FinCon 2019 Recap: 7 Things I Did Right and Wrong This Year

First the bad news: FinCon 2019 has come to a close (*le sigh*). But, looking on the bright side, this year’s event was a complete success in my book. In addition to seeing friends from last year and meeting new people, I left Washington D.C. with some great ideas as well as inspiration to try new things. Of course, while I did many things right this time around, I didn’t ace everything.

Having just returned from a long drive home from the District, let me now recount my #FinCon19 wins and failures (all while sipping my third cup of coffee for the day):

Where I Went 100% Right

Getting a Virtual Pass

I knew going into #FinCon19 that I was going to have to make some tough choices in terms of which presentations to attend. Yet, it wasn’t until I took a closer look at my Thursday bookmarks that I released I had triple-booked the first session of the day and doubled up at least 4 others during the weekend. That’s why I’m incredibly grateful to have access to the Virtual Pass this time around.

There are literally at least half a dozen presentations I missed that I intend on going back and watching once the videos are available. Heck, there are a couple that I did manage to attend that I still might watch again just because. As result, I’m definitely buying my 2020 pass early so I can take advantage of the free Virtual Pass once again.

Staying on Site

Last year I mentioned that I felt I missed out on part of the FinCon experience by not getting a room at the hosting hotel. This time around, I fixed that by booking as part of the FinCon block. There were several reasons why this was a great move, not the least of which was the fact that I was mere minutes away from any sessions or events I wanted to attend. Plus, I was also able to participate in the much-ballyhooed “LobbyCon” that takes place at most hours of the day and night during the week.

On a side note, the hotel where FinCon was hosted this year was pretty incredible. Sure it was a tad pricey (especially the damn $52 a night parking fee), but I had no idea how convenient and mind-blowingly historic the place was. Not only were FinCon’s keynotes held in the same room as several White House Correspondents dinners but the hotel area was also where President Ronald Reagan was shot (he survived if you’ll recall). Apparently some even refer to the hotel as the “Hinckley Hilton” — who knew?!

Hitting FinCon Central Hard

In my roundup of my top 11 most anticipated presentations, I mentioned how excited I was to spend time exploring FinCon Central (AKA the expo floor) this time around. Well, it proved to be everything I hoped for and more as I was introduced to dozens of brands and services I hadn’t yet heard of. On top of that, I got to follow up with apps I already love and get a preview of what’s on the horizon for them. As a result, I am now lousy with article ideas, reviews, and much more.

Eating Local

This has really nothing to do with FinCon itself, but it was something I was excited about. First of all, can I just say how impressed I was with Washington D.C. overall? Maybe it was the great weather and relative lack of crowds at the time we visited but I kind of fell in love with the place (save the confusing street grid). That’s also why my wife and I really enjoyed walking around and finding fun places to eat. Granted, some of the places we dined are actually chains — but none of them are available in our area, so it totally counts.

Personally, my two favorite meals of the trip were at Banana Leaves (which was conveniently located just steps from the Hilton) and Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy — which is a cute place near George Washington University that also seems to be a popular hang out for students and alums. Also, the bar aptly named Dive provided a great spot for the YouTuber meet up headed by the guys from Dumb Money. Finally, while not exclusive to D.C. nor started there, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams proved to be the perfect way to end our trip on a sweet note.

Where I Went Slightly Wrong

Not Reading the Full Panel Description

For as much as I advise that media consumers look beyond headlines and find out what’s really going on, I have to admit that I made a similar mistake a couple of times when choosing which sessions to attend. It seems that, in my haste, I failed to actually comprehend what the presentations would be covering — which was fairly different from what I had in my head. The good news is that, in one case, I was able to catch my mistake before entering the room and was able to navigate elsewhere. Meanwhile, even though the other example wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, it was interesting in its own right. Still, if I had to do it over, I might pay just a tad bit more attention in order to know what I was in for.

Not Staying Around to See More of the Sights

While my wife and I now have a pretty good idea of how to get around the Dupont Circle area, we only really managed to move beyond the half-mile radius of our hotel on a single day. On Saturday night, we took an Uber down to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum before walking past the Washington Monument on our way to the Lincoln Memorial. From there, we made our way back to our hotel by foot, discovering the aforementioned (and tasty) Tonic along the way.

As lovely as this “evening off” was, part of me wishes we had extended our trip on either end in order to spend more time in the District. Perhaps I was spoiled by the nearly two weeks I ended up spending in Orlando for last year’s FinCon, but this time around seemed a bit rushed. Oh well — at least we got to see some of the city.

Not Going to the Kick-Off Party

Lastly, I do slightly regret not heading to this year’s FinCon kick-off party presented by Robinhood. The problem here was that the venue for the shindig wasn’t really in walking distance of the hotel and, instead, required either taking a cab or hopping aboard the provided shuttles. Now, I’m not above taking the bus… but this whole transportation arrangement just didn’t appeal to me. Sadly, what I didn’t know was that the site of this party was apparently epically awesome, including gorgeous views of the National Mall from the roof. Ugh.

On the other hand, hearing from one attendee on Saturday that he had imbibed so much at the Wednesday party that he spent all of Thursday and Friday recovering, perhaps my choice wasn’t so bad after all. Well, I wouldn’t have had anything to drink regardless, but you get the idea. In any case, perhaps I shan’t be as hasty to poo-poo next year’s party — or at least check Twitter first to see what I’m missing before deciding.

With my second FinCon in the books, I’m already looking forward to next year’s event in Long Beach. Better yet, the inaugural Financial Freedom Summit is coming to St. Louis next May, so it seems I’ll have even more money nerd fun to look forward to in 2020. Hopefully, as I attend more and more of these conferences, my list of things I did right will continue to grow as my mistakes start to dwindle. In any case, see you next time!


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and the founder of

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Nice summary Kyle and it was great meeting you at Fincon! I felt the same about the restaurants and walkability of the city. (even though I’ve been to DC a few times before) I think I’m going to pass on next year, but I might hit the other one in St. Louis. The blog looks great…gonna have it bookmarked going forward. Take care.

Thanks so much, Jim! Great meeting you too. I’m going to the Financial Freedom Summit in St. Louis so maybe I’ll see you there. And thanks for the kind words — I added your site to my RSS feed as well 🙂

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