After holding fantastic conferences in Timișoara, Romania in 2017 and 2018, we decided to spice things up a bit by moving FIWE 2019 back to Budapest, the city where FIWE began back in 2016. We announced the event on New Year’s Eve 2018/2019.
The main conference was held in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and ran from the evening of Thursday, 2nd May until the evening of Saturday, 4th May.
Afterwards, particularly enthusiastic participants had the option of staying on for a few more days to take part in FIWE Extra. This event was also based in Budapest and ran from the morning of Sunday, 5th May until the evening of Wednesday, 8th May.
We originally planned to have 25 participants at the event, as in the two previous years. But then we got twice as many applications as we had spaces and we were too soft to turn down so many interesting and enthusiastic people. So we ended up accepting a total of 42 participants and only turned down people who applied after the deadline. (We had to draw a line somewhere, and there just wasn’t any more space at the venue.)
We had participants from 23 different countries, living in 14 different countries. 30 were men and 12 were women. 18 of the participants had attended previous FIWE events while 24 were completely new.
I’m glad we tried running an event with so many participants, and I enjoyed meeting them all. On the other hand, the group was just too big for everyone to talk to each other properly and posed some significant logistical issues.
In future years we’ll be returning to a group size of around 25, as we’ve found that this number worked well in previous years. It’s not too overwhelming for more introverted participants, everyone has time to talk to everyone else, and it’s easier for a group dynamic to form. Oh, and it’s waaaay easier to sort out logistics for a group of this size!
We ran the conference at a small venue in central Budapest. The conference room was set out more like a cafe with participants grouped around small tables. It was a bit crowded but ultimately it worked well as a venue. Lunch was available at the venue for those who wanted it, and participants could order coffee and other drinks at the bar upstairs throughout the conference.
You know the drill by now. We’re not out to make any money from these events. We run them for fun and to provide a low-cost opportunity for frugal FI enthusiasts to meet each other and have fun.
All participants covered their own costs for travel, accommodation and food. We paid our share too. There was a participation fee of €25 per person to cover the costs of renting the conference venue for the main conference part of the event. The participants paid this as a kind of deposit to the venue and they could use it to buy snacks and drinks throughout the two conference days.
There was no additional participation fee for FIWE Extra.
Thursday 2nd May: Arrival Day
We kicked the conference off at 7 pm with a welcome and introduction session, then played some icebreaking games and talked into the night.
Friday 3rd May: Conference Day 1
We gave another brief welcome for the benefit of those participants who hadn’t been able to make it to the kickoff event, then we played the “epic trailer” that one participant sent us as his application video. It was genius. Pure genius. Then it was time to get down to business. We had three presentations in the morning with short breaks in between:
- The 1 Million $ Strategy FIRE Plan
- FIRE Masterminds
- How to Be Happy, or Actionable Summary of “The Science of Wellbeing” Course
In the afternoon we had the following presentations:
- Life after FI
- FI by Lifestyle Deflation
- Gamification of Life
After all that information, it was time for a break so we headed out into the city for dinner.
Saturday 4th May: Conference Day 2
In the morning we had the following presentations:
- FI Blueprint (How to Achieve FI step by step)
- Why FI Might Be the Best and Worst Idea Ever
- Passive Investing
- Making Money Online
After lunch we had a panel discussion about what it’s really like to be FI. The five or six of us who were already FI sat at the front of the room and the other participants asked us questions. It was a pretty interesting format.
To wrap up, one participant held a workshop in which we were invited to really think about the event, the people we’d met, and what we wanted out of life. It was a really innovative and inspiring way to end the conference.
Sunday 5th – Wednesday 8th May: FIWE Extra
There was no formal program for FIWE Extra. Since the group was still so big, different people did different things in smaller groups. There was a lot of sightseeing, unconferencing, a FIRE singalong, a FIRE pub quiz – oh, and quite a lot of eating. It was nice to get to spend time with the participants in a more relaxed atmosphere. There was a nice mix of seriousness and silliness and a lot of inspiring ideas were hatched during these extra days.
What We Learned
FIWE 2019 was the most inspiring yet. There was a lot of focus on happiness and the emotional side of FIRE, and one of the participants coined the phrase “Live FI before FI”. We liked that so much that it’s going to be one of the main themes of our 2020 event.
One concrete outcome of the event was that lots of the participants banded together to form Mastermind groups. These are small groups of 4-5 people who meet via Skype once a week or so to discuss a specific topic. This has resulted in lasting friendships and the participants are still in regular contact long after FIWE 2019 wrapped up.
The other thing we learned from FIWE 2019 was that the demand for events like this in Europe has definitely exceeded our capacity for supply. We’re really excited about that because it’s what we dreamed of back in 2016 when we started out on this journey to build up the FIRE community in Europe.
As of 2020, there will be several events like this for you to choose from. They will take place at different times throughout the year in different locations and be run by different people. We wrote a blog post about it, so check it out for more information.
Blog Posts About FIWE 2019
- Money for the Modern Girl: Finding My Tribe in Budapest
- Eyes on the Goal: The FIWE Conference and the Community Power
- Bangkok to Blighty: May 2019 Update – Making FIRE Friends and Major Life Revelations
- Dividend Cake: Event: FIWE 2019 in Budapest, Hungary
- Geldschnurrbart: Financial Independence Week Europe – FIWE 2019 (German only)