Alternate Title: Can You Really Make New Friends as an Adult in Your Mid-Forties?
A few weeks ago, I attended my first local FI meetup.
Yes, I know — once again, I am late to the party. Or at least — late to writing about it.
This is something I should’ve posted towards the end of October, and now it’s edging near the end of November.
It’s a process.
Also, in the spirit of transparency, I’ll tell you right now this post may seem a bit sporadic, lacking structure, and maybe even a definitive point.
But I’m pushing myself to get it out there, and get back into the swing of writing.
Some bloggers can pump out 2 or 3 high-quality posts a week without batting an eyelash.
I am not one of those people. Although I would eventually love to be!
Semi-related side note:
I recently stumbled across this super-interesting article on FIAdventure.com. It talks about the Secret to Productivity, and Aiming for 80%, rather than full-on perfection.
And it really made me think — am I taking too long to post my own articles because I’m striving for perfection (or at least my version of it)?
Because perfection is totally subjective. Not only that, but the actual definition of perfection can mean so many different things.
I might think a blog post is perfect if another person finds it helpful (which I wouldn’t even know until after the fact, if at all).
Someone else might think it’s perfect if it makes them laugh while they’re waiting for their bus to arrive.
And yet another person may equate perfection to obtaining 1,000 re-pins on Pinterest or 150 retweets on Twitter.
And if you hesitate to put something out there because it’s not quite perfect — you may be missing out on an opportunity.
The opportunity to make connections. To invoke questions or discussion. Even the opportunity to fail.
Because if you don’t let yourself fail, you’ll never get to the lesson that’s hidden within the recovery process.
What Exactly is an FI Meetup?
Next question: What’s an FI meetup?
It’s basically a gathering of like-minded individuals to discuss money topics.
Maybe you’ve read some recent articles circulating around the web, about millennials pursuing FIRE — Financial Independence, Retire Early.
Well, as you know, I am not a millennial. I’m within the Generation X age range.
And since I’m already in my mid-forties, there’s pretty much no way I can retire early. In fact, at this point, I’ll be utterly ecstatic if I can retire on time.
But the FI piece — Financial Independence? Now, that’s a goal I can try to wrap my arms around.
Not having to rely financially on anyone or anything. Working for myself. Creating income streams to support myself passively. Becoming the mistress of my own destiny.
That’s what dreams are made of.
Admittedly, I have quite a few hurdles to overcome before I can even think of myself as financially independent. Namely, the amount of debt that my family and I have been trying to muddle through.
But the intriguing thing about life is that you can always improve. You can always learn something new.
If you’re open-minded, and curious, and dedicated. If you work hard for something, increase your knowledge, and really want to improve — you can make your world a better place.
And that is why I want to be a part of the FI community.
You may remember, I did attend another FI meetup back in September. It took place in Orlando, and was the meetup of all FI meetups.
At the time, I concluded it didn’t go over very well.
As a FinCon first-timer, I found myself to be a major fish out of water. There were a ton of people there — over 2,200 in attendance! Needless to say, it left me a bit frazzled.
Now that a few months have passed, I realize it was truly a learning experience. And given some time, I’d like to go back and write a “FinCon – Part II” blog post.
I hope to go more in depth on what I actually did learn there, and how I’ve used the experience to improve my overall outlook. And also to go back and thank all of the people I met and became friends with.
Because it definitely wasn’t all doom and gloom. I made some solid connections with several people, and feel like I owe them a proper thank you.
The Recent FI Meetup
But this most recent meetup had quite a few differences from FinCon. For starters, there were only 10 of us in attendance. It was at a local library, in one of their free meeting rooms. And it only lasted for one hour, as opposed to FinCon’s four days.
The group that organized this meetup is an extension of the ChooseFI community. I had no idea there was a Connecticut branch of this group until an online friend happened to mention it.
In an effort to continue expanding my social horizons, I decided to go check it out. Maybe I could attend a few gatherings, learn some stuff, and make a friend or two.
So here’s one of the important parts of this post, which you might have already glossed over: The part about making friends.
Do people still do that in middle age? I mean, at this point, don’t you already have all the friends you could possibly need?
In my particular case — and I’m sure this will be of no surprise to you — my socially-anxious self does not have a plethora of friends.
I hang with my two pups: G-diddy and LaLa Crazypants, affectionately.
Sure, I had friends back in my younger days — pre-career & pre-family. But life tends to get in the way, and next thing you know, you’re Netflix and chilling on the couch (in the literal sense).
So yeah, I thought it would be a good idea to get out and try to meet some people.
The meetup discussion topic was “Minimalism“. And maybe that was the best place for me start. With something small, rather than something monumental.
Because everyone says to start with “baby steps“.
The People You’ll Meet
So who did I actually meet at this local FI meetup? There were ten of us there, all ranging in age. From married couples, to those with younger families, and those of us with older families.
The interesting part is even though we were all from different backgrounds, generations, family upbringings, life stages, and even towns — we could all share in our similarities.
Saving money, preparing for our future, making the most of resources that are available to us.
Knowing there is a better way to live your life than by living with borrowed money on someone else’s borrowed time.
I met up with Chief Mom Officer, who initially told me about the ChooseFI Connecticut meetup. She and I actually met two months ago, when we attended FinCon. And truth be told, we really first met 16 years ago, when we both worked for the same employer.
At the meetup, she shared cool stories about streamlining her husband’s DVD collection, and how her entire outfit, from top to bottom, came from a consignment shop. #moneysavinggoals
The topic presenter led an extremely informative discussion on Minimalism. She grew up learning the basics of Minimalism from her parents, and has been encouraging her own family to do the same.
Her presentation included helpful tips to get started with Minimalism — like determining your “why”, identifying spending triggers, starting small, and focusing on only keeping the items that truly “spark joy”.
Here are some suggested resources to learn more details about Minimalism:
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
- The More of Less – Joshua Becker
- The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
The Meetup Ice Breaker
The meetup facilitators were a husband and wife team — how awesome is that, to have a fun and educational hobby that you can enjoy together as a couple?
They also came up with a super-fun ice breaker to get the community newbies like myself involved in the group conversation.
We all introduced ourselves by sharing our three favorite C’s: car, cereal, and cartoon.
I learned that many of us love our Hondas, because they’re reliable and last forever. A few of the guys were also fans of the Tesla. Cereal responses were all over the board, and some haven’t even eaten cereal since childhood! And the cartoon answers definitely were telling in terms of what decade we each grew up in.
And in case you were wondering, here were my answers:
1) Cereal: I ate a lot of cereal growing up. But I think my all-time favorite as a kid was Lucky Charms. Total sugar overload.
2) Cartoon: No hesitation on this one — Scooby Doo, hands down. He and his gang would head out in the Mystery Machine solving “whodunnit”.
The bad guys never understood how a group of kids and their dog could figure out their scheme. I always wanted to be Daphne, but tragically, was more of a Velma.
3) Car: I’m not really a “car” person, and generally only drive Hondas because I like to stick with what I know. But if I had to pick a favorite car, I guess it would be a Cadillac. I have lots of fond childhood memories of my dad and his various Cadillacs over the years.
My very first car in college was a used Cadillac Sedan de Ville. (Named “Bernadette“, after the amazingly talented and fabulous Broadway icon Bernadette Peters.)
Bernadette and I had some crazy fun times back in the day (circa 1994-95). Along with my college bestie Kelly, who had a pearl blue Toyota Tercel named “Priscilla”. (Which was a throwback to 90’s cult film “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert“.)
And while we’re walking down memory lane, do any Floridians know whatever happened to this fine establishment and franchise, Hubb’s Pub?
I basically spent my entire senior year of college at this bar. (And still graduated on time!)
It no longer seems to be in existence. Every once and again I’ll try to Google it, in the off-chance I can find an article or some sort of reference. But I can never find anything. Maybe once I publish this post, I can rank on page one for “Nostalgic Hubbs Pub in Orlando, Florida”. #SEOisAwesome
Fun Fact: Back in the day, my alter ego, “Roxy”, landed a spot on the Hubb’s Pub Wall of Fame. The goal was to drink 99 different kinds of beer in 90 days.
The above picture was my “beer card”. I’d give my card to the bartender on duty, who would select a beer for me, then mark it off on my list.
You were not allowed to drink the same beer twice. (Well, you could, but it wouldn’t count toward the final goal.) There were literally hundreds of different beers on the list.
There was even one with an actual jalapeno in the bottle. I can’t remember the name, but it was my absolute nemesis. (As well as the bartender who chose that particular bottle for me, since he was trying to be a smartass…) Boys can be so stupid sometimes.
When I graduated college and was planning to move up north, I was somehow able to snag my nameplate off of the beer wall. It’s a memento from my past life that I like to hold onto. And actually, I don’t think I’ve had a full beer since then. I just no longer have the taste for it.
Compound Interest and the Art of … Breadmaking?
But something I do still have a taste for — freshly baked bread!
Yes, I made my very own freshly baked bread, for the first time ever. And it’s all because of the ChooseFI meetup.
One of the group members had posted on Facebook, asking if anyone was interested in receiving starter for Amish Friendship bread. She would be attending the meetup, and offered to bring it to anyone who wanted some. Of course, I had no idea what Amish Friendship bread even was, so went directly to Google.
Turns out this bread is basically the chain letter of all baked confections. You start by growing and cultivating the bread “starter”. Then 10 days out, you split it up into 4 equal parts. You use one cup to make your own bread, give two cups to two friends, and then save the last cup to start the process over again.
Then your friends each take their cup, cultivate it for 10 more days, and the process begins anew. If everyone who receives the starter follows the process, it will keep multiplying and spreading all over the world. Kinda like what we all aspire to do with our financial investments — feed and nurture it so it can expand and multiply.
Here is a picture of my freshly baked friendship bread:
Summary – What I Learned
In case you jumped to the end, here is the consensus — 2,000 words later:
- The local ChooseFI meetup was definitely a successful outing. This was an experience I felt fully capable of handling, and I hope to attend future meetups over the next year.
- “Done” doesn’t have to mean “perfect”. Aim for 80% to get it out there. Because perfection shouldn’t be the goal anyway. The goal should be discovering new things, opening up to discussion, finding new perspectives.
- Take a look at all the items you own — does each and every item “spark joy”, or is it just “stuff”? Sometimes less really is more.
- It is possible to start making new friends as an adult. Although it does require more of an effort to put yourself out there, and it also takes practice. While I am a self-proclaimed and definitive introvert, I do see the benefit in socializing with others. Especially people who you share hobbies and interests with.
- You’re not the same [exact] person you were twenty years ago. People evolve, grow, find new joys and new hobbies. And if someone tries to hand you a beer with a jalapeno in it, run in the opposite direction.
- You can apply a financial principle to almost any topic, bread included.
- Not all content you produce has to have a defined point. (Just threw that last one in there …)
And yes, this post was a hot mess — but if any of these various topics meant something to you, feel free to hit me up in the Comments!
Robin : )