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Fincon 13: Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone and Loving It

Downtown St. LouisIn case you don’t read any other blog except Eyes on the Dollar, you might not know that the financial bloggers all congregated last week in St. Louis for Fincon 13. I was fortunate enough to be there. If you’ve already read 500 Fincon summaries and can’t stand to read another one, don’t gouge your eyes out yet (that’s hard to fix). I think my takeaways can apply to just about any social situation, even if you aren’t a blogger.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone


Speaking for myself and many of the bloggers I met last week, we are not work the crowd type people. Although I have a day job and interact with the public, I am not good in crowds, and I’m terrible at starting conversations.

If you have this personality, the more you avoid social situations, the worse it gets. I have to force myself to stay in public rather than retreating to my hotel room, and I did that for most of Fincon.  I’m proud that I met so many great people.

 Don’t Try Too Hard When Meeting New People

Average Joe secure in his manhood with his new pink Otterbox

Average Joe secure in his manhood with his new pink Otterbox

I went to the very first session at the beginning of Fincon, and it was a talk about how to meet your favorite bloggers given by Agatha K, the sweaty armpit girl. I actually rode down in the elevator with her before the talk. While you’d never notice it watching her speak, she was nervous, even while rocking a leopard print mini dress and carrying puppets. It just goes to show you that even people who seem to have it all together still get butterflies.

I really tried to take her advice to heart. Be yourself. Don’t stalk people. Make sure you don’t have food in your teeth, and don’t try too hard. If you are at a trade conference, odds are the people attending share some common ground. You don’t have to say 800 words per minute. Just introduce yourself and let things flow from there. I find it surreal that I had a conversation about adults wearing braces with J.D. Roth, but I’m sure that was much better than gushing to him about how cool I think he is.

 Prevent Burnout


Attending a conference in your area of expertise is a great way to get fired up about what you do. Doing online work can be really lonely, so it’s great to see what others are doing and find new ways to get excited about your work.

Now that we’ve established common ground, these are the things I did at Fincon 13 to step outside my comfort zone.

Share the Love


I realize that I would have probably spent more time in my room without a roommate. Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff was nice enough to let me share with her the first night. She was one of the reasons I started blogging, so it was really nice to meet her, even if she was only in the room for about 5 hours to sleep!

For the rest of the conference, I shared with Mrs. PoP from Planting our Pennies. While I’m sure she is a bit disturbed by my hair and feet grooming habits, I think we have quite a bit in common, and we got along well.

 Monument Visiting

St Louis ArchYou know you are in a good community when you find yourself with three people you just met in a small pod-like capsule, contained in steel and cement, going to the top of a giant arch. I’d like to thank Kathleen from Frugal Portland, Carrie from Careful Cents, Sofia from Caviar and Quarters, and a random New Zealand tourist for making that trip memorable.

 Game Show Contestant


Somehow, I ended up as a contestant on the first ever Fincon Game Show put on by MoneyPlan SOS.  You can listen to the podcast here. My fellow contestants were Lena from What Mommy Does, Lauren from L Bee and the Money Tree, and Paula from Afford Anything. While I didn’t win, I am pleased that I knew that it was Wimpy that said “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”


Photo courtesy of Steve Stewart

Photo courtesy of Steve Stewart

It was really great see so many people that I kind of knew from their blogs but had never met in person. I won’t list them all, but you know who you are. For anyone considering Fincon 14 or any type of even that requires networking, I strongly encourage you to get over your fears and just go. The worst that could happen is that you make a fool out of yourself, but at least people will remember you!

How have you gone outside of your comfort zone? Was it helpful?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. “The worst that could happen is that you make a fool out of yourself, but at least people will remember you!” So true! Even bad press is good press.

    It was great to meet you in person. I had no idea about the game show — I’m sorry I missed it.

  2. Best FinCon roommate I’ve ever had! Last weekend was a huge step outside my comfort zone, and as a reward I got sick… Which one of the many sick bloggers from FinCon can I place the blame on… =)

  3. The conference looks so awesome, Kim! I NEED to go next year. I should almost set aside the funds now so that I have no excuse. I’m a pretty big introvert so going to a conference would be stepping outside my comfort zone, even though I have talked to so many online before. Pretty much every time I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone I haven’t regretted it. Something I think everyone should do more often.

    • When tickets go on sale, they will be half price for the first day. That’s when I snatched up mine. You can also write it all off as a business expense!

  4. Great write-up Kim! I can relate to so many of these things and would say definitely to step outside your comfort zone. I am always tempted to go back to my hotel room during things like this and so glad that I did not – plus, for many, it was like you knew each other already so it made connecting a little easier…even though it made the introvert in me cringe. 🙂 It was great meeting you and looking forward to going next year!

  5. Glad you got out of your comfort zone and did things like the game show. Wish I could have seen it. Where was I? And of course it was great hanging out with you. I noticed a lot of pf bloggers went to sponsored events and got free food. Another thing I missed. Have to make that happen next year. Would you go again?

    • I think I would, especially if it’s in the rumored city. I have some other good friends who live there, and it would be a home run to see them as well. I think I would scope out the side events better and try to attend more of those instead of the sessions maybe? How about you?

  6. Holy crap. You didn’t just put a picture of me with “someone else’s” pink phone case, did you? I’d just picked it up off the floor and….


  7. Sounds SO fun, Kim!!!! I’m hoping we can go next year too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  8. Looks and sounds like you had an awesome time Kim.

    Better get myself signed up for 2014!

  9. Sounds like a great time, Kim. I’m sorry I missed it. Hopefully next year I can make it!

    • I would love to meet you. Somehow one conversation mentioned all the different Shannons in the PF community, and since we didn’t remember your last name, you were Shannon HeavyPurse. I think that could be your Native American name from now on!

  10. Sounds like you had a great time Kim. I feel the same way about crowds it takes me a lot of time to warm up but once I do it’s not to bad.

  11. I would love to go. It depends where they hold it. I am close to Toronto and it would have to be somewhere that I could get a cheap flight to. Of course that is assuming that my debt is gone by next summer and I can save up enough money to go. I would not like to be in the company of Mr. Money Mustache knowing that I had charged my trip and that it would take me months to pay it off.

    I think Budgeting In The Fun Stuff is great too and I am practicing my chin ups for the chin up competition.

    • No that would not be good! If you can swing it, I think you’d have a wonderful time and learn tons of things about blogging and money from like minded people.

  12. I almost fee as though I no longer have a comfort zone. The good news is I am growing and accomplishing more in my life.

  13. Wish I would have shared a beer with you, Average Joe and his pink phone. I am happy you had a fabulous time, it would have been hell for me too but I am sure the outcome would have been super positive.

    • I would love to meet you someday as well. I have in my head what your accent would sound like, and I’m so curious to see if I’m right!

  14. Huge thanks for the shout out! And YES I always get nervous before giving a talk 🙂
    Am so happy you spoke your truth and had fun with JD Roth, rather than just talking business like most others would. Rock on!

  15. Lol at the food in the teeth thing… I swear that happens to me all the time. Looks like you had a blast… I hope I can go next year!

  16. I’m soooo bummed I didn’t go! Actually, one of the people I most wanted to meet was Avg Joe–when we were first starting blogging he asked me to do a podcast with him on James Bond as Skyfall came out.

    Welp, hopefully I’ll be there next year and get to meet you in person!! I’ve got to figure out how to not spend $1000 on the trip…

    • Buy your ticket the day it goes on sale for half price or give a talk and you get your registration for free, I think. Then churn a credit card or two for airfare and hotel, or share with a roommate. I haven’t totaled it all up yet, but I think I spent about $500, and I guess I could have had more free food if I’d looked a bit harder.

  17. It was great to meet you at the conference, Kim. I’ve been to all three Fincon’s, and the first one was the most nerve racking. After your first one it will seem like you’re just headed to summer camp to see your friends. 🙂

  18. Great write-up, looks like you had a great time and met a ton of bloggers. I’m going to check out that podcast for sure!

  19. It’s been 2 weeks since the conference and I’m still trying to catch up on all the contacts and recorded media at FinCon13!

    It was great to have you on stage for the first FinCon Game Show. If you weren’t in your comfort zone then you have a great way of hiding it.

    Also, thanks for helping me pick a winner for the YNAB Giveaway. Had I known you were a little nervous about it all I might have picked on Sandy Smith from the audience – she doesn’t have a problem getting out there!

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