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.
It all started when Kristin began planning her family’s first trip to Disney World. In 2008, after initially thinking that such a vacation was outside her family’s budget, Kristin began learning and practicing different ways to save money, such as using coupons, rebates, and online surveys. Combined with money from her at-home job, the family was able to make the trip in 2009. They had such a wonderful time on their “once in a lifetime” trip that they decided that they needed yearly trips to the magic. So, as not to drain the family’s budget, Kristin challenged herself to pay for the entire trip this time using none of their income. She would save the whole amount by being a smart shopper.
But Kristin wasn’t content to merely save for her family’s trip. She started blogging about her savings goal in 2009, in order to keep herself motivated. Much like our own JL Knopp, what began as a blog developed into a website, where Kristin continues to write about her own savings, while sharing her strategies with others.
Kristin’s site both inspires and informs. You can get inspiration by reading Kristin’s weekly blogs announcing how much she contributed to her vacation fund that week and the various sources from which she got the money. Additionally, there are forums where other budget-conscious Disneyphiles post their own successes in saving for their upcoming trips.
Kristin also provides solid information. First, she gives a ton of ideas on how to raise and save extra money for your trip. But she doesn’t stop there. She posts information about where to get the coupons. There are links to various websites offering different coupons, rebates, and free samples. Kristin tells you which national chain stores are having deals, particularly deals on Disney-related merchandise. She tells you which online survey and rebate programs she’s personally used that can put a little extra money into your Disney savings bank. Finally, this site doesn’t just give you financial information. There’s also “Training” for both Disney World and Disneyland, with plenty of practical tips on how to tour the parks, manage Disney transportation, see the most and do the most. A recent addition is “Minniemizing for the Mouse,” where Kristin shares her progress in her goal to lose weight before her next trip to Disney.
While everyone may not be able to finance their entire vacation through coupons, rebates, and the like, I do believe every Disney Driven Person can pick up a few tips from Couponing to Disney that they can incorporate in their own budget. Even if you’re not able to pay for your entire trip, the extra money you save may mean the difference between being able to go every year or only every other year. Or, you may rather painlessly save enough extra money to stay a few nights longer, or save the money needed for “extras,” like a La Nouba show, an upgrade in your resort, or a fireworks cruise. Whatever your budget, I believe we can all learn a thing or two from Kristin’s site.
Contributed by: Mark Jeffries (NDD#102) Mark is the DDL Finance Blogger.