Photo Credits: Left -Walt Disney Company & Right – Amanda G Schuman
“How can you afford to do all that?”
This is a question I am asked on a fairly regular basis. How can I afford to go on so many vacations? Even more specifically, how can I afford to go on so many Disney vacations? In this blog post, I will discuss 5 tips I put into practice as much as possible so I can get out of town and keep my heart full.
Living in Phoenix for most of my life, you’d think I’d have become used to the unreasonably hot summers, right? I’m afraid not. If you live in the Midwest, which coincidentally is where I’m originally from, the East Coast, or anywhere that snows on a regular basis during the winter months, you know how quickly seasonal depression can tighten it’s grip on you. The same thing happens between May and August in Phoenix. Sometimes the 100+ degree weather starts earlier and stays later. Just the same as with extreme cold, extreme heat keeps most people cooped up inside Luckily, I am very fortunate to live six hours from the beach, Disneyland, and Las Vegas. I am also between two and four hours away from several different locations within my state where cooler weather is essentially guaranteed. Having locations within driving distance is beneficial, but as with everything in the good ol’ US of A, money plays a factor. So, first and foremost:
Tip # 1
Work. Having a job is essential for travel. It doesn’t matter what kind of traveling you do. This year, I’ve done mostly weekend trips. But even if you’re saving up for a backpacking excursion that takes you to the other side of the world while you leave your job behind, you’ve still got to work that job until you’ve saved enough. Personally, I’m a fan of spontaneous weekend trips, but I’m fan of stability too. I am fortunate enough to have a great day job that offers regular paychecks and benefits. Most importantly? Stability.
Tip # 2
Cook at home! This one is even hard for me to keep up on. If I’m being completely honest, some weeks I fail miserably at cooking at home. We have a cafe & food trucks on property. at work, not to mention all of the vending machines I walk pas each day, and group lunch orders. Spending Sundays prepping food for the week definitely isn’t my idea of a good time. But, trust me when I say your wallet will thank you.
Buy Annual Passes I know they’re expensive, but hear me out. My fiancé Jon and I are big on Disney. We love visiting Disneyland so much that spending the money on annual passes is worth it. A 3 day Park Hopper Ticket to Disneyland currently runs $330 per person. A Deluxe Annual Pass, which does include some blockout dates, but still works great in my personal opinion, runs $729 per person. When we visit, it is on average 3 days at a time. The deluxe annual pass pays for itself in two trips, or about 7 individual days at the Parks and we go about 2x that. Annual passes won’t be worth it for everyone, but they certainly are for us. The good new is most theme parks these days have annual passes. Maybe you feel you’d get more use out of an annual pass to Universal Studios Six Flags. Figure out where you want to spend your time, how often you want to go, and you can determine if an annual pass is worth the money. If not, that’s okay. Some people prefer the beach and you don’t need an annual pass for that.
Save that money, honey! Jon and I put large purchases on our credit card and capitalize on rewards. When we’re not on vacation, we go into save mode as best we can. We pay more than our minimum payment and try to keep the card frozen. We go on the app and freeze the card, and then we fill a ziplock bag with water, throw it in the freezer with the card inside, and voila! Our credit card is frozen both literally and figuratively. This stops most impulse shopping. Be careful if you try this though because in the world of digital technology, mobile wallets and Amazon accounts make it very easy to spend. Sometimes, I simply put my Mermaid brain on when I spend money. You know how much mermaids spend on a daily average? $0!
Plan. Plan. Plan! When we purchased our annual passes for Disneyland this year, we picked several occasions for Disney trips. Then we looked at our pay schedules so we could pre-pay on bills when possible and take other preventative measures when needed. For example, our grocery shopping trip at the beginning of September was a bit bigger. We spent more to get some extra ground beef and chicken. This way we have extra money in the food budget for our 3 year anniversary trip next weekend, and know we’ll only need to buy sides at the store until October. In addition to these plans, we look at movie release schedules. We have streaming services at home as well as a subscription to The Disney Movie Club. We avoid regular movie theaters unless the visits are planned in advance. If we feel we need to see a movie in the theatre, we go to our local Drive-in. Pricing is $7.50 each for the double feature. We tend to pick up Mexican Food from my favorite restaurant instead of spending money on potentially stale popcorn and other junk. I personally enjoy movies with tacos instead of popcorn. Drive-in theaters aren’t so easy to find these days and may not be an option for everyone. It’s always worth it to check our Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Redbox, Vudu, and whatever else you may have access to.
At the end of the day, it’s all about priorities. Jon and I are in the process of keeping up on our travel, paying down debt, saving for our wedding, and maintaining our household.
Some nights we aren’t the most responsible when it comes to finances, but as long as you keep your goals in mind, you can make it work. There are some weekends we want to go to Cali to visit Disneyland or the beach but we opt to visit somewhere local instead. Sacrifices must be made from time to time. Some people make more sacrifices than others, The key is making sure they’re worth it.