There’s Something Special About Chautauquans

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There’s something special about Chautauquans. Let me explain.

While Chautauquas have been going on for years now, this year was a bit different. In the past, all Chautauquas were held in one place (Ecuador), but now we’ve decided to change up the location each year. This had the effect of making it a cool and different experience each time, and one somewhat unexpected side-effect of that was that more past attendees came back to experience a whole new Chautauqua in a whole new country.

At first, I was excited to see our peeps, catch up with old friends, and see out what they’ve been up to. But what really struck me is how much their lives have changed since we’ve seen them.

Some had impressive salary increases, others jumped their savings rates while moving their retirement date decades closer, and others had completely revamped their lives and were fearlessly following their dreams. I was truly blown away at how much these exceptional attendees improved their lives in just over a year, and many of them credited those changes directly to what they learned at Chautauqua.

Which leads me to believe the people who come to Chautauqua are truly exceptional people. Here’s why.


Hanging out for a week with 25 people you’ve never met before? Taking 2, sometimes 3 flights to arrive in a city and country you’ve never set foot in before? That takes guts, and Chautauquans have plenty.


Chautauquans are some of the most curious and humble people I’ve ever met. Their natural desire to seek out new ideas and learn from other people keeps them hungry, and constantly growing. Attendees who were themselves insanely successful entrepeneurs who led multi-million-dollar companies told us this week how much they had learned from us speakers. That’s quite an honour.


And above all else, Chautauquans don’t just talk about doing things. They actually get out there and DO them. The change in people’s lives post-Chautauqua is mind-blowing, and one just recently announced to us privately that they were going to completely uproot their lives and move to Europe after we showed them that not only were they already FI, but extremely comfortably so. It also helps that they’ll already have a community of Chautauquans in their tribe who live in Europe.

Chautauquans are able to push past the fear. They get out of their comfort zone. And as a result, Chautauquas change lives.

Location, Location, Location

The old real estate (blegh) mantra of “Location, Location, Location” being the most important thing definitely applies to Chautauqua. Rather than being in Ecuador each year, we’ve now done the UK and Greece, and next year it’ll be somewhere different again. Just check out the pictures from this year’s…

Balcony party with lots of booze!
Beautiful infinity pool overlooking the Aegean Sea
Plunging into the pool with the gang before scampering off to the sauna!

The talks and speakers have also evolved over time, and this year’s lineup (on both weeks) had been especially awesome. Whether it’s J.L. “The GodFather” Collins’ talk about investing…

Mine on using F.I. as a way to build the life of your dreams…

Carl’s “Mr. 1500” talk on “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love FI” (week 1)

ChooseFI’s talk on “Building Your Dreams Before FI” (week 2)

And Alan Donegon’s talk on how to take concrete steps on how to make your dreams a reality…

There really was something for everyone. No matter if you are just learning what this whole F.I. thing is, or about hit their F.I. number and wondering what to do next, the answer is there waiting for you at Chautauqua.

One particularly energetic attendee who had been struggling with what to do after retirement stood up at one point during Alan’s talk and declared that she wanted to pursue a lifelong dream of starting an all-female long-haul trucking company, of all things. And the group ended up helping her sign up to get her trucking license right then and there.

By JardonB [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Another alumni, Kathy, (you can read her review of Chautauqua here) got so many great creative ideas out of this session and so much encouragement that she not only decided to pursue her passion project of starting a YouTube channel about herbs, she ended up actually recording her first video before the end of the week!

Another started a blog about how to help people with family members suffering from disabilities achieve F.I. while making sure their loved ones were cared for. They couldn’t find a sufficient resource for people in their situation, so they decided they were going to become one themselves.

And as these people’s passion projects come online over the next months, you can bet we’ll bring them onto this blog to promote them, because nothing makes me happier when people become F.I., follow their passions, and create happiness in the world.

And finally, for those with FI-reluctant spouses, here’s a refreshingly honest write-up from a “dragged along” spouse.

And Let’s Not Forget About Finances!

Here’s something I wasn’t expecting. People get richer after Chautauqua!

Something about the infectious energy and confidence that happens at these events follows people back into their normal lives, and that energy manifests in their bank account. Several people gained the confidence to leave bad jobs and go after new, better paying ones. Others pushed themselves to get promoted or negotiated big raises.

One particularly memorable attendee sat down with us for our one-on-one and at the end of it we had figured out how to pull off F.I. in Japan! Another taught us how to pull it off in Dubai.

And another attendee told us they had a “life-changing” one-on-one after talking to Jon and Brad from ChooseFI.

Oddly enough, despite the expense of attending a Chautauqua, these events have such a positive effect on people’s finances after a year because of optimizations, life changes, and side hustles they start, attending a Chautauqua ends up being surprisingly cash-flow positive! Looking at their new and updated spreadsheets made our eyes bug out, because now they were positively swimming in money in just one year! Best money they ever spent.

So for those of you who are thinking of attending a Chautauqua next year, if you want to improve your life, build your dreams, and be cheered on by a whole group of exceptional positive people who get you, then what are you waiting for?

And if you’re on the fence, we’re going to be talking to some previous attendees on this blog over the coming months. You’ll be surprised by how much their lives have been improved as a result.

What do you think? Have ever been to and would you ever come to Chautauqua?

Update: Here are other posts from Chautauquans, talking about their experience:

Discovering Inspiration in Greece

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53 thoughts on “There’s Something Special About Chautauquans”

  1. It sounds like such a great time. I wish I could of have swung it this year but with a newborn, we were all hands on deck at my house. I look forward to attending the next one! 🙂

    1. So being there for the birth of your child is more important than flying thousands of miles to join to a cult with a bunch of strangers? *shocked*

      How can you be so unreasonable, Dave?! *faints with indignation*

      All is forgiven if you promise to show us pictures of your little one the next time we see each other. Congrats and can’t wait to party with you next year!

  2. “Another started a blog about how to help people with family members suffering from disabilities achieve F.I. while making sure their loved ones were cared for. ” I really want to learn more about this. As a parent of two special needs children, I have stayed in jobs for the health benefits, and have been underemployed so I would have time to care for their needs. I have started my own financial company, and am getting a good sized severance package, so I am prime position to make a major change. Please share what this person does, and would be happy to talk to them about this if they would like.

    1. Wow, that is a tough situation and thank you for sharing your story.

      I will love to connect you with our attendee. Let me follow up on his blog and get back to you.

      1. Much appreciated FireCracker! I look forward to connecting with them. In the meantime I will keep enjoying the awesome posts you put out.

  3. So worth every penny spent. Met great people and in the 1st week back stateside was already readjusting my investments and plans for obtaining FI. Could have asked for more. Thank you and I can’t wait for the alumni page 🙂

    1. Thank so much for coming, Ellen! And I’m so impressed that you’re already adjusting your investments and plans for FI. That’s what I’m talking about when I say Chautauquans get shit done! Miss you guys!

  4. It was crazy exciting to see how entrepreneurial Chautauquans are. There was no shortage of ideas but like you said, there was an equal amount of DOING.

    1. Preach it, Brandon! That’s why you get shit done. Speaking of which, where’s that guest post you promised me? 😛

      Btw, I can’t stop watching the Chautauqua week 1 video you made. So many feels, dude. ALL THE FEELS!

  5. I have yet to go, however I’ve read your breakdown on the past 2 and I’ve getting more and more motivated.

    I find the biggest challenge of F.I. is getting your spouse on bored, and I’ve read the blog post you’ve written.

    As I build my wealth, my spouse has just finished school and is taking the next 12 months to pay of her $20 K student loan, so once that’s done, I feel she’ll be more open to these new principles.

    Then the plan is to use Chautauqua as an excuse for a vacation. 🙂

    I have a question for the readers, does anyone know of any F.I. Blogs or Podcast for the Korean speaking Community living in Canada?

    1. Funny that you should mention getting the spouse on board, because we’ve had quite a few Chautauqua bring spouses who were “dragged along” but then said it was one of their best vacations ever. So keep that one in your back pocket for when the student loan’s paid off. I think it helps for the SO to see that we’re not a bunch of spreadsheet weirdos (okay, we sort of are but we can still party like there’s no tomorrow) and that this FI thing’s for normal people as well.

      I’ll ask around for you about the Korean blogs and Podcasts.

      1. Thanks for the info; It’s nice to kn0w that I’m not the only 1/2 of a couple who would drag the other 1/2 along! 🙂

        On a separate note, have you two thought about doing a blog on the excel spreadsheets you’ve discovered or developed that you find work really well for you two?

        I’m not a proficient but i would love to learn and or use more to keep the everyting top of mind.

        I find Mint is great for tracking, however it doesn’t necessarily help with projections.

        1. Just to jump in…I use a Google Sheet I found on reddit a while back that takes exported mint transaction data to get baseline spending and income and makes projections based on that. You can play around with the SWR, expected return rate and projected spending to get a rough time-to-FI on a number of scenarios.

          Here’s the post:

          I had to tinker with it a bit at the start, but it works great for me. I’ve added another graph or two to see certain spending/NW trends on the dash page.

          1. Thank you RMan,
            I’ll look into this. I’m not the most proficient with Excel/ Google Sheets. So I may ask questions.

    2. Hi MJH, I just found out that JLCollin’s “The Simple Path to Wealth” is being published in Korean on Nov 7, so feel free to recommend that to the Korean speaking community.

      1. Amazing, I’ve been wanting to purchase this book for myself so this is perfect, I’ll purchase one in each language and we can read it together. 🙂

  6. Oh my God, you’re not seeing this bear market coming? -10% from the all time highs now!!! feeling the heat.
    What do I do? Sell all ?

  7. This makes me so happy! The only -ONLY- reason I didn’t take the plunge and come this year is because I’m in the final month of completing a Masters program (while working full-time). I can’t WAIT to see where the 2019 Chautauqua lands!

  8. OMG severe FOMO over here right now. I loved seeing all the photos pop up over the past 2 weeks from everyone over there, as well as getting my own FB memory photos from Chautauqua last year. I would love to attend again, but also don’t want to take the place of someone who has never been.

    1. Oh my God, we would SO love to have you and Mr.Wow with us at Chautauqua next year. You guys are amazing and would add so much positive energy (and also delicious delicious beer) to the group. We will make sure to reserve an alumni spot just for you guys.

  9. Awesome post, Firecracker…

    …you captured the place, people and magic perfectly.

    Thanks for you and Wanderer for all you do to make Chautauqua the life changing and affirming event it is! 🙂

    1. Couldn’t have done it without our Godfather who came up with the brilliant plan in the first place! I’m so excited for next year’s Chautuaqua! Can’t wait.

    1. Actually, what’s been happening in the markets is one of the topics we talked about at Chautauqua. Upcoming Monday post will address it.

  10. I like the idea of having it at a different location every year.
    Approximately how much does it cost ?

  11. Awesome Article – you guys totally made it for us! And changed the course of our lives, only in ‘perfectly adequate’ way of course! as jlcollins would say… 😉

    1. So happy to have met you guys! And for meeting JLCollin’s “perfectly adequate” bar 🙂

      You guys have opened up our eyes to visiting places in Africa that we never would’ve known about before. Looking forward to following your adventures and checking up with you on your life plans!

    1. A Chiang Mai Chautauqua would definitely be fun and interesting. We’d need somebody on the ground though.

      Would Portugal or UK be doable for you? At least it’s closer than the Americas?

      1. Sounds like a great idea. With a young family probably not for the next few years. But I’m happy to follow along on everyone else’s adventure for now!

  12. I’m curious who the typical attendee is at Chautauqua? I’m assuming it’s mostly people already on their FI journey. In that case, what are the presentations about?

    For example, I’ve been in the FI community for a few years now and I feel I know all the essentials already. I’m not sure what JL Collins could present that I don’t already know since I’ve read his blog and his book, unless it’s unrelated to FI?

    Just a curiosity, not a dig at Chautauqua, I actually think the experience of being with a group of like minded people would be worth it alone, learning aside.

    1. The people who come to Chautauqua are at different points in their journey. Some are just starting out, some are a few years away, and others are close to FI. So you get an eclectic mix.

      All are amazing, open-minded, positive people who motivate you to better yourself in every way possible. I keep hearing from attendees that the week is so energizing they can’t wait to make positive life changes afterwards. So you’re right, the experience of forming deep connections with like-minded people is well-worth price of entry. I would say the special sauce is the duration, the activities (Alan and Katie are the best organizers on the planet), and the small group size. You can’t help but form life-long connections.

  13. “Here’s something I wasn’t expecting. People get richer after Chautauqua!”

    Mainly the owners of the local bars and liquor stores 😉

    1. Aw, thanks for the vote of confidence, Mr. Chaos! I’m definitely adding TED onto my list of milestones for the next few years!

  14. Hey FC where’s my message where I say this costs for Chautauqua as absurd and far from frugal ?
    [I hope I’m not being censured.]

    1. When did I ever say Chautauqua is about frugality? I’ve said many times “Chautauqua is not cheap” and that’s not the point. Maybe actually read the article before freaking out?

  15. Happy to have my lover back after 3 months of breakup, thanks E-mail: Robinsonbuckler11 (@) gmail com…

    wonderfully exciting……………………..

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