Ways to Save for Your Disney Vacation

On this page I’ve compiled some of the most useful ideas for forcing yourself to save on a regular basis.

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Vacation Savings Account

One of the best and smartest ways to save for a Disney vacation is to open a separate savings account specifically for your vacation fund. If at all possible, jump-start the account with a lump sum, such as a tax refund. Have a certain amount auto-debited from your paychecks and deposited directly into that savings account. That way you never see the money, so there is less temptation to spend it. And of course you’ll be earning interest!

By the way, it is very worthwhile to shop around for the best banking deal. Look for FDIC insured online savings or checking accounts. Some of the online accounts are very easy to set up and use, allowing you to transfer funds from your local bank to savings easily.

Other Ways to Save Money in Small Increments

Here are some additional, relatively painless tricks people use to get themselves to save. It’s all about setting priorities — and in some cases, tricking yourself into saving. What works for one person, won’t work for another. Try one, or try ‘em all. Remember, every penny helps!

Buy US Savings Bonds

You can purchase them online and spend as little as $25 each time. US Savings Bonds must be held for at least 1 year before you can cash them in. There is a 3-month interest penalty if you cash an EE or I Bond within the first five years from its issue date. There is no penalty for cashing EE or I Bonds that are at least five years old. Bonds pay very good interest compared with a regular savings account and since they are issued by the government, they are an extremely safe investment.

Buy Disney Dollars or Disney Gift Cards

Personally I would never use this method because it doesn’t earn interest, but some people find it very helpful because you can’t spend Disney Dollars or Disney Gift Cards anywhere but Disney! You can also give your children Disney Dollars or Disney Gift Cards for birthdays and holidays, and ask relatives to do the same, so the kids will have their own spending money for the next Disney vacation.

The Change Jar

Make a rule that you never spend coins. Save all your pocket change and throw it in a big jar. Label the jar (i.e. “Our Disney Vacation”) to remind your of your goal. Periodically you can roll the coins and see how much you have. (This is a great job for kids.) Once it’s rolled, put it in your vacation savings account.

If you don’t want to roll the change, see if your bank takes unrolled change. Some banks have change-counting machines and they’ll count your coins for free or for a very small fee. There are CoinStar machines in many grocery stores that will allow you to dump in a ton of change and get a slip redeemable for bills at the cashier, but you’ll pay a hefty premium (somewhere around 9%) for the service; if you do this, at least pluck out the quarters and roll those!

Variations on the change jar: Never spend quarters, or never spend dollar bills. Put those in the jar.

Checkbook Games

When writing a check, round up your checkbook entry to the nearest dollar. For instance, if you write a check for $57.12, record it in your checkbook as $58. Not only does this help you prevent overdrafts, it also means you’re accumulating a little extra in your account every time you write a check. Another good thing about this method is that you’re earning interest on that extra money, assuming you have an interest-bearing checking account.

Round down your deposit entries to the nearest dollar. For instance, if you deposit $300.91, record it as $300. Again, you’re accumulating a little extra “ghost” money in your account.

A variation on the checkbook rounding method: charge yourself a dollar every time you write a check, plus round up. So if the check was for $47.39, round it up to $48 and add a dollar, making the entry in your checkbook $49.

Another variation on the checkbook rounding method: round up to the nearest five dollars. So if the check was for $52.23, round it up to $55. If it was for $9.51, round it up to $10.

Saving Your Savings

MouseSavers.com reader Todd E from Grand Rapids, MI contributed this great idea:

“At most grocery stores after you check out and look at the receipt, it shows you how much you ‘saved today’ by purchasing sale items, using coupons, or the store discount card. We use this as an incentive to purchase these sale items and use coupons, as whatever the amount is that we ‘saved today’ automatically goes into our travel account. Whatever this amount is, we write a check to our travel account and deposit it immediately via ATM… and we have disabled the withdrawal option on this ATM account.

In addition, if we hit our 50% goal, e.g. if the grocery bill was $150 and the amount we ‘saved today’ was at half of that, we give our 2 small kids $5 to put in their Disney piggy bank. You wouldn’t believe how much this cuts down on impulse buys and the requisite mommy and daddy begging that goes on while shopping. So in addition to a having a great way to save, our 6 and 5 year old kids will have about $100 each of their own money that they are allowed to buy whatever they like, with no interference from mom and dad.”

More Tips and Tricks

If a payment ends, keep making it — to yourself! For instance, if you pay off a car or a credit card, keep making that payment, but instead write the check to yourself and deposit it into your vacation savings account.

Make a rule that “found” money goes in the vacation fund. For instance, if you get a rebate, tax refund, gift check or work bonus, deposit it in the vacation account.

Give yourself an allowance for cash expenditures (i.e. groceries, gas, meals out, entertainment, etc.) and make a game of seeing how much of your allowance you can NOT spend. Anything left over at the end of the week (or month) goes into the vacation fund.

Charge everything to a cash-back credit card and pay the card off each month. (Only do this if you can handle the temptation to overspend on plastic, and if you really will pay the balance off every single month.If you won’t pay it off monthly, this is a bad idea.) Use the cash-back bonus toward your vacation.

Cut out one small daily expense and put the money you’re saving into your vacation fund. The savings can really add up. If you save $1 a day on something you buy at work, and you work 5 days a week x 50 weeks, that’s $250 a year! For example:

Ask your family to help you save. Often children aren’t very aware of how much small expenses can add up over time. If you point out that every nickel they can save the household will get them closer to seeing Mickey, they may surprise you! Solicit their ideas and suggestions, and then agree to put aside what you’ve saved for your vacation fund. Be sure you have a plan for keeping the saved money separate, so that it doesn’t get spent elsewhere. That might mean writing a check for the amount of money saved and depositing it into your vacation account, or putting that amount of cash into the change jar. Whatever it is, do it consistently.

Here are a few ideas your family might consider: