Recap: Camp Mustache SE 2017

I’m not sure how many times I can say I’ve just come back from the Best. Week­end. Ever, but.….. once again.….


I start­ed off the week­end ear­ly with a night in Chica­go before I flew out Fri­day morn­ing. Miss Mazu­ma gra­cious­ly offered to let me crash on her couch for the night. It was a night full of play­ing old school Pole Posi­tion, vary­ing lev­els of sobri­ety, laughs, and record­ing pod­casts. You can lis­ten here to the first one! Shout out to Mil­len­ni­al Mon­ey and Dis­tilled Dol­lar for hav­ing me!

Fri­day was most­ly unevent­ful. I spent a good chunk of it at the air­port wait­ing for my friends to fly in so we could car­pool up to the retreat cen­ter. Get­ting to catch up on the way up was even more valu­able to me than the mon­ey we all saved.

Every­thing after get­ting to the retreat cen­ter was kind of a blur of say­ing hi to old friends, meet­ing peo­ple who quick­ly turned into friends, laugh­ter, and learn­ing! How­ev­er, I can give a high lev­el overview for those dying to know 🙂

The People

Where do I even start? Every­one was real­ly great. At Camp Mus­tache, you have to be aware of how you spend your incred­i­bly lim­it­ed time. There were 40 peo­ple there and I want­ed to have a deep chat with every­one. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we had to sleep and do oth­er activ­i­ties so that wasn’t pos­si­ble, but I gave it my best shot­ten. I thor­ough­ly enjoyed get­ting to know the many entre­pre­neurs, med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, soft­ware engi­neers, and more (to include a for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor — how cool is that!?). To see how someone’s pro­fes­sion influ­ences the way they look at life is fas­ci­nat­ing to me. I’m so incred­i­bly glad I got to expand my FI net­work even more! Look at me putting my 2017 goals into action already!

many great chats were had on this porch

In addi­tion to the atten­dees, we had sev­er­al renowned blog­gers come to Camp Mus­tache to present. J.D. Roth talked about craft­ing a mis­sion state­ment and why it’s vital to liv­ing well. I am in the process of draft­ing my mis­sion state­ment and it’s eas­i­er and hard­er than I thought it would be! You can check out his arti­cle on the sub­ject here:

Ignore Mr. Mon­ey Mus­tache creepin in the back­ground

We had a guest appear­ance from a local guy who is in the process of start­ing a co-hous­ing devel­op­ment in Gainesville. The whole con­cept real­ly intrigued me, as I haven’t heard much more on them oth­er than the fact they exist­ed. Total­ly a neat idea and one that I’m fil­ing away for the future as a pos­si­bil­i­ty!

Joshua Sheats record­ed a LIVE pod­cast for his pre­sen­ta­tion on “Why both­er to wait until you’re FI to live like you’re FI?” and the Q&A that fol­lowed. He is way more on top of things than I am and already released the episode! Give it a lis­ten and you’ll start to get a feel for what these kind of events entail.

Speak­ing of his Rad­i­cal Per­son­al Finance pod­cast, Joshua and I sat down on Sat­ur­day and record­ed an episode. This is now the 5th pod­cast I’ve been on and I’m so glad I said yes to it. We had a real­ly great talk that just so hap­pened to be record­ed. I’m hap­py I will have the record­ing to ref­er­ence as it was a con­ver­sa­tion that chal­lenged beliefs I’ve held about myself for years! Look also for a relat­ed post where I delve deep­er into some of the things we dis­cussed.

We also were treat­ed to what I thought was an amus­ing pre­sen­ta­tion by Kei­th, the Wealthy Accoun­tant. There’s only so much humor you can inject into a talk about account­ing and tax­es but he did an excel­lent job. I got some great tips and ideas on things I can imple­ment in my life to make my life eas­i­er.

“father/daughter” dress up day

In addi­tion to his pre­sen­ta­tion, I donat­ed $100 to char­i­ty for an hour of his time in a pri­vate ses­sion. This is far low­er than his nor­mal hourly fee, so I jumped at the chance to sched­ule a chat despite par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Über Fru­gal Chal­lenge month. As a tax pro­fes­sion­al, for­mer land­lord, and cur­rent blog­ger, I had way more ques­tions to ask him than our hour per­mit­ted. We did our best to cram it all in but with two peo­ple who like to talk as much as both of us do, we didn’t quite man­age it. For­tu­nate­ly, he lives “close” to me so I can always go vis­it when he’s not in the depths of tax sea­son. Kei­th, since I know you’ll read this, thanks for all the help and guid­ance you’ve giv­en me. I appre­ci­ate it more than you’ll ever know! You can read his thoughts on the week­end here:

We had a quick break and then Emma Lin­coln and Zeona McIn­tyre did a pre­sen­ta­tion on lever­ag­ing real estate to ear­ly retire­ment. I stayed for the first part but start­ed to feel over­whelmed, so I took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to go down to the lake and soak up some peace, qui­et, and Vit­a­min D.

It was an absolute­ly beau­ti­ful day. The sky was full of puffy lit­tle white clouds, a very small breeze, and it was almost per­fect­ly qui­et. Amid the hus­tle and bus­tle of Camp Mus­tache I need­ed just a lit­tle bit of recharge time. These events take a lot of social ener­gy. I lis­tened to the plop of frogs hop­ping off lily pads into the water, the wind rustling past my ears, and the tweets of unseen birds behind me.

The last offi­cial speak­er was Brad Bar­rrett of Trav­el Miles 101 fame. He spoke on Trav­el Hack­ing 101. A lot of peo­ple found his chat to be full of use­ful infor­ma­tion and I can see how it would be super use­ful to those start­ing out. I am a mem­ber of his Face­book group and also fre­quent /r/churning (not about mak­ing but­ter), so I got less out of it than I could have. But! I still had a great time at the pre­sen­ta­tion regard­less of how many notes I took.

Before I move on to anoth­er part of the week­end, I want to give a spe­cial shout out to my inter­net twin. We ‘met’ on the Mus­tachi­ans on FB group ear­li­er in 2016 and quick­ly real­ized we had a TON in com­mon. To the point where we start­ed keep­ing track of the dif­fer­ences because we couldn’t keep track of every­thing that was the same. I think after the week­end we dis­cov­ered a dozen dif­fer­ences. It was SO AMAZING to get to meet her in per­son and get to hang out with each oth­er! It got to the point where the oth­er atten­dees start­ed to get a lit­tle creeped out, espe­cial­ly when we were in the same con­ver­sa­tion and mak­ing a slight­ly dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the same joke at the exact same time.

The Venue

We stayed at a Luther­an Church Camp and Retreat Cen­ter on 400 acres in Gainesville, Flori­da. Com­ing from the cold, drea­ry, dark, icy reach­es of the Mid­west, I was in heav­en. I got to run around in shorts and a t-shirt and I wasn’t cold! In Jan­u­ary!! The grounds were absolute­ly gor­geous as well. They had a whole net­work of clear­ly defined and well main­tained ‘hik­ing paths’ (which were real­ly walk­ing paths since there wasn’t any change in ele­va­tion because, Flori­da).

As stat­ed above, I real­ly enjoyed get­ting to be by the lake. We had access to a whole float­il­la of water­craft and so I went canoe­ing. As a for­mer camp counselor/lifeguard, I taught lit­tle girls how to canoe and I miss it some­thing fierce. Get­ting to pad­dle around the still lake as the sun set behind the trees was almost mag­i­cal. I also real­ly appre­ci­at­ed get­ting to chat with Pete as we very del­i­cate­ly pad­dled in a wob­bly canoe.

In addi­tion to lake­side activ­i­ties, we did the teams course, played kick­ball, worked out, did some archery, and had a bon­fire. If I could live there year round, I’d be one very hap­py lady.

All in all, it was well worth the mon­ey I spent on the trav­el. Warm weath­er, gor­geous sur­round­ings, and in the com­pa­ny of very intel­li­gent and friend­ly peo­ple. What wouldn’t be to love?

What’s next?

Com­pared to 2016, this year is pret­ty tame trav­el wise.

In February/March time frame I will be going ski­ing in Wis­con­sin. While I’m there, I’ll try to hit up as many blog­ger friends as pos­si­ble. I have 1.5 days left of vaca­tion to use until mid-May. Then my vaca­tion resets and I get a whole whop­ping 13 days off. Woo. How­ev­er, I have the option to “buy” 5 more days, which I did last year, and will prob­a­bly do again this year.

I will also be head­ed up to Min­neso­ta at some point to do a Rock­star Finance Forum meet­up with those that live around there, but due to Apa­thy Ends hav­ing a baby, plans are a lit­tle unde­fined at this point.

In late sum­mer time frame I’ll be head­ed back to Chica­go to enjoy a Cubs/Cards game with some friends I met at the 2015 Chau­tauqua in Ecuador! A lit­tle friend­ly rival­ry while we get to catch up and hang out is my idea of a pret­ty great time.

I’m sad to announce I won’t be going back to Camp Mus­tache in Seat­tle over Memo­r­i­al Day because I didn’t get a ‘tick­et’ through their lot­tery. I’m hon­est­ly not super bummed out because I made plans to attend the first ses­sion of the Chau­tauqua in Ecuador! That will be the sec­ond week of Octo­ber, and I’m very much look­ing for­ward to going back. I’ll be there for my birth­day and I get to explore a new part of Ecuador since we’ll be up high in the Andes Moun­tains.

After Ecuador, I’ll have one week at home before I fly to Dal­las for Fin­Con 2017!!! I can­not wait for all the good times we’ll have there. I’m also hop­ing to devel­op firmer rela­tion­ships with some of the ven­dors that have reached out to me.

After that, I’m going to go col­lapse and recharge my social bat­ter­ies until the next event comes along in 2018!

If you haven’t attend­ed an FI gathering/meetup of any sort (local, nation­al, or inter­na­tion­al), I high­ly encour­age you to go! The rela­tion­ships you form there will last you a life­time and pay back any­thing you spent on them 10 fold. Guar­an­teed!


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34 thoughts on “Recap: Camp Mustache SE 2017

  1. Gwen, great write up on what sounds like a great event. I love the “neigh­bor­hood” that exists among finan­cial blog­gers, and can’t wait to turn it from “vir­tu­al” to “real­i­ty” at Fin­Con. Your post has inspired me to con­sid­er MMM Camp for 2018!

    • It’s pret­ty thought pro­vok­ing so I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing everyone’s thoughts! We all didn’t have enough time or ener­gy to hang out. I’m still try­ing to recov­er! But it was great to actu­al­ly meet you in per­son!

    • It was tru­ly amaz­ing! Each time I ask myself how these keep get­ting bet­ter and I think I fig­ured it out — the peo­ple! I’m sure despite this being the best week­end ever that Fin­Con will blow it away. See you there!!

    • She’s not a blog­ger, just anoth­er young lady inter­est­ed in FI. I couldn’t han­dle the com­pe­ti­tion if she was a blog­ger! For­tu­nate­ly for me she is far too busy in grad school to run a blog right now. Phew!

  2. I love Pole Posi­tion! I’m a Mil­len­ni­al but I still dig the old-school games. 🙂 I am so jeal­ous of your trip! I hope to be able to go one day. 🙂 I real­ly like that he charged $100 to char­i­ty for a one-on-one. That’s super cool!

    Yay, I hope to see you at Fin­Con. You’ll have to show me the ropes as I nav­i­gate the crazy world of IRL blog­gers. 🙂
    Mrs. Picky Pinch­er recent­ly post­ed…Guest Post: How To Throw a Fun and Fru­gal Kids’ Birth­day Par­tyMy Profile

    • I am more than will­ing to help! Every­one is super nice.… it’s just kind of over­whelm­ing cram­ming all that social­iz­ing in one 3 day times­pan!

    • Like­wise with you and your wife (and your blog! hah!) I can’t wait to see it grow because your sto­ry is awe­some and needs to be told.

    • I loved get­ting to hear your sto­ry this week­end. I think it’s real­ly pow­er­ful and got a lot of great lessons in it. I’ll be shar­ing it with my read­ers as some­thing they need to lis­ten to.

  3. Awe­some write up! I always love Camp Mus­tache events. In fact, I was hop­ing you’d come to Camp Mus­tache Cana­da the week­end before Fin­Con!

    It’d make your Octo­ber even cra­zier, but be total­ly worth it… 😉

    • I have no doubt it would be com­plete­ly worth it.…. but I don’t have enough vaca­tion time at work to pull it off 🙁 I’d love to see you guys some­time this year though if we can pull it off!

  4. Wow. Thanks for mak­ing me feel like I was there, too! It def­i­nite­ly makes me want to find the next FIRE meet up “par­ty” and try to attend. Per­haps I need to make my Fin­Con 2017 arrange­ments today 😛

    Mrs. Mad Mon­ey Mon­ster

    • *chants* do it, Do It, DO IT! *chants* Meet­ing up IRL with like mind­ed peo­ple is seri­ous­ly the best! You get a chance to bond and go deep­er than the inter­net allows.

  5. That is right, young lady. I am read­ing this. I am glad I could help. You have done remark­ably well on your jour­ney to FI.

    What you don’t know is what hap­pened behind your back. Anoth­er attendee start­ed talk­ing with me at the archery range and made it clear he felt you were one woman to keep an eye on. There is some­thing about you that says you are des­tined for some­thing great, he said. I agreed. The feel­ing came to me the first time we met. There is no doubt in my mind you are one per­son to watch. And stay close to. You have all the mark­ings of a sig­nif­i­cant leader.

    Now, don’t let it go to your head.

    • Oh we will DEFINITELY be see­ing each oth­er in Dal­las. I’ll be there Oct 23rd-30th! Stay­ing in an apart­ment down­town

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