Our First FinCon

Classy in San Diego

Classy in San Diego

In September we (all 3 of us!) attended the financial bloggers conference known as FinCon for the first time, which took place over 4 days at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina.

I’ve been wanting to attend ever since I won a Plutus Award at last year’s FinCon for Best International Personal Finance Blog (yeah!) Thanks Plutus Awards!

Although I’ve been blogging for awhile, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. What exactly is a bloggers conference? I’ll try to convey our experience as first time attendees.

And naturally, attending a conference about fiscal responsibility requires a bit of fiscal responsibility, so I’ll share our actual costs. Hopefully this helps with planning if you want to attend in the future.

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Credit Card Minimum Spend Strategies

Rainbow of Credit (photo credit, badumtss)

Rainbow of Credit (photo credit, badumtss)

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In the last year or so we’ve opened 9 new credit card accounts, 7 in my name and 2 in Winnie’s. We have plans to add several more in short order.

Many of these cards have great benefits in their own right, but the primary appeal is the generous signup bonuses which saved us nearly $10,000 on our recent trip to Europe.

Normally the signup bonus is dependent on spending a minimum amount within a specific time period, e.g. “Spend $4,000 on the new card in 3 months.” Our 9 new accounts came with a minimum spend requirement of $23,500, no small amount.

How does one meet these minimum spending requirements without breaking the bank? Inquiring minds want to know.

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The Credit Card Annual Fee Debate

It All Becomes Clear

It All Becomes Clear

I’m a big fan of financial efficiency. If it is possible to get a discount on something I’m going to buy anyway, I’m all for it.

So it isn’t a big surprise when people inquire about call me out for paying annual fees in comments and email.

“Why would you pay a credit card company just for the privilege of making them money?”

“Isn’t it a waste to pay an annual fee when there are so many free credit cards out there?”

“Why would you pay a credit card annual fee? That is just dumb.”

I can certainly relate to the sentiment behind these questions. But if we strip away the emotion and just use the cold hard reason of accounting, it all becomes clear. We pay a fee now with the expectation that we will get something of equal or greater value.

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Cost of 4 Months in Europe

Causeway Coast in N. Ireland (Over yonder way be Scotland)

Causeway Coast in N. Ireland (Over yonder way be Scotland)

For the 4 months from mid-April to mid-August 2016, we explored a healthy portion of Western Europe.

We started our journey in spring in the South and worked our way North as summer arrived. Our plans were very loose… we had only booked flights from Asia to Portugal (via Amsterdam) and from Iceland to the US. Everything in between we made up as we went along.

Our main goal for the trip was simply to enjoy some fine European cuisine. If we happened to discover a place that we could later happily spend months or even years, that would be a nice bonus. We definitely accomplished the former, and perhaps even the latter.

Roughly speaking, we spent a month each in Spain, Italy, and the UK / Ireland, and a week or less in the Netherlands, Portugal, Czech, Germany, Denmark, and Iceland; 10 countries in total.

Our European Trip

Flights, Trains, & Rental Cars – Our European Trip

Not surprisingly, this cost a bit more than our excursions through Latin America and SE Asia. Here is the full cost breakdown:

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Retire Early.

Travel the World.

Let's do this.

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