Beautiful Ecuador

Beautiful Ecuador (photo from Above the Clouds Retreats)

“You look like a 13-year old girl who has just been invited to Justin Bieber’s birthday party!” said my loving and supportive wife

It’s true, I did.  Fueled by the emotional equivalent of excessive cake, ice cream, and teenage hormones, I was running about excitedly and dancing around the room.  “This is going to be so much fun!”

“Think of all of the cool people that are going to be there!  Nobody talks about this stuff in the real world, but this time there will be a whole group of wealth and happiness minded people sharing and communing”

“And, wow!  The Captains of the personal finance world will be there.  Jim Collins! The Mad Fientist! Mr. Money Mustache! Paula Pant!  And happiness guru Cheryl Reed is going to weave it all together with her empowering talk about passion and happiness.  I’ve read their stuff for so long, it is going to be incredibly cool to meet them in person.  ”

“And all of this is going to happen in the foothills of the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, where all of our new friends will zipline through a Cloud Forest, tour a bean to bar chocolate factory, and share our abundance with the local community in a day of service.  With all of the great conversation,  presentations, and one-on-one sessions, this is truly going to be an epic week!”

My brain sputtered, nearly exploding in the process of taking it all in

When I recovered, I replied to Jim Collins’ email asking if I would be willing to speak at this year’s Chautauqua

“Why, yes.  I would.  And it would be an honor”

A Chautauqua on Financial Independence and Happiness

3 years ago, I’d never heard of a Chautauqua.  But I like the sound it makes when it rolls off your tongue.  Shuh-taw-kwuh

The meaning is even more fascinating.

A Chautauqua brings entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, and specialists of the day, usually in an outdoor setting

I don’t know about you, but this just sounds fantastic.  So much so that I’m going to sit in a flying tube of aluminum for 36 hours each way just to participate

The setting couldn’t be more enticing, in a Cloud Forest at the foot of the Andes Mountains on the Equator!  Is this a real life?  Is this just fantasy?


El Encanto – Charmed, I’m sure (photo from el encanto hosteria)

Entertainment and Culture

All of this, and entertainment and culture as well?

Aside from ziplines, and chocolate factories, and coffee farms, we’ll have lunch on the rim of a volcanic caldera, first settled by the Incas.

Forget the juice cleanse, how about a spiritual cleanse from a Shaman of the pre-hispanic Tsachila culture?

And no Chautauqua is complete without dancing, in the style and music of the local indigenous people

Culture, Up Close and Personal

Tsachila Indians from Santo Domingo de los Colorados (photo from Above The Clouds Retreats)

The activities are going to be awesome

Specialists of the Day

Who are these specialists of the day, who will speak, teach, and share?

Cheryl Reed

Cheryl Reed

Cheryl Reed is the founder of Above the Clouds Retreats and organizer of this event, coffee plantationista, and happiness guru.  Her talk on Following Your Bliss sounds delightful.  Click on her name to take the Happiness For No Reason Questionnaire (I scored an 85)

Mr. Money Mustache & Family

Mr. Money Mustache & Family

Mr. Money Mustache, the Champion of badassity himself, is going to help us break the false connection between spending and happiness. I’m a little nervous to meet him, because you never know if he’s going to punch you in the face (seriously though, I hear he is a really nice guy.)  His blog has grown to epic proportions, making the world a better place in the process

Paula Pant

Paula Pant

Paula Pant is the creative genius behind Afford Anything.  As a fellow travel lover, I already have mad respect for her, but her long list of life accomplishments and pioneering spirit only make it greater.  I know her passion will shine through when she shares Three Rebellious Roads to Financial Independence

The Mad Fientist

The Mad Fientist

The Mad Fientist is going to walk us through how to become Financially Independent as efficiently as possible in The Shortest Path to Financial Independence.  His blog has been a tremendous resource in our own financial education, probably more than any other.  When The Mad Fientist writes, I take notes

Jim Collins

Jim Collins

And then of course there is the Godfather of Personal Finance Blogging, Jim Collins.  I’ve shared hundreds of emails with Jim over the past several years, and feel truly blessed to call him friend.  That sounds way too sappy, but what can you do?  His stock series has encouraged us to simplify our own investments, which has the double advantage of also optimizing those assets.  I’m very much looking forward to hearing his talk on How to Harness the World’s Most Powerful Wealth Building Tool

Yours Truly

Yours Truly

And finally, using the investment guidance of Jim Collins and the tax savvy of the Mad Fientist, I’ll share how to become an International Person of Mystery using concrete examples from our own itinerant lives.  Now that you are Financially Independent and can literally do anything you want from anywhere, how do you continue to thrive emotionally, intellectually, and financially?


Of course I can’t capture the essence of everything in one blog post.  That’s why there is a Whole Website!

Aside from all of this culture, entertainment, and education, we will have incredible food, time to relax and socialize, and even deep dive one-on-one sessions.  There are even optional side trips to the Galapagos Islands and more

Dig deep into all the details here

Will You Join Us?

Would you too like to participate in this magical event?

All you have to do is get yourself to Quito, a short flight from all of the major US hubs.  All other transport, accommodations, and meals are included in the registration

You have your choice of week long events:
Session 1:  October 17-24, 2015
with Mr. Money Mustache, Jim Collins, Paula Pant, & Cheryl Reed

Session 2:  October 24-31, 2015
with Jim Collins, the Mad Fientist, Cheryl Reed, Me, & a guest appearance by Mr. Money Mustache

Registration is through Cheryl’s Above the Clouds Retreats website

One on one sessions are arranged on a first come first serve basis, so sign up early for the greatest selection.  If you choose me for your 1:1, I’ll even do a Reader Financial Review for you (either public or private)

I hope to see you there


For another perspective, see the Chautauqua 2015 write ups by your hosts:
Jim Collins – Chautauqua 2015: Times Two!
Mad Fientist – Adventures Abroad

Update as of March 19th, 2015:  The first session is sold out and there are only a few openings remaining in the second session

If you are on the fence, would some discount airfare help?
Brad from has offered to help all Chautauqua attendees get to Ecuador as cheaply as possible so once you’ve registered, send Brad an email to brad(at)richmondsavers(dot)com with “Chautauqua” in the subject line and he’ll help you travel hack your way to Ecuador.

Update as of March 20th, 2015:  Both sessions sold out in just a little over a week.  Wow!  This is going to be a great event

There might still be a small chance to attend this year, as people’s plans can and do change.  Cheryl is keeping a waiting list for this purpose.  Or maybe see you in 2016!