Thursday, July 7, 2016

Saving for Pixie Dust

I mentioned a few months ago that we skipped town with our little family of five for a magical adventure to celebrate our tall boy's high school graduation. The happiest place on earth is one of my most favorite places in the world. In case you didn't know, it's also one of the most expensive places in the world as well. Unlike other places though, Disney has made these trips more reachable than most people think, but you have to be willing to put a lot of time, effort and attention into it. Many people enter the gates of the parks and resorts for free everyday. Now, don't start thinking that I went for free. Our family trip in March was fully funded by our day jobs. We scored very good deals on lodging, tickets and airfare simply because of the week we chose.

If you're like me though, once you get there you immeditely start thinking "when can I come back?" I plan my next trip in my mind while I am slap in the middle of Disney. Maybe it's the over-stimulation or the flood of childhood memories. It could even be the joy of making memories, but you stick me at a table with some pineapple guava juice and send Stitch over to bid me good morning and I immediately start thinking of how I'm going to get back to that spot as soon as possible.

My sweet man and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this year. We've talked for years about making our 20th anniversary special. Extra special. Like, leave the kids and do something fun without them kind of special. When we were at Disney in March we made comments throughout our stay of things that would be fun to do on another trip, but all of those things would be hard to pull off with kids tagging along. After we retruned home our wheels started turning, Disney hosted another sale and things started falling into place for us to go back to celebrate our 20 years of marriage. Since our anniversary was in May and we also had a kid graduating from high school in May, we opted to book June dates. This meant no missed work for my husband since he is on summer break from his teaching job. I am paid hourly and I wanted to use my vacation days sparingly, so we opted for me to work a half day on Thursday and visit Disney for the weekend. Well, that's what we had planned. It went down much differently than that. Read about that here.

When we started planning we had saved no money toward our trip. This is how it came in:

+  I still had some left over funds in our envelope from our March trip so I took $20.00 from that and deposited it into my Disney Savings Account.

+ After that I rolled all of our spare change and saved the change in my checking account for two weeks. This totalled $60.99 which I deposited into the DVA as well.

+ By this time I had enough earnings on my iBotta app to cash in for Paypal cash. $30.00. I purchased a Disney gift card for $30 at my local grocery store with that and deposited it into my DVA.

+ Next, I cashed in on Swagbucks for a $25 Walmart card. I went to Walmart and purchased a $30 Disney card (I added $5.00 cash from my pocket). $30.00 Deposited into the DVA.

+ A few weeks later I had earned another $25 from Swagbucks. I ordered the Target gift card. Then, I shopped on Target's website for some household items that we needed and earned an additional $25 in gift cards back. I used all of these gift cards combined to purchase a $50 Disney gift card and deposited it into my DVA.

+ I saved $50.00 out of my monthly grocery budget by clipping coupons and shopping sales. I deposited $50.00 into my DVA.

+ We received an unexpected refund for a service we had paid for totalling $140.51. That went straight into the DVA.

+ I earned another $25 Target gift card from Swagbucks. I combined it with another $5.00 Target gift card I had earned from shopping and then added $20.00 from the change I had saved in my checking account. This added another $50.00 to account and officially paid off our room-only reservation at Port Orleans Riverside from Friday- Sunday.

+  We planned to drive down half way on Thursday since I would be working a half day. My husband had driven the bus for the track team to several events which put some extra happy padding in his check. We booked a room through Priceline for that. As a bonus, we booked the room in a town where we have family so that we could squeeze in some hugs on our way. But then our plans changed and we cancelled this room and booked a room for one night at Disney's All-Star Movie Resort.

+ We were blessed with a set of gift cards to Applebee's in a thank you note we received. After checking we discovered there was an Applebee's in the same town our hotel was in and we would be arriving around dinner time. $50 gift cards placed into our trip envelope. (We never used this.)

+ We were blessed with a monetary gift for our anniversary. We set this aside for fuel and babysitting (Lilo's Playhouse) for the trip.

+ I earned another $25.00 Wal-mart card via Swagbucks. I placed this in our trip envelope to go towards our dinner reservations at Paradiso 37 in Disney Springs.

+ I accumulated $25.00 in my Wal-mart Savings Catcher app, which I cashed in for a $25.00 Disney card and placed in our envelope to go towards our dinner reservations at Paradiso 37 in Disney Springs.

+ I earned another $25.00 Wal-mart card via Swagbucks. I placed this in our trip envelope to go towards our dinner reservations at Paradiso 37 in Disney Springs.

+ I had a balance of $16.00 on my Starbucks card which I placed in our trip envelope for a breakfast or treat from the Starbucks in Disney Springs. (We never used this.)

+ I signed up for the Sprinkles club which awarded me a free cupcake that I could cash in for at the Disney Springs location. I added that to my trip binder. (We never used this.)

+ I sold a few things from around the house for a profit of $15.00. I added that cash to our trip envelope.

+ I was paid back for something I purchased for someone. Since it came from last month's budget I added $20.00 to my trip envelope.

+ I rolled another $10.00 from my change jar and added that to our trip envelope.

+ My husband added $50.00 to the envelope from part of his pay from working a side job.

Once we arrived, we didn't use all we had in our envelope. We came home with several unused gift cards.

We ate breakfast each morning in the food court. The kids plates have the same amount of food as the adult plates at breakfast. For $5 (I rounded up) you can get a kids meal breakfast with a drink. The adult plate was almost double and did not come with a drink. Each morning we chose the plate that came with a Mickey waffle, eggs, a slice of bacon and roasted potatoes.

For lunch one day we headed to Disney Springs where we split a chicken meatball pizza at Wolfgang Puck Express. I ordered a cup of water for each of the three of us. Our total came to $15.00 here, the pizza was AMAZING and we were all full when we left. The other days we ate lunch at our resort in the food court. Kendra and I often shared a meal and we refilled our water bottles from breakfast for free at lunch each day.

I brought along snacks from home for our room and included some granola bars, breakfast bars, Cheese-Its, and fruit snacks. This was helpful and saved us cash. It also help us make it between meals without falling apart. We did a good bit of swimming so we were hungry all the time.

We took along some spending money out of our regular budget and a little extra cash in case we needed it, but we never used it.

It was amazing to watch all of this come together so quickly. We had a fun trip! I've already started saving for our next trip and cashed in another $25 from Swagbucks over the weekend. We're aiming for a trip back to Disney around 18 months from now to celebrate Riley graduating from high school. (Can you even?) So, I am back to square one with more fun in sight.

God is so sweet to us!

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