The wonderful ladies of The Affordable Mouse are currently offering their favorite tips in a Disney Vacation Planning series. They’ve shared some remarkable tips and so much has already been covered. For my contribution I thought I’d share my favorite tips in helping you get there- Ways to Save for Disney! While I’m sure some of you are more creative than this, here’s a list of some of the basics, and maybe not so basic ways to save.
Cleaned out those closets lately? Yard Sales are a great way to save for Disney. Go through the house room by room. What does Oprah say? If you haven’t used it in over 6 months, let it go (unless of course it has sentimental value or is collectible or whatever… you know what I mean). Go through old clothes, books and movies your children have outgrown, movies you’ve outgrown or lost interest in, kitchen gadgets someone gave you for Christmas or your housewarming party how many years ago that you still haven’t used, clean out the garage… you get the idea. Have your yard sale and stash the money away for Disney! Have leftovers? Donate them to a local church, shelter or organization in your area. Not only have you saved for Disney, you’ve de-cluttered and will feel great!
This is basically the same concept as that above, but works in a pinch if you don’t want to mess with yard sales, live in an apartment, or just have a few items here and there. Remember to use caution and common sense when going this route. I’ve used this for several years and haven’t had any bad experiences. Just use your head… and remember to put the money away for Disney!
Round Up/Down in your Checkbook Register
So, how does this work exactly? Well, it’s pretty easy once you train yourself to do it. You simply round your transaction up to the nearest whole dollar. Dinner was $26.32? Record $27 in your register and you’ve just saved 58 cents! I’m also rounding down with my deposits (deposits or refunds), so if I’m depositing $100.98, I record $100. There’s another 98 cents!
I started this toward the end of June and finally “balanced out” at the beginning of August to see where I was. I accounted for all my transactions, making sure they had cleared. I took the balance according to the bank and subtracted any transactions that hadn’t cleared yet. From that total I subtracted the balance I had recorded in my check register. Want to know what I had saved?
In that 6 weeks, just by rounding up or down, I had saved over $60! And since then another $40+!! This technique is amazing and sooo easy! Don’t forget to move that overage over to your savings account!
While I don’t bank with them, Bank of America offers a program that does this automatically. Check your local BoA, because mine offers to match your savings for the first 3 months, up to $250!! Hmm… that may be worth looking into a move, huh?
This is another method I’ve recently started. Like very recently- I’m talking this past Saturday recently. The Sunday before, I somehow got sucked into a marathon of that extreme couponing show and it dawned on me that this was something I could actually do and control. While I’m not going to the extreme and stock-piling and all that, I have decided to make a conscious effort to save more money this way. I had always clipped here and there, but never really bothered with doing the research to get the most for my money using coupons. That’s changed now though. I’ve started following several couponing blogs, found online coupon sites that offer printable coupons, and asked some coworkers for their leftover coupons. I spent a couple nights last week clipping and matching ads and made my first trips Saturday. I saved over $60 between two stores! I mean wow! Talk about seeing immediate results! That was $60 I was going to spend anyway that I can now just put straight into savings.
I don’t claim to be a pro by any means, so if you want more tips and tricks on the matter I suggest heading over to Couponing to Disney for more info. I’m quite the newbie to this and that site has been invaluable so far!
Disney Gift Cards
Gift cards are an excellent way to save for Disney, and you can get them for just about anything!
- Don’t really have any big wants or needs this year for you birthday (Mother’s/Father’s/Grandparent’s Day, Anniversary, Christmas… you get the gist)?? Ask for a Disney gift card!
- House-sit for someone who wants to give you a little thank you? Mention Disney!
- Give your children gift cards in place of their allowance or “treats” for special tasks or achievements as the trip gets closer.
- My work gives out gift cards for certain crowning achievements, does yours? Or maybe another group you belong to? If you’re comfortable with it, and you know you’re due for one, ask them to make yours a Disney GC. (For example, we have a walking program at my work. When a person reaches 2.5 Million steps, according to their pedometers, they get a $50 gift card. As my milestone approaches, I’ll ask that mine be a Disney GC!)
- Enter to win them through all these fabulous blogs we follow. You often see contests and drawings for Disney GC’s in various denominations- take the time to enter!!
- The list could go on and on!
A personal favorite of mine, I suggest getting them with refunds! Not sure what I mean? Well let me tell you… Say you get a cash refund at the Disney Store, or a place like Walmart, Kohl’s, Kroger, or wherever else that has the gift card centers carrying Disney gift cards- turn around and use that cash to purchase a gift card!! The money was already spent anyway! By turning that cash into a Disney gift card you’ve guaranteed that that money is now solely for Disney.
You can use the gift cards as payment on your vacation package, on purchasing tickets, on buying Disney goodies before your trip, as spending money while there, or for anything really!
Flexible Spending Accounts
You’re probably wondering how in the world you can use a Flexible Spending Account to save for Disney, but let me just tell you, this is definitely my favorite! Read on and I’m sure you’ll see the benefits.
You can read more about an FSA through this link, but please check with your own employer about the details of the plan they offer. I’ll give you the gist in short though to tide you over. Your employer may offer an FSA, an account in which money is pulled from your paycheck each week, pre-tax, and put into this account. The money is for medical or dependent care expenses. You may use the money in the account to pay for co pays, coinsurance costs, prescriptions, and prescribed over the counter meds, or daycare costs. (Please be sure to check with your employer as guidelines for medical and dependent care are different. Also, in most cases, what you don’t claim at the end of each year is lost, so be sure to use what you’ve set aside!) They give you a debit card that you may use throughout the year to make these payments/purchases, but they will also allow you to turn in your receipts and reimburse you.
What does this have to do with saving for Disney, you ask? Well, I currently use mine for Christmas money, but it would be excellent for Disney, too! As a matter of fact, I may just switch to that. Anyway, here’s how it works… Rather than use the debit card all year, I simply pay for our medical expenses out of pocket as I normally would. Just before Black Friday (the biggest shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving), I gather all of my receipts for the year and turn them in. I usually have a check or direct deposit in a matter of days. Just in time to do my Christmas shopping!
You have to spend the money on the doctor bills and prescriptions anyway, why not set up the FSA, save your receipts and cash them in right before paying for your vacation package, or cashing in right before the trip for that spending money?!
Simply assess what you spend each year on co pays and prescriptions, glasses/eye care count, too, (or the daycare expense, but again this works a little differently) and decide how much you want to pull out from your check. I’ll give you an example… I counted up our scheduled visits- a wellness visit for each of us per year, a yearly check up for my thyroid condition, a yearly checkup for Bug’s heart, and factored in a couple sick visits. Then I counted the co pays for my medicines taken monthly (2 scrips per month for my thyroid and PCOS), and threw in a couple for those sick visits. At the end of this, I was comfortable saying we spent at least $500-$600 a year in medical expenses (and this is a minimum!). To make it easy on myself I only designated $10/wk to be taken from my check, giving me a total of $520 for the year. I may have undershot a bit, but like I said, if you don’t use it, you lose it. At least this way, I know for sure I’ll get enough receipts to cover it all.
That’s a guaranteed $520 just in time for Christmas each year… or DISNEY!
It’s a bit of an unconventional way to save, but I’ve done it four years in a row now, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Well, there you have it, my Favorite Tips on Ways to Save for Disney! Do you use any of these methods? Which is your favorite? Have one I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about it!
Brittiany, better known through the blogosphere as Bird, is happily married to her best friend, “Boo”. They have two beautiful children- daughter “Bug”, age 7, and son “Bubby”, age 2. They live in Kentucky and aren’t able to make it to Disney as often as they’d like. That doesn’t keep them from believing in the Disney Magic though! While she may not always be planning her own trip, she’s always planning one. Bird enjoys helping others have an amazing, yet affordable time in Disney without missing out on anything! She hopes to one day work for Disney in some aspect. With Walt’s encouragement, “All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them” she hopes to make that dream a reality. In the meantime, she is happy helping others through the tips, information and reviews she shares on her blog, DisneyBird.