This year I decided that I was tired of just passively absorbing information from the various Financial Independence (FI) blogs and podcasts on the internet and that I wanted to actually get involved. I’d reached a point in my path to FI where most things were on auto-pilot and I felt like by getting more involved I could see the following benefits:
- Learn some new skills (like how to write words good)
- Hopefully help some people
- Create something instead of just consuming
- Meet “like-minded” people and be engaged in a community that I’m passionate about
So, to do this, I felt like these were the first 3 steps I could take:
- Create this blog
- Engage with bloggers, podcasters, and readers/listeners online
- Attend in-person meetups
The first two have been in progress over the past 6+ months and while I’d like to maybe expand my readership a bit, I’ve been pretty happy with everything.
This month, I was able to achieve the first instance of #3 when my wife and I went to Camp FI Southeast down in Gainesville, FL.
How was it?
The camp was great!
My wife and I are both fairly introverted, so it was a bit stressful at first to try and make conversation with a bunch of strangers, but the incredibly welcoming nature of the group went a long way in alleviating that.
Everyone was generally very friendly, positive, and interested in helping others. It was also super refreshing to be in a group that all felt the same way when it came to nerding-out about personal finance and being willing to live a bit differently to achieve FI. I’m used to being the big weirdo in my friend group that everyone is sick of hearing from about money, so it felt great to be among my “tribe”.
Furthermore, many of the people there have already achieved FI and/or have well known blogs or podcasts about it. Going into the weekend it was a bit intimidating because while I wouldn’t say they’re necessarily “celebrities”, many of these people felt at least more…legitimate in this community than I felt as just some schmuck who’s late to the party. A lot of people also already knew each other from FinCons and other events over the years.
I’m happy to report that these feelings were totally unfounded. I was taken aback at just how normal and chill everyone was, even the “famous” bloggers, who were just regular people (shocking, right?). I almost feel a bit ridiculous for having had those feelings in the first place. Everyone was friendly and welcoming to me and my wife and by the end of the weekend I felt like I’d known many of these people for ages. You really can’t ask for more.
Over the course of the weekend we shared 3 meals a day, listened to presentations from some of the content creators (bloggers, podcasters, etc.), and even had some real camp-like activities such as a ropes course and archery. There were also a couple round-tables with a live recording for the Choose FI Podcast.
These planned events were balanced with just the right amount of down time, where we all had the freedom to go be introverted by ourselves or hang out, chat, and play board games. There was even an impromptu session of acro-yoga. Despite my natural tendencies, I tried to get outside of my comfort zone and do as much of the latter set as possible. I didn’t want to leave the weekend feeling like I failed to take advantage of the opportunity to meet as many people as possible. Fortunately, with all said and done, I feel like I made the most of it.
These casual hangouts, especially in the evenings with drinks, ended up being my favorite part of the camp. It’s rare these days, even with my closest friends, to get to spend that much time just hanging out in person and there’s really no substitute. I feel like I got to know everyone a lot better during these times.
Also, for the record, while I missed the random pull-up contest that happened, I went home and busted out 13 (which everyone will have to take my word on) and I think that’s respectable. Better start training now for next year…
Other than that, there were at least 4 people with little or no voice at some point in the weekend, and apparently tons of people are now sick. Not super surprising, and I was convinced I’d end up with some cold or flu myself, but thankfully both my wife and I escaped unscathed.
The camp was a mix of people that write or speak about this stuff regularly and others that are just living their lives and pursuing FI. As I mentioned, it was great how little this sort of distinction mattered; we’re all part of the same community and everyone was interested in sharing their experiences and helping each other.
Here’s a list of some of the great content creators I met. I’d encourage everyone to check out the great stuff they’re putting out, as it’s helped me immensely on my own journey.
- JD Roth (whose blog I first read a decade ago)- Get Rich Slowly and Money Boss
- Mr. and Mrs. 1500– 1500 Days
- Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench from Bigger Pockets– Scott wrote a book and together they’ve started the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast
- Brad and Jonathan– Choose FI (where I’m excited to be writing articles this year)
- Mr. PoF– Physician on Fire
- Nords– The Military Guide and check out his book
- Miss Mazuma (aka Miss MoneyBags)- Miss Mazuma
- Joel– FI 180
- Seonwoo– FI by 40
- Mr. and Mrs. PoP– Planting Our Pennies
- Paul– Ready Investor One (coming soon)
There are probably others that I’m forgetting or didn’t realize they have a web presence, but this list shows just how incredible this group was. Although, it doesn’t do justice to all of the other wonderful people that don’t write or podcast. They were just as much a part of making the weekend a great experience for us.
Also, huge thanks to Stephen for planning and managing the weekend.
It should be clear at this point that I’m really glad we went. It was great being able to share in this experience with my wife and we’re now more energized to keep pursuing this FI path and creating a life that we find meaningful.
I’m looking forward to going to more of these events in the future and also trying to take advantage of some of the local frequent meetups in my city. Hopefully we’ll also get to see some of the people we met again soon if we’re passing through their cities or they find themselves in DC.
Finally, here’s a picture of our pup representing how I felt after the weekend was over: