Meet Mr. Money Mustache, JD Roth, Cheryl Reed & me for a Chautauqua in Ecuador

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Mi Lindo Ecuador

Chautauqua –

“…an old-time series of popular talks intended to

edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to

the ears and thoughts of the hearer.”

Robert M. Pirsig

That’s the definition Pirsig used in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” a book I read in the 1970s and then again this past fall. Both times I was sorely disappointed to realize it had little to do with motorcycle maintenance. Other than to make the point it takes a level of patience and mental calm I was sorely lacking back in the day. Or now, for that matter.

But it did introduce me to that wonderful word: Chautauqua.

Chautauqua —

The perfect word, it seems to me, to describe the event we’ve worked hard these past six months to put together and are now pleased to offer:

Above the Clouds Retreats Presents

A Week Long Chautauqua where we’ll discuss

Happiness — Freedom — Wealth

Balancing Your Life

September 7-14, 2013

Regular readers might remember I first introduced Cheryl and her business, Above the Clouds Retreats, in my post Meet Me in Ecuador? In it I describe how we met and my return to Ecuador last fall to meet her personally and to explore the possibilities for this Chautauqua.

cheryl

Cheryl Reed is a self-professed “happiness searcher.”

I was immediately intrigued. Happiness and the search for it is something I’ve personally struggled with all my life. I am not a naturally happy guy. Maybe it’s the way I was raised, maybe it’s in my genes. But happiness is something I have to work at. Meeting Cheryl I was confronted with one of the most relentlessly happy people I’ve ever met. Here’s a story:

The son of her farm worker borrows her truck and promptly rolls it. Her response to this very poor young man: “There are three responsible parties for this. You, who rolled the truck. I, for letting you take it. God, for permitting it to happen. You will pay a third of the cost (bartered in his labor as he had no money), I will pay for a third and I will see what I can do about getting the final third from God.”

This delivered with a smile, a wink and a laugh. Clearly, Cheryl is someone I can learn from. Maybe you can, too.

jlcollinsnh

Some random guy. Maybe me.

Here at jlcollinsnh we discuss mostly why you need F-you money and how to grow yours. In our conversations, Cheryl and I agreed that money for the sake of money is almost completely uninteresting. But it is a wonderful tool. Financial independence allows greater freedom and range in the pursuit of happiness. That’s why my topic at the Chautauqua will be How to Harness the World’s Most Powerful Wealth Building Tool.

Of course, to be an investor and reach financial independence, you need money to invest. Most times that money can only come from one place, your earnings. You need to learn how to live on less than you earn. It is this surplus that you will invest and that will grow until it supports you and all your needs, freeing up your time for more important things. You need to choose to spend your money buying freedom.

pete

Mr. MM and family

Nobody knows how to do this better than my pal, Mr. Money Mustache. So the next step in this process was to invite him on in. He graciously accepted. While I’ll be talking about how to make your money work efficiently for you, Mr. Money Mustache’s role in our Chautauqua will be to show you how get that money in the first place. For those of you, like me, who faithfully read his blog, you know we’re in for a wild, powerful, take no prisoners, punch-in-the-face ride. Personally, I can’t wait!

As we were further developing our ideas, Mr. MM said, “You know, we really should see if we can get JD Roth on board.”

“Who the hell,” I said, “is JD Roth?”

JD Roth

This is JD Roth

Trust me when I tell you (and indeed I’m guessing many if not most of you already know) the short coming in my not knowing who JD Roth is, is entirely my own. JD is nothing short of a lion in the financial blogging universe. He is the founder of Get Rich Slowly, one of the earliest, most successful and most respected of all financial blogs. He recently sold it, locking in his own F-you money. Then, recognizing as we all do, that money isn’t everything, he launched his current and very appropriately named blog: More Than Money.

“OK,” I said. “He’s an impressive guy. But what’s he gonna bring to our Chautauqua?”

For important things like this, I’m slow to accept. After all, I’ve been reading Mr. MM’s stuff for almost two years. Heck, I flew all the way to Ecuador to get to know Cheryl.

“Well,” said JD with great patience, “I thought I’d talk about How to Build Confidence and Destroy Fear. It will be about securing the freedom to pursue your dreams.  How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne, for instance, was one of the books that influenced my thinking along these lines.”

Holy crap! That’s nothing less than what is very likely the most influential book, on me anyway, I’ve ever read:

How I found freedom

Many times I’ve lamented not having the sort of blogs like Mr. Money Mustache, JD Roth and, hopefully, jlcollinsnh to light my path while I was coming up. I knew my path was different. I knew nobody else who was on it. I knew the world was filled with complainypants who would never understand and, worse, try to get in the way. Harry Browne was a rare voice celebrating freedom. Until JD, I’d never met anyone who to my knowledge had read and embraced this book and its ideas. Other than those I’d recommended it to, of course.

And now. Now I’d been introduced to a kindred spirit in JD Roth and, even better, I was going to have the opportunity to listen to his presentation about this stuff. I can’t wait!

As you may have gathered, I’m not only excited to be a speaker at this Chautauqua, I’m excited to be in the audience. Together we’ll learn:

  • How to bring happiness into your life.
  • How to develop the courage to be free and to live life on your own terms.
  • How to arrange your life in such a way as to have an abundance of what is important, while shedding what is not.
  • How to invest your excess funds so that they grow to support you, allowing you to turn your full attention to Happiness, Freedom and Abundance.

But this isn’t just going to be four people talking at you. Sure we’ll each be giving a formal presentation, but that’s just part of the week.

You’ll also have a chance to select two of us for private one-on-one-sessions. Each will be an hour-long and you’ll have a chance to discuss whatever issues are most pressing for you. To have time for these is one key reason why we are limiting attendance to only 25 people. While we’ll try to accommodate everybody’s first and second choices, slots will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. So if you want me, or if you want to be sure not to get stuck with me, you’ll want to sign up early.

The other reason for limiting attendance, is to keep this a small, intimate gathering. We want to get to know you and we presume you’d like to get to know us. At mealtimes, each of us will host a small group of attendees on a rotating basis. It will give us, and you, a chance to continue our Chautauqua in a relaxed and informal setting.

We’ll also be exploring a bit of Ecuador together. We’ll:

Speaking of giving back, a full 25% of all profits will go to the The Project One Corner. Assuming we are fully booked with 25 attendees, that should be enough to help ten young Ecuadorians advance their educations.

We’ve also found an even cooler place than the one I mentioned in that earlier post to hold this Chautauqua:

Hacienda CusinArasha

Hacienda Cusin

 photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Ok. It should be pretty obvious I am very, very excited about this little Chautauqua we’ve put together. It is exactly the sort of thing that I want to attend my own self. That should be no surprise. I’ve been privileged to play a large role in developing it. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

If you are a reader of this blog, you know I’m a skeptic of financial services. I believe you should be clear-eyed and critical buying anything. I believe in reading the fine print. I believe in reading the fine print so much, for this Chautauqua, it is right in the FAQ and Disclaimers in print just as big as any of that for the cool stuff.

I believe in reading it so much, I’m reproducing it right here. Read it carefully, and then read it again. If anything here makes you uncomfortable, we’re both better off if you stay home. I don’t mean to be discouraging, but we’ll be a small group in a third world country. It’ll be best and most fun if we’re all kindred spirits. Here you go:

While we are doing everything in our power to make this a very special and wonderful experience for all attendees, these are a few things you might want to consider before you sign up.

  • As wonderful as we think Ecuador is, it is important to remember that this is a 3rd world country.  This means things don’t always go smoothly or as planned.  If you find the unexpected upsetting or unacceptable this is not the event for you.  If, on the other hand, you see such things as part of the adventure, you’ll fit right in.
  • This is a Spanish-speaking country.  If your reaction to this is “Well, duh!” you’ll fit right in.  But we’ve heard enough North Americans complain about this to include it.  BTW, you don’t have to speak any Spanish.  The Chautauqua will be conducted in English and when we roam around, we’ll have bilingual folks to smooth the way.  If you do speak a bit of Spanish that’s great.  You’ll find a warm response from the local people when you try.
  • Refunds. You will be asked to pay for your trip in three installments, beginning with $500 due with your registration. These payments are non-refundable. We are a small company and the success of this Chautauqua depends on people being seriously committed when they sign up. If that’s not you, please don’t register until it is. That said, should events beyond your control force you to cancel we will try to refund some or all your money if, and only if, we are able to replace you on the trip. So, if you are going to pull out, the earlier the better.

If that didn’t discourage you and this sounds as exciting to you as it does to me, you are going to want to sign up right now. Yeah, I know. That sounds like typical high-pressure-come-on-crap. I don’t mean it that way, but I don’t know how else to say it. Here’s the deal…

As we are limiting the number of attendees to just 25, both Mr. MM and JD Roth have graciously allowed me to announce this Chautauqua first. In a week or so they’ll be sharing it with their readers. Since both have far larger audiences, our guess is that the available spots will go very, very quickly once they do. So we all agreed to give you here an exclusive first look.

So that’s a Chautauqua, at least how we’ve planned it: Happiness, Freedom & Wealth in a Balanced Life. It is what we ourselves would want to attend. Hopefully it is for you too. If so, see you this September in Ecuador!

Addendum I: March 27th 2013.

Well, that didn’t take long. After a month and three days, I just got word that we are now SOLD OUT. The last two spots got snatched up today.

So what to do if you really wanted to go and just weren’t quite ready? Go ahead and register. This will do three very good things:

1. It will get you a place on the waiting list, just in case somebody cancels.

2. It will allow us to refund money to anybody who might need to cancel. As I said in this blog post and as it states on the website, this is a very small organization and unable to offer refunds. But, if we can replace an attendee who must cancel we will do it.

3. It will give you first option for a place in Chautauqua 2014.

Of course, if a spot doesn’t open up and/or you decline your option for 2014 you deposit will be refunded in full.

Addendum II: September 19, 2013

Post Chautauqua review.

In this post you’ll also find links to what JD Roth, Mr. Money Mustache and Johnny Moneyseed had to say.

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70 Comments

  1. greg
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    You *do* know that this puts a very difficult decision in front of me, as the opportunity costs of lavish vacations this early in life are huge, right?

    I desperately want to go, but maybe, perhaps, consideration of a future installment on the West coast of the US is possible?

    • Posted February 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      Hi Greg….

      Yeah, I know. For what it’s worth, we’ve tried to keep the price as low as possible and we did keep it under the 2k mark, our informal goal.

      If this takes off, there will be more. The challenge of holding them in the US, however, is that the cost of the location is likely to be higher off setting any airfare savings.

      Add to that, that many people would have to fly to CA anyway and it might well be a wash.

      The other thing is, that assuming you read all three blogs, you can get the information without spending on the trip. It’s not like we’ll have some secret stash of info only for the privileged few.

      All that said, you sound like exactly the kinda guy I’d like to have join us, so I hope it works for you. If not this time, then another.

  2. Posted February 24, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I really wish I could go! Sadly, I have some health problems which are stopping me from any sort of travel right now. But as I’m slowly improving, I hope to be up to a 1-hour drive soon, and then maybe I can take you out to coffee some time. Or, of course, I’m happy to take you out if you’re ever in Boston ;)

    • Posted February 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to hear about your health issues, CC. Heal quickly and completely. You’d be welcome anytime.

  3. Prob8
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on getting this set up. I don’t know who JD Roth is, but it sounds like I should learn. As for you and MMM, a dynamic duo for sure. Any plans on taping the seminar?

    • Posted February 24, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Early in our discussions, Mr. MM expressed an interest in doing just that. We haven’t discussed it since, but he was very enthusiastic about it so my guess is that will happen. It will be his project.

      Assuming it does, we’ll make it available on the blogs. It might lack the full experience of hanging out and talking for seven days with us and the other attendees, but we recognize there will be lots of people unable to come.

      At least in this small way everybody can share a bit in the experience.

  4. Posted February 24, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Sounds awesome, but I’m not sure I can justify 5 grand total for the wife and I to vacation for a week. We backpacked around Europe for over two months for less than that (counting airfare in both cases for apples-to-apples comparison).

    I’m really torn though, because we were just talking yesterday about going to this (not having any details yet, obviously). Ali (my wife) read about Equador in an article yesterday that was titled something like “best places to retire 2013″ and we started talking about going down to check it out and attending this summit.

    For someone who hasn’t read much MMM or JLCollins, this has huge value. As someone who’s read every post on both site at least twice (and some posts a half dozen times or more), we’d really just be going for the comradare.

    Maybe next time I’ll be able to convince MMM I should be invited as a speaker about real estate investing and can go at cost and do some various real estate presentations to pay my way. ;)

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:06 am | Permalink

      There’s a lot to be said for camaraderie!

      We’d love to see you and Ali there, Arebelspy. Maybe after you sleep on it.

      As for being a future speaker, Cheryl is the one you’ll need to convince.

      • Posted February 25, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

        You made me have trouble sleeping, something quite rare for me. It’s 3:30am, and I’m awake! :)

        I just sent Cheryl an email.

        • Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

          :) I’m here to serve.

          • Prob8
            Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

            @arebelspy – I gathered from reading some of your posts on the MMM forum that you are heavily into real estate rentals. I’m interested in getting into that game to supplement income when I retire. Have you done any guest posts on that topic or can you recommend good books/websites dedicated to that topic?

  5. cgk
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Wow, wish I could attend. Maybe the next one! A bit too long to go from the UK and I’ve got two kids in uni at the moment so kind of hard to wring out the money at the moment. I’m sure it’ll be a great time though, good luck with your first gathering!

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks cgk…

      Cheryl just let me know tonight spots are beginning to fill. Not surprising. This post is already the most popular I’ve yet to put up.

      Maybe you should just yank the kids out of university and come on over! ;)

  6. George "Fritz" Hahn
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Sounds great with a good line up of speakers!

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Well, there is one weak link….

      But Cheryl, Mr. MM and JD are first rate!

  7. Posted February 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    What a lineup! Nice work, Jim!

  8. steviemartini
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    When you first mentioned the word Chautauqua, my memory went back to my seventh grade music teacher, who used to drive a camper full of kids to the Chautauqua Institute in Western New York state. I lifted a brief discription from their website, for your perusal:

    The Chautauqua Institution is a non-for-profit organization that serves as a community, a center, and a resource where the human spirit is renewed, minds stimulated, faith restored and the arts valued. It has performance venues, a hotel, a golf course, tennis courts, and educational and recreational facilities. For nine weeks each year, from late June through late August, the Institution offers a rich blend of arts, programming and recreational activities. Its educational mission is continued during the rest of the year with programs for older adults, Elderhostels and other learning programs.

    Chautauqua’s Department of Religion provides a wide variety of worship services and programs that express its Christian heritage and its interfaith commitment. It provides lectures and educational programs that probe contemporary religious and theological ideas, in the confidence that people seeking truth and understanding will benefit from such exploration.

    The Department of Religion strives to create a climate in which people that cherish various points of view and beliefs can exchange ideas, discuss their differences, and ponder the significance of their diverse experiences and insights.

    The Chautauqua Institution was founded in 1874 and is located on beautiful Chautauqua Lake near Jamestown, New York.

    Last updated on December 20, 2010 by Chautauqua Institution

    I am unable to join you and the group at your Chautauqua in Ecuador, but I know that you will have a terrific time.

    Steve

    Needham, MA

    • Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      Hi Steve…

      Paul Rolnick, my mentor and the guy who taught me how to be a publisher back in the day, used to frequent the Chautauqua Institution. Shamefully, in spite of his encouragement, I’ve never made it there. My loss. A truly wonderful experience, by all accounts.

      Too bad you can’t be with us in Ecuador….

  9. Raghubilhana
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    You need to also meet Leo from zenhabits.net and Jacob from earlyretirementextreme.com

    Very wise guys.

  10. Posted February 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like an amazing experience. Are you thinking of streaming/you tubing any of it?

    • Posted February 26, 2013 at 12:22 am | Permalink

      Thanks CR….

      We’re working hard to make it just that.

      As for video, indeed we are…
      check out my reply to Prob8 above.

  11. Raghubilhana
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    If the entire premise is to assist people, in this age of internet and connectivity cant this retreat be done online?
    Why do people have to spend $5000.00 (including airfare) to travel halfway across the globe to listen to a few sessions?

    I literally was shocked when I looked at the price for this retreat.
    Are these sessions that good?

    • Posted February 26, 2013 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      The price is $1995.
      Nobody “has” to do anything.
      Clearly, you’ll want to stay home.

      • Raghubilhana
        Posted February 26, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Yes definitely I am staying home, if at all I have to listen to some inspirational speeches, I am going to listen to thousands of free discourses by stalwarts or get some financial investing books written by stalwarts free from the library.

        You still have not answered my question, what makes you guys so worthy that we would want to handover $1995 (not including travel expenses and travelling halfway across the world) to listen to a couple of speeches and have couple one on one conversations.

        This is a genuine question every payer would have before shelling out that kind of money. We definitely want to know the value we are getting before paying that money.

        I am looking to have a civilian conversation and not be given a rude response because you don’t like me asking this question.

        • Posted February 26, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

          Given the uncivil tone of your comments and the deliberate overstatement of the cost it is very hard not to see you as a troll.

          The entire content of the Chautauqua website and that of this post talks about exactly what we will be doing, where we’ll be doing it, who the presenters will be and what it costs.

          Mr. MM, JD Roth and I all have extensive blogs allowing anyone to see exactly what we discuss and how we approach it.

          If that is not enough to answer your question as to the value offered, nothing more I could add will help.

          • Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:38 am | Permalink

            Hello Raghubhilana. This is Cheryl, Founder of Above the Clouds Retreats. I wanted to address your question about the cost of the Chautauqua. When it comes down to the bottom line, you are basically getting the lectures and sessions for free. The pricing for the retreat is based mostly on the cost of the entire package. Staying at a Five Star Resort with three delicious meals a day and all the bonus activities that come with it. We truly have quite the mixture of unique activities. From the museum in the Middle of the World, lunch on the Crater, a Shaman cleansing, a waterfall trip to a pristine, untouched part of the world, to a tour of Quito. The great part about this is that a resort like this in the States would cost twice as much and you wouldn’t get the cultural experience.

            You will also be enriched by your travels to another country and getting to see their culture up close and personal. Part of your money will help educate 10 young adults AND we are doing a community project where you will work side by side with the Ecuadorians to help in some small way to improve their lives. Having done volunteer work in the past, I guarantee you will walk away from that experience feeling as though you gained so much more than you gave.

            Now on top of all that, you get to spend time with people whose writings you value and have huge followings. And although you can get this information from books or the web, or the blogs themselves, hearing something in person can often be much more inspiring. It can jump start you in a different way than reading can. The natural conversations you will have during the one-on-one with the presenters and at meal time and the conversations with other attendees is something that might give you new ideas on how your want to live your life. And you will be receiving all of this information in a beautiful, quiet, peaceful place where you can sit and dream and plan for when you go home. I believe everyone needs time away to contemplate.

            So although I am thankful for the internet as a way to get information, I also believe we need to connect in real life. We need to experience life and it can be done in a way where you get a lot of value for your money, which I believe you are.

            I hope I have answered your question or anyone else who might have been thinking the same thing.

            Cheryl

          • Posted February 27, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Cheryl….
            Well said.

            You are a better person than I, and certainly more patient.

            As I said in the post, folks, this is someone I can learn from. :)

          • Sandra W.
            Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

            Perhaps Raghubilhana could have used more diplomatic language to make his point, but I can’t find fault with his logic. It seems odd to spend thousands of dollars learning to save money. That’s not to say there isn’t merit to the trip or the lectures. But the irony is that the people who could benefit most from this trip are least likely to be able to afford it.

          • Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

            Hi Sandra…

            Thanks for weighing in. Yours is a comment I appreciate.

            The irony is not lost on us and it is something we discussed at length.

            We do recognize not everybody will be able to afford to come. I think Greg, in the very first comment, hit the opportunity cost financial dilemma for those seeking FI on the head. But, as I said in my reply to him:

            “…assuming you read all three blogs, you can get the information without spending on the trip. It’s not like we’ll have some secret stash of info only for the privileged few.”

            This, of course, left us with a dilemma of our own. Since not everybody will be able to afford it, should we just not do it at all? Or should we go ahead and offer it to those who are at a stage in their journey where it would be of interest, value and fun?

            As I think Cheryl explained in her comment very well, the Chautauqua experience will be far more than just information gathering. As does the website and, hopefully, my post.

            Prob8, in his comment above, asked if we’d be video taping the presentations.

            As I said in my reply to him, no promises but, Mr. MM is exploring doing just that. If we pull it off, “we’ll make it available on the blogs. It might lack the full experience of hanging out and talking for seven days with us and the other attendees, but we recognize there will be lots of people unable to come.

            “At least in this small way everybody can share a bit in the experience.”

            Only 25 people will be able to attend this first Chautauqua. Most will not. Some for a lack of interest in such things. Some for reasons of personal circumstances or affordability or timing or just because we run out of space.

            If it is successful, there will be more. It is our hope that, for those interested who don’t make it this time, the money and timing will come together for them on another.

        • Amicableskeptic
          Posted March 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          He wrote an entire post explaining what is going on almost down to the minute, what more can he say?

          His answer to you was quite civil, it was in fact your question and moreso your follow up response which were very trollish. Your question is like reading a thorough review of an iPad then demanding that Apple explain again why you should buy it.

          Actually it’s more ridiculous than that because Apple can make millions of iPads and thus might have some incentive to go the extra mile explaining their value to get many more sales. In this case there are only a few spots and the value of the trip is clearly in peoples internal subjective value of meeting the presenters and going to Ecuador.

          Anyone who isn’t sure they want to go should simply sit back and let those who are sure step up.

  12. RW
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Sounds Great! Wish I could be there!!! Good luck to alll.

    • Posted February 27, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Thanks RW…

      ..we wish you could be there too!

      Perhaps another time!

  13. Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Sounds great! I can’t imagine anybody leaving this not feeling inspired and on the right path. Great work you guys!

    • Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Keichi-san!

      It has been a labor of love. The final step is assembling the group that will be able to attend. The dynamic they’ll bring will be the icing on the cake!

      Hope to see you name on the list, if not this time in the future. Although you really would be traveling half way around the world! :)

      • Posted February 28, 2013 at 1:05 am | Permalink

        I would totally be there if it wasn’t right after the start of summer break. Plus I get a lot of inspiration from your blog as well as MMM and the others. However, if I ever find my motivation tank running on empty I’ll be the first name on the list!

        Not that you need to hear it from me, but ignore the complainypants whiners. Like everything in life this trip is a choice and nobody is forcing anybody to go. You’re promotion of it is natural and would be weird if you didn’t. Frankly the more people you have saying it’s not a good idea, the more you know you’re on the right track.

        Just my 2 yen.

  14. Trish Rempen
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    There’s one thing you get to keep in life, and that’s the wealth of your experiences. That’s why I’ve always been willing to spend money for travel, even when it was hard. And education. This has both. You get to keep the benefits. And how often do you already know you like the subjects of the seminars – and the speakers?
    Seems like a worthwhile choice.

  15. Alram
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    While I know $2000 sounds like a lot of money to we frugal readers, the cost is relative to the value. I have really enjoyed reading both your blog and MMM (from where I found you) and I know the trip will be well worth the investment. Just think how much you would pay for an ordinary week-long conference (that would normally include hundreds of attendees). For my fellow mustachians, I humbly suggest signing up for a new credit card with a generous sign up bonus (eg. 40,000 miles with Chase Preferred Ultimate Rewards and thus secure a free flight to Quito on United Airlines). If you, like me, always pay your balance in full, the cost of the experience goes down significantly! I hope to see some of you there. I’m signing up! Can’t wait to meet you and the others jlcollinsnh!

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Alram!

      Yes, 2k is no small amount of money. In fact, for those just starting on their FI path, especially if they’ve struggled with spending up until this point, no trip (including this one) should be in their plans. At least not yet.

      But for those a bit further along, who have a growing stash in place, I think we’ve put a great week together. And, as you point out, it compares very favorably to any other vacation/conference around.

      I’m delighted you’ll be joining us. You are the first of those who’ve signed up to actually post a comment to say so! I look forward to meeting you and hanging out!

      • Posted March 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        I’m equally delighted and really looking forward to it!

  16. CL
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I really love this idea, even though at this point spending ~$2000 on a trip to Ecuador (a place I love!) is not well advised. Once this trip is advertised on MMM and JD Roth’s blogs, this trip is going to sell out fast. Mr. Collins is doing all of the readers a favor. I feel like this trip is the Coconut Cream Pie that MMM talks about in his latest post about blowing $1000. The trip is going to be fantastic (I’m glad that the group is visiting Mitad del Mundo) , but it’s probably for people who are either already retired or well on their way.

  17. jlcollinsnh
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks CL….

    …your kind words are appreciated, especially as it appears you are familiar with Ecuador.

    Sorry the timing doesn’t work for you this time around, but hopefully there will be more Chautauquas to come!

  18. Rich Schmidt
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    As much as I (and probably my wife, too) would enjoy this trip, the timing of it just doesn’t work for us. I’m the founding pastor of our church, and that’s the week leading up to its 13th birthday celebration. My wife is a school superintendent, and that’s too early in the school year for her to want to be gone for a week. Our big getaways tend to be in the summer or coinciding with school breaks.

    Enjoy Ecuador! It looks beautiful! Maybe we’ll be able to join you on the next one.

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Hi Rich…

      Sorry to hear it, but timing is tough. We figure for any number of reasons this trip won’t work for most people. Kinda just the way it is.

      But we hope to have more and, hopefully, over time those who want to go will find the right moment for it to happen.

      I’ll look forward to seeing you and your wife, if not next time then another!

      • Rich Schmidt
        Posted March 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        No matter what time you pick, it won’t work for some. This one just doesn’t happen to work for us. :)

        I’m sure it will be a great gathering, and I look forward to reading about it afterward!

  19. Posted March 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Found your site through MMM and I can’t wait to read your Stock Series. Wish I could go on this trip but I’m at least a year away from being FI enough to do things like that. Looking forward to the videos and any “trip reports” written afterward.

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Welcome Samantha…

      Great to have you here!

      As much as I’d love to have you join us this time, there will be others. You are right to wait until you have your financial feet on solid ground before taking this, or any, trip.

      Sounds like you’re on the right path and soon things like this will be much easier and more comfortable to undertake.

      Hope to hear more about your journey!

  20. Karl
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I found your site and learned about the retreat via MMM. The retreat sounds exactly like something for me. I have a lot of thinking to do over the next couple of days to see if I can sign up. Really enjoying your blog so far!

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Welcome Karl…

      Glad you made your way here and that the Chautauqua is potentially in your plans.

      Hope it works out for you and if it does we’ll look forward to seeing you there. :)

  21. Robert Coffin
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    This is a great idea it’s just too bad that only 25 people get to attend. How about setting up a camera and video taping each of the main presentations (obviously not the one-on-ones) and then you can each upload it to your blogs so that the rest of us can benefit from the knowledge your sharing. Additionally, you could also set up a collection so that we can donate to the Community Service Project or another Ecuadorian charity of your choice. You guys can turn this into an annual event where you take a group of people to a location in need and use it to help us and them. Keep up the good work and thanks for your help.

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 9, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Hi Robert…

      …it is too bad but we wanted to keep it small and personal. Plus we do intend to make it an annual event. So for those for whom the timing doesn’t work or who apply after we’re fully booked there will be other chances.

      As for the video idea, read thru the comments and you’ll see we are hoping to make that happen.

      Finally, that’s a great idea about setting up a donation option for those interested in contributing to Cheryl’s efforts. I’d be happy to host it on this site. Thanks!

  22. Posted March 10, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    sounds like a cool project. Ecuador is a fantastic country and your program looks really interesting.

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Pauline….

      ….I just checked out your site. You’ve got some cool projects of your own going on!

      Guatemala and motorcycles get my attention!

  23. Amicableskeptic
    Posted March 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Found you through MMM and have loved your blog so far. This trip isn’t for me at this time but maybe in a future year (so it’s great to hear that this will be a recurring event). One topic I’d love to hear more about is how to do something meaningful in retirement. I’m on the fence of FI but am lured to stay at my current company because it is making such a positive difference (a unique trait for a company to be sure). Part of me wants to be rid of corporate life forever but another part of me thinks that corporations are amazing ways to make big changes in the world. Maybe down in Ecuador you guys will figure out a way to make your retirements even more meaningful and amazing (not that you’re slacking off getting the message of frugality to the masses, but there’s always another hill to climb).

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Welcome AS…

      ..thanks for the kind words!

      Before I left my last job a couple of years ago I was in a situation a bit like yours. While I didn’t much like the company, my boss was a friend of mine who had whistled me in to help. For that reason and because I liked my colleagues and clients I stayed longer than I would have preferred.

      My only complaint about my retirement is that I have taken on way too much interesting stuff. I’m much busier than I’d like. But the good news is that many of these things will be wrapped up in the next couple of months or so. I’ll be more careful with commitments going forward.

      Sounds like you are not quite ready to hang it up just yet, and for good reasons. The wonderful thing about having F-you money is you can go, or stay on your terms and timing.

      Sorry you won’t be joining us this time, but I’ll look forward to meeting you at another event.

      Oh, and thanks for your take on my troll. ;)

  24. Posted March 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    jl

    Looks like a very fine time awaits those who can go.
    Just a bit of a query?

    What percentage of your readers are likely in the “mature group”?
    Guess I would define that as post 55, similar to where I guess your age would fall?
    I think your blog as well as MMM’s and JD’s while most valuable for the 20 to 40 age
    group, has great value for older folks as well. Many of the idea shared among all 3 blogs,
    are of use to all age groups, especially those in good health in their 60’s and beyond.

    Would you expect any post 55’s in this trip?

    Steve/Seattle

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Interesting question, Steve.

      Based on the stats I’ve seen, jlcollinsnh has its strongest readership in the 25-34 age range.
      The weakest is 18-24.
      Over 35 is average.

      Based on comments it looks more evenly divided to me.

      Since we aren’t asking the question, I don’t know how many +55 folks will be attending. I know there will be at least one: Me!

      The other thing I’m pretty sure of, we’ll be “children of all ages!” :)

      • Posted March 10, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Great response jl,

        Folks from our generation who learned many of the art of frugality and
        LBYM methods are now reaping those rewards.
        Interesting article in today’s New York Times Sunday Review Section which touches on some of this.
        Author is from my hometown, Seattle.

        Would love to do the trip for the sharing of knowledge/volunteer opportunities, and to see a new country. Certainly something to think about.

  25. Carolina on My Mind
    Posted March 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I got home yesterday from two weeks of travel and was delighted to find out that slots were still available! I signed up right away. I think you’ve put together a great program, and I’m really looking forward to being there in September (for my birthday, in fact).

    Carol

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Awe, Man….

      now I’m gonna have to learn how to sing Happy Birthday in Spanish. Or maybe I’ll give you the gift of my not singing.

      Welcome aboard, Carol!

  26. Posted March 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    As someone who started out reading JD Roth (and miss his voice terribly at Get Rich Slowly!) and then was lead to MMM, who pointed many of us to this wonderful blog, I must say this trip is a fabulous idea! The three of you have done wonders for inspiring me in my own journey to FI in the past 6 months! I would love nothing more than to have the opportunity to talk to each of you face to face. Alas, you’ve also all helped me to realize that good things come to those who wait. I have a long ways to go financially. But in a couple of years, count me in!

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 12:27 am | Permalink

      Thank you Ms. W!

      When the timing works for you we’ll be honored to have you join us! Meantime, hope to continue to see you around here.

  27. Valerie
    Posted March 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I just read this post early in the morning and I can’t stop thinking about it. Sounds seriously awesome. I first started reading J.D. on GRS, then I found MMM via Jacob on ERE, and I found your website via MMM. Your blog really resonates with me – you just seem like a cool guy who loves his family and does this his own way. I’ve learned a lot from your posts and even started to squirrel away some money (on a bimonthly basis) in Vanguard funds per your advice.

    As it happens, I’m turning 30 on the first day of the chautauqua, so it seems like perfect timing. But I’m kind of shy. Plus, I feel like all of the 25 slots may have already been snatched up. If I make the trip by myself, will I be bunking with someone else (which would be cool), or would I have my own room? Maybe these are questions I should be directing to Cheryl Reed?

    In any case, even if I don’t end up with all of you in Ecuador, I still wanted to drop you a line and thank you for all the great advice.

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      Welcome Valerie…

      Not sure I’m a cool guy, but I do love my family and I have walked my own path for the most part. :)

      Sounds like you are on your way! Congrats!

      As I am writing this, there are 19 spots spoken for and 6 remaining, so there is still time. It would be (I think) a cool way to celebrate your birthday.

      The prices quoted are for a private room. There is a discount for a shared room if you bring a friend or if there is another single interested in sharing. You should email Cheryl to ask about that.

      We’d be delighted to have you join us, but if you decide not to that’s cool too. But please don’t not come because you are shy.

      While people who know me today might find it hard to believe, I know what that’s like. I think one of the best things about this is going to be the people it attracts. Open, adventurous and welcoming. At meals we’ll be in small groups. Nobody will be left out.

      There are lots of reasons not to come, but being shy is not one of them! Hope to see you there, if not this time then another.

  28. Karl
    Posted March 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I made up my mind and just registered. Assuming there are spaces left I’ll see you in Ecuador! It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Quito.

    I have a running joke with some friends and family that I’m going to retire an start an avocado farm in Ecuador so maybe I’ll tell people I’m scouting some land.

    • Posted March 11, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Hey Karl………yes, there is space left for you!! Just received your down payment. I highly recommend becoming a farmer in Ecuador. It’s awesome….we’ll talk!! Looking forward to meeting you in September!

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      Welcome aboard, Karl.

      We didn’t have enough future avocado farmers signed up until now. I look forward to hearing more!

      Meanwhile, you might like this story: http://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/02/01/muk-finds-success-in-tahiti/

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