Saving for Disney means no fancy dinners, no $10 movie tickets and no big concerts. But all work and no play makes Melissa Sue stir crazy! How do you enjoy yourself while saving money for your next big trip? Cut costs by spending an evening at home!
I love delicious food. But I hate to cook. It’s a problem. Every time I pay a $50 dinner bill or tip the pizza delivery man, I can’t help but thinking, “I could have saved this money for Disney.” That’s an even bigger problem!
Over the past few months, my husband and I have started eating at home more often and experimenting with different cuts of meat. For example, a skirt steak is just as flavorful as a rib-eye, but it often costs half as much. Chicken thighs are a lot cheaper than chicken breasts … and even tastier. Beans are a great source of protein and can make for a hearty meal—and they cost a lot less than any cut of meat!
I’ll spare you endless links to low-cost recipes, because the Internet is full of them, but I will tell you this: once you break out of buying what you always buy, you’ll find there are a lot of ways to cut your grocery bill by purchasing lower-cost ingredients. There was for me!
…And a Movie
With dinner done and the dishes soaking, it’s time for the evening’s entertainment! Redbox is a fabulous—and fabulously cheap—option for those of us longing to see the latest films without breaking the bank at the theatre. For only $1.20, you can rent a movie for 24 hours from more than 28,000 locations around the country.
In addition to more recent films, like The Help and The Hangover Part II, Redbox also carries family-friendly favorites, like Cars and Muppets Take Manhattan! So gather around the TV with some fresh popped popcorn and go to the movies … in your own living room.
Even cheaper is a trip to your local library. All you need is a library card, which you can typically get with proof of residence (like a phone or cable bill). These days, most public libraries have a full complement of VHS, DVD and event Blu-Ray for loan.
My own library has some great “Counting Down to Disney” films, like A Goofy Movie, Oliver and Company (one of my all-time favorites!), Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and DuckTales the complete series. Imagine what treasures your own local library may hold!
…Or a Show
Looking for a night away from the tube? Taking it way back to the days before television is one option. On Sunday mornings, my husband and I tend to stay close to home, and while we do chores and play with the dog, we listen to podcasts—the modern-day equivalent of the radio!
For us, talk radio is fun, funny and informative. We love Disney Podcasts, like the WDW Radio Show, Passorter Moms Podcast and DIS Unplugged. Our favorite non-Disney Podcast is This American Life, but shows like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Car Talk are also great. And, better yet, they’re all online, so you can listen at your convenience.
When we’ve exhausted the DVR or are just tired of sitting in front of a glowing screen, sometimes we curl up with a good book and read aloud. It sounds dorky, but it’s a great way to spend time with your loved ones while using your imagination. (With F-I-G-M-E-N-T, you can see things differently!)
You can tailor your book selections to your family and mood. For example, when I’m sick, I love a nice, comforting classic like Sarah, Plain and Tall. After a long day at work, sometimes we’ll read Dave Barry’s humorous essays or articles from Cracked.com. Your interests, of course, will vary.
What won’t vary is how much you’ll save: tons! An evening at home may not have the glamour and romance of a night out on the town, but you can wear your PJs … and take a few steps closer to make your dreams of Disney a reality.
Now it’s your turn. Can you plan fun-filled and exciting evening at home for less than $20, total? What’s your favorite free and fun activity?
Melissa Sue works in higher education communications in upstate New York, where she lives with her husband Robert, a secondary school teacher, and her cavapoo George (as in King George). Melissa began visiting Disney World when she was six and today owns a piece of the magic at Bay Lake Tower. She blogs at Mouse on the Mind and tweets @msorrellsgalley. She’ll be contributing money-saving tips to The Affordable Mouse.