How To Save Money When Attending Professional Conferences

I don’t know if you’ve heard but the first ever Personal Finance Blog Conference is being help this week and I’m going!! I’m so excited about this because not only is it very niche specific, just about every personal finance blogger I’ve met online throughout the years will be there. I’m looking forward to getting to know all these great bloggers even better and am excited to visit Chicago, where the conference is being held.

Some people attend conferences on a regular basis but I made a goal and limit to attend one, and only one conference this year. They are expensive to attend, far beyond the cost of admission and I simply can’t afford to fly all around the country attending these things even if I wanted to. That being said, there are some things you can do to cut down on the cost of attending conferences and events like this. Here are some things I did that you should try to do or try to avoid.

Get in early

When I heard about the conference, I knew this was one I simply couldn’t miss. All the experts, bloggers and companies that have anything to do with personal finance in one place? That doesn’t happen every day. So I bought my ticket within the first 15 minutes they were available. By being one of the early early birds, I was able to score my ticket at nearly a third of what the tickets cost the week before the event. I saved myself over one hundred dollars right then and there, plus I made sure I got a ticket before they got sold out.

Shop Around For Travel But Not Too Much

I always shop around, that just comes with the territory around here. So when it came time to look at flights, the cost of driving to Chicago, the cost of hotels and everything else involved, I started early. I checked out deal sites and watched them constantly for a month. The problem is I got started too early and the prices were so all over the place, I wasn’t able to make a decision and got burnt out.

When I realized I hadn’t purchased my flight or finalized my plans yet, time had slipped away from me and the conference was just over a month away. I started to scramble. I don’t fly often, but the general feel is that there is a sweet spot when you should start looking for your tickets, not too early and not too late. I may have just missed that sweet spot but by using the following tip, I was still able to get a sweet deal.

Search For Discount Codes And Group Rates

When I got serious about booking my flight again, I started to search forums and coupon sites for deals. I was able to find a 15% coupon for the airline I was planning on using which saved me almost $100 total cost (2 tickets). Then I checked all the great material published by the conference organizer and found out there was an awesome group rate for the hotel so I jumped on that, saving another $80 or so.

Avoid Unnecessary Costs

Here is where I probably should have quit while I was ahead but instead, I decided to purchase some sort of small netbook or tablet that I could take with me to the conference. I thought something like this would be convenient for note taking and staying online without being a huge burden. So I set up an automatic Craigslist notification in AdRavage for netbooks and tablets. I got a bunch of hits but didn’t want to spend much. Then I found a Lenovo netbook for $100. That seemed perfect so I bought it. I’m actually typing this post on it right now and while I do like some things about this netbook, it is very specific. I can’t do any actual work on it because of how small the screen is. I can write posts in a text editor, but publishing them on WordPress is a pain. I can’t do much serious browsing, again because the screen size is so small and resolution isn’t high enough to see much of a webpage at once.

I did get a smoking hot deal on this netbook though and intend to sell it right after the conference, possibly for a profit depending on how patient I am.

This will be my first ever conference but hopefully the first of many, and I intend to get better and better at saving money while attending events like this.

Do you have any tricks for saving money on travel or business expenses like this?

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9 People have left comments on this post

» Kevin @ Thousandaire.comNo Gravatar said: { Sep 28, 2011 - 11:09:57 }

I’m saving money by staying at a friend’s place in Chicago instead of getting a hotel. That’s gonna save me boatloads of money over the four day trip!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I guess I should have mentioned my biggest potential for savings, not bringing my wife and baby 🙂 but she’s never been to Chicago and wanted to stay in a nice hotel for a change without our other two kids (staying here with relatives). She could use some alone time and a recharge.

Initially I was planning to travel alone and had looked into staying with a friend, or even couch surfing at a strangers place.

See ya there man!

» Invest It WiselyNo Gravatar said: { Oct 3, 2011 - 07:10:21 }

Hey Jesse, it sounded like it was a real blast!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

It was amazing, you should plan to come next year for sure.

» Kris @ Everyday TipsNo Gravatar said: { Oct 4, 2011 - 06:10:14 }

I was thrilled I could drive to the conference, and also that all the food was pretty much provided. I actually spent way less there than I thought I would.

I know someone that stayed at a nearby hotel. He booked it the night before on Priceline and paid half as much as we did. I am too much of a planner to do that though, and he lived locally so he could always just drive home if he couldn’t find a good deal.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Yea the food was great too, although I actually lost a little weight because I was too busy talking during every meal to eat anything!!

I think the hotel was awesome and was happy to pay the price to be IN the hotel rather than having to drive at all to get there, there just wasn’t enough time for that, I wanted every minute to be spent in the hotel doing what I came to do, meeting and getting to know people rather than driving to and from.

Still sad we didn’t get to meet, but next time for sure!

» DonNo Gravatar said: { Oct 4, 2011 - 09:10:04 }

It was great meeting you Jesse!

I knew you were a smart guy, but I never realized what a class act you are!!!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Don, it was great to meet you too, and thank you! I really enjoyed chatting with you on our little walk 🙂 you are such a nice guy!

» [email protected]No Gravatar said: { Oct 22, 2011 - 03:10:54 }

I’d love to go to the next FinCon. Hoping I can afford it, so I really appreciate your sharing these tips. Hope to see you there!

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