A 44 Year-Old Man and His Love for Disneyland


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!


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.


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 »

The Happiest Place on Earth

My son seemed very blasé about the whole thing, even commenting that Disneyland didn’t seem that exciting because, “he had already been to the county fair, and this just seemed like more of the same.”

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $124,310.77
Current Debt: $107,303.52
Total Paid Off: $17,007.25
Income Going to Savings: 1%

Do you want to know what the absolute worst part about being in this financial situation is?

Let me rephrase…

Do you want to know the worst part about being a parent in this financial situation is?

Before I tell you, let me give you some backstory.

My wife and I got married at a very young age. I was 20, and she was 21. Of course that didn’t stop my grandma from asking my wife at our wedding, “Why’d you wait so long to get married?”

It also didn’t stop my Dad and his friends from sharing a jug of moonshine in the reception parking lot but that’s a story for a very different time.

As is the case with small towns, people in my hometown got married very young and had children almost immediately. My wife and I had lots of friends who either already had children or were expecting their first. We had a lot of catching up to do.

I don’t have to go into any graphic details since I’m pretty sure we all know how this whole baby thing works, but needless to say we got started right away. A month went by and we weren’t pregnant. (Lame!) Then another. (Oh come on!) And another. (Uh oh…) Months eventually turned into years. We saw several doctors and specialists, but my wife had some medical complications that resulted in a very low chance that we would ever (to borrow a friend’s phrase) “slip one past the goalie.”

It was difficult for me because I love kids, but it was absolutely soul crushing for my wife. At the top of her list of life goals was to be a mom. When we were in serious doubt that it would ever happen she used to say, “I’m not even going to be greedy and ask for 6 like I used to want. I just want 1. Can we please just have 1?”

This is the part of the story where I’m supposed to say, “AND THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENED.”

It wasn’t really a miracle though. It was just that I got hired for a really great job, and they had really great insurance, and we were able to try In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

So that was great. What wasn’t great was seeing what my wife had to go through. If you’ve never been a part of the process or don’t know someone who has, let me just tell you that if I had so much as a shred of doubt that my wife wanted to be a mom more than anything else in the entire world, that shred was wiped clean the moment I saw the needles.

Sweet maple syrup there was a sh*tload of needles.

She had to poke needles in her stomach several times a day, she had to poke needles in her back hip (or I did) several times a day. Once she was at her sister’s wedding in Maui trying to give herself the shot in the stomach when she dropped the needle and stuck it in her foot! Fun Fact: The foot wound up having a health 7 pound baby toe, and they named him Randy. Everyone is very happy.

The point is that she went through so much for so long…


We got pregnant! 16 years of trying, and we finally did it! We had a healthy baby boy, Sebastian, who is now 11 years old.


I’m sitting in my office at work a year or so after my son’s birth, and my wife calls to say she doesn’t think we’ll do IVF again. I said, “Because of the needles?” and she replied, “Because I’m pregnant!” That was our awesome daughter, Lily, who is 8 years old now.

So to say we went through a tough go of it to get our two amazing kids is an understatement. As a result of our journey to being parents, we quietly committed to making sure we never took our blessings for granted and did everything we could to make sure our kids knew just how much we love them. We tell them several times a day, every single day.

So aside from lots of hugs, and tons of smooches, reading books to them every night, coaching their sports, volunteering at their school, attending every recital and science fair, and everything else we could think to do, we also took them to Disneyland.

My wife and I LOVE Disneyland. It’s really mostly me, but she likes it a great deal as well. I’m an animation nerd, and a massive Disney fan. My office walls are lined with Disney figurines and Pixar figurines and movie posters for animated films, and all sorts off awesome things I have accumulated over the years.

For our honeymoon and 1st anniversary we even went to Disneyland. Yes of course you could make a case that we should have used that money to invest, and I get that. That’s not the point right now. The point right now is that you need to know how much we (I) love Disneyland.

So we took our kids on the most amazing trip ever. In the days leading up, I was almost jealous to know what they were about to get to experience for the very first time. My son seemed very blasé about the whole thing, even commenting that Disneyland didn’t seem that exciting because “he had already been to the county fair, and this just seemed like more of the same.” He of course totally changed his tune after being in Disneyland for around 11 seconds.

They had a blast, but more importantly we as a family had a blast. My wife and I took every moment we could to enjoy that trip and consciously remind ourselves of all of those times we truly believed we would never have children, and here we were watching our two kids enjoy our favorite place on earth.

I’m wiping tears as I type this just thinking about that trip. Real talk.

So to go back to my original question: You want to know what the thing that makes me feel the absolute worst as a parent in this financial situation is?

Not being able to take my family back to Disneyland.

I fully comprehend that there are families out there that never get to go to Disneyland. There are families out there struggling to feed there kids. I get that. I feel fortunate that I have the memories that I do.

But Disneyland represented something very unique for me — It represented every moment of pain I saw my wife experience during the process with our son, it represented those 16 years of trying to conceive a child, and the 16 years of constant heartbreak that went along with it. It represented how much we hated not being able to make my Mom a Grandma for the first time, and the look on her face the day we told he she finally was one. It represented just how fortunate we felt to have those two amazing kids in our lives.

It’s selfish to feel this way, but hey… you asked the question!

Oh wait. I asked the question. My bad.

We will get back to Disneyland one day, and we won’t do it on a credit card. Even if we don’t make it back, we will hold those memories dearly and continue to be the absolute best parents we can be, because we know how close we came to never taking a trip like that.

Your Parrot Knows You Pick Your Nose

This blog is my parrot and my debt is my finger two knuckles deep in my left nostril, so in the cage it stays for now.

Starting Debt (01.01.19): $124,310.77
Current Debt: $107,303.52
Total Paid Off: $17,007.25
Income Going to Savings: 1%

I’ve received some really flattering early responses to this blog, and I would really like others to read it. When you’re starting a blog, one of the primary tips that everyone seems to agree on is to share the blog on your social media channels. Start with those you know, and begin to build word of mouth.

And yet I’m still not ready to share it with people I actually know…

Not sharing has been an emotional struggle, because I know that I probably have several friends and family members who are in a similar financial situation to mine. Some may not be quite as buried as I am, some might be worse, but the simple fact is that in 2019 just about everyone has some kind of debt. I’d love for them to see these posts and follow along with me on my journey, because I know at times it can feel very isolating to think you’re probably the only person on the face of the planet dumb enough to get yourself into a situation like this.

And yet even knowing that I might be able to positively impact people so close to me, I still can’t bring myself to post a link on my various social media platforms.

I think part of the reason is that I’ve always outwardly portrayed myself as someone who has it all together — great family, fantastic job, active lifestyle, nice home on 5 acres, trips to Disneyland, etc. — and while most of those things hold true (I do have a great family, and a fantastic job!), the simple fact is that I’m living paycheck to paycheck. So far my wife and I have pulled it off each month and have never made a late payment on anything, but sometimes it’s by the very skin of our teeth!

Then there are things like my Dad. My Dad owns and operates a bar in the very small town that I grew up in. Unless something has changed recently, it’s the only bar in town, and it sits right across from the only supermarket in town, just down the road from the only gas station in town.

It would take all of 28 seconds for my situation to spread around that town, and while it’s nothing to be outright ashamed of — I am taking aggressive and thoughtful steps to remedy my situation after all — it’s still not a burden I want to put on him to have everyone who walks into his bar turn to him and say, “How is your boy doing? I read his blog. Is he going to lose his house?”

My Dad’s first response would be, “What in the hell is a blog?” After that though, it would get really exhausting really quickly.

Imagine if you owned a really rad parrot. You know the kind that are all red and have the rainbow feathers? You had this beautiful parrot and you wanted to show it to everyone because… well you know… parrots.

But this parrot knew that you picked your nose.

So now you have this really cool thing that you’d like to share with others that you’re really proud of, but the moment you do it’s just going to scream, “NOSE MINER! NOSE MINER! RAWWW! NOSE MINER!”

This blog is my parrot and my debt is my finger two knuckles deep in my left nostril, so in the cage it stays for now.

That’s not to say it won’t change. I’ll probably be much more willing to share when I get a bit more paid off. Show that I’ve learned from my mistakes and actually have my life on track.

In the meantime, if you are reading this blog and you like what you see, maybe share it with a friend or two. That way I can keep potentially helping others, and I don’t need to worry about my Dad.

To Summarize: Buy a dog. They can’t tell on you for picking your nose.