Ever since I attended the Chautauqua last year, I've been ramping up my involvement in the FI community. I've interacted with a variety of people online through Reddit, Twitter and this blog. This includes but is not limited to a few Skype convos, emailing back and forth with various bloggers, and tweeting all the time.
I've also made it a goal of mine to attend as many fun FI related trips as possible this year. I went to Omaha at the beginning of May for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Investor's Meeting and the associated FI meetup afterwards. That was an absolute blast (minus me getting terribly sick afterwards). Coming up, I will be hanging out in Chicago with friends from the Chautauqua, flying to Maine to hang out with other friends from the Chautuaqua, FinCon in San Diego and maybe even meeting some European compadres on my trip to London.
This last weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to grab a spot at Camp Mustache. One advantage of being young, single, and relatively fancy free is ease of decision making. I saw registration was open and about 2.5 minutes later I was going to Seattle! Events like these are a reminder that my stage in life does have some pretty great perks.
For those that don't know, Camp Mustache is a retreat that was started by 3 people from the Mr. Money Mustache Forums a few years ago, and has kind of taken on a life of its own since then. Now, Mr. Money Mustache himself goes for the weekend along with an assorted variety of already FI people, bloggers and other FI community members (including a very cute baby!).
For me, the people were the main attraction. Everyone at the retreat was incredibly awesome. I'm glad I got to spend more time with those I already knew to deepen those friendships, and I'm very glad I got the chance to meet so many new people as well. I'm glad to see some other youngins come to these, especially because I wasn't the youngest one there this time! It was great to be able to sit down and talk over our experiences thus far, particularly the challenges of dating and trying to be FI. I'm not just accummulating money on this journey to FI- I'm amassing a network of like minded people who can help, support, and celebrate each of us on our journey.
Seriously, the kind of people who are attracted to the FI lifestyle just seem way cooler than the rest of the world's population. Everyone there had a fascinating story or two (or more cough Keith cough) to tell. I found myself talking less and listening more because the chance to learn from their mistakes and successes was priceless [although don't worry I still talked enough to have my voice drop an octave or two]. I got something out of every single interaction I had!
I received some excellent guidance and advice that I'm very excited to start putting into practice. We had some excellent presentations on a number of topics that included taxes, manufactured spending, credit card churning, real estate investing and so much more. My only regret is not being able to be in two places at once because some sessions were held at the same time. I also got help and guidance on things other than finances as well that varied from getting my old MacBook laptop back up and running, to new plugins for the blog, and all the way to relationship advice/helpful tips.
Funny story, if I had a dollar every time someone said something along the lines of “Wow! You're starting out so young! If I'd started when I was your age, I'd be retired by now!”, I would be retired by now. Or at the very least, I'd be 5 dollars richer because 5 different people told me that during the retreat.
The venue for Camp Mustache is a Christian retreat center (complete with Bibles in the bedside tables!) set at the base of an honest to god mountain. This was my first time in the Pacific Northwest and I was blown away by how beautiful it is. The woods are full of what someone called “Power Line Pines”, which are very tall, very straight pine trees that smell like a Yankee Candle. The first part of the weekend was a bit on the cool and rainy side, but that made the fires they had going all over even more appreciated. The second part of the weekend was absolutely gorgeous weather with nary a cloud in the sky and plenty of sunshine! I'm not sure I could live there permanently due to the rain and gloomy atmosphere, but it was certainly nice to visit for a little bit.
The unofficial theme of the weekend for me was to just have fun, and we had that in abundance! Lots of joking around, various board games (including my Cards Against Humanity set which has now been through 5 different airports in 2 countries), bonfires, and tasty alcohol helped us achieve my goal. I can't say the hike up the mountain was super fun, but the view from the top and the street cred I got from finishing the hike made it worth the 3.5 hours of straight up and down suck. Fortunately, I had some excellent conversations (when we had the breath in the super thin air) on the way up and down that helped distract me from the fact my legs felt they were going to fall off. It's been awhile since I've been in that much pain, but I would make the same choices if given the chance for a do over. I was also helped by a coworker who gave me a magic ointment that almost instantly made my calves loosen up and my knees to stop hurting. Look up Arnicare gel if you like to pretend you're in shape and tackle strenuous exercises like I did.
Overall, I'm incredibly grateful I got to attend Camp Mustache and I'd have to recommend it just as much as the Chautauqua! I learned a lot of great information (about both finance stuff and myself), met some really cool people and hung out in an amazing corner of the country. Check out some more pictures below!