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Achieving Financial Independence Through Corporate Employment

Fincon 2019 Recap

My posting has taken a couple weeks off. We made a trip to the Northeast to visit family, had a nice hurricane scare with Dorian, and I just got back from attending my first Fincon. FinCon is a massive convention geared towards all content creators in the financial space and at least 2500 people convened on the Washington Hilton in DC. The conference is business focused and becomes a must-attend so all the content creators that are serious about earning money by writing about finance. Anyone with a decent business shows up and will spend time meeting with vendors, partners, affiliates, and listening to sessions. Fincon also attracts a nice mix of hobby bloggers and community members in the financial independence space and it was fun spending time meeting people I’ve followed for years.

I’m writing as a hobby but walked away with some ideas, but still have to decide if this is something I want to turn into an entrepreneurial venture. The itch of entrepreneurship is there, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready to turn in my early retirement card to the internet retirement police. The longer I am away from my corporate career the more I realize that I’ll do some work and earn more money, but it won’t be anything like my corporate job. Financial independence affords me the optionality to do what I want to do.

Now to all of my shout outs and thank you’s and shout-outs for Fincon!

Geographic Arbitrage and Where to Live in Early Retirement:

It was wonderful to meet fellow early retirees and geographic arbitragers from 2019: Adam from Minafi and Kim from the Frugal Engineers both shared in the pain and success of doing this recently. Moving and geographic arbitrage are part of many people’s early retirement plan, but quitting your job and moving your life is not all cupcakes and roses. I finally got to meet Chris Mamula and thanked him for being one of the first people to write about this. Discussing slow travel with Karsten (Big ERN) was enjoyable while we met folks from the Minnesota area for lunch.

I got to quiz a lot of people about their choice of location once they could move. We moved to coastal South Carolina to start our adventure but aren’t set on this as our final destination. It seemed most of the early retirees we met were either clustered on the relaxed coast of western Florida or chose the western mountains, with 1-2 hours north of both Salt Lake City and Denver being most popular. I can see the attractiveness of both. If you hate cold winters, like the sunshine, and want to travel in the summer, its tough to beat living on the west coast of Florida. If you’re into outdoor activities in the snow, the western mountains give amazing summers and winters plus you have quicker access to Hawaii when a break from the cold is needed. We will need to spend more time in both places soon!

Thanks to the Whats Up Next Podcast!

Doc G and Paul Thompson along with Bill from the Financial Literacy Project generously put on a blow out event (seriously, I was waiting for the fire department to show up and say there were wwwaaayy too many people upstairs). It was great to see a few financially independent types decide to host this kind of party for all of their friends and colleagues. Great times were had and I’ll be representing my very own Whats Up Next Podcast shirt for years. Doc’s enthusiasm and generosity is what building a community is all about and he walked away with the Best New Podcast award.

The FI Patio:

The hotel patio became the meeting spot for the financial independence types. It was great to meet the Waffles on Wednesday (and later eat pancakes in front of them since it was Saturday), watch the funding/relaunch of the Countdown to FI (Down to FI) podcast, and hang out and talk with some names I’ve followed for years like the 1500s, Jillian, and Michael. I managed to mistake one of the originals for someone else (sorry Frugal Girl) and watched JD Roth drink part of a six pack I bought. I even talked about east coast vs. west coast skiing with Mark aka Mr. Our Next Life (sshhh, don’t say anything to his other half who confusingly blocked me on twitter earlier this year). I finally got to try a special brew from Physician on FIRE‘s brewery.

The FI Patio before security closed it down

It wasn’t just the “names” people recognize though, people and couples that were either FI or quickly on there way there were all over the place to meet. That likely has me sold on going to a CampFI soon.

The Most Frugal:

Justin from Saving Sherpa lived up to all the hype on frugality but I’m convinced James and Emily have him beat. They had a strong radar for free food & drink. I also hope someone eventually #gotCodyhelp as he tried to keep up.

Celebrity Spotting:

It was awesome to catch up with Doug Nordman after 7+ years of interacting with him online, I apologize to his wife if I interrupted their evening in the lounge. The same goes to Paula and JD for tolerating me saying hello way too early on Wednesday morning before Andy Hill’s group 10k tour of DC (30+ people was an awesome turnout!). I got to briefly say hi to both Jonathan & Brad and talked to Coach Carson for a while at the ChooseFI kickoff event.

A surprising higlight was getting to chat with Chris Hill for a while. Chris hosts Motley Fool Money and I’ve been a listener for nearly a decade. I am a big fan of index funds, but I credit that show for reminding me not to miss obvious investment trends. The idea of investing in companies with giant lines of affluent people waiting to give the company their money originally came from that show…and I have investments in Costco and Disney that have doubled the market and I got to thank Chris for that.

Congrats on the Successful Kickoff!

Work Flashbacks:

It was good to catch up with a few people who are also in/related to my old business. I won’t identify them by name but I enjoyed giving what little advice I had left and affirming I made the right decision to exit the industry when I did.

Am I an old curmudgeon on Twitter?

Three times I was told that “I thought the person behind Stop Ironing Shirts was MUCH older!”. This both came from people who follow me on twitter but may not have necessarily read the blog that said I retired at 36. I think one of them nicely said “oh, only old people have to wear suits”. At least we had the FI Old Guys hanging out and we could get a good laugh about it.

Quick Hellos:

The benefit/challenge of a conference of this size is sometimes you only get a quick interaction with people you’d love to spend more time with. Numerous people fell into this category for me, including Tawcan, Chelsea Breanan, Penny, Angela, and Military Dollar. This is only a partial list with many more I’m failing to name.

Travel Fun:

Thanks to American Airlines for changing my flight out to make it on to a plane and for letting me cancel my return ticket. Hurricane Dorian gave us fits but I was able to get a one-way rental car back for $23 to pickup Mrs. Shirts and the pup and head back home. This is probably the best per-mile price I’ve ever seen on a rental car!

Wrapping Up:

Overall FinCon was a fun experience. I may or may not rush to go to another one (although 2020’s destination of Long Beach, CA is intriguing!) until I figure out just how much effort I want to put into online entrepreneurship. If I were monetizing the blog by a few thousand a year, I think the event if completely worth it. If the blog stays at a hobby level and I am solely out to hang out with similar minded people, there may be better avenues than the chaos of my first Fincon. Time will tell, but the great thing about being financially independent and leaving my corporate job to pursue leisure and hobbies is the freedom to go with it. I think a CampFI is in my near future and maybe I’ll end up at Fincon. It might even be less chaotic now that I don’t have the self-inposed pressure to meet so many people for the first time.

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14 Comments

  1. I’m most likely going to the first week of CampFi in Florida, if you’re going it would tip the scales! Great hanging out with you, and if you ever use some travel miles to visit the Rockies I’m here!

    • Stop Ironing Shirts

      Enjoyed visiting with you and using my one day head start to make introductions! Strongly considering the first week of CampFI Florida as well and need to head west next spring

  2. It was cool hanging out with you and being able to chat about markets among other things. Looking forward to seeing how you spend the next year of your retirement 🙂

    • Stop Ironing Shirts

      Enjoyed it as well and I was representing your brand all day with my new shirt! Fingers crossed a few of those bets pay off

  3. It was nice to meet you in person! You look waaaay younger than I expected (not a bad thing).

    I like your take on speculative/stock investing. I’ve tried following something similar, but with a very small portion of my portfolio (5%). I think I might raise that up to something higher as I read/learn more, but not push into investing in “something” if nothing stands out a clear and obvious investment.

    How’d you decide what % of your portfolio would go into individual stocks?

    • Stop Ironing Shirts

      Enjoyed meeting you as well, retirement should keep us young too!

      If you haven’t read it yet, pickup a copy of the Howard Marks book Mastering the Market Cycle. I’m not advocating market timing to someone accumulating, but once you have money protecting the capital becomes a top priority. This ain’t trading fully in and out, but tweaking the allocation and what’s in it depending on what’s going on.

      My individual stock numbers keep growing because I see a better risk/return profile in picking real companies with real cash flow than an index full of richly valued tech companies. I’m fine only getting 2/3rds up the upside if I also only eat 2/3rds of the downside.

      Right now I’m also avoiding corporate bonds and just buy treasuries. Not enough extra return for the risk. Would like to add some real estate but we need a correction there too. Lots of assets are valued high right now compared to historical valuations!

  4. It was great meeting you and putting a face to the name! +1 on the looked younger than I expected haha. Will be great to follow along on your early retirement adventures!

  5. Chris Mamula

    It was fun chatting with you. And you’ll be glad to know I (finally) proudly accepted my Plutus award on Sunday morning in a hallway from a woman in her PJs. 🙂

  6. Tawcan

    It was too bad we didn’t really have time to chat. Next year hopefully?

  7. Despite blogging for over a decade, I have still never attended a FinCon! This wrap up makes me want to try and make next year.

  8. Celeste

    It was nice to meet the man behind the blog (whose name I love and can TOTALLY get behind). Thanks for the encouragement and for introducing me to the FI Old Guys at the FI meetup. They’re a hoot!

  9. It was great to meet you in person and glad we didn’t need the fire department to save the FIRE bloggers. That headline writes itself…”30+ bloggers known for the FIRE (Financial Independence / Retire Early) burn down the dive bar “The Big Hunt” because they exceeded safe withdrawal rates of the deck.

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