CampFI: Learning to Share Your Story

This past weekend I went to my first ever CampFI and because of that weekend, I will be making it an annual event. But before I get too much into that let me back up a few months and catch everyone up.

Back in September, I attended FinCon as my first introduction into the personal finance or FIRE space. Whew, was I in over my head and completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. So much so that I have kind of strayed away from FIRE, not so much that I wasn’t pursuing it anymore. It still is pretty much all I talk about and it constantly on my mind, but I didn’t feel like I belonged in the community. I have been on my journey less than a year at that point and I felt like who am I to be giving any sort of advice to the world or who would even want to listen to what I have to say or who would even resonate with my story. Pursuing FIRE can get lonely sometimes because internet relationships can only get you so far and with myself, I hadn’t really made any connections with anyone in the FIRE community. I would still talk about it with friends, family and certain coworkers. And while they entertain me by listening to all I have to say, I still felt I was missing that genuine personal connection when it came to FIRE. 

Up until this point, I thought that I was going to be finished with the blog. In my mind, it had run its course and wasn’t something that was going to make it into my life and I was fine with that. It was certainly fun for the couple of months that I actually worked on it, but just like a lot of things that I do, it fell by the wayside. Any time that I thought about writing again, I just couldn’t find any motivation to even get ideas out on paper. While there are plenty ideas floating around in my head that could make good blog posts, none of them have come to fruition. Giving up on the blog even extended into the weekend of CampFI. I think I only told one or two people that I even had a blog, but I told them the only reason I made it was because I thought I had to create one in order to make the most of FinCon. It certainly wasn’t anything I was actively promoting or even wanted any of them to read. 

In spite of that, CampFI ended up being one of the best weekends I’ve had. If you’re confused as to what CampFI even is you wouldn’t be alone. Even I didn’t really have the best idea as to what to expect from the weekend. I had heard about it CampFI mentioned several times on various podcasts but no one gave a super clear expectation of the camp. But it literally is a camp for people wanting to explore financial independence. It is a great way to talk with like-minded individuals that are all on their own personal journey to financial independence. After this weekend, I finally understood what it meant to make personal connection with people in the FIRE community. Throughout the weekend, different speakers are invited to speak about certain topics pertinent to their story. I was lucky to hear 4 amazing presentations covering a whole host of topics including: changing into a new career, high fees associated with 403(b) plans, the idea of taking mini-retirements, and the importance of sharing your story. While all the presentations given were great, none of them really spoke out to me at the time, but upon reflection that changed. I want to give a quick shout out to all the presenters over the weekend for inspiring me: Bradley Rice, Nancy Bachety who writes about 403(b) plans at Fix my 403b, Steven and Lauren Keys who write at Trip of a Lifestyle, and Naseema McElroy who writes at Financially Intentionaland has a podcast called Nurses on FIRE

It wasn’t until my solo 12-hour car ride home where I had time with my thoughts to reflect on the weekend, that the presentations had a major impact on me. During my car ride, I wanted to make sure that my 403 (b) plan was not in any high fee plans and I also I entertained the thought of what it would actually look like for me to take a mini-retirement or switch up my career. But the talk that spoke to me most directly was the idea of sharing your story. During the course of the weekend, Naseema said something to me while we were having conversation at the camp that was fixated in my brain. She told me that if sharing your story influences, affects, or inspires just one person then it is necessary to tell that story. It was that one little in line in that one little conversation that sparked the motivation I had lost the past couple of months. 

Being one of the youngest and newest people on the journey to financial independence at CampFI, I went into it just trying to glean as much information as I could from people more established than myself, and I selfishly was going to just use the information I learned to advance myself along my journey. I didn’t feel like it was my place to be that inspiration for anyone else because I am still so new to the concept of financial independence. But that got me thinking that people in my sphere of influence can’t hear the message if I don’t make the effort to put it out there.

When I first started the blog, I knew I didn’t do this to make any money but I still tried to make it as business-like as I could by creating a schedule of posts, and trying to make a series page to increase viewership. I have come to realize that’s not why I want to write. I enjoy writing for the therapy of writing, of getting my ideas down on paper. I don’t need to schedule my posts months in advance and I’m just going to write things as they come. Going forth, I’m going to treat this blog as more of journal to put my thoughts out into the world to hopefully influence, motivate, or inspire just one person to start their journey to financial independence. 


Steven | Rx for FIRE

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