Tuesday, January 9, 2018

paying for Disney on a budget

I went to Disney World a couple times as a child, and I have several great memories from those trips. Now that we have kids, it is absolutely an experience I want them to have. The only problem? Money. From everything I can tell, Disney for a family of 5 will run somewhere around $5000+. When you are a single income family on a tight budget like us, that's not exactly easy money to come by.

We are planning on going in late 2020, that way Etta will be nearly 4, Edith 6, and Elden 8 - hopefully old enough to skip naps and remember the trip! It also gives us ample time to save up. My goal is to pay for Disney 100% without dipping into our "regular" income. Here is how I hope to do that:

1. Swagbucks! Are you tired of hearing me talk about this yet? The first $25 gift card you cash out at Swagbucks each month costs the equivalent of $22 in SBs. I've been cashing out to Walmart so that I can use it at Sam's Club - which sells discounted Disney gift cards (which you can use to pay for your Disney vacation). In a month I've earned $207.73 by using Swagbucks. At this rate, I could pay for our entire trip in 2 years. That being said, I am not counting on being able to earn this much every single month for the next two years.

2. Achievement. Achievement is an app that syncs with your Fitbit. For every 10,000 points you earn, you can cash $10 out to Paypal. It's passive earning - it just syncs with your activity tracker each day - so it is a totally easy thing to use to earn. I'm going to ultimately cash out to Paypal and buy Disney gift cards from Target with my Red Card to get 5% off. I can transfer the Paypal balance to checking to pay off the credit card.

3. Shopkick. With this app, you earn "kicks" by walking into stores, scanning barcodes, and uploading receipts that show purchases for specific items. Your kicks add up and you can cash out for a gift card of your choosing. In my case, I am working towards a $50 Disney gift card, which costs 12,500 kicks (I am currently at 1,370). This is a slow earner and you have to remember to open the app when you shop, but I figure if I can get 1 gift card by the time we go on vacation it will be worth it.

4. Ibotta. Ibotta is the equivalent of electronic couponing. I make my grocery list and then cross-check it against Ibotta for the store we are going to. If it has a coupon I add it, then upload my receipt once my purchase is done. I am planning on letting all of my earnings on Ibotta add up until it's time to pay for the trip. Then I will cash out to Paypal and buy Disney gift cards from Target with my Red Card to get 5% off. I currently have $48.25 available in Ibotta; I hope to get this past $100 by the time we go.

5. Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. We got this credit card when we were preparing to go to Atlanta for Sally's wedding. There is a $69 annual fee, but between the annual fee and the taxes we had to pay for our flights, we bought tickets (even for Etta) to Atlanta for a grand total of about $115 for all five of us. We decided to keep this card open because by the time we need to book our flights for Disney we should have accumulated enough points to cover all five of our tickets again. Between 2 years of the annual fee and the taxes for the trip, I estimate the total round-trip cost for 5 airplane tickets to be right around $200 - totally worth it and a likely savings of $300-$500.

Beyond this, we haven't started planning anything since the prices are subject to change. I am still debating on whether I want to stay on site for the magic of it all (and the free Disney Express shuttle to/from the airport) or save a decent chunk of change and stay off-site. I plan on using a Disney planner when it gets closer, too. What are your Disney tips and money-saving tricks?

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