Chautauqua – Ecuador 2017 open for reservations


Mi lindo Ecuador

Please Note: 

January 15 — Week 1 of Chautauqua Ecuador has already sold out. There are still openings for Week 2 and we have a couple left for:

Chautauqua – United Kingdom: August 2017

OK, back the post….

This was starting to get hard.

2017 is the fifth year we’ve been doing this and will see us present the seventh and eighth Chautauquas in Ecuador come October.

I’ve written several posts now talking about how wonderful these things are. And, really, how many ways can I say it?

Well, fortunately past attendees have put their own spin on it.

One of the key things attendees experience is the chance to meet and hang out with some very interesting people like themselves.  Here are a few who tell the tale better than I:


In 2015 three folks banded together to produce a short 3-minute video on the El Encanto experience. It is a beautiful overview, especially of the excursions around Ecuador and the community service project that are part of the trip.

Directed by Joan @ Meister’s Balogna

Edited by Brian @ Inner Parakeet

Music by Prentice @ Sound Cloud

(if you have trouble seeing the imbedded video, you can also find it here)

Since then, these guys also produced, filmed and edited this now somewhat infamous video of me imitating John Goodman on the subject of F-You money.

While Mr. Goodman certainly has no worries about competition from the likes of me, thanks to the magic of Joan & Brian I think the results are pretty bloody wonderful. It is also now memorialized in the Ballad of Chautauqua below!

(not work or kid friendly)

(if you have trouble seeing the imbedded video, you can also find it here)

Chautauqua networking in action!


Last October, at Chautauqua Ecuador at Hacienda Cusin, Katie and Alan, a very talented and interesting couple from England, showed up. Now in and of itself, this is not in the least remarkable. Chautauquas have a tendency to attract interesting and talented people. That is one of the reasons I love them so damn much: I get to hang out at cool places and meet cool people.

But then, on our last full day, I noticed him scrambling about huddling with the other attendees. Didn’t think much about it at the time.

Turns out, that morning, Katie and Alan had a rather brilliant idea and by dinner they’d finished and presented it to us four speakers.

What they’d done was to track down each attendee, photograph them in situations and spots that exactly captured their personalities, and got them to say a few words about each of us speakers and what Chautauqua had meant to them. When they pulled it all together, we were gifted with this wonderful keepsake:

Hacienda Cusin Attendee Slideshow Review


Also last year, Alyssia and Kevin showed up for the week at El Encanto. They run a business in Ohio to put food on the table, but when work is done they have a little band. After the post zip-lining lunch, they put on an impromptu show we all greatly enjoyed. Offhandedly, I said “You should write a song about Chautauqua” and thought nothing more about it. A few weeks later, this showed up:

(if you have trouble seeing the imbedded video, you can also find it on YouTube)

I like to read along as I listen and if you do too, here are the lyrics:

The Ballad of Chautauqua ‘16

I was sitting by the computer at work one day,

Reading what some of my favorite bloggers had to say

About investments & real estate and paving the way – to financial freedom

I read a post about Chautauqua ’16

In the heart of Ecuador where the jungles are green

This would be the furthest place I’ve ever been – so we packed our bags

 We met Ben, Sarah, Aaron, Rich, Tom and Connie

Kevin, Lysh, Nilpa, Jess, Brett and Amy

Daniel, Jenn, Shawn, Jolene, Derrick and Stacey

Michelle, Holly, Holly, Matt and Chrissy

I sat next to Jim and Jane at the first meet and greet

Cheryl and Ricardo who put on the retreat

Mr. Money Mustache whose real name is Pete

and Paula and Will from Afford Anything

Petting a llama, eating lunch at a crater

El Encanto Hosteria, which sits on the equator

I’m hiking down to the river – I’ll catch up with you later – for dinner & drinks

 The first talk was from Jim – from jlcollinsnh

“Invest in VTSAX – with a high savings rate”

Total Stock market index funds, right out of the gate – to buy your freedom

 We stopped and we saw where chocolate comes from

Helped a local family build onto their home

Surrounded by friends, we never felt alone – in the town of Mindo

Cheryl Reed spoke of happiness and how to achieve it

Its your job to be happy if you can only believe it

You can make your own path if you can only conceive it… I’m smiling






Next up was Paula Pant speaking on real estate

Passive rental income is starting to sound pretty great

If it wasn’t for my wife and Will, I’d probably ask her out on a date… but…

Ziplining through the jungle, listening to didgeridoo

Getting cleansed by a shaman, now my outlook is new

a John Goodman performance from Jim Collins for two, life is good

Drinking John Morris Whisky, beers and box wine

Rum and flavored vodka helped us have a good time

Stories were flowing as we sought to unwind, and learn from each other

Sitting around the hot tub led to good conversations

Like if we headed to Mars, what would be the level of radiation?

Ohio may be the birthplace of Aviation, but North Carolina is 1st in flight


Pete spoke of the good life and the simple math to FIRE

Maximizing happiness by cutting out needless desires

Optimize everything and read the Dalai Lama to inspire…you on your way

One on Ones with the presenters, was the highlight for me

and getting to hang out on Pete’s balcony

and at every meal I’m pouring on the AHI…. sauce from the kitchen

 The last day we were on a mountain 13,000-ft. high

and a bus driver that couldn’t turn left – no matter how hard he’d try

there was laughter and hugs as we said our goodbye’s – & ate some pizza

Some headed off to Galapagos – others back to the States

Some headed off to early retirement – others may be a little late

But one thing is for certain – the Chautauqua was GREAT

I can’t describe it any better than that!

Photo courtesy of Gwen

Frequently folks not actually on the financial independence path view it as one of dismal deprivation focused on denial of living life today to save money for tomorrow. That’s not what I see.

Looking at this video, slide show and listening to this song, you’ll get a glimpse of what we really look like. Happy, engaged, energetic and certainly not deprived. These are people very probably much like you, and in terms of wealth they fall all along the FI path. FI expands life and makes it better.

If that’s not enough, check out these posts from Carl and Rich:

Mr. 1500 Days amazing Chautauqua Adventure: Part I
(see the only picture of me ever with a bag on my head)

Rich on Money: What the Hell is Chautauqua

If you’ve read this far, and this sounds like you and you want to join us, registrations are now open. Attendance is limited and spots tend to go quickly. Just sayin’.

(if it is sold out, be sure to put you name on the wait list)

October 7-14 will take us to a new, larger venue: Hacienda Chorlavi. Chorlavi will allow us to expand the number of speakers to five (Mr. Money Mustache, Paula Pant (Afford Anything), The Mad Fientist, Cheryl Reed and myself) and the number of attendees to 35.

October 14-21 will take us back to one of our favorite places: El Encanto. In addition to Cheryl and myself, Kristy of Millennial Revolution will be making her Ecuador debut and Jesse Mecham, CEO of YNAB (You Need a Budget) will be returning for his third Chautauqua and second as a speaker. Both these are major coups! Attendees will be limited to 25.

This is Jesse’s post

This is Kristy’s post

I hope this is the year we’ll see you there!


Chautauqua — United Kingdom, August 2017

If Ecuador and/or October just don’t work for you, for the first time ever we’ll be also be taking Chautauqua to England. Kristy of Millennial Revolution, The Mad Fientist, Alan of Pop-Up Business School and I will be your speakers. Hit the link and check it out!


Travel hack your way there for little or no $$$$

My pal, and travel hacker guru, Brad Barrett has for the last couple of years helped our Ecuador attendees make their way to Quito for little or no money. He has graciouly offered to do the same again for 2017.

His services, for these events, are free (and I also recommend you sign up for his free Travel Miles 101 email course)

If you’d like his help, you can reach him here:

Just tell him, you’re with us!

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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


      • Matt says

        Btw, I’ll look forward to your presentation and thoughts from the real estate investors in attendance (including Paula and MMM) on your presentation description’s opening line: “Stocks, far and away, are the most powerful wealth building tool ever created.”

        • jlcollinsnh says

          If that’s your only question, I can save you the trip. 🙂

          Real Estate typically adds time, effort and leverage to the mix. This makes it a hybrid of investment and work, salted with some extra risk (the leverage)

          If you are willing to add these to your investment, you can possibly (and should expect) outperform VTSAX.

          Of course, then to have a fair comparison, you’d have to compare your results to the stock investor plus whatever they did with their extra time: New business, side hustle or just sitting on the beach.

          Then you can decide which fits your interests and needs best. 😉

          • Sean@EarlyRetirementRoadmap says

            Totally agree with you here!

            I don’t want to be a landlord. It’s too active of an investment for me and turns into a business once the properties start amounting without a property manager cutting away at your returns. I think the only way to really get better returns than the market is to own multi unit properties to get more bang for your buck which takes a lot of leverage (risk) to get there.

            Personally I get my real estate diversification with VGSLX in my IRAs (because it’s not tax-efficient) which I have loved with the low correlation to stocks.

          • Matt says

            I am a passive limited partner (LP) investor, usually with around a 1% interest, in mostly fixer-upper class B and class C apartment complexes with units that rent in the $1000/mo. and less in midsize but growing cities like Pheonix, Denver, Portland, and San Antonio. The general partner does all the work for a share in the profits, so I don’t have any landlord or other duties. The Mad Fientist’s recent post, “The Incredible Tax Benefits of Real Estate Investing,” spells out in detail the magic tax side of this investment class. Leverage is another magic side. As a property’s NAV increased via improvements and rent appreciation, one can pull equity out through refinancing or the use of a second mortgage, and that equity can be redeployed into other multifamily LPs. For me, this strategy has provided far greater IRRs and more predictable consistency with limited tax expense when compared to equities.

          • Sean@EarlyRetirementRoadmap says

            Thanks for the reply Matt. However, I just got done reading the article you referenced and still have the same position personally. The biggest thing that caught my attention was the depreciation write off but I also know many people that have lost a ton of money from the wholesaling (we buy ugly houses) strategy/scam.

            It really comes down to after tax and inflation returns from your own experience. Maybe you have an example of a 1 year return on a still leveraged property to work with since I’m a little lost in how the 1% LP works. Don’t get me wrong, some people are just meant to run real estate empires but I don’t want all of my eggs in one basket and dislike assets that are hard to liquidate. You can also turn your taxable brokerage accounts into tax-advantaged accounts with proper use of tax-loss and capital gains harvesting.

          • Matt says

            Here’s a simple and reasonable example: Imagine a house that you buy for $300k with 33% or $100k in equity. Say it grosses $25k and nets you $10k per year. But since you depreciate $10k per year, so you collect the $10k without paying taxes (your cost basis goes down, but as long as you never sell the property or exchange it, you never pay capital gains tax). Those are two big tax breaks. So we’re already at 10% after tax. This scenario can get even more interesting when factoring in say 3% annual rent appreciation so after 6 years you’re grossing $30k and netting $12k. And a modest increase in property value of 10% has ensued, so you take out a second mortgage for another $30k (tax free money). Now you’re earning roughly $12k on $70k = 17%. The guys at have run this model of buying rentals and being a landlord to ground in great detail. They have guests after guests on their podcast who invest in properties, improve them, refinance their money out, invest in more properties, improve them, refinance, etc. etc. and collect dozens and sometimes hundreds of units. I have an old-timer local apartment broker buddy who has dozens of normal doctor and lawyer type decent earners who start with a duplex or four-plex 30, 40, 50 years ago who exchanged it five years later for a 10-unit, then a 20-unit, then a 40-units, and so on – it too can be a simple path to wealth.

            What I’m doing is essentially the same thing except I’m buying 1% interests in institutional multifamily deals. So take the example above and simply multiply by 100. So think of a $30mm apartment complex purchase with $10mm in equity ($100k of which is mine = 1%). The deals I like will have an institution like a college endowment coming in for usually around $7mm, the general partner coming in for at least $1mm and I’m in the remaining $2mm, so there’s sophisticated money in the game with me and the operator, the GP, also has skin and incentive. I like to follow time tested rules like investing in walkable neighborhoods near transit systems to office centers in secondary cities. I aim for affordable in this sense: my annual rents are less than 25% of the average income of the area. And my rents are also at or less than the average housing cost for the area. And like stocks, rents have historically always grown consistently on an inflation adjusted basis. So you have zero responsibility being a landlord. But the trick is finding good operators, with long track records who take outside high networth money. But they’re out there. I’m no expert, but as a retired stock fund manager with a deep understanding of equity investing and deep appreciation for the Buffett/Bogle/Collins recommended method, I’ve come to really respect the wisdom and benefits within this rental real estate asset class. There are definitely holes to shoot in it. For example, the loans on apartments tend to be 10 years, not 30. So you can get hurt if you need to refinance in a 2009. But for that I like to dollar cost average and buy a few deals every year to spread out my maturities. Also, it’s been a historic run in multifamily and residential rentals in general, so things are pretty pricey right now, and there are potentially treacherous crowd funding avenues entering the scene. But I do think it poses an interesting conversation: “Are stocks by far the best investment over the long-term? How does multifamily stack up?” To each his own, but for me, it’s been an amazing addition to my portfolio.

  1. Mustard Seed Money says

    I have to admit that I’ve heard about this but reading your perspective is really awesome. Plus the videos are awesome/hilarious. I am definitely going to try to convince my wife that we NEED to be there 🙂

  2. Mrs. Picky Pincher says

    I’m super jelly! I’ve always wanted to go to a chautauqua. Unfortunately three weeks off of an hourly job while getting out of debt isn’t in the cards. Le sigh. I hope to see tons of photos and wonderful recaps!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      We’d love to have you join us, Mrs. PP…

      ..but your priorities are in proper order.

      Stay on the path and soon enough going to things like Chautauqua will be pocket change. ????

      See you then!

  3. Rich on Money says


    I’m a proud alumni of 2016 Chautauqua. It was a life-changing experience.

    I highly recommend this, but ONLY if you are out of debt. It’s sort of a FI advanced course in my opinion.

    Wish I could go again, but need to let others readers have the chance! Thanks for the link to my review.

  4. Ty says

    I’ve been following these for a while and need to make a plan to attend one soon. Just the motivation to be around people with the same ideals in real life would be a tremendous help in getting over the last hurdle to FI.
    A 8 years of ‘online only’ motivation has been great, but there is no substitute for face to face!

  5. FIscovery says

    I am just maybe two steps in on my path to FI, but just maybe someday I will be able to attend functions like these – – I just want to call out how helpful the F-You video was – I know much of what you stated is covered in the stock series (and can’t thank you enough for putting that in the public domain), but just the 80/20 stock/bond split, your position on real estate, auto, and overall spending, and then the 4% rule for withdrawals, really just made it so clear for me – it was one of those aha moments. Now it’s just a matter of amassing 2.5 million and I’m all set 😉

    Thank your sir for what you share, you and many others in the FI space are a true inspiration.

    – Corbett

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Glad you liked it, Corbett!

      Hope you are also reading the Stock Series and/or the book to understand the “whys” behind the “what” in the video.

  6. Smart Provisions says

    Sounds like it’s going to be amazing for those who are going to this year’s Chautauqua!

    I can’t go myself due to work obligations, but hopefully I’ll be able to attend one sooner or later!

  7. Todd says

    All right, I’m in! Now just to figure out what to tell people at work … seriously, what kind of story to provide?

    I’m close with many people at work, but don’t talk about FIRE aspirations at all. It’s known that I haven’t really traveled in my life, and will be even more suspicious that my wife won’t be joining me.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • Thomas says

      How about bending the truth a bit? Like you’ll be on a staycation? Or you go to your high-school reunion, where it would be awkward to bring your spouse. Or you on week-long course to improve your skills. You just need to explain why that has to be on a different continent, tho.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Well, as FireCracker says, these are really only a cover for a cult with aims of world domination.

      Perhaps you could tell them that?

    • vorlic says

      Don’t even bother saying anything! If you must say something, I recommend “I’m off to see a man about a dog.”

      That’s what my late Grandpa used to tell me when he knew the truth would either
      1. Shake my world to the core and lead me into irreversible, mental instability, or
      2. Lead me to think he was a friendly, Rachmaninoff-listening lunatic.

      As for me, trying (badly) to sell the FI path has resulted in the latter. The fault lies with my manner and approach, I am sure. I have resolved to stop bothering, but it’s difficult 🙂

  8. Thomas says

    I’m in as well. So I told my wife that I will be hanging out with a couple of strangers at a far away place for a week. And I’ll be meeting a couple of people who I’ve been following on the internet and been implementing their ideas by changing my lifestyle. So now she thinks I’m about to join a cult. 😉

  9. Nomads with a vision says

    I’m in as well! First time to post on your site, but I’ve been following for over a year. Looking forward to meeting everyone, sharing a few beers and having a blast in Ecuador! Time to add a new continent to my list!

    I’m planning on starting my own blog, but as of yet, it’s just a parking page. Once I get the time, motivation and experience with WordPress, I’ll join you in sharing my FIRE journey.

  10. MrWoW says

    We’re in as well. Can’t wait to meet everyone on Oct 7th. Been wanting to go to Chautauqua for a couple years now, and we snuck in this time.

    Also, super excited to return to Ibarra, where the Mrs. did some volunteer work two years ago. Get ready for some amazing empanadas and brownies in town.

    Is it Oct yet?

  11. Matt says

    Hi Jim,

    I just sent the following note to Brandon and Cheryl about our upcoming 10/7/17 Chautauqua, subject: “Chautauqua, Effective Altruism, and Charitable Giving Post-FI.” I’d love to hear your thoughts either specifically as it relates to Chautauqua, or perhaps even more so, your general thoughts on creating a genre within the FI genre.

    Thanks, Matt

    Here it is:

    “This is just a brainstorm idea:

    I was just listening to MMM’s old “So Money” interview where he casually described the story of how he and other Chautauqua presenters donated their fees blindly for Cheryl to donate towards a local cause of her choice. Unbeknownst to the presenters she used the funds to build a house for a local family in need, and then surprised the presenters by driving them to the house to meet grateful recipients where joyous and tearful magic played out (man, do I wish there was a YouTube video of that event!). And it sounded like this program has continued and expanded. Very very cool! I was touched and inspired and became even more excited about being a part of this year’s event.

    This dovetailed nicely with MMM’s sentiments in the recent Mad Fientist “Camp Mustache” panel podcast where MMM briefly mentioned at the end how, as it turns out, devoting his time to helping others is actually a lot more fun than attaining and maintain FI for himself. While I think he was speaking in a broad sense, I can see how his observation would very much hold true in the Chautauqua house gift story. MMM dives deep into this philosophy of giving in his 10/26/16 post, “Notes on Giving Away My First $100,000” about Effective Altruism.

    The FI population seems to be greatly made up of those working towards FI, followed by those who have reached ER. As the movement spreads and matures, the ER population will grow, and as it does, so will that population’s excess cash flow. We all know the prospect of attaining FI is ultra alluring and motivating. A notion that’s a lot less cultivated in the FI blogosphere, is this even greater Holy Grail that can exist beyond simply attaining FI.

    I was curious if their might be room to explore this topic at Chautauqua this year. To the extent the communities effected by Chautauqua’s generosity are close by, perhaps discussion of this topic could be enriched by a field trip to touch and feel this magical case study? Either way, there is clearly a very symbiotic relationship between the underlying philosophies of the FIRE and Effective Altruism communities. Therefore, it seems to me there could be an opening to harness this dynamic and open and nurture a whole new discussion and genre within the FIRE community at large. Much like the leaders of this community have crystallized and packaged the “how to” manual for FI, a “how to” post-FI ideal could be established. The Effective Altruism mechanics are quite straightforward: Save a life via Malaria prevention = $2,000; cure a case of fistula = $500; cure a cleft palate = $250; cure a blindness = $100; etc. Imagine a new FIRE genre, where like many bloggers post their detailed personal financials, others post a hybrid repot of their financials, excess cashflow, and charitable stats with YTD and cum-to-date lives saved, cleft palates repaired, blindnesses cured, etc.

    I recognize there’s probably not a place for this this year as you’ve already established the program and I don’t mean to impose. I just figured I’d toss it out and there, and if nothing else, I’d set the stage for some informal side discussions. Thanks for listening and advanced thanks for providing any thoughts or feedback you might have.”

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Matt…

      Cheryl is the one who would decide if such a topic would be part of a future Chautauqua.

      As for me, I have written about our personal approach here:

      But that is our personal approach and not meant to try to persuade others they should do the same. Giving is a very personal choice.

      From my Manifesto:
      “While giving is a fine and pleasant thing, no one has an obligation to do so. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something, most likely the idea of giving to them and/or their pet project.”

      • Matt says


        Thanks for your reply. I enjoyed reading that post again. And your manifesto points to a generally wise approach in my experience. Effective Altruism sometimes invites controversy when it proffers ethical obligations on others. Looking forward to our fun trip together!

        Warm regards,


  12. Sean@EarlyRetirementRoadmap says

    Well I somehow just now found your blog but will be following along more in the future. I love how you throw this event and Ecuador would have been amazing but looks like I just missed it…

    Unfortunately UK won’t work out this year but man I love the concept! I hope to meet in the future!

  13. FinancePatriot says

    I wish I could make it, Educador looks beautiful. It’s definitely one of the places we would like to visit someday. Keep up the good work, I love your blog, but your stock series is second to none

  14. says

    Ecuador is amazing. Of course I am biased as I am from Quito originally. Just starting to get my feet wet with investing. Looking forward to checking around your site! Cheers

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