The view from the top of Mt. Si.

There has never been a conference I didn’t learn something from. Camp Mustache IV in Seattle this past weekend was the best ever for learning. Others may have had a different experience. Where you are on your journey determines how valuable a conference like Camp Mustache is.

Two years ago I attended my first ever Camp Mustache. My goals were simple. I wanted to meet Pete, Mr. Money Mustache himself, and make a business proposition. It went better than expected which is why I am here and you are reading this.

Unfortunately, my mind was on business so I missed most learning opportunities save one: humility. I went into Camp overconfident in my abilities and had no clue how smart Mustachians are. My thought was to offer my services in a breakout session on taxes. This was the highlight of my first Camp Mustache. I achieved something I hadn’t planned on and it was a whopper. Mr. Money Mustache was now my client! How awesome is that?

Later I carried out my original goal and shared the business proposition with MMM. He didn’t care enough for the idea to take it on, but graciously offered to promote the idea on his site for me. Once again, how cool is that?




Then the worst part came. It would be easy to blame my actions on not knowing most other bloggers there, but it would be a lame excuse only. The Mad Fientist was there and was scheduled for a tax break-out session, too. The MF was gracious enough to invite me to share the stage during his presentation. Right out of the gate I took over the session like an ass. Good thing the MF is even tempered or I’d have been backhanded. Only later did I realize how much of a dick I was.

You have to give the MF a hand. He never gave me what I deserved. He always treated me with respect, including the following year at the next Camp Mustache. For the record, he is a better man than me. ‘nough said.

Last year at Camp Mustache I was a bit more prepared and willing to learn. Whereas, the first Camp was productive, my second Camp was filled with relationship building. There was plenty of learning, too, but the relationships were the most powerful outcome of that Camp for me.

Let’s recap. My first Camp was about business. My second Camp was about making friends and relaxing a bit. This year I shut my mouth a tiny bit more than usual and listened, and boy did I learn. Do we have a minute so I can share?

Big Mouth Strikes Again

Nervousness and doubt causes some people to blabber non-stop. The nervousness was gone and my doubts were seriously curtailed. I still talked plenty, but the domination of every conversation was not part of the weekend.

Listening and learning were the only real goals for this year’s Camp. I had no idea how much I would learn for these highly intelligent people if I just closed my mouth and opened my mind. I was two years behind. It was time I sat back and accepted the gifts others were willing to share.




The information digested was immense. Two things percolate to the top for me. The value of these two pieces of information are easily worth more than $50,000 per year for life. The first was completely new to me. Joe Olson (his wife, Ali, writes books on the side in her retirement) is a retired teacher (age 31, I think) talked about a new idea he was working on called trade lines. Rather than bog you down on what this is I will save it for a future post when I am more versed in the matter.

Joe worked trade lines for the past year and came out of retirement (still financially independent, he reminded me) three weeks ago to start a business involving trade lines. With his prior experience he is certain to build an awesome company in a field filled with potential issues. I would never touch trade lines with my level of knowledge. But, knowing Joe, I will jump as soon as he is willing to add me as a client. Besides, if a firm is going to make some coin it may as well be someone I know and like.

The second nugget of knowledge that blasted into my thick skull and rattled around is multilayered. Later this year I will attend FinCon in Dallas. A man I admire greatly gave me advice from his ample experience of past FinCons. His name is Doug Nordman (affectionately called Nords by his friends). He reads this blog religiously so I better get this right.

He said I should skip the sessions at FinCon (I can watch the videos later on YouTube) and instead should focus on meeting people and sharing ideas. It’s all about relationships again. Much of his advice was specific to me so I will save your eyes the drudgery of what interests me. What I can say is I am certain I will get significantly greater value from my first FinCon because I shut my yap and listened to somebody with experience.

More Camp Mustache Highlights

There are several additional important points I’d be remiss if I left them out. Most revolve around breakout sessions and additional forms of entertainment. I did not attend every session because two tracks ran simultaneously.

Your favorite accountant had a session on Anti-Mustachianism. I had a feeling Pete would show up. He did. Took a chair and sat straight in front of me in the middle of the isle. There were no warning looks. My heart couldn’t have taken it.

Pete (MMM), Nords and his wife, Marge.

The goal of my session was to point out the areas of Mustachianism where my opinion differed from Pete’s. By the end of the session Pete made it clear he agreed with me with rare exception. What I communicated was that Mustachianism is a foundation for everyone to build on, but you don’t have to be a carbon copy of Pete.. If you don’t like DIY, then don’t

As a side note, I am very defensive of Pete. He gave me a massive chance two years ago with modest information about me. Even when I don’t always agree with Pete, I still trust him so much I would do as he asked because he has never been unreasonable and the guy is all common sense. I made it clear at the outset, my session would not devolve into a “complain about Pete” session. There was never any risk. I think everyone left the room better, including Pete, than when they came in. Goal accomplished.

Hunter Post gave us another awesome session on Decision Making. As a former NCIS agent, Hunter has stories to illustrate his advice. Few readers will ever experience the high-level decisions Hunter made in his career. Remaining cool under pressure requires training. Everyone benefitted from his advice.

Back to my good friend, Nords. Doug had a session focusing on a simple point with massive ramifications: an individual’s savings rate. As he outlined the major market events of his adult life and the financial mistakes he made, it became clear you don’t have to hit the stock market perfect to succeed. There is a direct correlation between the percentage of your income you save/invest and wealth/financial independence. The message is so simple it is frequently missed. You must save a significant portion (50%ish) of your income and invest in index funds. The rest takes care of itself.

Our gang nearing the top of Mt. Si.

The Mount Si climb this year was hot! In the previous two years I drank only a small portion of water on the climb. This year I guzzled water, ran out, and became dehydrated. It was a painful slog and I wasn’t alone.

I mention the Mount Si hike because your favorite accountant offered to do a comedy skit this year and I performed after the hike. Camp Mustache facilitator, Joe (a different Joe from above), loved the idea. It was a lot of work and a tremendous amount of additional planning than a breakout session. The good news is they only threw tomatoes three times before they called the police to haul me away.

Ah, you know I was joking. The skit went well. It was my first ever standup comedy routine. I never attended, nor performed, at an open mic before. A few jokes were dudes; to be expected. But there was also some hysterical laughter which made my night. (You were awesome, Marla.) Mission accomplished. I was also glad when it was over. The hike was brutal and I was in pain while I performed. I was also nervous. Then it was over and all went well. Whew!

Final notes: Camp Mustache is getting bigger every year. This year attendance was by lottery of those registered. There are Camps starting up all over now! Florida had Camp Mustache SE this January. Yes, I was there and delivered words of wisdom. CMSE for January 2018 is already filled so they are doing two Camps in a row so more can attend. The second weekend has a few spots left, I think. I have been asked to speak at both. It is a large commitment so close to tax season so I am uncertain as of this writing if I will do one or both weekends.

If you must absolutely, positively see me, I will be at FinCon in Dallas. There are no speaking commitments as of this time, but I am open to the idea if asked, but will not pursue. I am on a relationship and fact finding mission for my first FinCon. No more stupid, take over the show, showing off. I understand the Mad Fientist will be there. He might actually backhand me if I pull that stunt again.