In my last post (click here to see it), I praised the Disney Store for being social with their customers through “social media.”
What a novel idea, right? It saddens me to say that this is a rare practice for large organizations these days. What’s more rare is seeing the heads of large organizations connecting with customers on social media platforms.
As a rule, I don’t open unsolicited credit card offers. They go straight to the trash. But when I recently received one with mouse ears on the envelope, I made an exception. I’ve previously discussed my experience as a Disney Visa card holder . The offer I recently received was to upgrade to the new Disney Premier Visa.
Looking through the information I received, I saw that the difference between the Premier card and the one I currently I have is that I would get Disney Dream Reward Dollars for 2 percent of my purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Disney locations instead of the 1 percent the standard card offers. This is pretty significant, as most of my charges are in those categories. This would almost double the Disney Dream Reward Dollars I would get.
Another new feature on the Premier card is that in addition to redeeming the Dream Reward Dollars for a Disney gift card, I could also use them to help pay for airline travel on any airline. This is particularly appealing this year as my kids don’t want to go to Disney World . If we don’t go to a Disney destination, there will be a significant part of my normal vacation savings that I won’t be able to use. With the Premier card, I can still use my Dream Reward Dollars even if we don’t go to a Disney park.
There are also a few new designs for the cards, but that wasn’t that big a deal to me. So what was the catch? Ah, there it was at the very end of the brochure—a $49 annual fee. The standard Disney Visa has no annual fee. Another rule I have is that I won’t have a card with an annual fee. Why pay for the “privilege” of giving your business to the credit card company?
But I have to make an exception here. After doing a little quick math in my head, I figured that the extra 1 percent in Dream Reward Dollars on groceries, gas, and restaurants would amount to $15 a month or so, maybe even $20. That’s around $200 a year more. Allowing for the $49 in annual fees, I’m still earning over $100 a year extra for my vacation.
But wait—there’s more! If I acted now, for the first three months I had my Premier card, I would earn a whopping 5 percent in Dream Reward Dollars for gas, groceries, and restaurants. That alone would cover the first couple years of annual fees.
So, needless to say, I signed up for the Disney Premier Visa. I look forward to the extra vacation savings with my new card.
I recently received an offer from Disney. They would send me a free $25 gift card if I would call the number they gave me and listen to a 10-minute presentation on the Disney Vacation Club. Never one to pass up anything free, I took them up on this offer.
I’ve looked at DVC before. I really do like the concept of owning a little piece of Disney World. And with us going there every year, it sounds like it might save us money in the long run. But every time I’ve considered buying into DVC, I’ve never been able to see the cost savings. At the time I received my offer, they were offering discounts of up to $20 per point purchased. If there was ever a time to buy into it, this was it.
As some of you know I was blessed with a healthy nephew this past November. With Christmas around the corner, I wanted to get him something that would be different. He would be growing out of clothes like crazy and not too much he could do with toys at a month old. His routine is mostly eat, sleep, and poop. I wanted his gift to have a Disney theme of course. You are never too young to be introduced to Disney.
On one wall of T. Rowe Price’s The Great Piggy Bank Adventure in Epcot’s Innoventions, the Piggy Bank offers tips on how to save money for your goals. One of my recurring goals that requires a substantial amount of saving is a trip to Walt Disney World. Let’s see how the Piggy Bank’s tips can play out when saving for a trip to the Vacation Kingdom.
Want an easy, fun way to teach your children (or yourself) the fundamentals of investing? Then head over to Innoventions West at Epcot. There, you’ll find The Great Piggy Bank Adventure to be both a fun game and a great teaching tool.
The Great Piggy Bank Adventure, presented by investment firm T. Rowe Price, has participants competing not against each other, but against “the Wolf,” in an effort to achieve the goal they set for themselves. In doing so, the Adventure covers four “financial building blocks”—1) set goals, 2) save, 3) remember inflation, and 4) diversify.
Disney seems to have a preference for families of four or less. Most of its resort rooms hold a maximum of four people. But what are you to do if your family is bigger than average? What if you have more than four? Well, you can always stay off-site, for instance, at a vacation home. If you want the theming and amenities of a Disney resort, you could also stay at a Disney Deluxe Resort. All of the Deluxes except Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge sleep five. A DVC rental is an option, too. A 2-bedroom villa sleeps eight while a 3-bedroom Grand Villa sleeps twelve. But “Deluxe” may not fit your budget. Let’s see what options are available for families over four who want to stay on-property, but are on a budget.
. . . I’ve been meaning to write you for some time. As a Disney shareholder, I want to pass along an idea that I feel will add to Disney’s profits to the shareholders while also providing more value to Disney’s loyal customers.
There was a time when Disney re-released its animated features to the theaters every seven years or so in order that a new generation of children could experience these classics. This practice ended shortly after VCRs and other home video players became popular. The feeling was that since the movies were available to watch in one’s home, releasing the movies in the theaters wouldn’t generate enough revenue to be worth the effort. However, I disagree and humbly suggest that the Walt Disney Company renew this practice and begin re-releasing its library of animated classics into theaters.
In 2008, I retired from a 22-year career in the military and started law school. My wife and I were worried about losing all that income and living on only her paycheck, my student loans, and the savings we had built up in anticipation of the break. But a line from “The Bare Necessities” kept me in the right frame of mind for our new lifestyle: “When you find out you can live without it and go along not thinking about it, I tell you something true—the bare necessities of life will come to you.” And they did.
Don’t think that because you’re budget-conscious, you can’t enjoy the excellent table service dining at Disney World. While these meals can be quite expensive, there are ways to lower the costs. Just as with the counter service restaurants, portions at the table service restaurants are large enough to make sharing feasible. Three people can split two entrees, or two people might share an entrée and appetizer, or even three appetizers. Not only do you lower your cost, you get to try a wider variety of what the restaurant has to offer. If you’re a light eater, you might also consider having an appetizer for your main course.
Vacationing at Disney World on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the convenience and experience of dining in the parks. While it is no doubt cheaper to eat food from outside the resort, there are a number of ways to save money on the food you purchase inside the parks.
The counter service food, while still more expensive than comparable fast food you’ll find at home, is way less expensive, both in terms of money and time, than eating at the table service restaurants. We eat almost all of our meals in the counter service restaurants. We come away with our bellies full without our wallets being empty and are back on the rides quickly.
I’ve previously blogged on ways to save money on your transportation to and from Disney World, on your lodging, and on your tickets. Those are the big three expenses in a trip to the theme parks. But another significant expense, one that comes up every day, is eating. Disney, like most theme parks, malls, airports, and other venues where you’re a captive audience marks up its food prices in order to maximize profit. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save money on food.
The way the story usually goes, Walt Disney was the creative force in the Disney company and his brother, Roy, handled the financial side of the house. But Walt himself was a pretty shrewd businessman who built up a multi-billion dollar company from scratch. While re-reading Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, I was reminded of some of the business and financial lessons one can learn from a study of Walt Disney’s life.
It’s said that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. Since these two unpleasant realities are unavoidable, why not deal with them in a way that helps you financially?At this time of year, many people are looking at their taxes and expenditures from the previous year. You might also take this opportunity to see if there are any changes you might make for 2011 that will free up more money to save for all things Disney.
I’d like to share with you a couple of major changes my family made in our finances that gave us several hundred more dollars a year for our savings and investments, including our savings for our Disney vacations. These tips may or may not work for you. Please consult your accountant or a financial planner before trying them yourself. This is merely what worked for one family.
What if I told you that you could have a free trip to Disney World every year? That is, a week-long trip that you would not have to use any of your hard-earned income on. Would you think I was either crazy or lying? Well, it can be done.
I used to think I was pretty savvy about ways to save money to fund trips to Disney World. I used coupons, rebates, pocket change, and other small sources to pay for around $1,000 of each of my trips. But I have been humbled, and I want to now recognize someone I believe to be the preeminent practitioner of funding the Disney Driven Life—Kristin of www.couponingtodisney.com. Last year, Kristin paid for her family’s 12-night trip to Walt Disney World, over $3200 in all, entirely with coupons, rebates, surveys, Disney Dream Rewards, and pocket change.
Are you dreaming of your next vacation? I know I am, and, if you’re anything like me, I’m guessing you’re dreaming Disney! While, times are tough all around the world, those of us fortunate enough to still be employed can make a big difference. Here at the Disney Driven Life and Inner Mouse, we have pledged to help Give Kids The World through our support of the Power Of 10 Project. Give Kids The World is a magical organization that fulfills wishes of children with life threatening illnesses by providing all expenses paid vacations to Central Florida. The Power Of 10 Project is designed to increase donations by utilizing your network of friends, family, and coworkers to help raise $1 million for Give Kids The World.
D23 gives fans a look at all things Disney, on everything from Disney Theme Parks to Disney film, television, and stage productions to the legendary Walt Disney Archives. Gold Members receive the quarterly Disney Twenty-Three magazine — plus a special gift with each magazine! For those members who aren’t close enough to take advantage of D23 special events, the magazine is the highlight of membership, and its stunning archival quality makes each issue a joy to behold. D23 also maintains a feature-filled website, offers the member the ability to attend a variety of special events, and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to meet new friends who share their affection for Disney.
I’m a Disney shareholder. Last Christmas, my wife got me one share of Disney stock to frame on my wall from www.oneshare.com. (You can get a $10 off discount from www.mousesavers.com.) The other day I received my yearly dividend check from the Disney company – $.40. Just to make it clear that I didn’t misplace a decimal point, that’s 40 cents. Wow, I thought, it cost more to print the check and mail it to me than the amount of the check. Hardly worth it. I imagined the snickers from the bank tellers when I cash the return on my investment. What can I do with 40 cents, anyway?
My Disney Visa bill for January was much more extensive than usual. My wife and I charge all of our Christmas purchases on it in order to get the 1 percent in Disney Dream Rewards Dollars: the “cash back” you get for using the card. You redeem them by ordering a gift card that can be used at the Disney Store (both physical locations and online) and at Disney theme parks and resorts.