A 44 Year-Old Man and His Love for Disneyland

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The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!

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Disclaimer: If you’ve been following anything about Disneyland of late, you know that there has been some controversy over worker salaries and benefits with a Disney family member even speaking up on behalf of the park employees. I 100% believe that the workers should be paid a fair wage, and even above. The job they do of making that park function in a spotless and seamless manner is world class.

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I know I’m not alone when I say that I have a fascination with Disneyland. It’s obviously a mildly popular destination for families and Disney fans alike.

I will also say that I don’t believe in magic, at least in the traditional sense, but Disneyland is the closest thing I’ve found on the planet to a truly magical experience. It’s pretty gutsy to put it in your tagline, “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” but damn if they haven’t done everything humanly possible to deliver on the promise.

My first trip to Disneyland as a child was also my last trip to Disneyland as a child. For parents I had the one-two punch of a mom who hated animated films almost as much as she hated airplanes, and a dad who hated vacationing anywhere that didn’t have slot machines, black jack tables, and relatively few people. So each year he and my mom would go on their retreat to Reno and then as a family we’d go to places within driving distance like the Oregon Coast or Yellowstone. Great places to vacation no doubt, but they weren’t Disneyland.

So when the time finally came (meaning us kids wouldn’t shut up about Disneyland and finally wore mom and dad down), we drove from my house in central Washington State some 1,100 miles to the front gates of Disneyland. It was a true Wallyworld experience to say the least, complete with breaking down on a massive stretch of freeway in Central California, and being forced to spend the night in a cockroach infested hotel while we waited for our Chevy Blazer to be repaired.

The trip is relatively blurry now some 30 years later, but aside from remembering that we spent time at Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios, I also remember one fact crystal clear:

We never fought or bickered once while we were in Disneyland.Read More »

5 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About the Family Finances

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The “Friday Five” features five items to help you in your journey to financial freedom. They might be 5 tips, 5 tricks, or just 5 ideas. In any case it’s Friday, so here we go!

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My parents never talked to my me or my Sister about our finances. To be fair, my Dad really didn’t talk to us about much of anything at all other than how terrible the Seahawks were (this was the early to mid 80s, and they were stupidly awful), his fleet of semi trucks, or the chores we still hadn’t done.

I’ll retract that statement almost immediately, because my Dad did talk to us about money. Here’s how it went:

“Hang on to that Sports Illustrated with Michael Jordan on the cover. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

“Hang on to that Bo Jackson rookie football card. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

“Hold on to that Coke bottle telephone. That sucker is going to be worth money one day.”

You know what my Dad never held on to?

Money.

I’m not bagging on my Dad at all. My Dad started a business at the age of 18, built it up and sold it in his 40s, then parlayed that into a business that grew in value in the millions before losing it all due to circumstances FAR beyond his control.

Now in his late 60s, my Dad owns several small businesses in my hometown and is a staple of his community.

That doesn’t mean he was necessarily good with money.

As a kid I never knew how we were doing financially. I saw my parents buying lots of things; spots cars, satellite dishes, pools, ATVs, etc., but I never really knew if we had money in savings, or if all of that junk was purchased on credit and we were teetering on the brink of financial collapse.

It’s understandable why they didn’t share any of this information with their kids. Their parents survived The Great Depression, and was a generation that tried to forget about finances in general, not discuss them openly. They sure as hell didn’t share with their kids during that generation, and so my parents never felt the need to be super open with us.

When our finances took a dump on our collective heads in January, my wife and I decided that we would start talking to our kids about finances. We did this not to freak them out or add stress to their lives, but because we wanted to start teaching them to be financially responsible so that they can hopefully avoid our mistakes and live a financially independent life of their own one day.

We’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to approach kids when it comes to discussing finances, especially if you’re in a bad way. Here are some of our favorites:Read More »

Tuesday Tip Jar: Get Involved with the Online Financial Community

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Welcome to another “Tuesday Tip Jar” where I will share awesome savings and financial tips as I find them. I might not have something for you every Tuesday, but when I do, you’ll find it here!

If you’ve got a financial tip you think others would benefit from, please send it to me via my contact page at the top of the blog!

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Family is important. A good strong family will support you when you are down, cheer you when you are up, and tell you candidly when that all-natural deodorant you’ve switched to isn’t doing its job as well as you think it is.

With some things however, you may not always feel comfortable discussing the matter with your family. For me, finances fall squarely into that category for a few reasons. Unless it’s my wife, who I blabber to about finances until I’m blue in the face.

So when my wife finally told me I needed to go at least 30 minutes without saying “401k,” “savings,” “bills,” or “debt,” I knew I had to find an avenue for discussing financial strategies and seeking others who could aid us in our journey to financial independence.

Luckily we live in a day and age where there are a million ways to find people willing to talk with you about any subject you could possibly imagine. Reddit, Facebook, YouTube, Forums, and on and on. There are lots of options for finding like-minded folks, and I’m already blown away by how supportive the people in these virtual communities can be.

Last week an awesome reader to the blog told me that I should check out a group on Facebook called ChooseFI. I had never heard of it before, but he told me that it was a podcast as well as highly supportive Facebook group dealing with helping people to achieve their goals.

Awesome for sure, but let’s roll this back even a bit further…Read More »

5 Steps for Maintaining a Healthy Relationship While Dealing with Financial Difficulties

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Quick Update: This serves as my final apology of the week for the wonky schedule in posting over the past few days. I’m back from New York now, and next week should return to a totally regular cadence and format. Thank you!

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I often feel weird writing this blog. The reason being is that I am in a pretty decent amount of debt, and yet I’m writing a blog that essentially gives advice on how to deal with debt. It’s like a person who was born with their arms taped to their body giving advice on how to throw a badass fastball, or a person with nothing but a loaf of bread in their hands trying to give guitar lessons on how to properly shred.

What I am decent at however is marriage and maintaining a long and healthy relationship, so let me get someone to cut this tape off of me so that I can eat this bread and we can get started!

My wife and I got married at a very young age, and in August we will celebrate our 24th year of marriage. If you factor in the 3 years we dated, we’ve been together a LONG time!

We know that we’re in this for the long haul, no matter what. One of us will most likely need to put the other in the ground (we all know I’m the one dying first) and that’s the only thing that will put an end to our relationship in any kind of physical way.

So regardless of how we might bicker or fight at times, we know that neither of us are going anywhere. We love each other a great deal. We are soulmates.

When it comes to finances, and being in a less-than-ideal financial situation, it’s bound to put some stress and pressure on a relationship. There is going to come a point where the money is finite enough and you both see the importance of a particular way or thing to spend it on, and that leads to conflict. Conflict in turn leads to… “healthy discussions.”

We have had many such “discussions,” and the fireworks that go right along with them.Read More »

How to Forget About Your Debt Temporarily Using Only the Power of the Sun!

In that moment, in the blazing hot sun, underneath that enormous tree, amongst thousands of other children and parents, my son and I had an extremely touching moment of bonding. For that moment (and the rest of that day), I didn’t think about finances for the first time in a long time.

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Debt: $109,710.00
Total Paid Off: $16,600.77
Income Going to Savings: 2%

Apologies for the late post today. I coach youth lacrosse, and my son had a 3 day tournament hosted in our town this weekend. It was 68 teams with roughly 15-20 kids per team and so it was wall-to-wall lacrosse sticks and hoarse coaches.

I got a hellacious sunburn on my upper arms, because I went with a sleeveless shirt, because the sun was out therefore my guns had to be out. These days said “guns” are not the types of guns you’d find at a gun show. They’re more like the old rusted ones that you’d find buried in your backyard while you’re digging out your plugged septic tank. Especially if those rusted guns have two really ugly tattoos that they got in their early 20s and now regret every summer.Read More »