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 »

Don’t Be Envious, Be INSPIRED!

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The moment I start to even feel jealous for a second though, I snap myself out of it by telling myself how good it will feel to be in that position one day. I’ll look back on this point in my life, and remember the stress and frustration, and SWEET MAPLE SYRUP will it feel good to know I don’t have to deal with that ever again.

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I am a part of quite a few Facebook Groups now that revolve around finances. While they run the gamut in terms of what subsection of financial independence they deal with, the one I’m currently pretty involved in is the ChooseFI group. I’ve mentioned this group in other posts, but essentially it’s a group of fans of the ChooseFI podcast, who post on a pretty broad range of topics.

One of my favorite posts that they do, for example, is every Friday the admins make a post that asks, “What was the ONE THING you did this week to make your life easier, happier, wealthier, more efficient, etc.? Take action each and every week and let us know!”

It’s a great topic, because the responses can be at both ends of the extreme, and everywhere in between. Some people will say things like, “I figured out a way to make toothpaste out of old shoelaces and saved $1.89!” While others are like, “I bought my 2,983rd rental property all while being President of the United States!”

Obviously I made the responses up, but the point is that you find some really valuable and cool things in the replies, some of which will be popping up on this blog in the form of future Tip Jar tips.

However the group can frankly be a bit overwhelming at times for someone in my financial situation. I would say that better than half of the posts on the group are people hitting some really killer milestones:

“We paid of the house today, and are debt free at the age of 32!”
“I have $100K in cash. How should I invest it?”
“We went to Disneyland and paid for the entire thing in cash!”
“We have so many golden toilets that I turned one of them into a pet bed!”

Again… made that last one up, but it would be pretty frickin’ sweet if you think about it…

I on the other hand would be making posts like this: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 »

Potato Guns, Whiskey, and Regret – Camping In My Hometown

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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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I love to go camping. When I was young my parents used to take us to a 2 week long family reunion up in the mountain forest a couple of hours from my house. We’d spend the week playing in rivers and lakes, rafting, and cooking amazing food over an open fire pit.

Other times my Dad would just get a wild hair up his backside and decide that it seemed like a good weekend to take the camp trailer up into the woods and explore for a while. He’d call up several other families, and in a matter of minutes we’d be in our Chevy Blazer on the way to the market for ice, beer and hot dogs — an entire caravan of jacked up vehicles towing camp trailers behind us.

As an adult, I don’t get to camp as often as I do. We don’t have a camp trailer, and my wife isn’t fond of tent camping, so we just haven’t found a way to make it all click.

However on rare occasions, I travel back to my hometown and camp with old high school buddies. It’s usually two or three nights packed with games of horseshoe, music, and FAR TOO MUCH drinking.

One such trip resulted in a story that I will never forget…Read More »

Obsessing Over Finances — When Does it Go Too Far?

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“My wife is undeniably right; I have found a relatively healthy thing (financial independence) to obsess over. I guess it’s better than constantly straightening my fork at Red Robin. Where it probably crosses the line is in the form of my hyper sensitivity to spending, and my overall monitoring of the expenses.”

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Let me just being this post by saying that I’m not a Doctor. If you’ve read any of my previous posts on this blog at all that should be almost as abundantly clear as me making statements such as, “I am not a squirrel,” or “I am not a log cabin.”

So when I talk about things such as my OCD, keep in mind that I’ve only self-diagnosed myself (with the constant “help” of my wife), and am really talking out my ass about the subject in general. It should also be stated that, whether I suffer from a mild form of it or not, I am in no way making light of people dealing with this disorder in any form.

I have some quirks that I very rarely notice, but others pick up on. An example would be that if I sit down at a table at a restaraunt, I straighten the silverware and napkins so that everything is perpendicular and/or at a nice right angle.

If I’m sitting in a meeting and I put my sketchbook on the table, I’ll meticulously adjust it until its bottom edge runs as parallel as possible with the edge of the table.

I tend to obsess over details like this, but at the same time I allow pure and utter chaos to enter my life at other times. As I type this I’m staring at my desk which is cluttered with car keys, vitamin bottles, pens, post-it notes, a hard drive, and for some reason and empty Ziploc bag that has been on my desk for weeks. Not sure what was in it, and equally not sure why I haven’t just thrown it away. I’m 93% positive it was not a human toe. I think I threw that bag out ages ago.

Yet when I find that thing that latches onto that obsessive part of my brain, it’s really hard for me to shut it off and let go.

When it comes to this condition manifesting in my job, it’s actually served me pretty well. I have taken an entry level job at one of the most well-known companies in the world and no college degree, and turned it into a role as a senior member of my team with a college degree and 2 additional two-year certifications to boot. All because I love my job and am obsessed with growing as much in it as I can.

When I was studying to become a digital animator, I would literally spend 5 hours a night and another 20 on weekends at my computer after work, honing my skills. Sometimes I’d get home at 7:00pm, and work until 3:00am, only realizing far too late that I was only going to get 4 hours of sleep that night.

So that kind of obsession is mostly good. My wife and kids will sometimes tell you that the hours Dad works can suck, but otherwise it’s provided a great life for us.

When it comes to things like wanting a new gadget, car, or other similar non-essential item, I get obsessed with finding and buying it as soon as I’ve officially made up my mind to get it. There have been times where I have driven 3 hours for an iWatch that I could have easily waited 2 days to get in the mail, paying more in gas and final price, just to have it now. This is a good part of the reason why I am in the financial situation that I am right now.

When it comes to a videogame I love, I’ll spend hours, days and even weeks playing the game and attempting to master it. I would be scared sh*tless to ever add up the number of hours I’ve put into videogames, but I can at least partially justify it since I work in the videogame industry.

So that kind of obsession mostly bad. Or at least that’s what my wife told me I had to say.Read More »