5 Key Takeaways from #FinCon16

By Miranda Marquit

I recently attended FinCon. As usual, I learned a lot. Much of the value of the conference comes in the form of who you meet and what you learn.

While I didn’t attend a lot of “official” sessions, I did get plenty of value from the other activities I engaged in. Here are some of the key takeaways I got from #FinCon16:

1. YOU are Your Best Investment

On Thursday night, I had the chance to spend time with a number of love ladies at Women and Money event put on by Fidelity. We shared our best investments to kick things off.

I was struck by how many people mentioned “non-traditional” investments in themselves. Many of the women there invest in their businesses, personal development, and education. I mentioned my own investment in a journalism degree because it is what set me on the amazing — and financially rewarding — path I’m on today.

You are the best investment you can make. Increase your knowledge, whether you are learning how to manage your money, gain a marketable skill, grow your business, or do all of those things. When you invest in yourself, you create a product that is versatile, profitable, and that no one can take from you.

2. Who You Know Makes a Big Difference

Noah Kagan, the founder of AppSumo, delivered the final keynote speech of #FinCon16. He pointed out that who you hang out with can impact your own success and finances. While you don’t necessarily need to ditch your poor friends and chase after those with a higher net worth, the concept is one to consider.

Do you hang out with people who share your values and who encourage you in your goals? If you’re trying to live frugally and pay down debt, hanging out with people who constantly encourage you to spend money and break your budget might not be the best way to shore up your finances. Instead, you might want to look for friends who encourage you and help you stick to your budget with their own frugal ideas and tips.

When you’re ready to build wealth or your business, consider looking for associates who are also driven and interested in building their businesses. You can brainstorm ideas, encourage each other, and be accountable. This will help you achieve success in the long run.

Along with this concept, another great tidbit from the Fidelity dinner was Emily Guy Birken’s tips to “F THAT” if someone doesn’t respect you. If you aren’t getting respect from those you spend time with, don’t let them drag you down.

3. Take Care of Your Money First

It sounds selfish, but the reality is that you need to take care of yourself first. This was something mentioned at the Fidelity Women and Money dinner, but it was a theme that I heard elsewhere at #FinCon16. Many of the people I talked to were interested in making sure they had shored up their finances before taking care of others.

One of the things I did when putting together my own priorities was to start with my own retirement and emergency fund before funding my son’s education. Some of the people in my life found it odd that I wouldn’t put him first. However, the reality is that there’s no way I could help him if I wasn’t financially stable.

The FinCon community is a generous community, willing to help in a number of ways. However, none of us can give money to the less fortunate, volunteer our time, or share our talents if we’re drowning in debt or financially insecure. Take care of your finances first, get right with your own future, and then focus on helping others.

4. Try Something New

Every year at FinCon, I try something new — or I get ideas for trying something new. After FinCon, I’ve experimented with new ways of earning money, spending money, and investing money. Through attendance at sessions and keynotes, and even through just talking with people, you learn new things.

While there are definitely tried-and-true ways to manage your money, you don’t need to limit yourself to those things. In some cases, “conventional wisdom” is outdated and it makes sense to try something new instead of sticking with what no longer applies.

Whenever you go to FinCon, you’re forced out of your comfort zone, you learn things, and there’s plenty to try later. If you find you aren’t getting the results you want with your finances, switch it up a bit to see if you can try something new to change things up for better results.

5. Sometimes You Need a Break

Even though I’m usually busy all through FinCon, the reality is that it provides a break from regular, everyday life. When I go, I set aside work and focus on spending time with my friends, presenting the best way I know how, and doing the Plutus Awards. It’s a way to get out of my regular rut and enjoy more of life.

A break can help you with your business and your finances. When you’ve had time to relax and take a break, you are more creative. This means you can return more productive than ever, and find better solutions to some of your financial problems.

Rather than keep chasing after something you’re not sure you can nail down, make it a point to take a break. You might be surprised at the solutions you end up with.