Why We Love Chautauqua and You Will Too

Why We Love Chautauqua and You Will Too

FOMO Disclaimer: What you are about to read was written in an effort to persuade you to join us at Chautauqua this year. Or to consider attending a Chautuaqua UK event as soon as you possibly can. Because if you don’t, it’s very likely you’ll be missing out on what would otherwise become your favorite “vacation” of all time. So, if you don’t want to be convinced to embark on the experience of a lifetime, please move on swiftly and gracefully. You’ve been warned.

We’ve had the most amazing two years. As Taylor and I have immersed ourselves in the FIRE community, we’ve enjoyed experiences beyond our wildest dreams.

From flying around the country filming and meeting so many incredible people to presenting the trailer of our film in front of 2,000 folks at FinCon. Achieving a 70% savings rate, and doubling our net worth in less than 2 years. Even releasing a book and seeing it show up in airports and bookstores across the country. It’s been a wild, humbling and enriching ride.

Not to take away from any of these experiences or highlights, but nothing has been as impactful as our time at Chautauqua.

And now we have asked to come back as speakers. Well, paint me stunned. We can’t WAIT to go back, and we sure hope you’ll join us. Taylor and I will be presenting and hanging the week of Sept 21-28th in Portugal!

We originally planned to attend Chautauqua in an effort to really get to know some key “FIRE influencers” who we wanted to participate in our documentary. We had a perception that this event was a place for people to bring their finances along to review with the experts. As we packed our bags, we agreed we weren’t as interested in reviewing our numbers or diving into math, as we were still unsure about sharing our income or net worth with total strangers, and neither Taylor nor I are particularly fond of math. Otherwise, we were looking forward to a fun vacation in a foreign land. Little did we know, this event would transform the way we viewed the FIRE community, and our own FIRE journey forever.

Around the time we attended our first Chautauqua, we were struggling with an interesting dichotomy of sorts. On one hand, we had bought all in on FIRE, hook line and sinker. We were dogmatic about it’s superpowers and wanted to shout from the rooftops for everyone to hear! The problem was, we were running into people who didn’t immediately feel the same. We would bring it up and get odd looks. “Isn’t this that Dave Ramsey stuff?” or “Why would you move in with your parents, is that FIRE?”. We would be on a high one minute and a low the next. Little did we know, we would learn more about ourselves and our relationship with money during our week at Chautauqua than any other time in our lives.


During one of the many amazing presentations at our event, Paula Pant presented something to the effect of… “Every conversation about money is a conversation about values.” This was one of a million little hits of knowledge we received, and as avid blog and podcast consumers, we had not expected to learn anything new or novel. Boy were we wrong.

Since then, I’ve become slightly obsessed with our relationship with money as individuals and as a society. I’ve spent time researching, studying, observing and writing about it. Taylor and I have gone back to our parents and grandparents to learn more about our own relationship with money and how it came to be.

And I believe Paula is right. Money is a tool, a resource that we allocate to things we value. Some of these things are so simple, we barely notice them… a roof over our head and food on the table. Other things are far more complex, “should I quit my job to spend time converting my garage into an Airbnb?” or “should I take out a 529 for my kids education if robots will reinvent the future?” or “am I ready to RE?”… and try as we might, we can’t seem to find the individual confidence to make a decision. Perhaps we have analysis paralysis, or simply don’t feel qualified enough to commit. Or, perhaps we simply don’t have enough people in our daily lives who understand the path we are on.

That’s where Chautauqua comes in. It’s a safe zone. We opened up about our finances and our lack of math acumen. No one cared about the details, only the outcomes and the experience getting there. This helped us become more comfortable talking about this FIRE thing as a whole. We had “conversations of a lifetime” as Taylor put it, learning about others journeys, sharing war stories, and encouraging each other. Half the time, we didn’t even talk about FIRE, finances or money. At one point, I was caught up drinking rum out of a pitcher getting my butt kicked in a midnight game of ping pong against the Mad FIentist in the middle of a rooster fighting ring with a crowd of rowdy friends cheering us on. Yeah, didn’t see that coming.

Beyond the fact that you will experience instant connections with folks who suddenly feel like decades-long friends, and despite the fact that you’ll be delighted by new and exotic experiences, you’ll also have plenty of time to work on you. When you aren’t enjoying delicious food or waking up in the cozy bedroom of a castle or hitting the sauna, you get to make the most authentic, meaningful connections ever with people on a similar path who understand the way you see the world. And you WILL learn. You’ll learn about yourself, you’ll learn from others, you will gain skills and you will see things differently.

“Life Changing” and “Truly Remarkable” are phrases often used to describe the experience of Chautauqua, and as you may already know, it’s very difficult to articulate phrases like these into a single post. It’s hard to describe just how friendly, smart and interesting people at these Chautauqua events really are. It’s beyond my ability to really translate the LEVEL of conversations, experiences and memories we were able to enjoy during our time.

I know one thing. The minute you realize it’s time to pack your things and prepare to make the journey home, you won’t feel ready. You will be so grateful to the hosts, speakers, and attendees who you will now be able to describe with one word, friends. And by the end of it all, you’ll feel empowered to be more open about your journey with your friends and family at home. You’ll be more confident in your choice to pursuit FIRE. And if you already possess these traits, you’ll come home with new friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

And here are the full schedules:

Week 1 (UK): June 8-15

  • Carl Mr. 1500

  • Kristy: Millennial Revolution

  • Alan: PopUp Business School

  • Jim: jlcollinsnh

Week 2 (UK): June 15-22

  • Jillian: Montana Money Adventures

  • Kristy: Millennial Revolution

  • Alan: PopUp Business School

  • Jim: jlcollinsnh

Week 3 (Portugal): September 21-28

  • Scott and Taylor Rieckens: Playing With FIRE (Hi! That’s us!)

  • Kristy: Millennial Revolution

  • Alan: PopUp Business School

  • Jim: jlcollinsnh

Week 4 (Portugal): September 28-October 5

  • JD Roth: Get Rich Slowly

  • Kristy: Millennial Revolution

  • Alan: PopUp Business School

  • Jim: jlcollinsnh

Book any of the weeks here: https://www.fichautauqua.com/book.html

I’m just not sure I can accurately portray the contagious optimism you’ll feel about your FI journey as you head back to your life back home. But here are a few posts from past attendees trying to articulate it better than I can.

Guest Testimonials

· Kathy: https://www.babyboomersupersaver.com/you-should-experience-chautauqua-at-least-once-in-your-lifetime-and-heres-why/

· Gwen: https://www.fierymillennials.com/chautauqua-2017-a-breath-of-fresh-air/

· Craig from BiggerPockets: https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/week-long-FI-trip-greece/

· Mrs.Chaos: https://cuttingthroughchaos.com/the-reluctant-chautauquan-10-weird-things-i-learnt-about-a-chautauqua/

· FW: https://www.findependentwoman.com/recap-of-fi-chautauqua

· Amanda: http://www.scubatravelfoodie.com/thessaloniki-food-and-fire/

· Dan: http://danluce.com/2018/11/not-your-typical-fire-awakening

· Brandon: https://tilaboutmyself.com/the-other-side-of-fire/

And here are the posts from our fellow Chautauqua speakers this year, all of which are good friends and even better humans!

Speaker Posts

Mr. 1500: https://www.1500days.com/chautauqua-uk-castles-community-and-camarasaurs/

Montana Money Adventures: https://www.montanamoneyadventures.com/the-power-of-community/

Get Rich Slowly: https://www.getrichslowly.org/fi-chautauqua-2019-announcement/

Millennial Revolution: https://www.millennial-revolution.com/freedom/how-chautauqua-rewired-my-brain/

jlcollinsnh: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2019/02/03/chautauqua-2019-uk-portugal-tickets-now-available/