What I Learned at FinCon12, Or Why I’m Putting my Blog on Hold

by mzumtaylor on September 26, 2012

in Becoming a CPA,Interesting Links,Personal Finance

I spent most of the weekend of FinCon12 (which was almost two weeks ago now) surrounded by a bunch of really amazing, inspiring, and talented people. For that experience alone I am very grateful.

Attending FinCon12

When I found out that the Financial Blogger Conference (FinCon or FinCon12) was coming to Denver I was thrilled. I wasn’t able to go last year because it was too far away and I found out about it too late. But I live in Denver. I mean, it couldn’t be more convenient for me (at least in theory).

And the conference was incredible. As I mentioned above, I got to meet some really neat people, some of whose blogs I’d been following since 2007 when I started on my own financial journey.

  • I got to say thank you in person to Jesse Mecham of You Need a Budget (affiliate link), the budgeting software I bought in 2007 (with my last $60) that helped put me in the financial position I am today.
  • I got to meet many of the people I’ve connected with on twitter this last year, both as @EducationCents and @thefinancegeek.
  • I got to hear Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich talk about his success as a blogger and business owner, which was very cool since his was the second blog I found when I took to the internet looking for advice on how to manage my money. (The first blog was The Simple Dollar. The third was Get Rich Slowly.)
  • I got to put faces to the names (and twitter handles) of all the people I’ve connected with since 2010 when I decided to buy a URL and call myself The Finance Geek.
  • I even met some people who’s names and blogs I’d heard of, but not yet found time to explore, like:
    • Mr. Money Mustache – You have to love a blogger who comes up with great words like “badassity” and “wussypants.”
    • Afford Anything – Paula is very nice in person (this should surprise no one) and the advice on her blog is excellent.
    • Average Joe, of the (in)famous podcast “Two Guys and Your Money“.
    • Len Penzo . com – It shames me to admit it, but before the conference, despite what a big name he is in the financial blogosphere, I had never seriously checked out his blog. It’s quite good, if you were curious, and having had the opportunity to sit down to a late dinner with Len Penzo and several other people, I can tell you that he’s really very nice.

My Two Key Take-aways from FinCon

Thing 1: Get a Hotel Room

I don’t care if the conference is in your hometown or in Timbuktu, if it’s not in your backyard, or within walking distance of your house/apartment/condo/cardboard box, get a hotel room for the duration.

So much at conferences happens in the hallways and lobby of the hotel, and if you’re packing yourself in your car each night to go home (like I was), you will miss many of those really great opportunities. Also, the strain of commuting to and from a conference adds up quickly (faster than commuting for a job), because every moment of every single day of the 3-4 day weekend, from 7 am to 10 pm (or later), is jam packed with things to do and people to connect with. It’s exhausting no matter what, and even more so if you then have to figure out how to get home at the end of the day.

So yeah, when attending a conference, even if it’s in your hometown, get a room in the hotel.

Thing 2: I Just Don’t Have Time…

As completely awesome as it was to meet all of the people I met, I realized over the last few weeks that this blog is not what I need to be (or can be) focusing on right now.

It’s actually physically painful to type those words, because I love this blog, and the people I’ve met through it, and the opportunities it’s afforded me (not least of which is my current job).

But it comes down to a question of time, goals, and priorities.

The Moment I Realized Something Had to Give

One of the breakout sessions I went to was a presentation by Travis Pizel (aka @DebtChronicles). His presentations was called “Balancing Family, Life, and Two Careers: Getting the Most Out of Being a Part-time Blogger.” If you attended the conference and didn’t get to see it, I highly recommend finding the video. His passion for writing and for his family will likely bring tears to your eyes.

And the most interesting thing that he talked about didn’t even have to do with the nitty-gritty of how he balances his family, his life, and his two careers. The most interesting part of his presentation, for me, was when he talked about the point that he realized that something had to change.

That really struck a chord with me, because right now I’m working full-time, going to graduate school full-time, eking out any time with Mr. Finance Geek that I can, and still managing to keep on top of the cooking and the cleaning around the house so I don’t go crazy.

On top of that, I have this blog. Which I love, but you might notice that it’s been a little… neglected these last few months, and that was before I started school.

(Re-)Evaluating My Priorities

So I sat down with a pen and paper and really took a close look at my goals and priorities. And the bottom line is that my focus right now is on:
Personal – Maintaining a strong relationship with my husband and keeping my house (relatively) clean and organized.
Professional – Continuing to excel at my current job, going back to school, earning my Masters degree, sitting for and passing the CPA exam, and getting a job at a Big 4 accounting firm in downtown Denver.

As much as I want it to be on the list, growing this blog just doesn’t make the cut.

I know how much time and effort goes into managing and growing a blog and a social media presence. That’s been my day job for the last year and a half, growing the Education Cents blog and social media presence. I know how to do it, and I know I could do it for this blog. And I know that it would be fun, interesting, and I would really enjoy the work (and the people). So that’s not the issue.

The issue is time.

And—if you’ll forgive me making (and torturing) a personal finance/budgeting metaphor—when I look at my daily time “income,” after allocating minutes to the things my goals and priorities dictate I need to do, there’s barely enough left for the things I should do, never mind the things I want to do.

It comes down to Personal Finance 101: If you have more to buy than you have money to spend, you either have to spend less or earn more. I can’t earn more time (wouldn’t that be lovely?) so I have to spend less of it on things that don’t align with my current goals.

What This Means Going Forward

I’m not going to take down this blog. In fact, I may post to it every now and then when I have a personal finance story that just has to be shared.

I’m just putting this blog on hold. My hope is to come back to it (sooner or later), and do the work to grow it and use it to help people.

In the meantime, if you’re wondering what I’m up to, you can find me at Becoming A CPA, where I hope to find time every few days to keep track of how things are going on my path to life as an accountant.

I’ve been delighted to be a part of the personal financial blogger community, and to help anyone and everyone who gleaned some bit of useful knowledge or insight from my blog.

Recommended Reading

Blogs/people I’ve followed since the beginning:
Get Rich Slowly
The Simple Dollar
I Will Teach You to Be Rich

Blogs/People I’ve connected with on twitter:
Money Crashers
Careful Cents
Club Thrifty

Blogs/People I met at FinCon and definitely plan to follow
The Centsible Life
Afford Anything
Mr. Money Mustache
Planting Money Seeds
Barb Friedberg
Donna Freedman
Liz Weston

Neat products to check out (no affiliate links)
You Need a Budget
Planwise

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet September 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

It was great to meet you and FinCon, and trust me, I completely understand. One of my major take aways was that I also don’t have the time (or energy) to grow my blog. It’s still being written because I can’t not write, but my energy needs to go toward other things, not otward trying to monetize or grow readership.

Best of luck with your goals, and I’ll keep checking in here for the occasionaly story.

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