We recently attended FinCon12, the second annual gathering of personal finance bloggers, at the Grand Hyatt in Denver. This year’s conference featured more than 400 bloggers, podcasters, columnists and financial professionals from four countries and 44 states. Organized by Philip Taylor of PT Money, the conference was once again a lively exchange of ideas and featured bloggers from popular sites like Wise Bread, Get Rich Slowly, Man vs. Debt and Budgets Are Sexy.

The State of the Financial Blogosphere

One of the central events was a talk by Greg Cho and Ashley Jacobs of Wise Bread on the state of the financial blogosphere. They say it’s stronger than ever, thanks largely to the variety of personal finance conversations happening online. Cho encouraged bloggers to talk about the day-to-day aspects of their lives and finances — often they are just as inspirational as their thoughts on bigger topics like debt and retirement.

LizWeston speaking at Fincon12

Liz Weston Speaking at Fincon12- Photo by marubozo

Similarly, during her session “How to Give Good Financial Advice,” financial columnist Liz Weston told attendees to consider the effect that their words have on the lives of their readers. Weston stressed the importance of credibility and generously shared some of her resources for getting the facts about important financial topics.


Focus on Your Dreams, Not Your Finances

At times, it felt like the unofficial theme of FinCon2012 was “follow your dreams.” Adam Baker of Man vs. Debt set the tone with a stirring keynote on Friday morning, arguing that doing what you love — and not simply working to acquire wealth for wealth’s sake — is often the secret to many kinds of happiness. He urged audience members to consider “the why” of what they do every day, so they can amass life-enriching experiences that would naturally lead to financial comfort.

Andrew Schrage of Money Crashers called Baker’s talk one of the high points of the conference. “It was definitely inspirational,” he said. “I think it got a lot of people thinking about why they’re running their blog and what they need to focus on.”

In another panel about the changing face of retirement, Todd Tresidder of Financial Mentor (who has chatted with Straight Talk before) also mentioned how much he’d enjoyed Baker’s keynote. Tresidder — along with Mike Piper of Oblivious Investor and Rob Bennett of A Rich Life — then spoke about the need to reframe retirement as a state of financial independence that’s brought on by doing what you love and that can be reached at any age.

AARPbloggerDeb Silverberg was in the audience, and she agreed with the panelists’ perspective on retirement. “What we’re hearing from folks is that there isn’t a magic formula anymore,” she said after the discussion. “Some people want to continue working after age 65. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition — I think it’s about working on your own terms, and figuring out what’s right for you. Maybe it’s a phased retirement, which is what a lot of people consider their perfect vision of retirement.”

Consumers Need Allies

During their keynote, the Wise Bread team said they believe that people are hungrier for financial advice than ever before. Considering the state of the global economy, it’s not hard to see why. But from the quantity and quality of the conversations we heard in the conference rooms and hallways, it’s clear that banking consumers have some great online allies.

How do financial bloggers help you make good financial decisions? What are your favorite personal finance blogs?