If you are anything like me, you would take any chance you had to visit Walt Disney World or any other Disney destination in the world. You dream about it day and night, plan out dream trips that you may not really take, and count down the days until you can visit again. Unfortunately, if you are still anything like me, you can’t always afford it! Disney vacations can be expensive, especially if you are traveling during the peak seasons. I usually plan my vacations a year or more ahead of time giving me time to scrimp and save as much as possible to make those dreams a reality. As soon as Disney releases the rates on the dates I want to travel, I go into planning and saving mode. I have found the following 8 ways extremely effective over my many years of Walt Disney World vacation saving. Every little penny adds up when trying to get yourself just one step closer to the Mouse.
1. Spare Change
This is one of my most successful ways of saving money. Whenever I have cash on me and I buy something I ALWAYS break the dollar. I never use change to pay for anything, even if my bill comes out to $6.01. If you put all of that change in a jar, over time it will really add up! Even more fun is to decorate a “Walt Disney World Vacation Jar.” It will make it all the better to throw the change in there when you can get really excited about what it is going towards. I roll it up every couple of months and deposit it into my special vacation savings. Which brings me to money saving tip #2.
2. Vacation Savings Account
Open a savings account specifically for vacations. Make sure it is an account that does not charge fees if you have too low of a balance or when you take the money out to use for your vacation. When it’s all in this special account you won’t dip into it as much as if it is just money in your everyday savings or checking account. If your work offers direct deposit for their payroll and they allow you the option to deposit into more than one account, that is an easy way to put a little aside each payroll check. I have mine set up for a small amount of my check each week to go directly into the vacation savings account. It’s small as to where it doesn’t affect my life but nice to see the account grow over time. I also put all of the change that I’ve collected into the account each month. Instead of letting it all sit around in jar, I deposit it as soon as I have a good amount so I can also receive interest. The interest really is not much depending on the type of account you have opened but hey, it’s something!
3. Disney Gift Cards
Lots of retailers sell Disney gift cards and you can actually use these gift cards towards the payment of your vacation. Places like Target or Costco even discount the price of the gift card. For example at Target if you have their credit card you will receive 5% off the purchase of a Disney gift card. So if you buy one for $50, you will pay end up paying $47.50. Usually if I am in one of these stores and my budget allows, I will grab a gift card either to put towards the payment of my trip or to use as spending money while there.
4. Popular Grocery/Shopping Apps
There are several grocery and shopping apps that I have become obsessed with in the last year. They actually pay you to shop for items you already are most likely shopping for. Best of all, these apps are completely free and typically deposit the money directly into your paypal account (some still send paper checks). My absolute favorite right now is Ibotta. If you purchase any of the items shown on the Ibotta app, you simply scan the barcode, upload a picture of your receipt and they put the rebate into your account. For example, a bottle of Yellowtail wine will earn you a $1.00 rebate. Once you have earned $10 you are able to redeem it and send it to your Paypal account. I have already earned $125.00 in rebates just about 5 months of using the app. Other favorites of mine are Shrink, Checkout 51, and Ebates. Ebates so far has been my best earner. It is not grocery related, it is all shopping. I do a ton of online shopping and if you click through their app to go to your online store of choice, you earn a percentage back on all of your spending. For example, Old Navy frequently runs 8% back on purchases. They deposit any earnings to your paypal account about once a month no matter how much you have earned.
5. Bottle Returns
In the good ole state of Michigan, I have the privilege to return bottles/cans for cash. It is only 10 cents per bottle or can, but if you never spend any of that money and put it immediately away into your savings it will add up nicely.
6. Yard Sale & Auction Sites
Get all of your old stuff together that you no longer want and have a yard/garage sale. Not nice enough outside to do that yet? Try selling your things on Ebay. Most auctions will not be charged an insertion fee and you will only have to pay a small fee if the item sells. You can also use Half.com if you have books or media to sell. Unlike Ebay, you can list your books or media on Half.com for as long as it takes them to sell. The site will take a small percentage of the final value but there are no fees to list.
7. Extra Money
Any extra money that I receive other than my work paycheck, I will normally throw into the vacation savings. For example, when I switched phone service providers, I had a credit on my account from my old phone. They sent me a check for the balance that was remaining on my account. Before I began these saving techniques I would have put that into my checking account where most of my everyday spending money would go. Since this is money that I wouldn’t normally have, it makes much more sense to put it towards your vacation. I use this mentality with any type of “extra” money I receive. Other examples of this would be money from birthday cards/Christmas gifts, extra work you do for someone that they may pay you for, mail-in rebates, a bonus from work, etc.
8. Disney Visa Rewards Credit Card
Lastly, the Disney Visa Rewards credit card from Chase offers several perks to its cardholders. Most notable would be the reward dollars you can earn from everyday purchases. The current rate of reward dollars on the card is $1 per $100 spent. Once you reach an initial rewards amount of $20 you can then redeem for a gift card that can be used at the parks, the Disney Store, and the Disney Store online. Being a cardholder also gives you different perks at each of the theme parks such as private meet and greets, discounts on tours, exclusive pins and 10% discounts on merchandise at the parks, 10% discounts on select dining locations, and more. Now it is true that the rate of reward dollars is not great. There are a ton of other credit cards out there that offer better rewards. With that being said however, one of my favorite things about the card is when you use the card to pay for your Disney vacation, you are given 6 months to pay for the vacation with 0% interest. I do this every time we plan a vacation and then make sure the trip is paid off within the 6 month term. This helps my situation especially because I usually travel with family members who don’t live in my household. I charge the entire vacation and this gives them time to get me their money without demanding it right away. Also the reward dollars earned from the price of the trip are mighty nice! We usually use the gift card we received to pay for tips at our sit down restaurant reservations. Combine that with the free dining promo (if available) and you have actual straight up FREE dining.
Hopefully theses tips will be helpful when you plan your next vacation, and they might even make it a little more fun to save. How do you save for your Disney vacation?