With Disney consistently raising its prices, a magical vacation gets a little bit more expensive with each passing year.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to nix your family vacation! There are plenty of ways to save money everyday so that you can still afford your annual trip to the House of Mouse.
Here are fifteen money-saving ideas for your next Disney Vacation!
1. Open a savings account
It may sounds silly and basic, but creating a separate savings account designated specifically for your Disney vacation will really help to keep your real savings and your vacation savings apart.
When you open the account, jump start it with a lump sum like a tax refund or a work bonus, then set up an auto debit for whenever you get paid. Designate a certain amount to get deposited every pay period. Make sure this amount is something you can afford but is significant enough to make a difference. Even $5 or $10 a week – which you may not even miss – can add up.
If you want to take it a step further, open a DisneyVacationAccount.com account. This is a way to designate the money specifically for Disney, but you can always cash it out if you need to.
The best part is you’ll be earning interest on your savings. The DVA pays back 2% for every $1000 deposited, and other savings accounts pay even more. Shop around to find a good rate.
2. Savings Bonds
Savings Bonds are safe because they’re government issued. The yield is lower than the stock market, especially these days, but you will earn interest. Although you can pull them after a year, you’ll pay a 3-month interest penalty, so it’s best to wait until they’ve matured at five years.
3. Disney Gift Cards
Disney Gift Cards are another way to save for Disney. Make a rule that every time you go to the store, you buy a gift card. You can get them in increments between $25 and $500, and they’re sold just about anywhere you can buy gift cards including gas stations, convenience stores, supermarkets, and discount stores. Sometimes stores will even have promotions on gift cards, so watch for these.
Gift cards can be deposited into your DVA, or you can save them and spend them at select Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Store locations.
4. Disney Dollars
Although you can’t buy Disney Dollars anymore (Disney stopped selling them on May 15, 2016), you can still use them if you have them. They never expire, and you can exchange them for cash equivalents if you want to.
If you have some of these Disney Dollars, it might be a good idea to hang on to them. They might be worth more than face value someday, so they work as a savings method in and of themselves!
5. Save Change
If you don’t have a change jar, I highly suggest getting one. Mine counts my change for me and gives me a running total every time I put a coin in!
Make a rule to never spend change. Once your jar is full, roll the change and put it in your vacation savings account.
6. Round your checkbook
There probably aren’t many people who actually balance a checkbook anymore, but if you do, this is a fun game.
For every expenditure, round up to the nearest dollar. For example, if you spend $5.53, write $6 in your checkbook. You’ll protect yourself from overdrafts and save some change in the process.
The same works for deposits. If you deposit $123.30, round down to $123 or even $120. It may not seem like much, but cents turn into dollars, and you’ll be on your way to Disney in no time!
7. Save your Savings
Clipping coupons is a new trend, and people are realizing how much money they can actually save. I’m not saying you have to be an extreme couponer, but even a little bit helps.
Whatever money you saved at the store by using coupons, buying sale items, or using the store discount card, deposit that money into your savings for vacation.
Kids can even get involved in this as long as they’re old enough to use scissors. It can be fun for the whole family to see how much you can save in one trip!
8. Keep making payments
If you pay off a car, a credit card, or even a mortgage, continue writing a check out to yourself. Deposit that money into your savings, and watch the money accumulate! The more you deposit, the more interest you’ll earn!
9. Save Found Money
I can’t tell you how much money I find doing laundry, I always pick up change that someone dropped, and I love finding money in coat pockets. Sometimes it’s a few cents; sometimes it’s a $20 bill! Whatever I find, I put it right in the change jar.
Found money can also be a tax refund, a work bonus, a monetary gift, or a rebate. It’s money that you weren’t expecting. Since you weren’t counting on it, put it right in the savings for Disney!
10. Use a Cash-back Credit Card
Credit cards can be dangerous, but companies are giving more and better incentives these days. You can rack up points, miles, or even real dollars that you can redeem for everything from headphones to flights to actual cash back.
If you have the self-control to pay off the credit card every month, start using it to pay for everyday expenses including gas and groceries. Some cards will even give you extra points at grocery stores.
Remember, if you don’t pay it off every month you’ll have to pay interest and that defeats the purpose! Once you get your cash back, put it in your savings account. If you’re saving up miles, shop around for the best price.
11. Cut the coffee
Skipping your daily trip to Starbucks or your local coffee shop can save you $1, $3, $5 or more every day! Imagine how quickly this could add up!
Instead, make your coffee at home and take it in a travel mug. You can even buy travel mugs that look like Starbucks cups!
You can also pack your lunch for work even a few days a week. Try skipping the drink and sipping on water or bringing a soda from home. Every dollar counts when you’re saving for Disney!
12. Stay in
Entertainment and eating out takes up more of our monthly expenses than I’d like to admit. Instead, try eating at home, renting a movie, or watching Netflix. You can even have a family fun night where you make pizza, play board games, and watch a movie. I promise you’ll have just as much fun or maybe more than you would going out.
Put this saved money in a special place and spend it on a nice family dinner in Disney World. Character dining anyone?
13. Sell your stuff
Every time I go through my closets, I’m amazed at how much stuff I accumulate. Consider having a garage sale, setting up a booth at a local flea market, or selling your gently used, still-in-style, clothes to consignment. You’d be amazed at how quickly people snatch up your used stuff!
Put the money you made or the money you saved in your savings for Disney! If you can find a Mickey shirt to wear on vacation, you get bonus points!
14. Cut the bills
Reassessing your bills is a great way to save money. Do you really need the Super Premium Gold cable package? Can you cut back on driving and save on gas? Did your kids turn off the bathroom light? Can you save money on your car, homeowners, or renters insurance?
If you can cut some costs in some places, pay the bill then put the rest that you were paying in your savings account. You won’t miss the money since you were paying it anyway, but you will be looking forward to that vacation when Disney foots the bill for transportation and electric!
15. Cut the gift giving
If you’re an adult and you’re still giving your siblings and your family members gifts for their birthdays and holidays, can you all come to an agreement that it’s time to stop? These “duty gifts” can really add up, and do they really want it anyway? Perhaps you can save the money all together and take a family vacation.
If you must give a gift, try putting a dollar limit on your gift giving and see how creative you can get.