When I told my parents I was heading up to Minnesota for Camp FI Midwest this year, I found myself having to answer an interesting question back from them.
You see, while I’ve told my parents about my goal of Financial Independence in my 30’s (and they are very supportive), I haven’t mentioned anything about other people in pursuit of this, just that based on the math it can be done.
So when I found myself having to explain just exactly what it was I was going to, they asked me a pretty funny question in return:
“Are you joining some kind of cult?”
I couldn’t help but laugh at that comment and assured them I was not getting caught up in some kind of scam.
Thinking back on it though, perhaps this whole movement really is a cult.
We’re a relatively small group of people that are brought together by this movement towards Financial Independence. The outside, consumer driven world does not understand why we do what we do.
While individuals may differ, we all have a common goal that we are working towards and in which we can share tips, methods, strategies or simply encouragement along the journey.
Maybe we’re one of the rare good cults out there!
Armed with this knowledge, I braced myself for an experience differing from anything I’ve ever done before.
Camp FI Midwest
So what does it look like when a cult has a 3-4 day gathering?
Here’s a copy of our actual schedule:
As you can see, it’s not all spreadsheets and retirement calculators (though those aren’t discouraged!)
Along with getting the chance to listen to some excellent speakers and their presentations, there was plenty of free time/socializing time built in.
While the presentations were fantastic and I took away many things from them, it was really during meals and the free time which was so great. It was here where I got to meet so many new people and speak with them in a socialized setting!
Conversing with everyone and just listening and learning their stories was super inspiring.
The journey to Financial Independence can be a slog at times, but it’s invigorating getting encouragement and advice from people who have already been there and done that.
We were extremely fortunate to have the line up of speakers we had. All were extremely popular and influential bloggers, most of which I’ve followed more or less since finding out about Financial Independence.
As a history guy, you could say this was a Mount Rushmore line up! (if there were 6 slots on Mount Rushmore of course 🙂 )
Physician on FIRE gave a great speech on FIRE with children and the unique benefits and challenges they’ve ran into along the way.
Most assume that in order to become financially independent early on in life you can’t have children, but he and his family are walking proof that’s not necessary!
Chad from Coach Carson talked about how to use real estate to become financially independent. Chad’s story is amazing and this topic was extremely relevant for me as my next big goal is to purchase my first real estate property.
Cait Flanders was next up, and her presentation was all about her story and #minimalism. This was super inspiring to me.
Although I don’t consider myself having a ton of things, there’s still plenty of stuff I have which I probably don’t need. I need to do a spring cleaning soon!
The next day, Anthony from Break The Twitch spoke about intentional living and breaking the “twitch” – the involuntary physical reaction that happens such a when you look at your phone standing in line, or purchasing something online “just because”.
This speech really resonated with me, as I’ve been working on decreasing my smart phone and social media usage throughout the year, to mixed results.
Tanja from Our Next Life gave a very in-depth and personal look at the expectations vs reality of early retirement. She also led a fantastic breakout session about healthcare which touched on a ton of things that I did not realize.
Last, but certainly not least, Carl (aka Mr. 1500) from 1500 Days gave a very humorous and memorable take on some of the things he’s learned in early retirement. He calls himself an introvert, but it was tough to tell based on his speeches!
– Being a first timer and hardly knowing anyone, it was a little intimidating to go up and speak with some of the big name bloggers that were there. What was amazing was just how down to earth, normal and helpful they were. With people like these as the faces of the FIRE movement, it’s no wonder it’s seen as an open, welcoming and encouraging community.
– The diversity in the paths to FIRE at camp were truly amazing. I met people from all over the spectrum. Single income with kids/no kids. Dual income with kids/no kids. Single people, married people. There were even some people in college that came! Getting to hear all these different perspectives was truly amazing.
– Mixing alcohol + Cards Against Humanity never fails to be a good time.
– It was surprising to see where everyone traveled in from. Though obviously most were within driving distance, it seemed there were people that came from all over the country, including a few from nearby myself in the DC area!
– Noah from Money Metagame really knows his stuff when it comes to travel hacking. As I am pretty new to it, it was great to bounce ideas and strategies off him. Also – if you think you are good at corn hole (or bag toss) you clearly have not played a game with Noah before.
– After speaking with Kevin from Financial Panther in person, he may have convinced me to start up a small side hustle similar to the things he’s been writing about. Doing this ain’t gonna make me rich, but it’s a little extra cash that wouldn’t be too inconvenient for me and can certainly help out! Stay tuned!
– On the one hand I’m sad I didn’t get a ton of pictures of the retreat center and presentations as it was a beautiful place. On the other I was happy as that meant I had my phone put away and was taking full advantage of meeting and speaking with as many people as I could! Here’s the one good photo that I got down by the river:
There were so many good things to take away from my first Camp FI experience.
While a lot my my takeaways from camp were things to focus on in the future, I’ve already taken some steps to help me out currently (such as FINALLY moving my phone charger off my night stand to across the room so I don’t look at my phone first thing in the morning anymore).
The weekend was an absolute blast, and I’m hoping the new friends I made are ones that last a long time!
I’m already looking forward to the 2019 Camp FI Mid-Atlantic in Virginia that I signed up for back in June. Hopefully I can make even more friends there as well!
Have you or would you ever consider going to an event like this? If you have attended one, how was it different from what you expected?
*Cover photo cred to Kevin and his awesome drone!