Tech-Ed, budgeting and being laid off.
I was laid off in December; then took up a 3 month gig with a friend for which I only ended up being paid 25%; and am about to complete a roughly six week gig on Friday. Needless to say, I've been quite low on money for quite some time.
Having my contract end this week is actually somewhat convenient. TechEd is in LA next week. Since it's just a hop, skip and a jump from my place, I'm going. Obviously, I can't afford the $2300 registration fee, but I can afford the $100 ticket just to get on the Expo floor. I can couch surf. I can bring food & pilfer granola bars. There will likely be cheap eats somewhere near the conference center. If not, I do have a car. I can drive to a Mickey D's. I will still have access to some of the world's most knowledgeable people. Most of the sessions are online anyway.
As someone who's (thinking about, and slowly acting upon) organizing LaidOffCamp Phoenix, I want to make the point that there's nothing at all about my current situation that is preventing me from going. Major conferences are important networking events. You SHOULD be going to these things if you have the time, because they DO NOT HAVE TO BE budget-stretchers.
There are ways, people. Learn them. Live them.