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Seeking additional budget 'hacks' that you may use

Schweino

Active Member
Hello all. I wanted to see if anyone had any additional budget 'hacks' they use to pay off their Disney vacation. The main reason is my wife, while she has had a great time both our trips, doesn't want to spend the money to go back and would like to experience other things. I, however, want to go back and want to surprise her with a low cost trip so she is excited and not frustrated LOL. Below is what I have so far:

1. Target Red Card - 5% off Disney Gift Cards and use the gift cards to make payments to my vacation package. Pretty sure this is still a thing and the Disney site allows you to use GC's to pay down your booking. Anyone use this recently and can confirm?

2. Stacking up cashback from credit card - I have the Citi double cash card and we literally route every charge through that thing (utilities, insurance and even church tithing (we pay 1.5% to cover processing fee)). Going to let this accumulate until we go back. 2% cash back and I don't need to juggle different cards for simplicity.

One thing to call out is that I already had the Disney Chase card and cancelled it (used it during our December trip to get that statement credit). Since I am making payments, having that financing isn't needed, as well as using the Target Red Card idea.

Looking for any other budget hacks you use where maybe I have never thought of before. TIA!
 

dmw

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
We follow a $0 budget approach. With every paycheck, every dollar is "spent on paper" so that $0.00 is left over. That includes regular bills, of course, but also discretionary spending such as future vacations. We set aside funds from each paycheck so that when the time comes, we are able to pay for the vacation in full, in advance.
 
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KCheatle

Well-Known Member
You already named my big "hacks," which are the Target card 5% and the Disney chase reward dollars. I love the Target thing because I like to pay for my trips in cash (As opposed to putting in on a credit card), and buying gift cards to pay for it basically forces me to do that anyway. The Disney reward dollars are not much for me. Usually enough to cover a nice dinner or something while we're there.
 
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plawren2

Active Member
bring your own breakfast food to eat in room and snacks/water for lunch into parks-especially those with multiple young kids, can save $100s per day on meals
 
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JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
Depending on how you get paid or how you and your spouse handle the money as it come into the household. Each time I get paid I take a $20 bill out of my pay automatically before I start spending any, or paying bills. I put it aside for my trip. I cut out some kind of item I usually would use the money for in the week. It might be extra coffees, candy bars, lottery tickets etc. I'm willing to make that sacrifice for my trip funding. Sometimes that $20 might instead be $25, $30 or more. At the end of my pay period if I look in my wallet and there are any singles left there, I automatically remove them and add them to the savings. At the end of every day, any change in my pockets goes into the funds. I've done this for years and it really will surprise you how much will add up over a short period of time.
 
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Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Here's how we save money (with apologies for repeating a few of the strategies already mentioned above):

1 - Minimize hotel expenditures by never paying rack rate: Visit during lower-priced seasons. Rent DVC points when possible, book an onsite hotel with a discount offer, or go offsite (but remember to include car rental and parking expenses in your offsite cost comparison).

2 - Minimize ticket expenditures by purchasing from an authorized reseller: Unless you were required to get your tickets directly from Disney to take advantage of a "special offer," purchase tickets separately from an authorized reseller like Undercover Tourist.

3 - Minimize travel costs by using a rewards credit card: We use a JetBlue Mastercard for all regular expenses and pay it off in full every month so there are no added fees (although the card does have a $100 annual fee). Every year, we build up enough points to fly the four of us to Orlando and back (from upstate NY) at least once, so our "travel costs" are limited to the price of airport parking (and when DME is discontinued after 2021, ground transportation or car rental). Sometimes we are able to book a "Park, Stay and Fly" package at a hotel near one of our local airports (which includes one night's hotel stay, free breakfast, secure parking while we're gone and a shuttle to/from the airport for departure and when we return) for less than cost of airport parking alone!

4 - Minimize food costs by BYOB (bring your own breakfast) and choosing restaurants carefully: Use a grocery delivery service or Amazon Prime now (or run to the store yourself) for breakfasts, snacks and bottled water (if you don't like the free iced water in the parks), or if staying offsite, choose a hotel with breakfast included. Do a Google search for recent articles describing the best-value Disney-area restaurants (onsite or off, per your preferences) before choosing where to make reservations, and be aware that a la carte restaurants will nearly always be far less expensive, and a better value, than the buffets and family-style restaurants. (This isn't relevant advice at the moment as the DDP is on hiatus, but I'd also advise people never to purchase a full-priced DDP unless they're absolutely certain they'd spend more without it. My family does at least 1 TS per day (sometimes two) and 1 CS per day, plus some snacks and alcohol here and there, and order whatever we want, and we STILL only spend about 2/3 of what the DDP would cost for the same food.)

5 - Minimize food and merchandise costs by using available credit card and rewards program discounts: Know which restaurants and onsite merchandise locations offer discounts or rewards credits for Disney VISA cardholders, Landry's Select Club members, etc., and utilize those discounts where you can.

6 - Stack on savings by purchasing Disney gift cards at discounted prices, using credit cards that offer rewards or a bonus, for anything you'll be paying Disney for directly (unless it's an expense where you'll save more by paying a different way -- e.g., 10% off at a particular restaurant if you pay with a Disney VISA card). There's the Target RED card strategy mentioned by the OP above. You can also buy discounted gift cards at BJ's Wholesale Club, which is what I typically do. While the savings is only about 4%, I'm also using my JetBlue Mastercard to buy the gift cards, which means I'm simultaneously earning airline points toward future travel. (*Note: if you pay off your vacation balance using gift cards, hold on to them -- if you needed to cancel your trip later, Disney will want to refund the money to those cards, so you'll want them still in your possession.)

7 - Utilize available credit card rewards for anything a Disney gift card can't cover: If you don't want to (or don't have the option to) buy discounted Disney gift cards, at least be sure to pay for your vacation-related expenses using a credit card that earns you travel rewards or a cash back bonus. Never leave money on the table!

8 - Define your own must-dos: Don't let anybody tell you that a particular vacation add-on or upcharge (MemoryMaker, dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table, special parties and after-hours events, tarting up your daughter at Bibbity Bobbity Boutique (I kid), staying at the Grand Floridian or in a Club Level room somewhere, etc.) is a "must-do" and something you "have to" add to your vacation. You and only you can decide which splurges are worth it for you and which ones are not, and the price of a trip can climb precipitously if you cede your own best judgment.

9 - Budget carefully. Don't ever put yourself in a position where you have to borrow money for your trip, or where your vacation costs prevent you from paying household expenses, or paying off a credit card in full at the end of the month -- the fees you incur could more than erase any savings you obtained by other means. My family never books a trip until we know we already have enough "extra" set aside in our bank account to cover the entire estimated cost. Part of the carefree joy of the vacation is knowing it's already paid-for.
 
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dmw

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
my only hack is buying an annual pass ad using the crap out of it
We did that in 2019. We wanted to experience all of the Epcot festivals and the MK parties. It was a very cool year. Four planned trips and one extra trip for the AP preview of SW:GE. Of course, being from Georgia that meant we also had to pay for hotels, so did we really save a lot? Who knows... but we sure had a great year of memories!
 
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LAM378

Well-Known Member
You’ve gotten some great advice here. I appreciate it too, and will start doing some of these! I do a few things to save for trips. By no means do these small hacks cover the whole trip, but they help take a chunk out of the overall expense.

1) I keep a separate no-fee bank account just for Disney trips. I put at least a portion of any unexpected or extra money (refunds, birthday gifts, etc) into that account.
2) I have $30 automatically deposited into that account weekly.
3) All my spare change goes into a jar that gets counted up and deposited before Disney. I don’t use a lot of cash but when I do, small bills also go in the jar.
4) I use the Acorns app to round up the spare “change” on my debit card purchases. This ends up being a lot because I use the card way more than cash.
5) I sell things I don’t need anymore online and put at least 50% of my earnings from every sale into the Disney account. Reselling sites are booming, they’re easy to use, and are worth putting a little time into.

Good luck!
 
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yensid67

Well-Known Member
Here's how we save money (with apologies for repeating a few of the strategies already mentioned above):

1 - Minimize hotel expenditures by never paying rack rate: Visit during lower-priced seasons. Rent DVC points when possible, book an onsite hotel with a discount offer, or go offsite (but remember to include car rental and parking expenses in your offsite cost comparison).-I STAY OFF SITE TO SAVE MONEY! THE ONLY THING YOU ARE GOING TO DO IS SLEEP AND SHOWER...WHY PAY ANYMORE THAN REASONABLE!?

2 - Minimize ticket expenditures by purchasing from an authorized reseller: Unless you were required to get your tickets directly from Disney to take advantage of a "special offer," purchase tickets separately from an authorized reseller like Undercover Tourist.
-I ECHO THIS---USE UNDERCOVER TOURIST
3 - Minimize travel costs by using a rewards credit card: We use a JetBlue Mastercard for all regular expenses and pay it off in full every month so there are no added fees (although the card does have a $100 annual fee). Every year, we build up enough points to fly the four of us to Orlando and back (from upstate NY) at least once, so our "travel costs" are limited to the price of airport parking (and when DME is discontinued after 2021, ground transportation or car rental). Sometimes we are able to book a "Park, Stay and Fly" package at a hotel near one of our local airports (which includes one night's hotel stay, free breakfast, secure parking while we're gone and a shuttle to/from the airport for departure and when we return) for less than cost of airport parking alone!
- FOR AN ALTERNATIVE TO FLYING...LOOK INTO AMTRAK...IT'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT
4 - Minimize food costs by BYOB (bring your own breakfast) and choosing restaurants carefully: Use a grocery delivery service or Amazon Prime now (or run to the store yourself) for breakfasts, snacks and bottled water (if you don't like the free iced water in the parks), or if staying offsite, choose a hotel with breakfast included. Do a Google search for recent articles describing the best-value Disney-area restaurants (onsite or off, per your preferences) before choosing where to make reservations, and be aware that a la carte restaurants will nearly always be far less expensive, and a better value, than the buffets and family-style restaurants. (This isn't relevant advice at the moment as the DDP is on hiatus, but I'd also advise people never to purchase a full-priced DDP unless they're absolutely certain they'd spend more without it. My family does at least 1 TS per day (sometimes two) and 1 CS per day, plus some snacks and alcohol here and there, and order whatever we want, and we STILL only spend about 2/3 of what the DDP would cost for the same food.)
-i
5 - Minimize food and merchandise costs by using available credit card and rewards program discounts: Know which restaurants and onsite merchandise locations offer discounts or rewards credits for Disney VISA cardholders, Landry's Select Club members, etc., and utilize those discounts where you can.-4 & 5 ARE COMBINED IDEAS..START BUYNG DISNEY GIFT CARDS TO USE FOR SHOPPING AND IN PARK DINING!
6 - Stack on savings by purchasing Disney gift cards at discounted prices, using credit cards that offer rewards or a bonus: For anything you'll be paying Disney for directly (unless it's an expense where you'll save more by paying with something else, e.g., a Disney VISA card) -- including food, souvenirs, hotel and/or tickets -- pay with discounted gift cards. There's the Target RED card strategy mentioned by the OP above. You can also buy discounted gift cards at BJ's Wholesale Club, which is what I typically do. While the savings is only about 4%, I'm also using my JetBlue Mastercard to buy the gift cards, which means I'm simultaneously earning airline points toward future travel. (*Note: if you pay off your vacation balance using gift cards, hold on to them -- if you needed to cancel your trip later, Disney will want to refund the money to those cards, so you'll want them still in your possession.)
.-4, 5, 6 ARE COMBINED IDEAS..START BUYNG DISNEY GIFT CARDS TO USE FOR SHOPPING AND IN PARK DINING!
7 - Utilize available credit card rewards for anything a Disney gift card can't cover: If you don't want to (or don't have the option to) buy discounted Disney gift cards, at least be sure to pay for your vacation-related expenses using a credit card that earns you travel rewards or a cash back bonus. Never leave money on the table!

8 - Define your own must-dos: Don't let anybody tell you that a particular vacation add-on or upcharge (MemoryMaker, dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table, special parties and after-hours events, tarting up your daughter at Bibbity Bobbity Boutique (I kid), staying at the Grand Floridian or in a Club Level room somewhere, etc.) is a "must-do" and something you "have to" add to your vacation. You and only you can decide which splurges are worth it for you and which ones are not, and the price of a trip can climb precipitously if you cede your own best judgment.

9 - Budget carefully. Don't ever put yourself in a position where you have to borrow money for your trip, or where your vacation costs prevent you from paying household expenses, or paying off a credit card in full at the end of the month -- the fees you incur could more than erase any savings you obtained by other means. My family never books a trip until we know we already have enough "extra" set aside in our bank account to cover the entire estimated cost. Part of the carefree joy of the vacation is knowing it's already paid-for


MY BUDGET PLANNING TECHNIQUE- Plan 1-2 years out, with APPROXIMATE food and souvenir costs included. I also save extra $ for JUST IN CASE something surprises me! I have planned a recent trip to look like this...

Sat- Depart on AMTRAK
Sun- Arrive Kissimmee, Rental Car Pick Up, check into OFF SITE HOTEL(use Undercover Tourist)
Mon-Park Day
Tues- Park Day
Wed- Park Day
Thu Park Day or other activities, Dinner Show in evening
Fri- Check out, Rental Car Drop Off, Depart Kissimmee on AMTRAK
Sat- Arrive at Home

All this was for about $1800/person = $100/month for 18 mo.
I try to have the trip paid for at least 2 mo before
 
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Schweino

Active Member
Original Poster
Hello All. Thanks for your replies on this! The good news is...I handle the money in the family :) I think setting up a second bank account is certainly doable, however, we were looking to switch banks after my car loan is paid off, which took a hit due to a pipe bursting in our basement :( Maybe I will just use an old Ally account I have to do that.

I should of clarified in my original post that I wasn't necessarily looking for ways to save money while at Disney. We do love doing table service eating and probably would stay at a mod resort this time around (waiting for POR). More so, how did you find ways to stack up little bits here and there up until your trip? Which there was some good ideas :)

Thanks again all!
 
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JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
9 - Budget carefully. Don't ever put yourself in a position where you have to borrow money for your trip, or where your vacation costs prevent you from paying household expenses, or paying off a credit card in full at the end of the month -- the fees you incur could more than erase any savings you obtained by other means. My family never books a trip until we know we already have enough "extra" set aside in our bank account to cover the entire estimated cost. Part of the carefree joy of the vacation is knowing it's already paid-for.
THIS..... ALL Disney sites should start off their planning information and tips pages with a statement like this. We never go on a WDW trip without knowing that we can absolutely afford it. Weve put off many trips to WDW because we had other obligations to pay for or knew our business wasnt having a good enough year and we just couldnt justify going. As much as I wanted to go, DW was level headed and put her foot down, and I was smart enough to listen to her.
Each of our trips are planned so we know almost down to the penny what we are going to be spending, with money in reserve for extras that may come, and we are certain we have the available funds.
 
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JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
Hello All. Thanks for your replies on this! The good news is...I handle the money in the family :) I think setting up a second bank account is certainly doable, however, we were looking to switch banks after my car loan is paid off, which took a hit due to a pipe bursting in our basement :( Maybe I will just use an old Ally account I have to do that.

I should of clarified in my original post that I wasn't necessarily looking for ways to save money while at Disney. We do love doing table service eating and probably would stay at a mod resort this time around (waiting for POR). More so, how did you find ways to stack up little bits here and there up until your trip? Which there was some good ideas :)

Thanks again all!
Wishing you success in building up your trip funds and making your way back soon.
 
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pixie225

Active Member
We use a Disney credit card, and have lots of $$ on the rewards redemption card to spend to pay for restaurants, souvenirs, snacks, etc. when we go to Disney next month. When we check in will put that redemption card on our account, and pay all expenses in the parks with it. Having our trip cancelled 4x a moved literally a year later helped us get way more than we would have had!
 
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Hcalvert

Well-Known Member
I buy $500 Disney gift cards (4% off) at BJs with my Chase Disney credit card. So, I still get 5% like at Target. If I had the Chase Freedom credit card and buy the gift cards when they have 5% back on warehouse purchases, I would technically save 9%.
 
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