Tips about Budget

My husband and I like to travel, and Disney trips are high on our list of things to do. Through the years as we traveled we realized there are a lot of expenses that are obvious and can be budgeted for, and others that are not so obvious that can impact that budget. So I started to make a list of all those hidden expenses. Charges for parking at hotels, tips for shuttles to and from the airport, tips for housekeeping at hotels, tips for meals (this one can really add up), and other things. After we had our list, we set out a coffee can and every time we came in the door we put any ones or other bills in the can. You would be surprised how quickly it all adds up! I would then figure out how much I would need for each category, such as room tips and then I will roll them up and label them and set them aside. For meal tips, we figured how much we would spend on food each day and then we would figure 20 percent of that for each days meal tips. I also made an extra roll for things I might have missed. I can't tell you how much this helped our budget and eased our minds. It's sometimes taking care of the little stuff that can make a big difference. - Randi B.
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I recently took my three grandkids to Walt Disney World. Because we were on a budget, we brought our picnic lunch with us each day. In order to keep it cold until lunchtime I froze a few drink pouches to put in the cooler instead of ice packs. I also had one for each of us that wasn't frozen to have with lunch. The drinks would thaw out by mid-afternoon and be ready for a cool drink when the kids were hot and thirsty. - Denise Eaton
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If you're not on the Disney Dining Plan, I recommend purchasing a Disney gift card to pay for all of your snacks and incidentals. I wish I had done this. We just got home and I have a very thick stack of credit card receipts for amounts ranging from under $3 to $10. It would have been much easier to just buy a $50 or $75 gift card and use that each time we purchased a drink, ice cream, etc. - Christy B.
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The best discount for Sammy Duvall's Watersports at the Contemporary last summer was from AllEars.Net. Thank you! - Gail
We're a family of eight, traveling with the in-laws and wife's sister's family, making our party size 14 people strong! We decided to stay off-property at a four-bedroom, 2,340-square-foot condo at Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa. Thanks to AllEars.Net we got 10 percent off and, along with other discounts, our room cost was under $1,000 dollars for four nights! Yeah, yeah you're going to tell me about all we are missing by staying off-property, but before you go there let me tell you the difference and savings: At Port Orleans Riverside Resort the room size was 370 square feet with only two queen-sized beds and one bath! The total for three rooms at Port Orleans Riverside came to $2,489, not including theme park tickets! Staying at Lighthouse Key we got a four-bedroom luxury condo with two king master suites, a queen suite, and a twin bed with trundle bed kids' suite with three baths and full kitchen, living room and laundry room. With our savings, we were able to buy theme park tickets and an all-week premium parking pass for Disney, SeaWorld tickets, and a $145 reservation at Splitsville! - Nick G.
I usually know well in advance about when we'll be traveling, and since we love the Epcot resorts I will book a room at The Walt Disney World Dolphin using any and all discounts I can think of (government employee, Starwood preferred guest, Annual Pass, whatever). I'll book 9 to 11 months in advance for at least seven nights. I can usually "modify" a few days either way depending on my flight without a price increase. You need to pay a one-night deposit, but that's OK. I've kept my reservation, modified it, and even cancelled it with no problems. The reservationist even gave me ideas for nabbing a better deal once! - Mary Ann W.
My cardinal rule for Disney vacations is to have everything paid for before we leave. I bring a coupon folio with cash for tips for our full service meals, the boys have their spending money, my sister and I have our money. Meals, transportation, park entry, it's ALL paid up already, so we feel like we're staying for free and I know when I get home I won't be facing a mountain of debt. How does this save me money? NO INCIDENTALS, NO SURPRISES. Do I spend more money than others do on their trips? I'm sure I do! I've seen some miraculously affordable plans. But I always come in on or under OUR budget, and to me the workable budget is almost more important than the dollar figure itself. - Susan
Please call your credit/debit card company before leaving home and alert them to all the places you will be traveling. My card was locked out at Disneyland after I bought my annual pass! The companies are trying to minimize credit card fraud. The worst thing is if customer service isn't there 24/7, and you can't use your card until they reopen. - Leslie Seibert
BJ's Wholesale Club now sells Disney gift cards at a reduced rate. You can buy them in denominations of $25, $50, and $100. The $100 card sells for $95.99. I bought 10, which we will use to pay for some of next year's trip... that's a $40 savings on every $1,000 spent! - Brian McKenna
If you are a Target credit card or Target debit card holder, you can purchase Disney gift cards in store and receive a 5% discount. The cards at my local Target are available in $50 denominations so I have started putting aside money $50 at a time. Every time I get $50 saved, I purchase a gift card using my Target debit card. By doing this I can get $1000 worth of Disney gift cards for $950, $2000 for $1900, etc. - Stephanie
Explore the world of vacation homes and condos. Remember, a 15-minute drive can save you literally hundreds of dollars. When you get a place to stay, look for somewhere with laundry machines in the unit or available in the complex.You can carry much less luggage and not have to worry about paying baggage fees to the airline. It won't hurt anyone to do one load of laundry on a four- or five-day trip. If you are renting a vacation home or condo, you will probably have to do it anyway for towels. - Tom Galloway
We had resigned ourselves to staying off-site due to a tight budget. But then we remembered Fort Wilderness campground -- all the perks of staying onsite at a fraction of the cost, since we will be sharing our campsite with friends. We are so looking forward to it! - Ky in Gulfport, MS
Our big money-saving tip is to stay at a Disney value resort the first night of our stay, since we get in late. Then the next morning we take a taxi to our Deluxe resort, stopping at the Hess gas station to pick up bottled water. - Sandie Albrecht
I wanted to add a suggestion to Marjorie Degnan's entry about Disney gift cards. On our last trip in February, we stayed at Shades of Green. Guests of Shades are not able to charge anything on Disney property to their room. Knowing this beforehand, we put all of our food budget on a Disney gift card (we chose Ratatouille). Then we each picked a card and put each person's shopping money on their individual gift cards. After each purchase and/or meal, your remaining gift card balance is printed on the receipt. It worked out so well! We are going again in December and will do the same! The bonus is, if you overestimate your food money then you have the remainder to shop more on the last day or put it aside for the next trip(s)! Thanks Deb and AllEars® staff for a great site and newsletter! You are always my first resource for ANYTHING Disney! - Casie Crowder
Regarding the Disney Visa discount: The discount is valid in all Disney stores that sell Disney merchandise on property. However, the guest must indicate that they want to make use of the discount. Cast members are not allowed to automatically apply the discount... Keep this in mind when you go up to the register to pay. - Filipa Douma

EDITOR'S NOTE: You must purchase a minimum of $50 and you must pay with your Disney Visa card to get the discount.

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