Thursday’s TipPosted by Affording the Mouse
Following in the style of last week’s tip, this week I’m sharing a whole grouping of tips on painless ways to save for your Disney vacation. First and foremost, start a designated vacation fund, preferably six months to a year before the big trip. Whether it be a special savings account, a coffee can on top of the refrigerator, or just a section of your checkbook register that you designate, keep this money separate and don’t touch it! The amount you’ll need to save will depend on the size of your family, the length of your stay, and your ability to snag the best deals! (But I would start with a minimum of $1,500 for a family of four…and I did say “minimum.”)
Here are some ways you can “live cheap” and save up some extra cash for your trip:
- Sign up for a Disney Rewards Visa (only if you can responsibly use credit cards and pay off your balance each month, of course). I use reward credit cards for almost all of my everyday purchases–clothing, groceries, gas, etc. I always pay the full bill when it comes in, so I end up making money off the deal. The Disney Visa rewards you with 1% of your purchases in the form of Disney Dream Dollars that can be used at your local Disney store or at Walt Disney World–including your resort stay, food, shopping, tickets and more! In addition, there’s usually a reward for signing up (mine was a $40 Disney gift card!), and there are numerous member benefits, including a special character greeting at Epcot with a free 5 x 7 photo.
- Start couponing! This is my new favorite hobby. There are several websites (see my favorites here and here) that pair current grocery and drug store sales with readily available coupons (either printables or those from your local newspaper), so the work is minimal. Since I’ve started couponing, my savings on each transaction is almost always greater than what I spend. In fact, I’m disappointed if it’s not! Most stores list your savings at the bottom of the receipt, so it’s easy to calculate what you’ve saved and put that amount in your vacation account–your reward for being a savvy shopper! Another great bonus of this plan is that I often get items for pennies or even free. When I do, I try to set a few aside for a food pantry or local shelter. Everyone benefits!
- Substitute one meal out per week with a “poor man’s dinner.” For our young family of four, we spend about $25 or more every time we eat at a table service restaurant. That’s $100 or more per month. Instead, get creative with pantry items like rice and beans, and you can drop that price down to less than $5–and have leftovers! Here’s a great site for ideas.
- Skip the morning latte. You could pay nearly $5 for the venti “souped-up” version at your local coffee house, or you could have an “unloaded” cup of coffee at home for mere pennies. In a month, you could save as much as $150. (Might I recommend Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, which is quite economical and has won taste tests against more expensive brands.)
Those are just a few ideas. Think outside the box and come up with your own!