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My Thoughts On The TFD East Coast Book Tour, In No Particular Order

It feels a little obvious to say, but I will permit myself the literary laziness because it’s our first-ever book tour: I cannot believe we are doing a book tour. I cannot believe it in the literal sense: It seems unreal to me that Lauren and I are at the point in our careers where we can travel the country and meet people who want to talk about something we made — or, frankly, that that point in a career exists at all. But here we are, between the end of our East Coast tour and the beginning of the West Coast, with just enough time to properly reflect on the experience.

If you didn’t know somehow, we are touring the country with Mint to celebrate the TFD book and talk about money IRL with you guys. I have been using Mint myself for about four years. (It was the first thing I really did to be “good with money” before starting TFD, and looking back, feels like a lot of the impetus to confronting the issue head-on as I decided to do with the site.) At the time, I had a strong sense that “budgeting” would be fairly crucial to my financial development, but the idea of doing that myself, with Excel sheets and the manual combing and all that entails, was unfathomable to me.

That Mint allowed me to budget without any of the attendant tedium made me something of an evangelist. (You may have noticed me talking about Mint in approximately 212048294 articles and videos before we ever worked with them.) All of which to say that we could not be more excited to be sharing this tour experience with them as a partner.

So far in the tour, we have had our NYC kickoff (check out all the photos here!), which was… an endeavor, to say the least. It was our first event, and enormous by the standards of the two following tour stops. One hundred and seventy-five people in a loft in the Flatiron, which was as scary to bring together as it was to throw. As someone having a distinctly-tiny wedding, and who has never been one for big personal events (even my birthday parties, I’ve always tried to max out at a cozy dozen or so people so as not to be riddled with anxiety about the affair), I’d never even dreamed of what it would be like to have an event exceeding 50 people. The logistics of setting it up, let alone saying “Hi! Thank you for coming!” and meaning it to that number of people, felt incredibly scary. But it exceeded my expectations to every possible degree — once the night was rolling, I was able to enjoy it and be present in the moment, if a little jittery the entire time.

We met so many lovely people from the TFD community, were able to talk to them with a degree of intimacy we hadn’t anticipated, and felt incredibly invigorated by the experience. It’s easy to fear and build up a big event, I’ve found, but much easier to slip into enjoying it once the time actually comes — not unlike the fear of being just behind the curtain compared to when you actually take the stage. Having loved ones there, too, made the event feel dramatically less intimidating once it got going (not going to lie, seeing the TFD book in our moms’ hands for the first time was a unique joy).

But I have to say, for reasons both logistical and personal, I have a special place in my heart for the more humbly-scaled Boston and DC events. In Boston, we stayed in an insanely-lovely (yet not pricey, somehow!) hotel and dined the night before our event in a restaurant that Lauren and I had fallen in love with on another work trip to Boston last year. At the event itself, a few of my uncles came by, including my Uncle Mark (a photographer who took these lovely Boston shots you’re seeing). We even got interviewed by the Globe there, a moment which felt particularly cool as someone whose entire paternal family is Boston-based and has spent much time there throughout the years. You can read the write-up here. In Boston, we got to talk about money in an an honest and kind way, and I got to ask questions and hear answers I truly did not expect.

“Two years ago, I thought I would never have a normal life because of my debt,” one young woman told us, “but reading TFD has shown me that there is something way beyond being in debt — debt can just be a small part of your story, it doesn’t have to be who you are.” There was something so wonderful about seeing debt be talked about in the context of a hip (I hope) cocktail party. We can really talk about these things openly? That is, at the risk of sounding incredibly corny, exactly what I had hoped for when I started TFD.

The DC event, too, was full of incredible TFD-ers and another small handful of loved ones (as you guys know, I’m from Maryland and worked in DC for some time in my late teens and early 20s). DC is a city that is very much on its game when it comes to its residents having their lives together, it’s a city where you are in many ways defined by how much of a competent adult you are (which I personally find invigorating, but totally understand why people might find it stressful). The conversation there had its own unique DC tone, full of thoughtful questions and more pressing follow-ups. During our Q&A with Ashwin from Mint (a truly amazing guy who happens to be a magician hobbyist who blew our minds repeatedly after hours with his incredible tricks), a woman in DC asked us what we recommend for people who are already doing “all of that” (all of that being saving, budgeting, investing, and being totally type-A with their finances).

It made me think long after the event about what the full answer truly is. I said that living should be the next priority, because it’s much easier to scale back from being overly-good than work up from being a total mess with money and responsibility. And ultimately, money is not about having it, about collecting it like some kind of rare trading card. Money is about creating the life you want, and using it as a tool to build what makes you happy and secure. If you’ve already got all of that down, your job is making sure that you actually get the most out of it, and out of your daily life. Being asked questions like this, and having to think about these things, has felt like the greatest element of going on this tour, and of writing this book.

I want women to be lucid and articulate about their finances individually, but more importantly I want them to talk about it without shame or emotional baggage. If you need help getting the ball rolling financially, there is so much out there to help you do the heavy lifting, but I promise you that no matter your goals or starting point, talking about it and thinking about it going to be the crucial first step. Money is a number, not your character or value — it’s simply sand which you can shape into your ideal castle. To see that in action, with all these TFD readers and in partnership with an app that has done so, so much for me in my life, was so incredible. We cannot wait to do it again in January.

  • Anni

    So…I’m thinking of biting the bullet on the LA leg of the tour and I was wondering what the experience was like for anyone who went on the east coast? I’m going alone although I’m pretty extroverted so I don’t think that will be a real issue, the cost is a smidge high but if anyone else has gone and met some pretty great women in their community I feel like I would be willing to take the hit on my Jan budget.

    • chelseafagan

      For what it’s worth, at every event we’ve had so far, at least half the attendees came alone (so far for LA 40 people have bought solo tickets), and most people end up making friends there!

    • I’ll see you there if you make it out!

      • Anni

        I’ll be there – I’m taking the plunge! 🙂

  • I agree, moving from that hustle-and-perfect stage to the what-now stage requires a bit of a mental shift. The FI community has called this the boring stage, where you just need to keep good habits instead of making new ones. You can amass all the cash in the world and find you don’t know how to be happy, so as long as those habits are strong and you’re able to move forward, it’s worth it to start finding new elements in your life that bring you joy.

    I’m excited for the West Coast tour — see you in LA!

  • So happy for you guys, congratulations on everything – and here’s to many more successes!

  • Smashley

    So bloody happy for you guys <3