By: Revanche

FinCon17 recap

November 1, 2017

FinCon2017 Recap: Dallas, Texas

Coming so closely after our massive renovations and moving, I was unconvinced I should fly off to Texas and leave PiC with a toddler for five days. I sure wouldn’t let him ditch me for five day, solo! 🙂 At least not without calling in reinforcements!

I didn’t leave him high and dry, though! I made them a crafts box to keep them busy: special crafts scissors, construction paper, glue sticks, play-doh, half price Halloween googly eyes foam stickers, a list of projects they could do. A meatloaf was baked and left in the freezer to make sure they could eat real food at least 2 of the week days since we all know it’s a huge pain to start dinner after you get home at 6:30 with a toddler also demanding that you play with zir. We scheduled zir favorite local person to come over for dinner one night, and a playdate with a favorite toddler friend for the weekend. Seamus wasn’t forgotten, of course. Our sitter was great, dropping by to take him out for the afternoon walks that I normally take care of, and we arranged a swap of walking favors instead of payment.

Thankfully, we all survived!

Highlights …

I ran into or found so many more people this year. Last year, I introverted hard, hiding behind Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, Maria from Money Principle, and Joe Taxpayer, popping out occasionally to meet people if it was on a one on one basis. I hate introducing myself to people, doubly so if I’d be interrupting them, so some of the busier popular bloggers I’ve known for ages didn’t even know I was there until the end. This year, I was almost overwhelmed with the socializing.

Most were of the “let’s say hi!” variety – a light meet and greet and flit off like a butterfly. A few were “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE REVANCHE?? You’re REAL??!!” (Yes! Mostly!) Some were massive hugs from old friends, a feast of catching up. Some were massive hugs from new friendships developed over the past year, Maggie, Kara, Tanja, Gwen, Felicity, the pajamas and slippers lounging around a fireplace sort. Some were fortuitous run-ins. Almost all lovely. Almost because let’s face it, I’m a tired sometime cranky misanthrope and if I was 100% in sync with everyone I met, you’ve got the wrong Revanche.

Mrs. Picky Pinchers is positively delightful, Penny brought me her baby to snuggle, and had a fortuitous run in into both Mrs Adventure Rich and poor temporarily-mute Jillian.

As a spoonie, I retired early most nights except when I ran into a whisky-glugging crowd in the lobby on my way back to my soft bed on Friday night and had a good long chat with Lazy Man and Money and Felicity. Even after a missed connection, I even found Vicki!

A friend tells me that she hears at least once every conference that my blog helped them in some way – this was a complete surprise. It’s often hard to know if you have any impact in another’s life and it’s even more unknowable when blogging because most people don’t comment or say whether these words matter to them.

The Plutus Awards were great fun with a ton of truly fantastic ladies being honored in a space that frequently forgets that we exist. We do exist, and we’re awesome, TYVM.

The costume party was awesome. I don’t do costumes myself but there were some truly impressive costumes: Crystal as Viking, Two Cup House as the bear and bull market, the wildcat ladies, our two crazy cat ladies, Felicity’s Defiant Girl (no want Spiderman!).

Maria said: “PT knows how to throw a jolly good party!” Damn if she wasn’t right! I was disappointed that there was no food, since the Plutus Awards were at 7 and the party was at 9, so my 5 pm dinner had long worn off but the party was FUN.

Too much fun. I hit the dance floor for the first time in years because the music was club level compelling minus the skeeviness of club crawling dudes who are all about sneaking unwelcome and inappropriate touching. Great music, enthusiastic partners, no harassment. Winner winner!

… and Lowlights

The conference was absolutely freezing. This is only a big deal because it causes me real and significant pain. There was disproportionate disappointment that Vanguard came with cookies instead of cupcakes this year, but maybe that was for the best.

Just personal stuff. This happened so soon after our many months of toil, my soul (and body, of course) desperately was weary and needed rest before it could take any more in.

I hoped to come away energized and full of ideas for the next year, like last year, but that wasn’t in the cards. That wasn’t horrible but I did feel terribly guilty for having to withdraw from speaking on the Negotiating Top Deals panel with Rebecca Green Neale, Crystal, Jessica Woodbury from CJ Affiliate, and Farnoosh Torabi. I livetweeted that panel to make up for it, but I think the panel was better without me given the time constraints and what the audience was looking for. My expertise is geared towards the negotiating in the traditional professional world and less for the brave new world of online money making.

The bright side of making myself go – I picked up some contacts that may be the right people to monetize the blog a little so the expenses are paid for. It’d be awesome not to waste time on other ways to make this money up! My favorite one was some Swagbucks money to give away to my dear readers! I’m excited to arrange that soon!

The money part

Airfare for one, $310

I could have gotten a round trip flight on United for about $100 but a) I hate United on principle right now and b) they only fly into DFW, 50 miles away from the hotel. Love Field was much closer. I was tempted to have PiC and JuggerBaby come with me again so we could visit with Crystal but the timing happened to coincide with a conference for PiC so that was a no go.

Plus $25 for checking a bag on the way back because when I checked to see if I could swing the suitcase into the overhead, I fell over.

Hotel, $620

Having decided that my rest was worth the cost of my own room, I was VERY pleased to run across this SPG card benefit two weeks before traveling: Get a 1X $60 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend $300+ on room rate and room charges, when you pay for your stay with SPG® Participating Hotels & Resorts from 10/11/17 to 1/31/18. I clicked that button so fast.

The room block booked up so only a couple of days were available the first time I tried to make a reservation. I filled in the last few days with a separate reservation. I thought it was a pain but it turns out to be a good thing because it doubled up on my per-reservation bonuses.

As an Amex SPG cardholder, I earned 1202 base points for the stay, plus my SPG Elite 50% bonus garnered another 601 points, and then the Green Choice bonus was 3000 points. The standard Gold gift of 250 points was awarded twice, and because I was registered for one of their “stay at an SPG before Dec 31st, get 1000 points” promotions, I got that twice, too. That made for a total of 7303 points before accounting for the 3000 bonus points that they owe me.

Transportation, $48.50

Two cabs and a slightly stressful but cheap Love Field to DART station bus to DART station by the hotel. PiC insists that cabs or not public transit isn’t a splurge but he’s also about my comfort.

Food, $65.43

PiC: DID YOU EVEN EAT??  Yes! Dallas was the land of cheap eats!

We didn’t leave the hotel much except for food. Priorities! Sightseeing wasn’t high on my list when I was already spending ten times more energy on socializing than is normal for me. We did trek across to the Plaza de Americas for $5 French toast and eggs in the mornings. I still haven’t cracked the code to making great French toast, and can’t bring myself to pay SF prices for it, so it took coming to Dallas for the cheap and delicious. On second thought, maybe that wasn’t so cheap…

We had pho downtown at Sapa House and it was pretty terrible – the broth was weak and tasted like it’d only high fived flavor on the way out of the kitchen to our table. The filet mignon, normally sliced in identical paper thin sheets, is served raw on request for those who prefer it to cook to a medium rare when dunked into the soup. My filet mignon on the side was instead a pile, raggedly carved off the side of a brisket, jagged, thick, lumpy handtowelesque. After submerging it entirely under the entire swirl of noodles for half the meal, I dredged it up to find that it had barely made its way to “rare”. The sushi appetizer of albacore tuna actually smelled a little fishy. Y’all, fresh raw fish does not smell or taste fishy! My usually low standards for food (I liked cafeteria food!) do not extend to sushi and pho so taking the risk ok both of them at once in downtown Dallas was just an exercise in futile culinary hope.

Clothing, $78

Embarrassingly, all my clothes are either too business-formal or waaay too casual. I was going to cobble together a wardrobe with what I had but even the too casual clothes have taken a beating from my remote work lifestyle.  Target had my four replacement shirts for $28, and I’m trying out a backup pair of jeans from Express for $50. Is it fair to charge this to FinCon since obviously those clothes didn’t expire when I left? Absolutely. I probably wouldn’t have had reason to go shopping for another year without this impetus.

Total, $1121.93

FINCON18?

It’s in Orlando and early estimates show the hotel to be around $1000. YIKES. I picked up a pass but I might have to transfer that pass later if the costs add up way faster than my income does. We’ll see.

:: Would you trek out to Orlando to see many of these lovely faces next year? Does anyone have objections to my monetizing the site a little bit more? 

23 Responses to “FinCon17 recap”

  1. That pho place sounds awful! I’m glad you didn’t get food poisoning.

    I’m of the opinion that content creators should always feel free to monetize. As a reader, I get so much insight from blogs for free! To demand that writers also pass up ad money to provide me with thoughtful, free content seems a bit much.
    Yet Another PF Blog recently posted…BurnoutMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I really should have reconsidered that sushi! One of those times I played it risky.

      That seems like a reasonable attitude to have, thank you for sharing it.

  2. SP says:

    Sounds like so much fun!

    I’ve been feeling more “bloggy” lately and really admire some of the top blogs, but also know I don’t currently have it in me to put that much effort into making something profitable. At any rate, glad you had a nice time!
    SP recently posted…Thoughts on financial independenceMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Same! The only reason I think more about monetizing is to cover the costs of this hobby. It doesn’t make sense to spend like I am on traveling for the blog related interests and not try to recoup some of it but I’m under no illusions that I’ll recoup all or more than expenses.

  3. Thank you for the great update, Revanche! I’m glad you had a great time at the conference. I’m very shy, so our think I would be hiding some bloggers that I know as well.

    $65 for a week of food is not bad at all
    I’m sorry to hear about the pho and sushi. Those are two of my most favorite foods. But if not done right, they can be a big disappointment.

    • Revanche says:

      You’re welcome!

      It REALLY helps to have a few friends before you go, which you already have!, so they can ease the transition of getting through the conference as a newbie.

  4. Kris says:

    Thanks for providing a recap of your FinCon experience. Very cool to know that your blog has helped some people get good advice, it seems very rewarding to hear that.
    Yeah I’m an introvert too so I know how you feel especially when introducing yourself. But once I get comfortable I break out of my introverted self and get a bit more social.
    I’m trying to go to next year’s FinCon in Orlando but with flying cross country from SF, a place to stay and passes to the conference, it may be steep. At least it’s still a ways to go so we got a lot of time to decide.
    Kris recently posted…If You Are Not Investing in the Stock Market, Do It Now Not LaterMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      If I haven’t helped anyone in this many years, I should really stop writing ;D

      Yes, we have plenty of time to decide. I might opt for a less expensive gathering, next year, though.

  5. I’m sorry we didn’t’ get to chat as much as we did last year. I felt overwhelmed but did force myself to meet new people. This year I opened myself up to more opportunities and ended up potentially partnering up with a few people on projects.

    I’m a bit nervous about the hotel price as well. If you need an introverted roommate you can always ask me 🙂

    • Revanche says:

      You looked really busy and distracted this year! 🙂 I didn’t want to disturb your vibe. I hope your partnerships are awesome and pan out.

      Thanks for the offer, I appreciate it. Though, I would have to have an honest answer about whether or not you snore 😉

  6. Elisa P says:

    Great to meet you ! It was THE BEST conversation I had. 🙂
    -E-

  7. I’m glad I spotted you briefly. Perhaps monetizing your site will help you pay for the hotel in Orlando. 🙂 Hope to see you again there.

  8. It was SO good to meet you! And glad you got to meet my hubby too! I am in agreement on everything you posted here. The freezing cold hotel was crazy – it seemed like the AC was on! But it did keep me awake and focused in the sessions too. I agree about monetizing. As a reader, you can’t expect people to write for free. I would prefer to see ads and links than to have a bunch of annoying pop-ups. And not sure if you’ve noticed or written about this before, but the women bloggers are much more likely to NOT monetize from what I’ve seen. I think we need to address that too…

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! And I didn’t notice the same about monetizing on gender lines but now that you mention it, I’d rather be on the other side of that fence!

  9. […] FinCon17 recap | a gai shan life […]

  10. It’s so great that you could be there. Thank you for coming this year! What a great recap too. I’m sharing with the team to try to make some improvements. Hopefully, you can either take advantage of our discount hotel block or consider sharing a room to cut down on the hotel costs. Thanks again for being there and for sharing the experience.

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks, Phil! It was a lot of fun, and y’all did a great job getting everything together. I’ll explore my options for next year, definitely 🙂

  11. Jim Wang says:

    It was so good to meet in person after all these years 🙂

    And yes, it was freezing in the hotel. They’re probably used to warmer temps?
    Jim Wang recently posted…Ultimate Guide to Conquering Student Loans & Forgiveness ProgramsMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Yes, it was great to meet, finally! 🙂

      I’m guessing they overcompensated for the number of expected attendees. I was surprised how many people weren’t in coats.

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