Last week we talked about all of the budget categories you need to consider so there are no surprises on your Disney vacation. However, when all is said and done you are going to have to come up with that bottom line total somehow.Sure, some of it can be discounts, specials, airline points, hotel rewards, etc. However, there is a good potion you will have to come up with in cash. Here are some of the categories you won’t find discounts for: Garden Grocer, $100; ECV Rental, $200; Pre-Paid Meals, $200; Passport, $200; VIP Tours/Special Events, $400; Parking (WDW & Airport), $200; Tips, $100; Tolls, $50; Gas, $100; Pet Sitter, $100; House Sitter, $100; and Souvenirs, $300.
These items alone could add up to over $2,000 but how are you going to save that amount before your vacation? Here are some ways to help you save.
Vacation Saving Methods
One Year to $2,000
Most people are not going to be able to come up with $2,000 at a moment’s notice. That’s why those “Year to $$$” savings plans are so popular. The most common savings plans are Equal, Ascending, Descending 1st/15th and Up & Down.
- Using the Equal plan, you save the same amount from each paycheck.
- With the Ascending plan, you start with a low savings amount then ramp up your savings until you reach your goal.
- Conversely, the Descending plan starts high and decreases until the end. This is my favorite plan because the closer you get to your vacation, the contribution gets lower and lower.
- The 1st/15th plan is great for those with a mortgage payment due on the 1st. The first savings amount of the month is low to accommodate your mortgage payment. The second is higher when you have more money available. If your mortgage payment us due later in the month you could easier flip the low and high amounts.
- Up & Down starts low, increases over time then goes back down again until you reach your goal.
Round Up to Savings
There are apps such as Digit and Qapital which will automatically take purchases you have made and round up the cost to the nearest dollar and sweep that difference into a savings account. For those of us who don’t like the idea of a 3rd party accessing our banking information, you can just as easily do it yourself… for free. All you need is a check book register from your local bank.
To start, record the actual transaction amount:
1/1/2018 Aldi $52.62
Next, record the difference between the actual amount and the next highest dollar:
1/1/2018 Round-up $0.38
At the end of the month, total all the round-up amounts and transfer the amount to an interest-bearing savings account.
MAX YOUR SAVINGS: If you really want to maximize your savings round up to the nearest $5 or $10.
Sell Unused Items on Ebay
Surely, you have a lot of old junk around your house you can unload. Instead of donating it, sell it on Ebay. Remember, your trash is someone else’s treasure.
MAX YOUR SAVINGS: Yard sales are a great place to find hidden treasures to sell on Ebay. That plate you bought at the yard sale for $0.25 might go for $1.00 on Ebay. Have your phone handy while you are at the yard sales to see the going price for items you find.
Online surveys are a great way to make some extra cash. Some sites boast as much as $500 per month in possible income. (This is really hard to do, by the way.) I personally use Vindale Research, Harris Poll and Opinion Outpost.
MAX YOUR SAVINGS: Do you have a favorite TV show you watch (you probably have one every evening, right?) or does your hubby like to watch the big game every weekend? These are great times to get your phone out and take some surveys.
Give up Expensive Habits
I know, easier said than done. However, drinking, smoking, and gambling can be very expensive. Take smoking, for example. One pack of cigarettes costs over $6. Even if you are only smoking a pack once a week, that will be a savings of $312.
Cancel Unused Memberships
Do you have Netflix, Hulu, Audible.com, Wine-of-the-Month membership? Do you really need all of these memberships? Could you maybe consolidate the entertainment memberships to one? Just cutting the cord on one of these services will save you as much as $120 per year.
The number one way to save money on groceries is to shop exclusively from a list. When you shop without a list you have a tendency to wonder the aisles and pick items you don’t necessarily need like ice cream and Doritos. When shopping from a list you are also more likely to remember all the items you need for your meal plan. It’s those one-off shopping trips for items you forgot that are the most dangerous.
Let me see if this is you: you forgot to get a bag of egg noodles for your Chicken Stroganoff recipe. So you stop by the local grocery store to pick up a bag egg noodles… and five cans of soup they have on sale… and some meat from the discounted meat bin… and a bag of Twizzlers at the checkout. That $1.59 bag of egg noodles just costs you $14.00. Now you can see where the savings comes from.
MAX YOUR SAVINGS: To get the most bang for your buck, try one of the discount grocery stores popping up around the country such as Aldi, Save-A-Lot or Trader Joes.
Review Your Insurance
Auto, Home and Health insurance are all big budget items. To make sure you are getting the best rate, do a yearly insurance audit.
MAX YOUR SAVINGS: Some insurance companies will offer deep discounts if you bundle your home and auto insurance for hundreds of dollars in savings.
Cancel Magazine Subscriptions
In this day and age, the time for hard copies of magazines in over. Most magazines are available online. Cancel your subscriptions and read them online!
Take Lunch to Work
The cost of eating out at lunch can be up to $10 per day. By bringing your own lunch from home, you can save almost $40 per week when you factor in the cost of the food you bring.
If your employer offers direct deposit, divert money from your paycheck each week to a vacation savings account. Remember, “if you never see it, you will never miss it”.
MAX YOUR SAVINGS: Do not link your ATM card to the account you are diverting the funds to. This will erase the impulse to withdraw money before you have reached your goal.
Holiday Savings Account
If the timing works out, open a holiday savings account. They will send you a check at the end of October and most even pay interest.
Don’t Use Other Bank’s ATMs
Using ATMs from other banks can be surprisingly expensive. Not only will you incur a fee from the other bank, your bank will likely charge a fee as well. When combining the non-bank ATM fee with the out-of-network fee from your bank, you could be charged as much as $7.00.
Tax Deduction Increase
First, I need to say this is not the best financial advice and can be risky in uncertain economic times. However, if you are one of the millions of people who find saving money difficult, this is a way you can save money without the ability to pull the money out in a moment’s notice. To take advantage of this method, there are two ways to accomplish it:
- if you are currently withholding at the married rate with whatever number of dependents you have, change your withholding to single with no dependents,
- if you are already withholding at single with no dependents you are allowed to add a per paycheck amount to your tax withholdings. Check with your Human Resources Department on any limits. Like I said, this isn’t great financial advice. You would be better to use direct deposit to divert money to an interest-bearing savings account.
I have used this method before and was able to save enough money to pay for a Disney Land & Sea vacation in full including flights and transportation.
Our last money saving method is by far the easier, all you have to do is throw your loose change in a change jar. To keep track of your savings, here is a quick guide to help you figure out how it’s going. Here is how much one pound of the following denominations will be:
Are you the type who can diligently save money toward a goal or do you need to an automated system in place to make your savings plan out of sight, out of mind? I hope you found a technique above to fit your needs and help you reach your goal of having a practically perfect Disney vacation.
Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel. She is a recovering team mom who is trying to find ways to fill her time after serving secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist for her daugther’s travel sports team for 10 years. You can follow her on Twitter @MQPodcast.