Learn my 5 top takeaways from a week of conferences, how to save money for the next one, and what I actually spent money on this time around.
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📒 Show Notes + Resources 📒
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1️⃣ YNAB (You Need a Budget) budgeting software
2️⃣ You Need a Budget (the book)
3️⃣ Profit First (the book)
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Episode 12 How not to go broke at a conference. Welcome to the savvy Brown Girl podcast with Wendy Coop, your number one destination for personal finance and entrepreneurship for savvy women. Welcome back to the savvy Brown Girl podcast. I'm your host Wendy Coop, the chief savvy Brown Girl. And today we are talking about conferences and budgeting. Great things to attend, but we need to keep them from being a total money suck. Raise your hand, okay, if you're driving, don't raise your hand, but you know what I'm talking about. So today's episode is sponsored by budgeting for women. A simple five step plan to get your financial act together, written by yours truly, the book is now available on Amazon as a digital and physical copy. Learn the basics of budgeting, whether you're new to budgeting, or just need a refresher. This book also makes a great gift for the person in your life who wants to level up their financial literacy or financial adulting. Just a hint though, if people don't talk to you about their money, don't don't give them the book that could be awkward. We want to avoid those awkward situations. So let's get back to today's episode, we're going to look at a couple of conferences I attended last week, how much I spent, and how I can better budget in the future. I hope these tips will help you as well. So the first conference I attended was growth video live in Las Vegas, Nevada. I spent a total of about $1,200. On this conference, most of that money was on the ticket, flight and hotel. As you know, gas and fuel prices have dramatically increased along with anything affected by inflation. As a result, my flight and parking at the airport were actually my largest expenses while I was flying from Florida, so it's a pretty big deal. Followed by the ticket price because I went VIP, you know, that's how I roll. And then my share of the hotel room. And for the second conference, I went to pod fest slash bid Fest in Orlando, Florida. It was only about two hours from my house. So I drove and I stayed at the host Hotel. For that conference, I spent about $1,300 on my ticket, lodging, transportation, food and more. And yes, your girl was a VIP wasn't the highest ticket level, but VIP still got some perks. Okay. So after all that, here are my five takeaways in no particular order. Number one, budget more money for food. Number two, decide ahead of time, if you will, by anyone's training program. Number three, budget 20% more than you think you'll need. Number four, keep every receipt for tax and planning purposes. And number five, buy next year's ticket now to save money. Alright, so let's get into these takeaways. Number one, budget more money for food. Okay, so if I go back and look at my numbers, which are right here in a spreadsheet, I spent about $150 in food at pod fest. And about the same in Las Vegas. So the difference here is in Las Vegas, we were at a self contained resorts bond Casino. And because it was not on the strip, the only way to eat non hotel food is if you brought food yourself or if you had it DoorDash or Uber Eats in. Those are not verbs. But you know what I'm talking about. If you use DoorDash reviews, Uber Eats or took Uber to go someplace else. You could have other food. But if you're just staying in the host hotel, there were a number of options, none of them particularly inexpensive, but they existed. Though the M Resort Spa casino did have one of the better breakfast options that I've seen, especially if you're vegetarian or vegan. And I typically eat mostly whole food plant based so that was important for me. So, back to the food thing. You're gonna feel like every time you turn around, you're buying food. And I know that I felt that way in Orlando. Because I had VIP tickets. Sometimes I had to pay for lunch. And other times I didn't. But breakfast and dinner. Were all still on me. I took advantage of as much free food as I could, when things were catered when there was happy hours, or things like that. So look to catered events for your ticket level. You may even consider upgrading your ticket level so that if there are meals included, especially if one of them's dinner, then you'll get to absorb that cost into the price of your ticket and you won't have to worry about paying for food out of pocket at that particular time. Also Look to see if the hotel you're staying at has any kind of free or continental breakfast buffets. Those are awesome for just eating as much food as you possibly can. Now, if you're staying at a hotel, and they ask you, if you want to charge it to your room, or pay for it yourself, just go ahead and pay for it yourself. I know charging you to room is really, really tempting. But before you know it, that room bill, when you check out will be super, super high. So keep the costs low, and be mindful and pay for everything as you go. And by the way, if you set this up properly, then you've got the envelope set up in YNAB in the app, so that you can keep a running total of how much you've budgeted for food, and how much is actually left. So just for me, I spent $150, more or less. So the next conference, I might budget $170, just to give myself a little bit of a cushion. All right, takeaway number two is decide ahead of time, if you're by anyone's training program, because I'm going to be straight with you some of these programs can cause 567 $1,000. And that's with the conference discount, okay? Now, I'm not saying don't ever buy the thing, you could benefit from someone's training program or membership, where you get a TEDx talk, or if you want to self publish a book, those are all very worthy things and things I encountered at pod fest. But then again, if you didn't budget for it, no amount of FOMO is going to make you come up with the $5,000 to make sure that you take advantage of the program. Sometimes, if you sweet, talk it nicely, you could get them to extend that pricing beyond the conference, say offer $500 down. Or maybe they're just naturally extending the promotion. But take a look at when you have money coming in next, see if you can budget for it. And then decide if it's worth your while to get in on that program. Or just wait until next year. It's okay, it's probably going to be there. But these are things you have to decide ahead of time. Because if you don't, you're going to be pulled in every which way with everyone's good offer. But it might not be the right thing for you. So if you know that writing a book is still two years out for you, just because you've got other things going on, then don't feel pressured to sign up for a self publishing program that you might not have time for this year, you'll just be wasting your money. So keep those things in mind. If there's never a way to know totally, what kind of offers you're gonna get. But take a look at any sponsored lunch and learns. And for sure expect a pitch, which isn't a bad thing from the conference organizer. So in Vegas, the conference organizer had a very large pitch. And I was expecting that they built up to it. It wasn't a surprise. You weren't blindsided by it, but definitely something to consider. So if you think you might want to take advantage, I would actually budget another $5,000 for the conference of conference of your choosing. So whatever conferences your favorite, whatever conference, you think you're going to actually go and buy more things, more programs, or take advantage of that budget another $5,000. Because you never know if they're going to have a payment plan, or what the deal might be, you may have to pay it all at once. But I would say minimum $5,000. And then number three is budget 20% more than you think you need. You get there to the conference. And there's not only just food to buy, there's swag to buy, there's books, there's jewelry, there's equipment, if you're podcasting or you're doing YouTube, you always want the new things. And I mean at pod fest, the sure microphone people were there. And it was so so tempting to pick up another kit, but it wasn't in my budget. But if I had the category of stuff I didn't budget for which I talk more about in my book budgeting for women. Then I could look at that category and say, Well, I've got a few extra dollars here and the stuff I didn't budget for I can use that. Move it out of my digital envelope in YNAB. And there I have it, money for T shirts, money for software, money for education, money for books, what have you. So budget 20% more than you think you need. Call it stuff you didn't budget for and make an actual digital envelope out of it. Unless You want to carry around cash. But who wants to do that? Takeaway number four, is keep every receipt for tax and planning purposes. Now, if you're not used to keeping receipts for everything, they must not have been listening to me for very long, or you haven't read my book because clearly, clearly I talked about that. Keeping the receipts of everything that you spend and keeping track of everything that you spend brings awareness to your spending habits, it shows you where your money is actually going, and where it's not going. It also shows you if you've budgeted too much for a certain category, or most likely budgeted too little. The other thing is, you're running a business. And because you're running a business, you want to keep these receipts for tax purposes, for any tax write offs that may come from you attending the conference, as well as planning how much you're going to spend at the next conference or next year's conference. If you even decide you're going to go back, I'm going back to my conferences. I hope you enjoyed yours and you want to go back, the receipts helped me build the spreadsheet for my conference expenses that I put in a Google Sheets document. For Google Sheets. I don't think you call it a document, but you know what I'm saying. So I itemized it out by ticket transportation, food and meals, swag slash merch, hotel, clothing, and gear that was just gear was an all inclusive category. For stuff I couldn't, I couldn't categorize any other way. And then I totaled it all up. And I've got separate tabs for growth video live pod fest, and upcoming conference in July, which is she speaks. And then in September, I'm going to fin fin con in Orlando, I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Orlando. But the point is, is that when you've got all of your receipts, and you have a better idea of what you actually spent, I had no idea I was spending this much money to go to conferences in person, because we've spent the last three years going to virtual things. And all you had to do was pay for the virtual ticket. But now we're adding in transportation cars, hotel cars, food cars. And all of a sudden, that cheap virtual conference has now become a very expensive in person event. So I want to make sure that you have the money to spend, not just because you're going to write it off on your taxes. But because you want to be in a good financial position when you get to these conferences. If that means you're able to bring some food with you so that you could eat more healthfully at would you no doubt. That's great. Because I can tell you by the end of the week, I was so tired of hotel food, it wasn't even funny. It wasn't that it was bad food. I was just tired of hotel food. I was so glad for my husband to cook for me when I got home on Sunday, I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed our food, which was actually a kit from HelloFresh. They're not a sponsor. But hey, shout out to HelloFresh it's vegetarian kid, it was really, really good. So that brings us to take away number five, which is by next year's ticket now, to save money. Here's the deal. I've been to enough conferences to know that the earlier you buy the ticket, the cheaper it's going to be. I also know that not everybody knows if they're going to have the money at the conference to buy next year's ticket. So here's what I would suggest. Take into account what you spent on this year's ticket and have at least that amount available to buy next year's ticket. Depending on how early you bought this year's ticket, you may be paying less for next year. Here's what I mean. At pod fest, they offered the conference recordings along with two tickets for the future events, all in one bundle. So you got the conference recordings for this year. A ticket to next year's in person event and a ticket to a September virtual event. All for a certain amount about $149 is what it started at. I believe that's a really really good deal. Considering I paid probably about $200 Just for the lowest level ticket to podfest before I upgraded. So by buying the conference recordings, I've already secured a ticket for next year. I'm not going to tell you how much I spent but it was more than 150 but not much more. But this is the cheapest it's going to be the prices are going to go up soon after soon after I finished this recording. If they put the tickets on sale Next year, and if you enjoyed it, buy the ticket. If there's a refund policy, make note of that. Or if there's a way you can transfer the ticket to somebody else, if it turns out you can't go, were transferred into a virtual ticket. Keep in mind all of those policies, and enact those clauses as soon as possible if it comes down to you not being able to go to the event, but buy the ticket at its cheapest price, which is almost always at that event. So buy your ticket for next year, this year. That way, that's one thing you've already figured out, you can write that off, most likely on this year's taxes. I'm not a tax expert. So don't come to me with tax questions. We'll have someone on the show a little later on this year to talk about tax planning. But the point is, is that not only are you going to save money by buying next year's ticket this year, you're also going to lock in the lowest rate possible. And rest assured, you've got your ticket or tickets, because I'm planning on taking my husband next year, so we need to get him a ticket as well. Keep in mind as you get closer to to the event, ticket prices will go up. So you want to lock in your ticket at the lowest price possible, as early as possible. And caveat, that caveat. But in addition to what I just said about the tickets, make sure that you book your hotel room in the block at the host hotel, as soon as you can. Some hotels will make you pay for the entire state upfront. Some will make you leave a night's deposit. Some just need your credit card on file. So whatever the case may be, for that host hotel, locking your lodging as soon as you can. Even if you're staying at an Airbnb, just go ahead and book what you need to book, I prefer to stay at the host hotel, because it's more convenient. And I don't have to go anywhere. Just trying to be efficient like that. But I also know that it's not always in someone's budget, I always get a roommate. So I had one ad grow with video live. And then I had a roommate at pod fest. So I didn't have to shoulder the whole expense by myself. So if you're amenable to having a roommate, check out in the conference Facebook group ahead of time and see who else needs a roommate, and be a good roommate to be considerate of the people you're staying with. So that's another great savings tip is to get a roommate for the hotel. So that's it. Those are my five or six top tips for not going broke at a conference. By the way, if you're listening to this and the conferences, you go to our Comic Cons, I've got a whole different episode coming for you. Okay, because what I said, for this may not apply. But you've got different things to look out for. So if you're a Comic Con person like I am, shout out to awesome con in New York Comic Con, and blurred con. Those are some of my favorites. Definitely blurred con. Let's stay tuned for a future episode on comic conventions. All right. So if you have a question about personal finance, or entrepreneurship, or budgeting, since that seems to be my specialty that you would like me to cover in a future episode, you can go to speak pipe.com forward slash savvy Brown Girl and leave your question. I'll put the link in the show notes so that you know exactly what I'm talking about. I'll also put the link in the show notes to the conventions that I went to in case you're interested. And I would also like to share your reviews and testimonies on the show. So if you want me to highlight your review, be sure to leave a review on Apple or Stitcher and tag me on social media. My handle on Twitter and Instagram is Mrs. When the coop Mrs. W en de Yco op. If you review was selected to be featured on the show, you could win a copy of my latest book, budgeting for women. A five step plan for getting your financial act together. But you can also purchase a copy at Wendy coop.com forward slash books. That's books with an S That's all for this week. Thank you for joining me and I'll see you on the next episode.