CampFI And Camp Mustache Are Worth Your Time (And Money)

[UPDATE: Use the discount code “Military” for $75 off each adult ticket to CampFI South.]
(This offer was in effect for the 2018 Camp FI South. Check the CampFI schedule for the current offers.)

[Disclosure: I’m not paid to write this, and there are no affiliate links.]

[If you’re looking for info about FinCon and the Military Influencer Conference, then scroll down to the “Related posts” links at the bottom.]

It’s that time of year again: people are looking at meetup dates and their travel budgets. They’re wondering why in the world anyone would want to spend hundreds of dollars to talk about financial independence.

You’re not the only person wondering about the value. Whenever someone recommends Camp Mustache or Camp FI (or even FinCon!), then someone else posts that they can’t understand why it costs “so much money”. The tickets and travel expenses can’t possibly be worth the presentations and the pro tips.

If you’re serious about frugality and a high savings rate, then spending money on a conference seems to be the antithesis of pursuing FI. Why, we can do that with local meetups! Let’s pitch tents at a state park, bring fishing gear, and cook our own potluck! Why should the organizers make a humongous profit from us?

[Spoiler: it’s not humongous. Sometimes it’s not even a profit. But there are still expenses.]

Well, I can help with those questions. I might be biased, but I’m experienced. I’ve spent thousands of dollars around the country on more expensive conferences, and yet the camps are among my favorite weekends.

Over the last couple years I’ve attended two Camp FIs (held all over the nation near you) and two Camp Mustaches (near Seattle). My spouse and I will be at Camp FI South on 7-10 September in Little Rock, so see if you can still snap up a ticket!

Camp FI (South, Southeast, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest…)

Do you want to try a Financial Independence conference without the expense or the extended schedules and the work conflicts?

Would you like to have real-life FI people, bloggers, and podcasters answer your questions one-on-one over a meal or a cup of coffee?

Would you like to stay up way too late, talk until you’re hoarse, and nerd out about FI with people who share your life goals?

Image of large open field surrounded by trees and sunny blue skies for Camp FI south |

The grounds of the Camp FI retreat.

Take a look at Camp FI South near Little Rock, AR. It runs from Friday afternoon to Monday morning 7-10 September.

[UPDATE: Use the discount code “Military” for $75 off each adult ticket.]

It’s at a retreat center on a 1200-acre campus with rustic motel rooms, a central dining room, and recreational facilities.

The organizer, Stephen Baughier, has already executed a number of successful events. (He’s not running a non-profit but he’s working for about a nickel an hour.) I’ve received tremendous value out of other CampFI events. I thoroughly enjoyed CampFI Southeast in January and I’ve had serious FOMO for being unable to go to two others this year.

CampFI has a couple of formal presentations on Saturday & Sunday (if you want to attend them). The rest of the weekend is free time for networking, team building, using the campus recreational facilities, and talk story. There will be yummy comfort food, board games, and fire circles. There will possibly be adult beverages and indulgent snacks which we attendees bring to share. Rumor is that there will be chocolate-coated macadamia nuts imported from Hawaii.

Instead of freezing in a gigantic hotel conference room under fluorescent lights with hundreds of fans clustered 20-deep around rockstar bloggers, this CampFI is limited to about 63 more people (besides Stephen, the other featured guests, and we Nordmans).

Both my spouse and I will be at CampFI South: I’m giving a talk and I’ll also spend the weekend answering all of your questions (for free). She’s also a military retiree who can answer your questions about the Reserves, dual-military work-life balance, and the glamorous empty-nester slow-travel lifestyle. She’ll even commiserate with you about why submariners are the way they are.

Image of the logos of the websites of Ready Investor One, Money Nerds, Fly To FI, and DiverseFI |

Other guests include:

  • Paul Thompson of the ReadyInvestorOne podcast. Paul is another example of FI through real estate cash flow. I appreciate the 1980s arcade gamer reference and I’m always interested in rental properties (and landlord exit strategies).
  • Whitney Hansen, creator of the Money Nerds podcast. Hey, she printed it right on the t-shirt, and she runs a great show!
  • Cody Berman of FlyToFI. He’s recently finished college, he’s an entrepreneur on fire, and he’s having a tremendous year. I met him at CampFI in January and I’m looking forward to taking notes on his lessons from travel-hacking Australia.
  • Doc Green of DiverseFI. Doctors have a reputation of working their entire lives, yet I’ve met a bunch of them who are pursuing FI to gain more control of their time for a better quality of life.

When my spouse and I have the time in our slow-travel plans, we’ll make room for a camp. We’re happy to follow CampFI around wherever the organizers end up and then explore the local area. Believe it or not, this is the first time in my 57+ years when I’ve had a reason to visit Little Rock. I hope to remedy those deficiencies all over the country.

We’ve had so much fun (and learned so much) from the camp weekends that I actually feel a little guilty at repeating an event. They’re small enough that I’d hate to deprive someone else of their first chance.

If you can’t make CampFI South then we’ll be at more CampFI events in 2019. Take a look at the 2018 calendar and start saving some possible 2019 dates. (You may recognize a few of the folks in those photos.) Tickets tend to sell out within a few days of the announcement and you don’t want to be counting on the waitlist.

CampFI testimonial

I could blather on for a few hundred more words, but this CampFI attendee said it better:

Hey guys,

I went in January, and I am nowhere near FI. I honestly couldn’t recommend CampFI enough. I’ll break down the reasons why.

1. I thought I was in decent financial shape, but I wasn’t. Rarely (read: never) do you get a circle of millionaires offering to pore over your finances and give you personalized advice. I really benefited from the experience.

2. The dominant topics of conversation might not be what you think. The conversation when I went wasn’t “how to become FI”. It gets really personal and profound as the question changes to “who are you… really?” Money is no longer a crutch for identity and this is where the heart of the conversation lies as you watch people grapple with navigating a life that doesn’t revolve around money.

3. The Baughier twins and Doug Nordman are dope. Doug is the nicest person. If you’re still grappling with what kind of mindset one should have when pursuing FI, I’d really go to Camp FI. It’s a game changer. A really important one in my opinion.”

[Nords note on #3: They asked me whether they should opt in to the military’s Blended Retirement System. We both talked ourselves hoarse.]

Camp Mustache (North Bend WA, and a few other places)

I’ve been to Camp Mustache twice, and the second time I even dragged my spouse along for her own ticket.Image of a large black handlebar mustache: a Mr. Money Mustache for Camp Mustache | The-Military-Guide

This camp is the original financial independence model to which other camps aspire. The idea started in 2014 in a tiny town outside of Seattle by Mt. Si over Memorial Day weekend, and today it sells out for that location & date in mere minutes.

It’s hardcore non-profit, run as a labor of love. You can read more about Camp Mustache’s guiding principles at this link.

Several other Camp Mustaches have sprung up around North & South America, although I’ve only attended the one in Seattle. You can visit the Mr. Money Mustache forum to keep up with the planning for the other locations.

My first Camp Mustache was a life-changing event. I met the Baughier brothers (along with a few other military servicemembers & vets). Oh yeah, I also met some rockstar bloggers like Pete Adeney himself, Paula Pant, and Brandon the Mad FIentist. We recorded a podcast with a live audience that (over two years later) still sends traffic to my site (and e-mails to my IN box).

Image of the Camp Mustache Rainbow Lodge conference room with a fireplace and a table seating Pete Adeney (Mr. Money Mustache), Brandon Ganche (Mad FIentist), Paula Pant (Afford Anything) and Doug Nordman (The-Military-Guide)

Pete, Brandon, Paula, & me for a live Mad FIentist podcast.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the hike up Mt. Si to the summit: 4000 feet and four miles up, and then back down again. It took the entire afternoon, and it wasn’t pretty after 3000 feet, but I made it. The view was worth the climb (<insert FI metaphor here>), and it created a bunch of other comparisons to our life journeys.

I missed the first couple years of Camp Mustache, yet by the time I showed up it was running smoothly. During the first couple years the organizers tried to keep costs to a bare minimum by renting out a facility while everyone took turns with meal preparation and kitchen cleanup. Unfortunately the housekeeping tended to get in the way of the FI discussions, which led to the current model of conference facilities with staff preparing the meals. Other camps at other locations may try different ideas, but the North Bend version of Camp Mustache seems to have the right combination of frugal lifestyle and discussion time without going cheap.

You’ll stay in touch with these people all year long. Next year you’ll return to pay it forward with a new group.

Your call to action:

These conferences (and their price tags) help you make the personal commitment to apply what you’ve learned and to grow your business. You’ll have the resources, the contacts, and the community to make it happen– not just at the conference but all year long.  You’ll value what you pay for.  You’ll want to come back next year to show everyone what progress you’ve made, and to figure out how to level up.

If you have the time, sign up for CampFI South in Little Rock on 7-10 September. You could wait for another camp at another location, but people like to return every year and the tickets go fast.

The same sellout speed applies to Camp Mustache in Seattle. Keep an eye on those links and be ready to move quickly when the sales open up. As the date approaches then you might be able to clear a ticket or two from the waiting list, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Got a question for me? You don’t have to wait for one of the Camps. Post it here, or send me a Facebook message, or e-mail NordsNords at Gmail.

[earnist ref=”the-military-guide-to-financial-independence” id=”70177″]

Military Financial Independence on Amazon:

The Military Guide cover
  • Reach your own financial independence
  • Retire on your terms
  • Success stories and personal checklists
  • Royalties donated to military charities

Use this link to order from!

Related articles:
“How Can FinCon And The Military Influencer Conference Be Worth The Price?!?”
Camp Mustache 4 Encore

About Doug Nordman

Author of "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" and co-author of "Raising Your Money-Savvy Family For Next Generation Financial Independence."
This entry was posted in Financial Independence, What Do You DO All Day?!?. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to CampFI And Camp Mustache Are Worth Your Time (And Money)

  1. Zoot says:

    Awesome write-up! It captured my memories of the Florida event beautifully (including being hoarse, although I brought that with me–but I took it to new heights that weekend!).

    I’m considering Little Rock, as I have a few vacation days to burn–is the “military” code only for military-and-affiliated, or for general use?

    • Doug Nordman says:

      Great to hear from you, Zoot!

      The discount code is for everyone– military, affiliated, and total civilian. People can only use one code per ticket, but there’s no limit on the number of codes.

      I hope to see you there, and please bring your friends!

  2. george says:

    It is great to learn everything about financial independence from people who have made it and are living their dream lives. They are usually more than happy to show you the ropes.

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