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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Planning Ahead Can Mean Savings for Family Vacations

Budgeting for any family vacation can take some serious planning and budgeting for a Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line vacation is no different.

We have found a couple of ways to take advantage of planning to help with budgeting for a family vacation.

One way to budget and provide those much needed vacation items is to plan ahead and give those much needed/wanted vacation items as gifts throughout the year. Since the husband just had a birthday, he received Disney trading pins as a birthday gift—click here to read more—and a new pair of tennis shoes with enough time to break them in before our trip.

Santa brought the boy a sleeping bag—that he will need for some upcoming summer activities, and a new pirate costume, as he had outgrown his and he can wear it for pirate night on our upcoming cruise.

Purchasing the needed items as gifts saves money as you are only purchasing the needed items, not the needed items AND a gift! And, often times, since I am purchasing during the “off” season for some items, I find additional savings! Santa found the pirate costume after Halloween and sleeping bags were much less expensive before the spring/summer camping inventory went on store shelves. A little planning ahead can mean savings.

The planning ahead also means that we aren’t spending lots of money just before we travel to purchase all the “stuff.” At one point in my life, I worked as a cashier in a large discount store that began with a “W.” I remember a family coming through my check out lane with a whole bunch of vacation type items—sunscreen, cameras, batteries, etc.—telling me that they were leaving within a few days for a family vacation. They chunked out quite a bit of dough on that purchase—enough that I remember. Yeah, I don’t want to have to do that. I would rather spread out those purchases over time prior to traveling, not to mention be stressed that I might have forgotten something in a last minute shopping spree. So, please don’t make fun of me that I am already purchasing sunscreen—twin packs of spray for less than $10.

Another way we stretch our budget happens when we are actually on vacation. When we purchase souvenirs, we check out the “bonus” items with purchases. And while these bonus items are an additional cost, it is usually a reduced cost. For example, a store at the Magic Kingdom, might be offering Disney bags for a special price with a purchase of $25 or more. Would those bags make a great gift? Is the price of the bag as a bonus less expensive than if purchased not as a bonus? If so, we grab the special when making the purchase.

I have been known to walk into stores just to check out the purchase bonus. I have found various specials at theme park gift shops, resort gift shops, and the World of Disney at Downtown Disney. Also know that if the bonus is “with a purchase of $25 or more” ask how many of the bonuses you may add on based on the total cost of your purchase. In other words, if the bonus purchase is a good deal, ask about how many bonuses you can add onto your purchase. We have gotten some good deals that way! We even found a special bonus feature at the Disney Store located at Orlando International Airport.

Also, if the bonus purchase requires you to spend a specific amount—say $25, but your purchase didn’t match or go over the total, just save your receipts. When you have hit the total amount by adding up your receipts, show them to the Cast Member in the store and make your bonus purchase. This is what usually happens to us at the gift shop at our resort. We make more stops to that store—just to browse—than any other shop during our stay and may make small purchases—not enough to qualify for the bonus purchase. So, I save my receipts just in case and if we hit the total amount needed during our stay, I am back to take advantage of the bonus purchase.

What do we do with those special bonus purchases? Bring them home as souvenirs and give them as gifts throughout the year! (I can tell you that the boy’s teachers all have Mickey watches!)

To read other ways we budget for vacations and save money click on the following links:

Saving O’ the Green at Disney

Budgeting for a Disney Cruise Part 1

Budgeting for a Disney Cruise Part 2

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