What is FIWE?
FIWE stands for Financial Independence Week Europe. It’s a meeting of like-minded people who are interested in financial independence, lifestyle design, minimalism and mindfulness. It’s a way to bring people together to exchange ideas and experiences in a relaxed, easygoing setting. Often people whose interests lie in these kinds of areas have trouble finding like-minded people to talk to in their immediate environment, so the idea of FIWE is to build connections between people who think differently to the mainstream and to build up a pan-European community.
The main conference will take place over a weekend (Friday – Sunday) and will include presentations, workshops, discussion sessions and of course lots of free time for informal discussions.
FIWE Extra is an extension of FIWE during which a smaller group of people will spend a few more days hanging out together in an even more informal setting. We’ll move from the bustle of the big city to a small sleepy town where we’ll spend most of our time outside – swimming in the lakes, riding bikes, cooking together. There won’t be any formal presentations, just lots of time to talk and exchange ideas and visions for the future.
When and Where Is It Happening?
The main conference will be happening in Timişoara, a city in western Romania, and will run from the evening of Friday, 8th June until the evening of Sunday, 10th June.
Afterwards a small group of particularly enthusiastic participants will be staying on for a few more days to take part in FIWE Extra. This event will relocate to a small town an hour away from Timişoara on the Romanian-Serbian border and will run from the morning of Monday, 11th June until the evening of Thursday, 14th June.
If you’d like to participate, just apply with a short video by the 1st of March. See details below.
I'm not going to spout irrelevant statistics from a travel guide - you can look those up yourself on Wikipedia, but here's Timişoara in a nutshell: It's a major city in the Banat region of western Romania. Just under half a million people live there, including small but significant Hungarian, German and Serbian minorities. Timişoara's two main claims to fame are that it was the first city in mainland Europe to have electric street lights and also that it was where the Romanian revolution started in 1989. It's also been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2021.
The city has a lot of beautiful old buildings from when it was under Hapsburg rule, but a lot of them fell into disrepair under communism and basically looked pretty shitty for a long time. In the last few years a huge effort has been made to renovate these buildings and transform a large area of the city centre into a modern, pedestrianized district. New cafes and restaurants are springing up all the time and the place has a really dynamic atmosphere about it.
The city is fairly small and easy to get around if you know what you're doing. Thankfully Mr W is an expert since he went to school and uni there so he'll be in charge of navigation.
The main conference will be happening in a small B&B near the city centre. It's run by an old school friend of Mr W's and we've stayed there many a time, so we can thoroughly recommend it from our own experience. The B&B is fully enclosed and feels like a totally different world to the bustling city outside. It has two lovely quiet courtyards and attached conference rooms. We've basically booked out the entire place for the weekend which will make things a lot easier logistically. It means we can all be together as much as possible, especially during meals, breaks and free time, which is often when the most interesting conversations take place. It also means we'll all waste a lot less time getting between our rooms and the conference facilities. We love efficiency!
We're still working hard on the specifics of the program, but here's a general outline so you know what you're getting yourself in for:
Friday 8th June: Arrival Day
We'll kick the conference off at 5pm with a welcome session then head out into the city for dinner. The point of this first evening will be to get everyone together, learn each other's names and get a first taste of the city.
Saturday 9th June: Conference Day 1
Now it's time to get down to business! After breakfast at the B&B the real conference will begin. We'll have a mixture of presentations and workshops in the morning with a break in between, then we'll stop for lunch. In the afternoon we'll have a mixture of presentations and lightning discussion sessions, again with breaks in between. After yet another short break (breaks are good!) we'll head out into the city for dinner and drinks.
Sunday 10th June: Conference Day 2
The morning and afternoon will look pretty much the same as the previous day, with the official conference over by 5pm. Some participants may already start leaving during the course of the evening, while some of you may opt to stay another night in Timişoara and leave the next day. It's up to you based on your own preferences and travel schedules. Those of us who're staying on Sunday night will again head out into the city for dinner and some more quality entertainment. We'll have a final wrap-up and feedback session after dinner.
Monday 11th June: FIWE Extra, Day 1
On Monday morning we'll say goodbye to the last of the weekend participants and then relocate to a smaller town near to Timişoara. Brace yourselves for a bumpy train ride! The venue for FIWE Extra will be our house. We'll spend the day hanging out on the terrace, cooking in the yard, and recovering from the weekend.
Tuesday 12th - Thursday 14th June: FIWE Extra, Days 2 - 4
We'll spend these three days going on bike rides, making day trips and exploring the culinary offerings of the region. We have some ideas for trips in the pipeline - we'll provide more details once we've got everything organised.You don't have to stay right until the bitter end - if you want to just stay on for a couple of days that's ok too (but please let us know how long you're planning on staying so we can plan the activities accordingly).
You have a wide range of options available when deciding how to get to Timişoara. We've listed the main ones below. If you have any questions or problems, just send us a quick e-mail and we'll do our best to help you out.
The airport in Timişoara is called Traian Vuia. You can fly there from the following cities:
- Germany: Dortmund, Düsseldorf Weeze, Munich, Frankfurt Hahn, Memmingen
- Belgium: Bruxelles Charleroi
- France: Paris Beauvais
- Italy: Milan-Bergamo (Orio al Serio), Bologna (L. Ridolfi), Rome (Fiumicino), Treviso, Bari
- UK: London Luton, London Stanstead
- Netherlands: Eindhoven
- Spain: Barcelona El Prat, Madrid Barajas, Valencia în Manises
- Romania: Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi
The airport is directly on the outskirts of the city, which is pretty rare these days. You can reach the city centre by bus or taxi. Once you've booked your flight, you can ask the other participants in the facebook group if anyone else is arriving at the same time as you and band together to figure out the bus system or share a taxi. We'll provide you with full details of how to get to the venue nearer the time and can also arrange for a taxi to pick you up from the airport if you'd like.
If you can't find a good flight directly to Timişoara, you can also fly to Budapest and then take one of several airport shuttle services that offer airport pickup and transport to wherever you want in Timişoara for around €35-40. Driving time is about 3 1/2 hours.
If you don't like flying or can't find suitable flights, you could get a train instead. International trains arrive at Timisoara Nord station, which is very close to the city centre and the venue. You can currently get a direct train to Timişoara from Budapest (it takes about 5 1/2 hours). You can look up connections on the German railway portal.
The most important thing to know about FIWE is that it's not for profit. We're not looking to make any money out of it whatsoever because, let's face it, we don't need any more money and we also don't believe that high costs should be a barrier to participation. All the money you pay is just to cover costs. We'll be paying our share too. Also, we're not going to invite big-name speakers and pay them for giving a presentation. All participants will be on a level playing field with everyone covering their own costs.
You're responsible for organising and paying for your own travel to and from Timişoara. See the How Do I Get There? section for more information.
You'll be paying for your own accommodation at the conference venue. All prices include breakfast and are as follows:
- Standard double room: €38 per room per night
- Standard twin room: €38 per room per night
- Triple room: €53 per room per night
- Standard single room: €32 per room per night
- Basic single room: €28 per room per night
Once we've confirmed your place at the event, you'll get an e-mail will full details of the venue and information about how to pay for your accommodation. The rooms will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis so get in quick if you have a strong preference about which type of room you'd like.
Breakfast: Included in your accommodation price.
Lunch: We've yet to sort out the details but you can budget around €4-7 per meal.
Dinner: For dinner we'll be venturing out into the student area near the venue or checking out the old town. Again we've still got to do some scouting around for good places that can handle 25 people and also offer vegetarian/vegan options, but for €5-8 per meal you should be able to eat well.
We'll be charging an additional participation fee of €15 per person to cover the costs of renting the conference facilities and any other miscellaneous costs that crop up. We're deliberately keeping these costs as low as possible because that's just how we are. And also because that's just how you are, right? You don't need any extra fancypants crap. You're Mustachian, goddamit!
There won't be an additional participation fee for FIWE Extra, but if you participate you should also budget for meals each day and travel between our house and Timişoara (a train ticket costs less than €1.50 one way - this is not a typo).
We're limiting participation for the main conference (Friday to Sunday) to 25 people including the two of us. That way, everyone should have a chance to talk to everyone else and there should be a good community atmosphere.
FIWE Extra will be smaller because not everyone will be hardcore enough to want to extend their FIWE experience to a full week. Also, FIWE Extra will relocate to our own house and we can't accommodate 25 people!
The event is open to everyone who's excited about financial independence, minimalism and generally living a meaningful, mindful life. Everyone who's bursting with ideas but has no-one to share them with in their immediate surroundings. Everyone who's looking for like-minded people to hang out with for a few days. Everyone who wants to finally be able to talk freely about FI, investing, minimalism and how they envision (or are already living) their financially free life.
Maybe you think it sounds harsh to set up an application process and pick and choose participants. Why don't we just accept the first 25 people who say they're interested? Basically to make sure we have a good mix of participants from different places and with different experiences and ideas to contribute. If we operate on a first come, first serve basis we run the risk of having too many participants from a single country and/or with a single topic of focus. That then makes the event less enjoyable for the people who don't belong to this majority group.
We'll look carefully at all the applications and choose participants based on the following criteria:
- Do you seem really, truly excited about the event?
- Do you have ideas and experiences to contribute?
- Will you add some diversity to the overall mix of participants?
- Can you communicate confidently in English about the kind of topics we'll be discussing at FIWE? If you're not comfortable listening to presentations and having informal discussions about financial topics in English, maybe FIWE isn't the right event for you. Although if you're reading this, chances are you'll be fine!
If you think FIWE 2018 is for you, send us a short video telling us about yourself:
- Why do you want to come to FIWE?
- How did you first find out about FI and what's been your experience with it so far?
- What are your interests? What are you passionate about? What do you want to do with your life once you reach FI? (Or, if you're already FI, what does your life look like now?)
- Do you want to hold a presentation, workshop or case study during the event? If so, give us a brief introduction to you topic.
- Do you want to come to the main conference only (Friday-Sunday) or do you think you can handle some FIWE Extra days as well? If so, how many extra days do you want to stay for (until Thursday 11th June at the latest)?
Here are some tips for making a fantastic application:
- The reason we prefer video applications over e-mails is that we get a much better idea of you as a person through a video than through an e-mail. If you really don't want to record a video, you can send us an audio recording but if you don't want to do that either, you can apply by e-mail but be warned that we're more likely to accept people who've applied by video or audio recording. Note that we won't share application videos and audio recordings with anyone outside the jury.
- Videos should be about 2 minutes long, but this is just a guideline and you shouldn't stress if your video is longer or shorter than this.
- The video is not a job interview. You don't have to reel off a list of all the investing experience you have and everywhere you've worked to convince us that you know enough about investing to participate in the event. We're much more interested in why you're interested in FI in the first place - in the words of The Canny Contractor: what's your why for FI?
- Please only propose a presentation, workshop or case study if you're actually prepared to do it. Proposing lots of ideas won't increase your chances of your application being successful. We're asking the question because we want to be able to plan the program, not to measure your level of enthusiasm.
If you apply by video, please upload your video to a platform where we can watch it without downloading it, for example:
- vimeo: with password protection - don't forget to e-mail us the password
- YouTube: share it privately with us
- Dropbox: just send us the link
Important: Please also send us an e-mail telling us you've shared a video with us so that we have your e-mail address. Last year a couple of people just shared a YouTube video with us without giving us their contact details and we had to stalk them on google to track down their e-mail addresses so we could reply to their applications!
If you apply by audio recording, just attach your recording to an e-mail and send it to us.
Please use the following e-mail address for all communication with us: fiweconf (at) gmail.com
The application process is open right now! The deadline for applications is March 1st.
As soon as we receive your application we'll send you a confirmation e-mail so you know we've definitely received it.
After March 1st, we'll look at all the applications and choose the participants. We'll let you know by March 7th whether you've been successful.
Unsuccessful applicants will go on a waiting list and we'll notify you if there are any cancellations and we can offer you a place after all.
If you've been successful, we'll provide you with full information about the next steps. We'll also add you to the closed facebook group for the event so you can get to know the other participants in advance and ask any questions you might have. To secure your place for the event, you'll need to confirm your participation by March 15th. After that deadline, we'll offer your place to someone else.
Yes, if your partner is also interested in fully participating in the conference. If your partner is already somewhat on board but has a few reservations, this might be a good opportunity for them to explore the topic a bit more and talk to people other than you about it. If they're totally on board and as excited as you are about the whole thing, even better! In both these cases, feel free to send us a single application for both of you.
On the other hand, if your partner isn't interested in any of the topics of the conference but just wants to see Romania, we suggest you leave them at home this time or add on a holiday with them after the conference. Accommodation is limited and we want to make sure there's enough space for the people who have a genuine interest in the event.
Not at all. While we suspect that most of the participants will end up falling into this category, it's not a must. You can be interested in minimalism without being interested in FI. And vice versa. Not having FI as a goal doesn't mean you're not an interesting person. If your interests lie more in the direction of minimalism, mindfulness and lifestyle design (e.g. the digital nomad lifestyle), you'll definitely have some interesting ideas to contribute!
No. While FIWE 2016 was primarily a blogger meetup, as of last year the event has been opened up to anyone who has something to contribute, blog or no blog.
Of course! Presentations should be no longer than 30 minutes to allow for 30 minutes of Q&A / discussion afterwards. Workshops can be longer to allow participants to explore the topic in more depth - two 45-minute sessions with a break in between. They could take the form of a case study, for example, where you present a problem and ask the participants to come up with potential solutions. Or you could look at a specific aspect of FI, such as how to reduce your living expenses while still living a happy, fulfilled life, and include exercises where the participants analyse their own expenses to come up with ideas for where they could make some savings. These are both just examples off the top of our heads - feel free to come up with better ideas!
Tell us about your idea in your application and we'd be happy to discuss it further with you if your application is successful.
This is an idea suggested by Amber Tree Leaves at FIWE 2016. The aim is to be able to discuss lots of topics in a structured way while making sure people aren't bored and no single topic dominates the discussion.
We'll split the participants into several small groups and appoint a moderator for each group. Everyone writes down some topics they want to discuss on post-it notes, then everyone in the group votes on these topics (everyone gets 5 points to allocate in total). The moderator then ranks the ideas based on how many points they got. The group discusses the most popular topic for 5 minutes, after which the participants vote on whether to extend the discussion by a further 3 minutes. Each topic can be extended a maximum of 3 times before the moderator moves the discussion on to the next most popular topic.
Another advantage of this is that even if only two or three people are interested in a particular topic and it doesn't get discussed in the group, these two or three people get a chance to find out that one another is interested in this topic and they can get together during one of the breaks or in the evening and discuss it in depth for hours if they like without boring the rest of the group. Everyone's a winner! A big thank you to Amber Tree for suggesting this idea!
We'll send you a confirmation e-mail within 24 hours of receiving your application. If you don't receive a confirmation e-mail:
- Check your spam folder.
- E-mail us at wlcbblog[at]gmail[dot]com and we'll be able to tell you whether we got your application.
Yes, don't worry! While dietary issues are less well-known in Romania the options available are slowly getting better. We haven't sorted out all the logistics yet but we'll go to great lengths if we have to to make sure you're fully catered for and not reduced to eating plain boiled rice the whole time.
Please send all questions to fiweconf (at) gmail.com.