FinCon Expo is one of my favorite financial events of the year. Although I'm a financial planner, I still love attending this conference for financial bloggers and journalists because it's wildly different than any other financial conference -- in a good way.
I always get a ton of value from FinCon, and this year's conference -- in New Orleans in September -- was no different. More consumers are turning to financial blogs and sites (like DailyFinance, of course) that talk about money in a fun, conversational and easy-to-understand way.
As a fellow financial nerd, I really appreciate how financial bloggers educate others about personal finance. Bloggers have a lot to teach all of us, from money newbies to certified money professionals like me. Let's start with these four great lessons I learned from the bloggers I got to hang out with at FinCon.
1. Save for Tomorrow While Having Fun Today
Many people think that being financially savvy means always delaying gratification, but that's not the case with the FinCon crowd. They were energetic and happy to party -- and they knew how to do it on a budget. Bloggers are experts at having fun while living within their means and keeping their future financial security intact. They make it a priority to use their money in ways that brings them happiness (like spending money on experiences) rather than things, but they also make saving a priority.
2. Work to Get Great Deals on Travel
Many bloggers traveled to New Orleans for free or got steep discounts, thanks to their efforts at travel hacking. Some bloggers used Airbnb for accommodations, and many attendees shared rooms or rental apartments and houses to cut costs.
Kali from Common Sense Millennial chose to walk an extra block or two from the main conference hotel to stay for free on reward points at a different establishment. And after using the sign-up bonus with the Southwest (LUV) Rapid Rewards Visa (V), she flew round-trip for just $10 in fees.
3. Pursue That Passion (But Don't Abandon Your Finances)
Not all the bloggers at the conference were famous or had sites that saw massive amounts of traffic (although a few sold their blogs for seven figures). While some can make full-time income from running their personal finance blogs, most bloggers do it for fun and as a side hustle.
They love sharing financial knowledge and experiences. It doesn't matter that they make very little (or nothing) from blogging. And they don't abandon their full-time jobs to try to make this blogging dream come true. They value their financial stability and ability to reach their goals and pursue their passion in their free time.
These bloggers do an excellent job of showing that there's no one right way to pursue your passion -- and doing something you love doesn't mean you need to abandon your ability to earn an income. You can easily work on your skills, hobbies, education and dreams on the side of what you do to pay your bills.
4. The Value of Taking Action
One of the most important lessons applies to finances and life in general: there's power in taking action. Many bloggers didn't know where their journey would take them when they started, but they've landed in some sweet spots.
Many attendees quit their day jobs to work for themselves. Others found ways to get out of debt faster or earn more money to accelerate their financial goals -- all because one day they decided to quit dreaming and start doing more with their careers, finances, and big goals.
They didn't wait for someone to make the way easy for them. They didn't wait for permission. They hustled hard and never gave up -- and they didn't waste much time sitting around wishing. Instead, they productively used their time to act.
Sophia Bera is a virtual financial planner for millennials and the founder of Gen Y Planning. She is location independent but calls Minneapolis her home. She offers a free Gen Y Planning newsletter.