In 2008, I retired from a 22-year career in the military and started law school. My wife and I were worried about losing all that income and living on only her paycheck, my student loans, and the savings we had built up in anticipation of the break. But a line from “The Bare Necessities” kept me in the right frame of mind for our new lifestyle: “When you find out you can live without it and go along not thinking about it, I tell you something true—the bare necessities of life will come to you.” And they did.
We adjusted to a minimalist lifestyle, learning to spend our money on things that were truly important to us. These included our trips to Disney World and trips to see the latest Disney movies in the theaters. We got along better than we’d dared hope.
Now that I’ve recently graduated, it’s time to look ahead. What impact will my new career have on my family’s Disney Driven Life?
I’m fortunate to have a job lined up for after graduation. Not just any job, but one in the division I requested of a large firm that pays well. More importantly to me is the firm’s culture. I’ve worked there the past two summers and found it to be staffed by a great bunch of people. In fact, one of the reasons I chose to work there (besides the fact that they offered me a job) is because of the number of “Disney people” in the ranks. Walking through the halls and speaking to others in their offices, I noticed the number of people who vacation at Disney World, the pictures of families in front of Cinderella’s castle, and coffee mugs from Disney resorts. I remember coming home from my second interview and my wife asking how the interview went. “We talked about Disney World for 45 minutes, so I guess it went pretty well,” was my reply.
Being an attorney, I suppose I won’t be able to stay like Peter Pan. I’ll have to grow up and maintain a “professional” appearance, not be Goofy. And in all honesty, I’m not sure that I would want someone who wore Mickey ears representing me in an important matter. Jacket and tie are the order of the day. But I still plan on subtly incorporating Disney into my wardrobe. It serves as a reminder of what I’m working for—the fun times with my family—and that work is not an end unto itself. It always cheers me up just a little when I wear one of the Mickey ties I’ve picked up over the last two years at Disney World. In fact, I wore one to my graduation. These ties incorporate subtle hidden Mickey designs. You can easily see them if you’re up close and know what you’re looking for, but a judge on the bench or a partner in a meeting isn’t going to see it and think, “What’s this clown doing wearing a Mickey Mouse tie here?”
The biggest change is that now I’ll have enough money to go to Disney World every year without having to worry so much about how to finance the trip. But paradoxically, I’ll probably not have as much time as I’d like. It’s hard to meet your yearly billable hours goal if you spend three or four weeks a year on vacation. Instead, I foresee that I’ll trade money for time, spending more money on shorter, but more frequent, trips—maybe a couple of long weekends through the year instead of a single, longer vacation.
It’s been a tough three years, but they’ve gone by quickly. I still have the hurdle of taking the bar exam in late July and will spend many hours this summer studying for that. Afterward, though, we’re celebrating by taking a two-week long trip before I start working again. We hope that this will be enough time to blow off the stress of the past three years and get our fix of Disney before starting my new career.
Of course, at this time of year I’m not alone in ending one chapter in my life and beginning another. Many of you are facing graduations, either your own or your children’s. If you haven’t already, try to take a minute to contemplate this transition. How will it affect your own Disney Driven Life?
Contributed by: Mark Jeffries (NDD#102) Mark is the DDL Finance Blogger.