Get To Know Me

man writing on paper

About Financial Zen

My goal is to be your resource to help guide people on the path of financial freedom. By sharing my own experiences, I hope to help you to overcome your obstacles and keep your financial goals within sight.

Financial Zen also documents my own journey to financial independence. While I’ve had a few setbacks to overcome, my intent is that I can provide insights that others can use on their personal journey towards financial freedom.

What is Financial Zen?​


Financial Zen is a blog about achieving financial independence while overcoming personal obstacles.

I was well on the way to financial independence when a series of events occurred that provided setbacks.

Financial Zen documents my journey to financial independence, how setbacks are overcome, and provide insights that others can use on their personal journey to find financial contentment and balance in their life.

This page is designed to tell you a bit about my history, introduce you to why I built this site, and what kind of topics we will be discussing.

What Sets Me Apart

I think what sets my story apart from others is that I am not in management nor an executive at a Fortune 500 company. I do not own a multimillion-dollar business or even make $250K+ a year. I am a regular guy who has made a good living through a lot of perseverance, tenacity, and overcoming a lot of adversity. While I am not where I want to be yet, I was on track for financial independence once and will get back there again.

My goal is for you to learn from my experiences, successes, and failures. We’ll talk more about this as time goes on. For now, this post will serve as background information so you know where I’m coming from.

I also want to hear about your stories and learn from you as well. I want this to be a 2-way experience. Anything you would like to share, please add in the comments section here. I’d love to hear your stories too.

Remember, if I can do it, you can too! 😊

My Story

When I came out of college, I was about $60,000 in debt with various student loans and credit cards.

I developed a plan to be debt-free in 10 years.

Things were going great! I started a bunch of hobbies that I had been dying to do. I learned how to swim, to ski, to ride motorcycles, and to hunt. I regularly went to sporting events and rock concerts that I had dreamed about doing since I was a kid. I traveled across the country and other parts of North America.

I developed a crew of close friends. We hung out together on weekends, played sports together during the week, and generally had THE best time of my life! Life was good!

My career was taking off with a few promotions and I met this great woman who I fell head over heels for.

My financial plan was on track too. I had paid off 80% of my debt in 7 years and I was planning to retire by 55 (or sooner). 😊

Things couldn’t be any better! So you may ask yourself, “What happened to get you off track?”  Well …. Life Happened that’s what!

I decided to marry that great woman and adopted her son from a previous marriage. His biological father chose, for a variety of reasons, to not be a part of his life and I chose to be his “forever dad” as I was called!

Financially, things got off to a rocky start. The plan we developed was that she would continue to work for a few more years (she was a teacher) to payoff the wedding debt (paid for the wedding entirely by ourselves), our student loan debt, and rebuild our emergency fund to 6+ months level (had to fix up the house to get it ready for my new family!), and THEN leave the working world to expand our family and be a stay-at-home mom for a few years.

We soon found out we had to deviate from the plan. Things were not going well for her at work. Her administration AND the parents did not support her which was causing her to burn out.

At the same time, we also found out our 7-year old son suffered from an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) called Asperger’s Syndrome.

He was really struggling in his new school and we decided that she needed to step down as a teacher and become a full-time, stay-at-home mom (Translation – single income family! 😊 ). This would allow her to tutor our son and figure out how to best help him with his new diagnosis.

We couldn’t save as much money as we had before, but we were still able to live off my income and to stay on track for retirement. Our son’s medical bills were astronomical. We soon found out that the best doctors that could help our son do NOT take insurance so our out of pocket (OOP) medical expenses skyrocketed. It is sufficient to say we were paying 5-digits for OOP medical expenses. Things were a struggle, but we managed.

In the meantime, another event hit our lives. To pay for these new bills, I took a promotional opportunity with a new company that was a HUGE pay bump AND they had great medical coverage.

This was in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession. I knew it was a risky move, but I thought I was actually going to a more stable company with better career opportunities. Soon, I found out that the Great Recession impacted everybody including my new company.

About a year later and due to the poor economy, my company had seniority-based layoffs. Since I was lowest of the seniority scale, I was laid off.

This was a crushing blow to me. I prided myself on being the one my management relied on and here I was on the unemployment line.

We were stuck in the area we lived. I could not move out of state since our entire support system and my son’s medical doctors were in this area. Jobs in the area were not plentiful and finally had to reach out to my old company to get my job back.

I was hired back in as a temporary / agency employee at a 40% pay reduction and very expensive insurance. To compensate for this pay reduction, we were forced to stop saving for retirement and make some severe lifestyle changes just to get by. I took on a second job just to make ends meet. My wife still couldn’t work since our son needed her help on a daily basis. Therefore, it fell on me to step up to keep our family moving forward.

This went on for a few years until we had an unexpected, yet great miracle happened to us.

We had been trying for several years to expand the family but couldn’t maintain a pregnancy. After several miscarriages that really rocked our family, we felt it was time to stop trying and move on with our lives.

At the same time, I was hired back into my old company as a full-time employee and made back most of the money I had lost over the last few years.

My wife decided to follow her passion and become a physician’s assistant (PA). Our son was a teenager now and we felt he was finally in a good place for her to pursue her dreams. She applied to several programs in the area and was awaiting the results.

In the meantime, we sold all the old baby supplies, toys, and furniture we had accumulated throughout the miscarriages.

Our lives then received a blessing….. we became pregnant! While we were apprehensive to get too excited, this time it felt different and soon found out that it was. Near the end of the 1st trimester, and after several ultrasounds, we found out we were having TWINS! 😊

Due to the high-risk nature of this pregnancy, my wife had to stay on bedrest nearly the entire pregnancy and live the last month of it at the hospital. The staff wanted her close by in case the babies came early so they could act quickly.

When the big day finally came (@30 ½ weeks) we could not have been happier! Unfortunately, we were soon to find out more unfortunate news that would rock our world.

Our girls were born with severe health issues that caused them to stay at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) twice for a total of 14 weeks before they were finally able to come home.

When they came home, we realized that their health issues were too much for us to handle alone. We decided to hire 2 full-time care givers to assist my wife during the day while I was at work and my wife & I would split the caregiving duties at night.

My wife’s plans to go to PA school were put on hold. My career aspirations were put on hold because there was no way I could take on a more strenuous assignment and still care for my family. Neither one of us could even work side hustles since literally every waking moment went into the care of our children.

Life was already a struggle, and this made it significantly worse. Our medical bills skyrocketed. To make matters worse, our son was struggling again with life as a teenager.

All of our available time was poured into the caring of our family. All the while, bills mounted. We had to leverage everything we had to pay for medical bills including burning through our emergency fund and running up credit card debt. We even had to borrow funds from family members just to get by. 

After several years including 8 weeks at a special feeding clinic and ALOT of perseverance, I am proud to say that my girls have overcome their health issues. They are happy, healthy, and normal.

My son is in a good place as well and is now deciding what he wants to do for a career. He is even talking about wanting to date girls, travel, and starting a life (a BIG improvement for him!)

Now that our children’s issues are behind us, our focus has shifted to paying off the debt we have accumulated, to planning for their college education, and to planning for our retirement. My wife has decided to go back to school to be a nurse practitioner and live her dreams. I’m even pursuing my career aspirations again and looking forward to taking my girls to dance lessons, soccer games, and vacations! 😊

To get back on track, I developed a plan to be both debt-free and financially independent in 10 years (or less! 😊).

During my journey, I had to learn ALOT about personal finance and maximizing what I have in order to stretch every dollar as much as possible. I also had to learn how to add value since one of the lessons we will be discussing on this site is that “Money Follows Value”.

While I am not a professional financial planner and will admit that I am constantly learning about personal finances, it does not mean that one cannot develop an expertise through life lessons.

I learned enough to mentor friends and family members with their financial issues when it struck me: why should I stop at only helping friends and family? Why not help others?

I decided to start this blog to both document my journey towards financial independence and to share the lessons that I have learned and am learning along the way. I hope the knowledge & tools I have acquired can help other’s that are struggling as well.

My goal is to help you learn from my successes AND my failures. My intent is to pave the way for others to achieve their goal of financial independence, and hopefully, to inspire you to overcome your personal obstacles and achieve your dreams. I am a regular guy who has faced and overcome some setbacks that while a bit unusual, is not improbable, not unrealistic, and not unlike what a lot of people go through on a daily basis.

After all if I did it once,  I know I will do it again!

If I can do it so can you!

This is a promise I make to you.

Topics to Discuss

The topics we will be discussing are broad in nature, spanning the basics to complex and sometimes controversial topics. Below is a sample of some of the categories and topics we will be discussing but not limited to:


  • Career Strategies
  • Financial Planning
  • Investing Strategies
  • Alternative Investments
  • Early Retirement and the FIRE Movement
  • Real Estate Investing
  • Side Hustles
  • Stocks / ETF’s
  • Bonds
  • Insurance
  • Financial Product Reviews
  • Financial Book Reviews
  • Crowdfunding
  • P2P Lending
  • Personal Growth


  • Pro’s and con’s of side hustles
  • Creating budgets, why it sucks but necessary when starting out, and how to stick to them
  • How to create holistic financial plan
  • Is a cash budget right for you?
  • 401K
  • Why Debt is NOT a 4-letter word
  • Why the 4% Rule is Obsolete
  • How to be your own financial planner and take control of your life
  • How to get you and your partner on the same financial page
  • How life insurance can be used to speed up the wealth creation process
  • How Money Follows Value
  • The importance of paying yourself 1st
  • The best credit cards to use
  • Living the Life You Love
  • And much more!

Need Your Feedback

I also want to get your feedback on topics that interest you. Remember this site is for our mutual benefit. I want to learn from you as well as teach you what I have learned and am learning. I appreciate any feedback that is provided. If there are questions you have and topics that you want to learn more about, let me know. I’d be more than happy to do the research and write about it. Send me an email at the link provided here. I would love to hear from you.