Prepping for Roots Tech 2018, Step One Paying for It.

So this is my second go at this post, and threw out the other one because frankly, it was neither clear or concise.  Cross your fingers and let’s try this again.  It’s a long post, but with good information.

And a disclosure of sorts.  I am in no way affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (LDS), I am not a Mormon.  I do not receive anything from anyone in sharing this information, that includes not one penny paid to me in the form of a marketing reimbursement, commission, salary or anything else.  This is based on my experience and my desire help you get to this conference.  Are we clear on that?  Good, lets continue:

The first thing that we need to conquer is Money.  What is the cost of the event, and how you can save money up to attend RootsTech.

So for this week, here’s what I suggest that you: figure out what it is going to cost to get you from wherever you are to where you want to go, which is RootsTech 2018, Wednesday, February 28 through Saturday, March 3, 2018.

Now, if you are flying in, general RootsTech sessions this year began on Wednesday afternoon.  If you are in business or thinking about starting a genealogy based business and want to go on the innovators track, it starts before the general ed sessions.  So you want to be in Salt Lake, ready to go, you want to fly into Salt Lake on Monday or Tuesday before the start of the event.

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A DAY AT THE FAMILY RESEARCH LIBRARY (FRL), and this is important, fly in on the Monday before the conference instead of flying home on the Monday after the conference.

WHY? Because the FRL is closed on Sundays, which means that you will have a day set aside for research that you cannot use.   Now you can go sight seeing on that Sunday, and Salt Lake is a gorgeous place to take in the some amazing vistas and the Great Salt Lake.  But the library is closed on Sunday.

Most airlines reduce their airfare’s with a Saturday night stay.  So flying home on Sunday means that the airport, if the weather is bad, can become congested.

Salt Lake is a hub for Delta Airlines, so they have more flights going in and coming out of Salt Lake City.  Their rates can be lower, but don’t shy away from checking with other carriers.

If you are not a seasoned traveler, and are self booking your travel, you may need to take a two stage trip, meaning that you change planes.  If you are looking at that arrangement, give yourself plenty of time to change flights.  Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare and other major city hubs can be enormous, and getting from terminal A to Terminal E can mean a half mile or two.  Detroit has a Delta Hub and a marvelous terminal that uses a fast and efficient train that runs from one end of the terminal to the other.  Its a wonderful airport with great amenities.  Chicago O’Hare is a giant cluster, and I am here to say that I have NEVER made my connections at O’Hare. Ever.

So when you are working your budget out, remember that you need to set aside money for parking at the airport if you have to drive to yours.  Each airport has a variety of garages and land lots, so work that amount into your budget.  Same for if you are using a cab or Uber.  You will also need to budget for transportation from Salt Lake’s airport to your hotel and back (Plan on $45 with tip each way, however last you cabdriver how much the trip will be.  Sometimes you can get a lower rate before you leave the airport.)

PETS – If you have pets that will need to be boarded while you are at Roots Tech, call your boarding facility of choice and find out what the total rate would be for the number of days you’ll be away.  If your boarding choices include daycare, budget that extra amount in.

Hotels are a mixed bag, we stay at Hilton’s because we have a Hilton credit card and it builds points.  Proximate to the convention center are a Hilton, Holiday Inn Express, a Radisson, a Marriot and the “Plaza” an independent hotel operated by the LDS Church.  The Plaza is older and not as plush as the other convention hotels, but its main selling point is that you have the convention center across the street and the FRL next door.

IF you want to go to a “value” priced chain, they have them, but not next to the Salt Palace, where RootsTech is held.  So budget in enough for Uber or cabs.

IMPORTANT: Some hotel chains will offer you a deal to book and pay for the room in advance.  These deals are usually great, but they are nonrefundable. So you take your chances with them.

Salt Lake is a city of great distances, and wide streets, and you are going to be walking a great deal in the Salt Palace and around your feet are going to need COMFORTABLE shoes.

If you wear a Fitbit, you will make your 10,000 steps with no problem.  So the last thing you are going to do is walk 12 blocks to a value hotel.  So my advice is that if you go that route, you are going to spend money on cabs, budget for it.

Registration for the main RootsTech track was under $200 for me this year, without any add on events or labs.

Once you get these figures, and in money for 3 square meals and any adult beverages you may choose to buy, now we have to figure out how to set money aside.

MY SUGGESTION is to go to your credit union – and if you are not a member of a credit union then you need to be one (Go Here to see what credit unions you can join) and set up a special share account that you will use to sock away your anticipated expense amount for the conference.   Keep in mind that you will need to have enough to register in September/October, buy your airfare and travel insurance (in case of an emergency – like you getting sick, a death in the family, etc. that keeps you from going) in the fall and have a credit card so you can reserve the room at the hotel of your choice.

If you are working, go to your payroll office and set up a direct deposit to the account at the credit union.  The money will come out of your check and go to that account before you have a chance to miss.

NOW this is really important, chose an amount that you can live without.  If you put too much in that account, you’ll end up raiding it for every day expenses, and that means you’re not going to RootsTech.  Trust me on this.  If you get paid weekly, that’s 52 deposits into that account in a year.  Twice a month (like on the 15th and last day), that’s twenty six pay periods,  Every two weeks? That’s usually twenty eight times a year.  So if you sock away $25.00 every two weeks, in a year, you’ll have $700 dollars cash in a year. $100 dollars, $2,800 in a year.

In addition to going to your credit union and opening a savings account:

Check with your local genealogical societies to see if they will give a small scholarship ($25/$50).  HINT: It helps if you are a member of the group.

Check with other organizations you belong to see if they can underwrite a small part of the trip.  HINT: Most will want to know how you are going to pay what you learn forward by maybe doing a presentation, submitting a report.  You CANNOT include making copies of the handouts from the education sessions at RootsTech and giving those to the members of the organization sponsoring you.  Those handouts are provided for you because you paid the registration fee, and the handouts are part of your fees.  The handouts represent a great deal of effort by the speakers.  And the speaker owns the material through their creative and knowledge process, and they can and do claim copyright protections on their materials.  You may have to develop a talk on your own, but you will be growing your own knowledge (and maybe confidence) by doing so.

If you are still coming up short, you can also take out a loan if the cost of the conference is beyond your means.  And again, your credit union may be able to grant a loan for you on this. 

You are asking “Why would you even suggest this?”

I spent 20 years helping people while working with non-profit financial institutions – credit unions – and I understand that debt can weigh a person down.  Realistically, there are two kinds of debt, good debt, which is used for prudent and productive purposes, and bad debt – the kind of debt that provides momentary joy which usually results in buyers remorse.

Any time you use debt wisely, to fund your education, to help you grow in a fashion that gives you skills that help you grow, helps you amass knowledge that is useful and pertinent, and helps you learn beyond what you know, that is a strong case for good considering a loan to fund your education, but you have to be smart about it.

And this is where I do plug our nation’s credit unions – because they do a great job of ensuring that you know all of the terms and conditions of borrowing.  They ALSO have better rates than most commercial banks.  And unlike commercial banks, credit unions are governed by a volunteer board – people like you and I.

I also like the idea of a signature loan to fund this kind of learning, as opposed to a credit card, because the loan has a dedicated purpose, a limited repayment time – in others words, it has a start and finish, and it has that satisfaction you get from following through.  And that purpose includes making you a better researcher, a more knowledgeable genealogist and help you grow as a person.  And after you attend RootsTech you will be just that.

So, I know this has been long, but this is what you need to do in this week

  1. Plan to go to RootsTech
  2. Research airline prices, not to buy, but to have concrete evidence and proof of what it costs to travel to the conference.
  3. Research hotel costs for your stay.
  4. Estimate the amount of money for ground transportation, and boarding your pet (if you need to)
  5. Estimate the amount of money for food while you are (about $80 a day to get good food is what I do.)
  6. Set up an special share account at a credit union to receive the money intended for the conference.
  7. Look into any auxiliary ways for you to raise the money (Have a yard sale, seek a scholarship, etc.)
  8. And, if need be, look into the cost of a secured or unsecured loan if need be.

Next week, We’ll look into how to get the most out of the EXPO hall.

Find a credit union near you through the NCUA

CUNA’s Credit Union Finder Tool







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