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CampFI conference report (Financial Independence)

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Last weekend my girlfriend, Georgiana and I met MoeMoney at a financial conference held right next door to my neighborhood, Joshua Tree, CA. CampFI has been spreading quickly across the country for the last two years I have been following them. They were about 65 young people mostly 20 and 30 somethings who want financial independence. The word "retirement" does not exist in their vocabulary. We had presentations on starting your own business, social media marketing and building your wealth with passive income, real estate. Yep, real estate rentals is a big deal. Dan and I made most of our money through renting and owning RE. All of these young people understand 100% that they must live below their means to get to FI at a young age. I have already lived the FI life because that is all I did for my entire life is watch my pennies and saved, and later on invested in mutual funds and RE. Georgiana led two meditation workshops and the turnout for these morning meditations was phenomenal. One big question from them is what are they going to do once they reach FI? And they will easily become millionaires at age 35 or 40 years old. What do I do next? Meditation is a powerful mechanism that might provide some answers.  Its the same with us older folks, what will we do once we retire at 60 something? 

Pictures here:  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1NOkjV86277GpVgPQLYmtibVX-HRafYcS  

I was excited to meet MoeMoney after knowing her for about 3 years here. We talked about the future of the 403b movement and while the situation may be stalled at the moment, nobody is giving up. There are new strategy possibilities in the pipeline. We will be having a series of meetings both here on the west and on the east coast to discuss new strategies, get focused, involved influencers, and look at all possibilities to reform the 403b.  The biggest problem is that no fiduciary protection exists anywhere in the non-ERISA 403b with public PreK-12 school districts. 

The first one will be in Southern California. The next one will be in NYC. 

If you want more information about these meetings, send me a PM.

 

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Thanks for the report, Steve! I wish I could have gone. I have followed this movement closely for the past few years. 

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Thanks Dan. It was so inspiring to talk with these young people. I think our young teachers would benefit from this group, because our teachers have something that almost all in this group do not have, a PENSION! I only met one teacher who quit after three years. 

I am on the front row on the right, the old guy with grey hair, mouth open and the dark shirt and Georgiana is under my right arm and our own 403bwise.com "MoeMoney" is right behind us above my right arm. 

 

Joshua Tree CampFI.jpg

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Hi CampFI buddy! Great po, Steve. It was fabulous meeting up with one of the smartest teachers I know, in person! I’m looking forward to collaborating soon.

I met one teacher, adaptive Physical Education,  from Las Vegas. He was surprised no one in his district could answer any questions about the 403b plan. Shocker, I know. He had an earful from me and I suspect he might have found us here already, though he started school this week. 

Georgiana likened the intentionality of saving and spending to meditation, in a way that made sense to this group. It’s about setting your intentions and following through. 

Really impressed with the age spread, 40’s and 50’s were represented too, and the interest in sharing. 

Check out a CampFI if it comes your way. It’s an offshoot of Choose FI. I wrote a few blog posts on the perils of the 403b’s on its website. 

 

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11 hours ago, MoeMoney said:

likened the intentionality of saving and spending to meditation, in a way that made sense to this group. It’s about setting your intentions and following through. 

As somebody who is speeding towards financial independence, I just wanted to add my perspective. For me, financial independence doesn’t require consistent intentional thought; it required a single realization.

A little while ago Dodge bastardized Dr. King’s words from Drum Major Instinct in a commercial for trucks, which prompted somebody to overlay his actual words on that same commercial. His point is that material objects don’t bring you happiness or define you. Gandhi made clear that materialism actually brings you unhappiness because you end up working and fretting to maintain and protect inanimate objects.

Yet we have an entire class of professionals working everyday to convince us to buy things that we don’t need and probably can’t afford; things that we stop enjoying almost as soon as they’re purchased. It is like an addiction in that it is a hollow pursuit which always leaves you unsatisfied, but wanting more.

If you fundamentally reject consumerism and materialism because you view them as tools being used against you, then you don’t have to be intentional about budgeting. You simply no longer have the desire to participate. You don’t feel a sense of deprivation because you purchase only the things that improve your life and are turned off by the rest. It no longer requires effort.

The wealthy have dictated values to us, which benefit them. We are taught that hard work in the context of our jobs is paramount and similar effort directed towards personal happiness is selfish and lazy.

We are asked from an early age what we want to grow up to be as if our entire reason for existence is to serve some commercial enterprise. We are taught that this economic system is a meritocracy and if you work hard you will succeed.

So when we enter an economy where all the wealth is at the top despite how hard we’ve worked, we think something is wrong with us. The longer I live the more clear it is that companies treat employees like things rather than people and that mentality sinks into the employees who begin treating each other as tools or a means to an end. It is a broken culture.

Tyler Durden, Chuck Palahniuk’s character from Fight Club, was wildly flawed but he had something to say on this topic and he was right 

So when you see that this system is built to lie and exploít you, to define your morals and values for you, and when you know your life is painfully short then naturally you no longer want to be forced to participate and rely on working every day, all day for some company’s profits. When you realize how much wealth you’re wasting on consumption that doesn’t improve and sustain your life, it makes financial independence possible. Beyond coming to these conclusions I don’t think it requires much intentionality...or at least that’s been my experience.

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Great news, because of the interest of people here in Southern California, and the beauty and the climate of Joshua Tree National Park, the organizers are planning on a return trip to Joshua Tree Retreat Center in the fall of 2019. 

And does California need financial literacy! Here is an article from edsource about the deplorable condition of financial literacy for our students: https://edsource.org/2017/california-schools-get-an-f-in-financial-literacy-instruction/591954

As I have mentioned before on this board, there is one excellent resource to train and provide free resources to teachers nationwide: https://www.ngpf.org/ created by Tim Ranzetta.

We should support Tim's work because he wants to help us too. We need an influencer to reform the 403b and one way to reach teachers with our mission of educating them for retirement planning by teaching their students personal finance. It's one approach to integrate an important 21 Century skill with real-world applications into science and math standards. 

 

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