Okay, you caught me. This is not a post describing some secret free Disney vacation (if you find one of those, tell me.) This is, however, a list of ways to do Disney without spending a dime of your regular, every day earnings. Today is all about the saving/earning/finding of the money to spend on a trip, whether you’re planning an extravagant vacation or are on a tiny budget. In another post, we’ll talk specifically about how to do a Disney vacation on a small budget. I also want to acknowledge that not everyone is interested in visiting Disney. That’s perfectly fine, whatever your reason. These ideas that I’m sharing today will work for any trip you’re hoping to take, so I hope you find something that helps you get where ever you’re hoping to visit.
The first thing you need to do is ballpark a budget for your trip. Are you staying on property? Which one? Will you get the dining plan? Photo pass? Are there extra tours or events you’re interested in? Your first step is to get a quote on everything you’re hoping to do. You can do this yourself over at the Walt Disney World website, but I highly suggest using a Disney travel specialist. I book our Disney adventures with Mickey Travels ~ Kristy Vamvakitis. Her services are free and it will save you so much hassle when it’s time for booking, dining reservations, and all the questions that will come up. It’s really wonderful to have someone that understands Disney inside and out to help you with your planning! Once you have an idea what your vacation is going to run you, you can start putting money away for your trip.
When it comes to saving money, your options will vary depending on your income and fixed expenses. The following list is nowhere near comprehensive, but it’s a few of the things that we did to sock money away for our trip. I haven’t included things like, “Giving up your morning Starbucks” or “Take your own lunch” simply because my family has already done those things in our quest to simplify. However, they are completely valid and should be considered if they apply to you. Whichever method you choose, the more you do it, the faster your money will pile up!
- Do you drink soda?
- If your state participates in a bottle deposit program, set aside all the returnable bottle money.
- Collect all your change.
- Whenever you pay cash, put aside the change. You really will be amazed at how fast it adds up.
- Set aside all gift money.
- Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas… whatever the occasion put away any money you receive.
If saving small amounts doesn’t get you to Disney as fast you’d like, you could consider starting a side hustle to get you there. Here are a few ideas that worked for us. Obviously, there are a ton of possibilities!
- Sell, sell, sell
- Crafts on Etsy, collectibles on eBay, old clothes at a garage sale, baked goods at a craft show; any of these could bring in a chunk of money for you.
- A part-time job
- Depending on what you do, you may be able to pick up a gig or two, as opposed to a regular job. For instance, my husband has worked as a judge for local marching band and winterguard competitions and we both helped coordinate a wedding. All that money went straight to our Disney trip.
I don’t literally mean finding money laying around, even if that would be super exciting and helpful! I’m talking about taking advantage of less obvious sources of cash. Here are a few that we used.
- Credit Card Rewards
- The Chase Disney Visa gives you 1% back on all your purchases in the form of “Disney Dollars”. Now, I never recommend building credit card debt, but if you pay off your balances monthly you can earn a good amount with this card. If you use the card to make your reservations, you may receive a discount. There are also referral bonuses that will really speed up the earning process. Even better, Disney Dollars are also good at the Disney Store and at some theaters for Disney movies. You can also get special character experiences as well as other in-park perks as a cardholder.
- Ebates is an app that gives you cash back for shopping on sites that you probably shop at already. It’s easy to sign up and there are chances for referral bonuses here, too. I chose to receive my cash back in the form of a quarterly check, which was immediately deposited in the “Disney account.”
- Target Gift Cards
- Target sells Disney gift cards. Any time any of us received a Target gift card I would take it to the store and buy Disney gift cards. In addition, once a year, Target generally sells their gift cards at a discount. There are limits, but if you can buy a $100 Target gift card for $80 or $90 and then go buy a $100 Disney gift card, you’ve gotten yourself a great deal! Target also sometimes gives you a gift card if you buy a certain combination of items. If they are items you were going to buy anyway, then it’s a nice way to pick up a few extra bucks that you can then use to buy Disney gift cards.
On your way!
So there you have it! I’m not kidding when I tell you that we have spent $0 of our regular income for this trip. Using the methods outlined above, we are taking a really wonderful trip to Disney without spending a dime (sort of.) I can’t wait to share our trip with you, so stay tuned for the recap early next week!
What are your favorite ways to earn/save/find extra money? Share them here or on Facebook!