Our Budget and How We Save!
[Note: This post was edited 1/31/13 to show our actual costs once I booked our hotel and rental car! We got great deals considering it’s a busy season!]
When you’re planning a trip, it’s very important to plan a budget and stick to it! We don’t have kids, and I just got a new job, so we had a little bit of expendable income…hence…DISNEY! Once we decided on a budget, that determined the length of our trip. While I love spending 5 days at Disneyland, you really CAN spend two days there and see everything essential, if you don’t have kiddos with you. I’ve also learned on my favorite podcast Moustalgia how to “manage my expectations”. We are only spending 3 days, so we aren’t going to get to do EVERYTHING. We are going to skip some of the rides V didn’t enjoy last time (his long legs don’t fit on Winnie the Pooh, for example), and we won’t be riding a lot of rides twice.
Here Was Our Initial Budget:
- Hotel, Airfare, and Disney: $500 each
- Food/Ground Transportation/Miscellaneous: $400
- Total: $1400
Now, I had a few thinking errors with our trip, because I foolishly planned off of our calendar, instead of the Disney calendar! We decided we needed to go over spring break because we are both taking classes right now, and V is in his last term. This meant that our airfare was WAY more expensive than I was planning. Which led to a little bit of a slippery slope. Remember to travel in the “cheap” seasons. Between New Years and Spring Break, and the month of September are the cheapest months.
- Airfare total cost: $477 for both of us, flying JetBlue into Long Beach
Now, here is where the thinking error was. EVERYPLACE advertised that Long Beach was a close airport, and it was easy to get to Disney However, they did not mention it cost twice as much for the airport shuttle than LAX or SNA. I’ve learned my lesson now…never again. Because of this, we are probably going to rent a car. If we can save up a little, its worth it for the convenience In my last post, I had estimated the cost difference based off flying into John Wayne.
- Rental Car: $118 for 3 days (parking is included in our ticket cost…more later)…plus the convenience. We were able to get this great rate through priceline.
- Ground Transit: 90 for the shuttle+ 24 for the resort transit= $124 dollars.
- $150 for 3 nights, booking through The CHP group corporate discount! Thanks Mom! This is for a 2 star hotel in Anaheim, with free parking and a continental breakfast!
- $225 each for a 3 day park hopper tickets. Booked through the CHP Group. For about $5 more we could have went through AAA and gotten free Disneyland Parking, but our Hotel is accross from the parking lot, so there was really no point.
- $150 total. We have Costco gift cards we’ll be using to buy lunch fixins and snacks, continental breakfasts at the hotel, and two counter-service dinners in the park. We are also planning on Splurging on a dinner at the Blue Bayou! I’ve never eaten there before, but as this is a “romantic” trip…:)
This gives us a little extra for treats and souvenirs! As we are planning on packing meals, we should do less on food too!
How We Save:
- I make an expense spreadsheet on excel. Any purchases outside of our monthly “necessities” (food, gas, bills) go on that spreadsheet. The catch is, I put that “budget” amount at the top of the page. Every time I make a purchase, I watch that money go out of the disney budget. It’s a pretty good motivator to cut out the “extras”. Starbucks, snacks, and fast food REALLY adds up!
- Any money we get from returns (i.e. Christmas returns, etc) goes into the Disney budget.
- Same for gift cards (to Costco, Disney, etc).
- If you know you are planning a trip, tell your friends and family! Sometimes they will give you money or a Disney giftcard in lieu of another gift. On our trip last Christmas V’s parents gave us cash, and my grandparents gave us gift cards and it paid for ALL our food for the trip!
- $5 savings: Every time you get a $5 it goes in the jar. At the end of the week I put all my change in the jar too.
- Can Returns! We save our cans and take them in once a month. It’s only a few dollars…but guess what? That’s an extra churro!!!
- Be smart with your money. In other words, the same way you save for anything else! We cut back on other fun things, because we know that Disney is worth it.
How does your family save at Disneyland on a Budget?
Any tips for me?
Did you miss: Disneyland on a REAL Budget Part 1?
Tune in Next Sunday for Part Three: Other Tips for Disney Magic Moments Without Breaking the Bank