On June 30th, we completed an epic 10,000-mile road trip called The Road to Financial Wellness, a local grassroots and social media event to turn local money discussions into a national conversation on financial wellbeing. Our goal was to participate in 30 events in 30 locations in 30 days and engage people on the street and conduct interviews in an attempt to break the social taboo on money.
We drove in a mini-van and began the epic journey in Portland, Maine on June 1st and ended in Los Angeles CA on June 30th.
This is what happened.
- 138 hours of driving
- 10,200+ miles
- 37 events
- 5 Twitter chats with millions reached
- 8,000+ people
The success wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the FinCon community, the 47 bloggers and podcasters who participate in the blog tour and communication outreach. The Twitter Chats held by Wisebread, Quizzle, Experian, Payoff and MsMadamMoney extended the road trips awareness.
We had the support of many financial brands from financial technology companies to credit unions to nonprofit financial education organizations (Junior Achievement of New York, Consumers United Association, National Credit Union Foundation and aSmarterChoice.org) and colleges such as Rutgers University with Dr. Barbara O’Neill. Republic Wireless provided our mobile service.
A special thanks goes out to our national sponsor, Payoff. A great team of passionate and supportive people who believed as we do in breaking the social taboo on money and empowering people to live their dream lifestyle. The Payoff Personality Quiz was instrumental in helping us break that taboo.
How did I get involved with FinCon?
I was in a big transition in my life leaving my senior executive job in Silicon Valley to backpacking around the world in 2012. I was taking time a year off to figure out my next career move but what I discovered was my purpose.
I returned with a mission to empower my generation to live their dream lifestyle. I just didn’t know how to go about it. With my former financial issues contradicting my professional success, I decided to start blogging in April 2013 and by October of the same year, I successfully raised $78,501 from 541 people through crowdfunding site Indiegogo in 30 days.
A few days before FinCon New Orleans, I came across a tweet from Philip Taylor offering free tickets. I sent Philip a message and got my free conference ticket and my life hasn’t been the same ever since. That was the beginning of a deep relationship with the FinCon community. The success of The Road to Financial Wellness is a testament to the community’s passion that help me serve my purpose.
Planning The Road to Financial Wellness
I’ve had this road trip idea for a couple years but began working on specifics in January. I averaged 4 hours of sleep per day and spent 20 hours creating. I was going to make this happen no matter what and decided to focus all my time and resources to do so.
I sent hundreds of emails and tweets, over 100 phone calls made. I chose my team of passionate individuals to spend 30 days on the road with me. If we didn’t know each other well prior to the road trip, we sure do now.
Everything started coming together when I got my first sponsor. That’s when I knew this was real. Things became clearer when some of my blogger friends wanted to participate.
I enlisted the help of Melanie Lockert of DearDebt.com who managed the blogger outreach. I also got help from Will Lipovsky of FirstQuarterFinance.com who managed the Phroogal blog. Steve Stewart of MoneyPlanSOS coached me on giving better podcast interviews and J.Money of BudgetsareSexy spent a hours on the phone providing guidance and enthusiasm.
The outpouring of support from the FinCon community was beyond amazing. I had Jeff of SustainableLifeBlog.com, Deacon Hayes of WellKeptWallet.com, Katie Brewer of YRLPlanning.com who reached out and patched me over to some amazing people who made events happen all across the country. There are still so many others I haven’t mentioned.
So what happened on #TheRoad?
Life on the road is pretty tough. We slept infrequently and ate poorly. In fact, an interview we had with Joe of the Stacking Benjamins podcast excited Bill of Famzoo.com to support our healthier food options. We even got the opportunity to meet Bill in Mountain View, CA.
We slept at some sketchy places but also some nicer hotels. We crashed at couches and washed up with the Money Smart Family, Annette and Steve Economides in Scottsdale, AZ. We also slept on the road and a couple and a few times we didn’t sleep. However, we did witness some amazing sunrises and sunsets.
To summarize, we had our awesome and difficult moments but my team continued on.
I planned to have different types of events at different locations. I wanted to make sure we captured the uniqueness of each location. The events varied from panel discussion in a church to a seminar in a country clubhouse. I spoke in my hometown of Elizabeth, NJ at the site where Alexander Hamilton attended school sharing the stage with Tiffany “The Budgetnista”, Gary Wiener of MoneySavingsTips.com and Cat Alford of BudgetBlond.com.
I shared the message of financial wellness in a living room in Raleigh and at a restaurant in Atlanta with Tarra Jackson aka MsMadamMoney. We ate barbecue in Nashville with Kate Dore of CashvilleSkyline.com.
I had an enlightening talk with Eva Baker of Teensgotcents.com under an oak tree in Jacksonville. We toured Philadelphia with Leslie Girone of MoneySmart101.org and Chenell Tull of BrightCents.com. I talked alongside Talaat and Tai of HisandHerMoney.com at the New Community Church in Dolton, IL.
We headlined credit union member events, annual meetings and street fairs. I was even brought to tears when I entered a room of 140 credit union staff members in Missoula Montana wearing the Phroogal orange shirts.
We talked about the cooperative spirit in Corvalis, OR with Alan Steinborn of RealMoneyLife.com and Alyssa Windell of GenerationRA.com who took the day off to spend with us. Leisa Peterson of WealthClinic held a Money Mindfulness discussion at a Yoga Belly Studios in Mountain View, CA.
We networked with business owners, financial educators and state legislatures in Denver, CO. It’s when I got the chance to meet Michelle of ShopMyClosetProject.com, David and John of DebtFreeGuys.com and Andrew of MoneyCrashers.com.
We met financial tech entrepreneurs at the SoFi headquarters in San Francisco over cheese and wine.
And I also met with Philip and captured my signature jump in Dallas.
We ended the roadtrip with the Payoff team in Los Angeles joined by Jackie Lam of Cheapsters.org, Tonya of Budgetandthebeach.com and Kristen Wong of Brokepedia.com.
The events were all unique with some having attendance of a dozen people and others in the hundreds.
The Road to Financial Wellness was one of the biggest and challenging experiences for me. But, it was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I learned a great deal that I will use for road trip 2.0 and information I plan to share with the FinCon community.
After 44 days on the road, fourteen days of which was to decompress and do some camping and hiking, I’m still sifting through the information and conversations we’ve gathered.
I was asked recently if I planned to do this next year and that answer is yes.
Again, I want to thank you, the FinCon community and sponsors that made this possible. We moved the needle on The Road to Financial Wellness.
I am excited to hang with my FinCon family Charlotte and look forward to meeting many of you at FinCon 2015.
This post was written by Jason Vitug of Phroogal.