I’ve arrived back from Chicago to good ole Toronto. I spent the weekend at the first Financial Bloggers Conference with about 280 financial bloggers collaborating on different topics, trends and ideas affecting the financial blogosphere. If I were to sum it up in in two words, I would definitely say that the conference was a; Great Success. This event gave everyone an opportunity to not only to meet new friends from the blogging community, but also learn new things such as better writing, SEO, ways to monetize your blog and the opportunity to meet some pros who have made their own success blogging; Pat Flynn (Smartpassiveincome.com), Ramit Sethi (Iwillteachyoutoberich.com) and J.D. Roth (Getrichslowly.com) are just a few to name.
Aside from learning a ton, I also had the opportunity to meet some friends I met within the last-year since I started blogging. I’d like to say thanks to Amber (Blondeandbalanced.com) even though she’s not really blonde anymore, Krystal (Givemebackmyfivebucks.com), Mr. Ninja (dividendninja.com) & Kevin (thousandaire.com) for all the great laughs & memories.
The trip did not come cheap, but I can comfortably say that the money was well spent. Like they say, you gotta give to get. I sure gave in (money spent for the trip), but the memories, laughs, learning and meetings with alike minds are priceless.
I booked the trip with cheapoair.com and got a pretty good deal on the flight it self. The round trip cost me $390.00 (tax in) via United Airlines. Initially I was thinking of flying with Porter out of Toronto island, but opted not to. There was no real difference in price, but I do admit Porter was cheaper. I think their round trip was $350 (tax in). After weeks of looking into costs of getting around in Chicago, I opted not to fly with Porter. It would have actually cost me more.
Since Midway Airport in Chicago is located further out than Ohare International Airport, it would have roughly cost me $65 each way to and from the airport. This way I saved around $90 in additional taxi costs. On top of it, flying in a jet is a much more comfortable ride than flying with a propeller plane.
I stayed at the Marriott Courtyard and the whole cost was $91.00 for three days and two nights (it was cheap, because I shared a room with a friend). Unfortunately I did not stay at the Marriott where the conference was happening and that’s a whole other story. That’s what happens when I leave things until the last minute and the hotel gets sold out. In the end it actually worked out fairly well. Cab rides between the two hotels was a roughly $5.00 each way, since they are less than two miles apart.
This is where it got tricky unfortunately, due to simply spending more than I budgeted for. When I arrived the ride from the airport was $45. My fault though. I totally forgot to use the preferred Taxi company, so instead of paying $23.00, I paid $45.00. That’s what happens when one does not think. Taxi rides in between hotels, so twice a day cost me another $21.00 for the three days and I totally budgeted for that. Fortunately there were enough people staying at my hotel that you almost always shared a cab with someone.
Taxi ride back to the airport cost me $26.00. Hotel was nice enough to give me a $3.00 off coupon or else the price would have been $29.00. Pretty nice of them.
Friday Night Dinner
First night’s dinner was Chicago deep-dish pizza & beer. It’s something we all wanted to try. There was roughly 7 of us and the total cost was $110.00. Amber & Krystal pulled the guilt trip on me weeks leading up to the conference on why I should buy dinner, so I did it. Either way it was no biggies and glad I did it in the end.
Initially I allocated $150 in the budget for shopping while in Chicago. I would use this money for gifts and anything else I’d buy for my self. In total I spent $110.00, which was less than I budgeted for. Woodfield Mall (Chicago’s largest shopping center) was within walking distance, so I popped into the mall a few times. And with great success I picked up some goodies for me and gifts to bring back for family & friends.
On each flight I had to pay $25.00 to check luggage. Sort of pissed me off. What happened to those days that you’d pay for your flight, with no surprise additional costs. Seemed like a total cash grab. Total cost for this was $50.00.
For miscellaneous costs during the trip I budgeted $50.00. This would included purchasing of coffee on the go, tips and booze. Total amount I spent was $30.00, which puts me under the budget by $20.00. Most of the $30.00 was spent on tips and Starbucks. Booze was free during happy hour and during the conference dinner.
Flight – $390.00
Lodging – $91.00
Transportation – $92.00
Extras – $290.00
TOTAL = $863.00
Like I said above the trip did not come cheap, but it was money well spent. Meeting all the bloggers and learning some things from the pros is money well spent. For those of you my fellow bloggers who did not attend the conference, think about attending the next years conference. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet some fellow peers you would not have met otherwise, learn something and make memories that will last you a lifetime.