Chautauqua - Financial Independence retreat

Have you guys heard about Chautauqua? It’s an annual 1-week event where you attend a series of workshops with some famous FIRE bloggers, like JLCollins. The reviews people write are always very positive, and I would find it a cool experience to spend a week with like-minded people, exchanging ideas about FIRE and plans after reaching it.

This year there will be 4 weeks to choose from, 2 near Birmingham, 2 near Porto. The problem is, the thing costs £2’300 for a shared room and £2’700 for a single room. They often get criticized for setting prices so high, yet they always fully sell out, so I guess you can’t blame them. I wonder what the money goes into.

To me this is quite a dissonance, the event attracts mustachians/bogleheads/younameit - people who have cash, but who are also frugal. And to look at it from a different perspective, a week with strangers for this price seems a bit risky. What are your thoughts? Have any of you participated, by chance?

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Sounds pretty dumb indeed, why are you still even following this telemarketer then?


Then book a hut somewhere in Poland - Bieszczady, Mazury … 2700 GBP will be enough to cover the flights, accomodation and food for a week for at least 4 people :slight_smile: I’ll accept your invitation.


Are you really suggesting they are being dishonest? I have a lot of respect for JLCollins, his blog encouraged me to start investing. And the people who do participate say it was worth the money spent.

:smiley: As tempting as that sounds, 4 guys hiking and drinking beers in a hut the middle of a forest is probably more suited for a well-established wolf pack of friends, who already know each other. The guys from the event have a program and they really focus on FIRE.

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This Chautauqua makes me raise an eyebrow as well, it just looks like a fancy name for a seminar.
And if it is a seminar, what do they really have to teach that they did not already cover a bazillion times on their websites?
I mean, there is not so much to say about FIRE per se.
Consume way less than you earn, invest the difference, take care of unjustified fees, rinse, repeat.
Even the MMM and ERE websites (to only quote the first movers) dropped severely the frequency of their posts after a few years, because there is only so much you can say about financial independence. sure, you can adapt it to regional peculiarities, but that does not move the needle that much.

So, when I see such events, I try to look at it from an incentive lense:

  • What’s the incentive of the organizers? Of course, if hundreds of people are willing to spend many thousands of GBP to hear them talk, that looks like easy money they would be dumb to refuse.
  • What is the incentive for the subscribers? That’s more cloudy for me. Maybe he’ll think he will hear something different than on the website, maybe they think that the big names of FI keep their biggest wealth secrets out of their websites and only share them with subscribers, or what else. Or they want a 1-to-1 consultation, like an (expensive) reinsurance that they are doing things right.

But yeah, paying thousands of dollars for information that you can find easily on the web (and that they are likely to have already found since they are well aware of FIRE) goes beyond my understanding.


My views are a bit darker than that. Some people probably think 2700 GBP will buy them a recipe to get rich quickly and to live a lazy life with little effort.

There might be people like this. But I assume there might be also already FI people looking for networking in an elite FI Club.

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I bounce the ball and say - having enough money to never have to work again is probably a poor criteria to choose friends.

Actually, I have recently seen this Netflix documentary about the Fyre Festival. People paid tens of thousands of dollars to take part in an exclusive music festival on a private island in the Bahamas. In reality it was a nightmare to organize and it failed miserably. But it just shows that if you advertise to the whole World, you will find many people with lots of cash to spend.

So I don’t know, maybe this Chautauqua attracts people who got rich quick and now they’re looking for something to do with their life?

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If this is your type of vacation then … why not.

But I wouldn’t spend a single Swiss Franc to go somewhere and talk to “Bloggers” and “Startup Experts” … it just doesn’t make any sense to me.

I organize IT user groups in the ZH area and I could never imagine charging someone for attending, it would be a ripoff.

I don’t know. I think MMM or Mad Fienstist are cool dudes and if I had time and money, I’d gladly meet them at this event and try to build a community of like-minded people.

Similarly half of my Polish friends are econ PhDs because I tend discuss online these topics frequently.

I’ve only ever met one FI guy, while travelling in Asia. I had no idea about the FIRE movement back then so you can only imagine my reaction to a 35yo guy telling me he’s retired. I tried finding out more but just couldn’t find a common language. That guy was indeed a nutcase. It’s not enough to be “FIREd” to be like minded :slight_smile:


I think I could consider spending this $$$ only once I’m already FI… otherwise it really is against the mustachian principles, imho :wink:
In the meanwhile one mught also consider FIWE ( which would for sure be a lot cheaper.
Or get in touch directly with other forum members (I see most of you are located in ZH and surroundings, so it should be quite simple to arrange :grinning:)


Lately I started to think about the time I waste in reading FIRE blogs. Some of them with they continuous chanting about this Chau…Chan…whatever they call that retreat. I wonder how come people would willingly spend that much money especially since those blogs are all about not wasting money. I understand the bloggers though. They probably get a tiny amount of money, everything paid and they believe they are not asking much in exchange of a talk and some links. Sum the bloggers together and you get a ridiculously high amount (2500 pounds?) just to spend a week with them.

The thing is also that there isn’t much to say. Once you explain how it works, there isn’t much more to say. They sometimes forget that internet exists and people do not just read one single blog. It feels weird to read and reread the same stuff here and there. The funny part comes when someone point them the mistakes they do (see what happened to one of our member last week on a famous blog), most of the time they get dismissed or ignored to avoid ruining the “credo” of the blog. The numbers/graphs/idea they show seems soo correct once you read the debunking…
I’m not against FIRE blogs, I read them. I believe we should read them for entertainment reasons mostly. I do that myself. I love to hear what happened to blogger X once he went back to his country and did stuff Z. I enjoy less what they say about their expenses, since it is so easy to forget that most of them make 100k++USD per year just by writing stories on the web.

Anyway. end of rant for now.
Am I alone on that? Do you find some real good insight on blogs?

Side note: the few swiss blogs I read seems to have more quality posts than the others.

About the “Financial Independence Retreat”, we have some opinions here already:

The english speaking ones yes. The other languages I either don’t understand (well enough) or it’s top-tier clickbait.

I wouldn’t say clickbait though. Some of them maybe. Most of them just regurgitate topics they have to say in order to continue the flow of “stuff”. Remember though…writing a blog is not easy.

There is one blog I enjoy reading that has one of their premises wrong. They can’t say it anymore since they build the blog around that thing (+ others) so it would be a big deal if they change it. Maybe they are just “blind” or maybe they can’t “afford” to change or their readership will be quite angry.

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