO and after finishing the article my spirit was crushed. It talked about paying to find your domain authority, only writing about 1 niche, and crafting posts with keywords. I don’t write for Google, I write for people. More importantly, I write for myself. It is very uplifting to read that you write because you have something to say. I feel the same way. Thank you, Penny. Congratulations on your Plutus Award. You deserve it.
Krystel @ All She Saves
I love the Girl Scout song, as a fellow scout who only made it to the Junior level 😉 It still brings back good memories!
It was so great to meet you and hang out at the pool. Can’t wait to hang again next year at #FinCon19!
I’m sorry that we didn’t get to talk more, Krystel! Next year!
Or maybe we’ll head through the Twin Cities before then. If you’re ever near Chicago, let me know!
Sarah | Smile & Conquer
Love this Penny! These are the important lessons and I’m happy this is what you brought home from FinCon. I bought my ticket for next year and I’m looking forward to connecting and getting inspired way more than picking up tips to grow the blog.
Love this Penny. Tell your own unique story, that’s why ppl come back to read the blog!
Thanks, Bob! I hope that’s true. I feel so thankful to call my readers (and fellow bloggers) my friends!