That being said, you're career is just that, you're career. If it's something you care about, you should be willing to invest some of your own money into making yourself as awesome at it as you can be. Without that willingness, you should consider doing something different. While things have changed in your personal situation, and you may not be able to make this conference because of travel costs (though you can make some pretty cheap travel and lodging arrangements in vegas), I don't think this should cause a complete rethink of your situation if everything else about it is good.
Do your best to invest in yourself, it's nice when others will invest in you as well, but don't let the lack of that hold you back.
To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.