OK, Mouseketeers, ear up. I’m more than thrilled to begin a new series today entitled Debt Free Disney. Last year, we took one of our most memorable vacations to date. It was filled with thrills, excitement, and relaxation. The kids LOVED every minute of it and didn’t complain. And Brian and I enjoyed our time together as a couple and as a family. We did Disney, debt free style.
In this series of posts, I’m going to guide you through our trip planning process – how we chose where we would be staying, the ways we saved money (because you know I’m going to have more than a few tricks up my sleeve), where we decided to splurge and where we knew we could skip the extras, how we kept our food costs low and planned ahead so we weren’t caught off guard.
Today we’re starting at the most essential building block for your vacation. Get ready for this stellar piece of wisdom I’m about to lay down:
To take a debt free vacation, you have to save money up first.
I know, I know. You’re all like, “Duh, Cherie. Got that.” But honestly, I run into so many people who want to be debt free or they want to do awesome things with their money but they just don’t want to put in the effort to plan ahead. You want to spend some time with Princesses and Pirates and giant rodents? You’re going to have to pay the piper. If someone’s selling you a “free” trip to Disney I’m going to check your crazy card, friend (and I’m the Queen of Free, yo). There’s no such thing. Here’s how we made our trip work.
Save a Set Percentage
My husband and I agreed that we would begin socking back 7.5% of any extra income we made. Between the two of us, we have a handful of jobs. We freelance. We work weekends. It’s not glamorous and sometimes not much fun, but we live primarily on one income and save the rest – for retirement, college, emergencies, Christmas, generosity, a car fund to purchase a new vehicle, and health savings. After crunching the numbers and considering the year ahead, we settled on a specific spending goal and then the specific percentage – together.
For more on the different categories where we choose to save on a regular basis, check out: 31 Debt Free Missions: Start 5 Savings Accounts Today.
Move That Money Immediately
I say it almost every time I speak. If you don’t move money out of your checking account immediately, it will grow legs and walk to Target. Even if you have the best aims of taking a debt free vacation, leaving the money in your account is a no-no. As soon as the money filtered into our account (usually via direct deposit), I calculated the percentage and chucked it directly into a savings account we established with our bank. Sometimes this meant I transferred $7.19. Other times it meant I transferred more. The intentional, incremental process sets the pattern in motion.
Sell Some Stuff
Anything worth doing is going to require extra hustle. If you want to kick start your Debt Free Disney account, get in gear. Head around your house and begin taking photos of the things you know you don’t really need – furniture, kids’ toys, books, and more. Put those photos up on Facebook and you’ll be surprised at the number of people who want to buy things you no longer use. You can use anything you sell as “seed” money for that vacation fund. I’ve also had some decent success over the years in using half.com to sell books online. You could opt for a garage sale or use Craigslist.
Need more ideas? Check out 31 Debt Free Missions: Sell Something (NOW).
Pick Up An Extra Gig
Again, a dream vacation without the guilt and remorse of charging it means you may have to put in some extra hours. If your place of employment allows you to pick up extra hours, by all means do so. However, it may also mean you need to pick up an extra job for a season. If you really want a debt free Disney vacation, nothing is beneath you, friends. Do whatever it takes to save that money.
Find ideas from the King of Free on making more money here: 31 Debt Free Missions: Earn Extra Income.
Disney Vacation Savings Account
So here’s a tip that I didn’t discover until after we had booked our trip but I think I might use a few years down the road if we decide to go again. Disney isn’t necessarily anti-budget and in fact offers an online savings account that you can use to build up your funds and in the process get a bit of a discount on your trip. For every $1000 you save, you get $20 in Disney Gift Cards back. I know it’s not a ton of money but when it comes to a major vacation, $20 can provide a meal. You can contribute straight from your bank account but I’d highly recommend using Disney gift cards to pay for your trip (more on that tomorrow!).
Have you taken a Debt Free Disney vacation? How did you save up the funds and stay on budget?
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out The Debt Free Devotional on Kindle.
This post contains an affiliate link. That means when you get a great deal or maybe even something for free, you also help our family pay off our mortgage early. And for that, we royally thank you!