My Impressions from FIWE 2016

It’s been a whole month since FIWE 2016 in Budapest, so you’d think it was time for us to stop harping on about it, wouldn’t you? Well I still have stuff to say about it, so there!  Mr W has already given you a blow-by-blow of who was there, what we did and what we ate, so I thought I’d write a bit about how I thought the event went overall and what my lasting impressions were now I’ve had time to think it all over properly.

The first thing to say was that all the participants were really easygoing and low maintenance. Nobody had high expectations that me and Mr W would provide an all-singing, all-dancing entertainment programme the whole time and nobody had complicated special wishes. People were there to meet each other and exchange experiences and information and were pretty relaxed about where those conversations took place, so that was a big weight off our shoulders since it meant me and Mr W also had loads of time to talk to everyone instead of running about trying to sort out logistics and make sure everyone was happy and entertained all the time. Thanks guys!

The second thing I took home was that the FI blogger scene in Europe is still in its infancy compared to the one in the US. There are no superstars like MMM and there are loads of things still to be researched and written about, especially because things like tax rules are so different from country to country. It made me think about what knowledge I can contribute to the community and gave me inspiration for a big idea that I’ve already started working on.

One great thing I noticed was that there was no sense of competition between us all. Nobody tried to find out how many subscribers the others had so they could work out whether their own blog was bigger than other people’s, and everyone freely exchanged ideas and answered questions. I didn’t get the sense that anyone was holding back information because they were secretly planning a post about it. The atmosphere was really positive and relaxed and that really helped the conversation flow. That’s one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to write this post – there were so many interesting conversations that my poor brain was a bit overheated by the last day and I needed time to work through all the ideas and see what stuck before I could even consider putting together a coherent post.

It was also refreshing to be able to finally talk openly about our financial and work situations and I didn’t have to lie or be creative when I was talking about what I do all day (i.e. raise kids, blog and manage our rental properties). I think at least some of the other participants found that refreshing as well. There was no jealousy; none of the FI people had to explain how FI works or justify themselves for “not working”. It was also totally new for me to be at a big table of people who all knew what FI was and were really excited about it and actually wanted to talk about it. I also realised that compared to the others, I know next to nothing about ETF investing, despite having read “Der Kommer”, which is basically the German ETF bible. I plan on getting more into ETFs in the next few months once things here get a little less crazy. At least I know who to go to with my questions!

The main thing about FIWE that’s stuck with me was that it was fun. The whole time. Normally at meetups – especially ones lasting several days – there are some fun bits and some less fun bits. But I actually had fun the whole time in Budapest. We didn’t even talk about finance stuff the whole time. We talked a lot about lifestyle stuff like minimalism and even went completely off topic and just talked about life, the universe and everything. A huge thanks once again to all our participants, you made the event a huge success! See you next year…