I need to go ahead and establish the fact that I am a self proclaimed Disnerd! In case you are unfamiliar with that term, it just simply means I am a Disney nerd. I love Disney!! I love watching the movies, shopping at their store (I even went to the one in Paris, France), and going to Walt Disney World. We took our girls to WDW Christmas of 2011 and I have been looking forward to going back ever since. If I had my way I would go to WDW every year, but that is just not something we can afford. In June of 2012 I got the bright idea to start saving up to pay for the next trip. I made up my mind we would not go back to WDW until we had saved up every dime of money needed for the trip.I have heard so many people talk about taking vacations, how much fun they had and then that they racked up huge credit card charges or depleted their checking accounts to do it. I was determined not to be one of those people. That got my mind to working on ways I could save and ways to make extra money.
Ways I saved:
1. Automatic deposit into savings account: When I made up my mind to start saving for our return trip to WDW the first thing I did was go to the bank and open up my Disney account. I started having $25.00 a month automatically put into that account from our checking at the first of each month. If I never saw it, I never missed it. I did this for the first year and then had it fixed to go into our savings instead. Now that our next big trip is being saved for I will go back to the bank and have that process started all over again.
2. Change from purchases: This step should be pretty self explanatory. I would pay for as much as possible with cash and then take my coin change and put it into a special jar (not the 52 week challenge jar) and then when I had enough I would deposit into my Disney account at the bank.
3. Sales/Price Match: The next two parts of the plan may be a little confusing for you, I am still not quite sure how I even kept them up. After each visit to the store I would come home and look at my sales savings and price matches (price matching only applies to *Wal-mart purchases.). I would take all of them, add them up and divide them by 3. Then what ever that amount was would be written down in my little notebook under each months heading and then at the end of said month I would transfer that amount out of our checking into our Disney account. For example: Let's say it was July, I had went to the grocery store and with sales and price matches I saved a total of $12.00. I would divide that savings ($12) by 3, giving me an answer of $4.00. I would then write that $4 down in my little notebook and at the end of July I would transfer it plus my other savings from our checking into our Disney.
*Wal-mart now makes this process so much easier with their savings catcher plan. You just put your receipt info into their system and they will check other competitors and give you the difference in price. No more holding up the line to price match!
4.Couponing: My couponing process works almost identical to my sale savings/price matching process, with one small difference. Instead of dividing my savings by 3, my coupon savings would be divided by 2. For example: Lets say on the same aforementioned July trip, I saved $7 by using coupons. I would divide that by 2, for an answer of $3.50. That amount would be written down in my notebook and then transferred from my checking into my savings at the end of the month. I know that in reality that the last two steps are still coming out of my checking, but I figured if I saved all that by working my tail off to coupon, price match and look for sales, I deserved to put some back for something special for us. Some months I would only put back a few dollars, but there have been some months that I would put back almost $100.00 using these two steps.
(I understand that the previous two things may not be possible for everyone. You may not be able to use them at all or may even have to start off dividing them by a higher number. I am just giving you the idea of what worked for us.)
5. The 52 week savings challenge: This part of the plan was very easy to begin with, but then became very challenging as the year progressed. The point of the challenge is to save money that week for whatever week of the year it is. For example: Week 1 would be $1, Week 25 would be $25 and so on and so on. It was very difficult to save up those last 4-6 weeks with Christmas going on, but somehow I managed. I do plan to start this step over again for 2015, but will be switching up the weeks of June and December. I am hoping that will make saving easier this time around. (The following chart is very easy to follow)
Ways I made extra money:
1.Consignment sales: This is a simple and easy way to make extra money. I have only used consignment sales to get rid of clothing/toys, etc., that my kids no longer have a use for. You can find a local store that will give you a flat price for all of your items, or like me. you can find a church/community consignment sale where you tag and price your own items and they sale them for you. I don't always make a lot at these sales, but as I have said many times before, "Every little bit helps!".
2. Inbox Dollars: I signed up for a free account with http://www.inboxdollars.com/. The site has all types of ways to make extra money, but I just use it for the emails. All you have to do is click the purple confirm email button and you get two cents for each email. Yes, it does take a long time to build up your account, but for a few minutes each day I find it to be worth it. I have already redeemed my first amount of $30 and am working on my next.
3.Cleaning houses: I currently have one house that I clean, besides my own, my moms. I do this twice a month and put back half of what she gives me for the Disney fund. The other half my cousin always gets for my twice monthly pedicures. Hey, a girl has to do something nice for herself every once in a while.
4. Picking up/Collecting cans: This is most likely the one thing my teenager hates, but my eight year old loves. She loves the idea of cleaning up the earth and each can represents money to her. We have a couple of families in our church that keep all of their soda cans and bring them to us about once a month. My daddy always picks them up for us on his walks and when we see one on the road side we try our best to get it.When we get a big trash bag full of cans we take them to the local salvage shop and sell them. It is never much, most of the time we will get around $1.20 per bag, but it all goes to help us reach our goal of Disney World.
5. Taking on extra baby-sitting jobs when possible: I have a full time job, stay at home mom and Tink. I keep this cute little 2 year old who is just the sweetest thing. The money I make for keeping her always goes toward the monthly tuition and piano bills for the girls. Every now and then I will get a phone call, text or message from someone who needs an emergency babysitter. If possible I always take the job and then put all of the money into the Disney fund.
6. Apply for and use a Disney Credit Card: I applied and received a Disney CC right before we went in 2011. I have let my mother and my church use it to order gifts and then paid it off at the end of each month. I have also used it to pay for this up coming trip and have been paying the bill off each month. By using this card I am earning 1 Disney Reward dollar with every $100 spent. Right now my account is at $100 Disney Reward dollars. I am planning to redeem them about a month before our trip to use while there. I have never done this before so I am not sure how it will go. Hopefully there will be no problems and all my dollars should be put on a Disney gift card.
*There has been one more way I have gotten extra money for Disney, that doesn't really fall into saving or earning.
I ask for Disney gift cards for my birthday and Christmas this year. I was fairly certain that our trip was going to be taking place in 2015 and since the gift cards do not expire, with a late birthday and Christmas at the end of the year, asking for these as gifts made perfect sense.
I wish I could say that we meet our goal in December of 2014, but we are short $400.00. All in all, I managed to save a grand total of $4,100.00 in the last two and a half years. All the money for Disney, gas and souvenirs was saved, but we are still saving up for Sea World. I have no doubts that I will be able to get that saved up before we leave. It feels so good to know that we can take this trip and not owe a dime when we get home!
It may be a vacation to WDW or to someplace else. It may be buying a new car or saving up for a down payment on a house. It could be anything that you are wanting to save up for and I hope that by sharing what I did it can help someone else reach their goals.
"That's my 'two-cents worth', what's yours?"