It always amazes me that I get asked the question “How can you afford to go to Disney so often?”. It’s an uncomfortable question because I never know how to answer it. Are people expecting me to tell them how much money I earn? I can assure you, I don’t make any money from Pixie Dust Fan at the moment, but I’m hopeful one day it becomes a full time career. If you have tips on this I’m all ears!
I do have an unmagical job in the corporate world that pays my bills, but it doesn’t afford a big disposable income. I have to prioritize Disney vacations over most other things in order to visit as often as I do. While I still think it’s an awkward question – I’m going to answer it in hopes that you can learn a trick or two so that you can visit more often!
These are 10 things that I do to prioritize and save money for my Disney vacations.
1. I don’t buy clothes, and when I do – they’re not expensive
Ask anyone I work with in my corporate job, I don’t have an extensive wardrobe. I keep my work clothes until they don’t fit anymore or fall apart, whichever comes first. They aren’t expensive to begin with – and I purposely buy things that are mix and match so that I can appear to have more outfits than I really do.
2. I buy no name and discount brands at the grocery store
Yes – I scrimp everywhere else that I can. I buy no name paper towel and no name frozen pizzas. My garbage and recycling bags are no name and tend to rip easily – but that’s okay, I just make sure I’m careful when I carry them to the curb. Each dollar saved can go towards a treat in the parks!
3. I don’t spend money on entertainment
I’m too old to go clubbing and I don’t really go ‘out’ and spend money on entertainment anymore. It’s rare for me to go out and spend money on dinner, food or drinks unless I’m in Disney. At home, I’m normally at work or at home checking in on Pixie Dust Fans, I don’t have time to go out spending money, my big splurges are going to the movies when a new Star Wars movie is released!
4. I do my own repairs
It’s amazing the repairs you can do with a toolbox and YouTube video! I have fixed many things around my house by myself (the toilet running, the shower leaking and resetting the pilot light on my water heater to name a few). All of these have saved me a bunch of money on professional service calls. When I can’t fix it myself, I weigh the price of the call out vs the inconvenience. For example – my washing machine ‘errors out’ during the spin cycle. I can bypass the error by restarting the machine. It’s a royal pain, running up and down the stairs twice for every load of laundry – but the price of repair is the same as 4 nights at Pop Century. It’s okay – I could use the exercise anyway!
5. I measure all spending in relation to Disney vacations
Before I buy anything, I think about what I could do in Disney for the same money and then determine if it’s worth it. For example, if I wanted to spend an evening out for a nice dinner and a concert, I could easily spend $150. For that money I could pay for a Halloween or Christmas party ticket, or 2 really great table service meals, or a night at a Disney resort – I know what I would rather have! On a smaller scale, 3 steeped teas at Tim Horton’s would be the same as a chocolate covered pineapple spear or a dole whip. When you put it in to those terms, it makes it much easier to save money!
6. Each pay has something for Disney
I have friends at work who say they ‘pay themselves’ on every pay day – they put X amount in a retirement plan or RRSP. I do something similar, but it’s the Disney fund! I have a separate savings account that automatically transfers money on pay day for vacations.
7. I use the tools that my bank offers me
I have a USD bank account where I deposit money whenever I can. When I do it in smaller increments, I don’t feel the ‘sting’ of the exchange rate so much. I also have a prepaid USD Visa from my bank. I load that up so that when I’m there, I have a limit of money I can spend. Well… I like to think I limit it, but when a new Dooney is released, that’s when the OTHER Visa comes out.
8. I quit smoking
After 30 years I finally quit smoking! Feels weird putting it in writing – but I’m calling it FINAL! What I spent in cigarettes was insane, but I never gave it a second thought because I NEEDED it. Now I choose to use the cigarette money for flights (believe it or not, it’s the same price for a round trip flight as it was for 1 month of smokes). Every time I think to myself “that’s crazy to go down for 4 days” I remind myself that not so long ago I would have literally set that money on fire. It’s how I rationalize it – and it works for me!
9. I buy an annual pass and I am a Disney Vacation Club Member
Buying an annual pass is a no brainer when you visit as many times as I do during the year. My Disney Vacation Club purchase was the right investment for me when I bought it before Bay Lake Tower opened because I didn’t have to finance it for long and the dollar was good. When you finance a DVC membership and then add the maintenance fees – you won’t be ‘saving’ money for years.
10. I use a travel agent
While I have DVC points, I never have enough points to cover all of my trips, so I use Pure Magic Vacations for those ones. Even with ALL of my trips to Walt Disney World – I still book with a travel agent because I don’t want to have to research what promotions are available or sit on hold long distance if I want to change it. I don’t have them book my dining or fastpasses because I like to do that myself, but the room booking or cruise bookings they do for me. This is their profession – they know what they’re doing and it’s no cost to me, why wouldn’t I use them?
There you have it, my list of things that I do at home to make sure I have money for my Disney vacations! It’s clear that I prioritize my Disney vacations, because they are important to me. These trips are what make me happy – so how could I not make them a priority in my life?
Do you do any of these things? How do YOU save for your Disney vacations?