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‘I’m hustlin’: Crafty millennial helps pays off student debt with ‘one weird trick’

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One California man has found a new, albeit unconventional way to budget and pay off student debt by eating every meal at a Six Flags amusement park– a tip FAFSA certainly never disclosed in their student loan payment course.

Dylan, whose last name was not given, is a 33-year-old electrical engineer in Santa Clarita, California who has spent the last seven years eating every meal at his local Six Flags.

“You can pay around $150 for unlimited, year-round access to Six Flags, which includes parking and two meals a day. If you time it right, you could eat both lunch and dinner there every day,” Dylan told Mel Magazine.

The thrifty millennial was already an amusement park lover when he began an internship in 2014 that was so close to the local Six Flags, he could see it from his window.

When he went to sign up for an annual pass, he noticed the “premium season dining pass”, which he purchased for an annual payment of $109.99. That pass allowed him to have lunch, dinner, a snack and unlimited drinks (non-alcoholic) during every visit on any regular operating day.

“That entire first year, I don’t think I ever went to the grocery store. I timed it so I was able to go there during my lunch break, go back to work, then stop back for dinner on my way home,” Dylan explained.

Some foodies may have turned their nose up at the idea of chowing down on amusement park grub every day, but Dylan was saving some serious money.

“It was crazy — I was saving money, paying off student loans. One of my coworkers said she spent $1,500 a month on eating out, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going down that road!’” The super-saver shared.

Eating carnival-style food twice a day, every day may have been healthy for Dylan’s wallet, but it did come at a cost.

“The first year, the menu was kind of lame — all you could get was a burger and fries, or a pizza and breadsticks, or this pathetic sandwich and a refillable soda cup. It wasn’t healthy at all, which was rough,” Dylan detailed.

The snacks were “where it got dangerous,” the millennial recalled, “Separate from the meal, you could get Dippin’ Dots, sundaes, churros, pretzels — all that type of stuff. That’s when I started adding weight.”

After the first year of dining exclusively à la Six Flags, Dylan decided to cut back to three or four lunches a week at the park.

“My wife moved in and I stopped doing dinners — and weekends, too, since she’s not as big into roller coasters as I am,” Dylan said.

The menu has expanded to include some healthier options since the engineer first began his savings scheme.

“They’ve got decent options now. Still a lot of bad food, I mean it’s theme-park food so you can’t expect too much from them. But you find the options that aren’t terrible — stuff like tri-tip sandwiches and vegan options like black bean burgers and meatless meatball subs,” he noted.

Nowadays, Dylan says he “stay[s] away from the snacks and stick[s] to healthier options — there’s a pretty decent carne asada salad, so I usually do that now. They also have a chipotle chicken salad that’s pretty good, too.”

The engineer measured out how long it takes him on workdays to get to the other side of the park where they offer the salad.

“From where I park my car, to the places at the back of the park, to then back to my car, it’s usually about 5,000 steps — and I’m hustlin. I could go to Hurricane Harbor [the waterpark area], but it seems weird being the only guy dressed business casual while everyone else is walking around in swim trunks and bikinis,” the millennial described.

He still occasionally indulges in the unhealthier fare, including a “Thanksgiving dog,” which he called “life changing.”

“’Thanksgiving Dog’ felt nothing short of life-changing. It was amazing. It’s a turkey dog topped with cranberry sauce, stuffing and a slathering of mayonnaise, which I know sounds awful, but it was so good. I ended up eating way too many of them, and now I can’t even smell turkey dogs without gagging,” Dylan remembered.

On a busy workday when he can’t get across the park, he is forced to settle for chicken balls. “I got so sick of those chicken balls,” the millennial said, “I’d estimate I got them around 150 times, and at five [chicken balls] per meal, that’s around 750 balls. I don’t know that I could ever eat them again.”

While he’s cut back on his meals at Six Flags, the staff still recognize him.

“It’s not quite at the level of Cheers, but all the park employees, they’ll say hi,” Dylan said.

Despite those who pass judgment for the unorthodox savings method, the 33-year-old electrical engineer is doing well. He has paid off his loans, purchased a home, and got married.

“We just bought a house here, so I’m not really going anywhere. As long as they keep changing the menu, I’m happy,” Dylan shared.

Kay Apfel

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