los angeles

I know I’m super late on posting about my #lolaretreat experience. Don’t judge me. Plus, it’s Women’s History Month, so a recap of hanging out with amazing women counts, right? Right?! That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Without further ado, here’s a peek at my weekend during the retreat.


Friday, February 15

I worked from home on Friday and had my things all packed and ready to go. Yet somehow, I still didn’t leave my house until 2:00pm. The welcome reception started at 5:00pm. No big deal, right? Yeah…except there was rain. And LA. And traffic.

So of course, I didn’t make it to the reception until a little after 6. I was naïve enough to believe people when they said it never rains in California, so I didn’t have an umbrella, which means I was cold and wet by the time I walked into Mrs. Fish.

Still, things got a little better once I sat down, grabbed a drink, and started chatting with some of my Twitter friends (shout out to $76K Project and Melanie Lockert, founder of Dear Debt and the Lola Retreat). After the reception, I grabbed dinner with my hotel roomie $76K, then called it a night.


Friday, February 16

Saturday is when all the fun sessions kicked off. The day started with a yummy breakfast, which was huge for me since I hardly ever eat breakfast. Chatted some more with other attendees, then the first session started, which was facilitated by Amanda Clayman. This was probably one of the most important sessions in my opinion, as it revolved around negative emotions and money.

Since being in the personal finance community, I see a lot of advice saying to “just pay X amount of extra money on your debt” or “just cut back on X expense” without any thought of what factors may be preventing others from practicing these habits. I’ll admit that I’ve even given this advice and held myself to the same expectations.

But if you’re someone who grew up in an environment where money was associated with negative emotions, this is often easier said than done. I’ve mentioned before how fear is what kept me from repaying my student loans for a long time, even when it made “financial sense” to make payments and knock down some of the interest.

Amanda touched on a lot of these emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, guilt, and shame. She highlighted that negative emotions are part of being human, and rather than suppressing them, we should acknowledge and address them.

This was a heavy topic, but it had to be discussed. If anything, it helped me to think about being more kind to myself on the days when I’m not flying through life with passing colors.

After Amanda’s session, there were several more speakers who shared thoughts on topics like being financially savvy (Natalie Torres), paying off debt in a high cost-of-living area (Johanna Porter), and knowing your worth (Audrey Bellis).

The night ended with a happy hour where I mingled with some bomb-ass personal finance peeps (like Kristin Wong), then on to a night on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel with an amazing view. Sigh. Why can’t life be like this every day???

Night view on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel in Downtown LA


Sunday, February 17

Another delicious brunch was served, including bottomless mimosas (I was getting super spoiled at this point), followed by a session with the super cute and bubbly Paola from Charlie Finance on her experience with money as an immigrant in the United States. The last session of the day was a panel of employees from Swell Investing, who talked about “impact,” or socially conscious, investing.

I had to skip out early for another engagement, but I made sure to exchange contact information with a few of the lovely ladies I met before leaving.


What’s the Verdict?

If you are looking to nerd out about finance with a group of smart, ambitious, money-savvy women, Lola Retreat will feel like a little slice of heaven! And this is coming from someone who tends to be very skeptical and picky. I’ve been to a number of networking mixers and workshops and been underwhelmed, not only with the venue accommodations, but also the people I interacted with.

This wasn’t the case with Lola. Every detail was planned out carefully from start to finish. Each day was filled with three things I love: food, wine, and lots of conversation about money. It’s rare for me to meet people who speak freely about their finances, so hearing other women openly discuss salary, debt repayment and freelance work was a breath of fresh air. It’s only March, but that has probably been the highlight of the year for me so far, and I will definitely make plans to attend another Lola Retreat in the future.

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