Well, FinCon was the usual whirlwind of hugging people, drinking, a dizzying number of Expo Hall booths, drinking, handing out/getting business cards and… Did I mention drinking? I drank all four nights of the conference, so my liver is on strike until it gets better working conditions.
It actually wasn’t as bad as all that. But drinking was definitely done. Luckily, I was able to get enough drink tickets (people don’t want theirs or the ticket distributors have leftovers and take pity on you) to not have to pay for any drinks at the functions.
The same can’t be said of the nights outside of the conference. The first night I was there, I tagged along with Deacon Hayes (Well Kept Wallet) and Greg Johnson (Club Thrifty) where I bought three drinks. That was $24 after tip. Not bad overall, especially considering I was out for five hours.
The real pinch came two days later when I was drinking with several FinCon-ers at the hotel bar. Hotel bars ain’t cheap. I had a total of four drinks over the course of the night for a total of about $45.
Worse, everyone got hungry and didn’t want to leave the hotel. So we made the mistake of eating at one of the restaurants there. I did my best to enjoy my horrendously overpriced tacos. I should have gotten the burrito. It was $20, but at least it was massive. Instead I got three little street tacos and a bowl of beans and rice for $17. Luckily (?) the drinks already in my system helped numb the sting of the prices a bit.
Despite that night’s painful total, I spent less than $100 in five days. Mom stocked up on food at Publix the first night we were there, so there was always meat, cheese, rolls and crackers in the hotel room. (Yes, I should have just eaten there instead of the hotel restaurant. But I wanted to keep chatting with everyone, so I went along with it and literally paid the price.) As for the rest of the meals, Mom got me invited to some meals held by companies, which took care of another couple of meals. And a friend insisted on buying lunch one day.
All in all, it could have been a lot worse financially. Still, next year I’ll be insisting that we dine offsite. Of course, next year the hotel will actually be convenient to… anything.
So here are the things I learned this FinCon:
- Not even newstands are open at 3 a.m. in the Phoenix airport
- The middle seat and Restless Leg Syndrome are a bad combination.
- Bitches Get Riches are just as fabulous as you’d expect.
- Champagne & Capital Gains and The Give and the Get were just as funny and awesome as they seem on Twitter/their blogs.
- Pretty much every personal finance blogger is friendly and fun.
- Some seemingly intelligent people don’t get out of the pool when lightning starts.
- I need to bring a FitBit to the next FinCon if the hotel is half as sprawling as this one was.*
- I no longer have the capacity to drink five days in a row.
- If I do drink five days in a row, I’ll wake up with a moderate case of dehydration.**
- That level of dehydration will go away in about three hours if I pound a small Powerade, two and a half bottles of water and a protein bar.
I also discovered that next year’s FinCon will be in Washington D.C., cementing my decision to go again. Because yes, it wasn’t a sure thing.
As much fun as I have at the conference each year, it’s a lot of money (even splitting a hotel room) to essentially go see friends. Some of the sessions are helpful, but by and large I’m just there to catch up with people. And of course every year the ticket price and number of people goes up, while the amount of food we’re given goes down.
So at some point I’ll have to cut my losses. But it won’t be next year.
I’ve been wanting to go back to DC for a while now. I’m going to use some free nights I got with my hotel rewards card to come two or three days early and do some sightseeing. Of course, I’ll pay for the flight and conference hotel with my Chase Business Ink Cash card since those are business expenses, but I see no good reason to pay for those first few hotel nights as a tourist.
Back to this year’s FinCon: In and among my trekking around the hotel, I managed to traverse the whole 100 booths of the Expo Hall. Yes, 100. Not all were giving away swag, but Mom and I both came away with a fair number of items. I’m keeping a few of the t-shirts, but most of the items we picked up will be featured in one of Mom’s fabulous FinCon swag giveaways. We’ve got stress balls, notebooks, super soft t-shirts, reusable bags, and so on and so forth. Keep an eye out for that in the next week or two.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I need desperately to lie down. All the activity finally caught up with me, and I’ve been shuffling around the house in a haze.
If you were at FinCon, what was your favorite part? If you weren’t, are you going to go next year? And if you’re not a blogger, how excited are you for the swag giveaway?
* The 14 floors of rooms had five to seven wings — yes, wings — each. It took us three to four minutes to get from our room to the elevator and the better part of 10 minutes to get from the elevator to the meeting rooms.
** Distinct from a hangover in that there was no headache/body aches/light sensitivity. But there was slight dizziness and moderate queasiness (but I was too dehydrated to throw up so… yay?).