“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
By nature, I am what some might call blindly passionate. I don’t always use this description as a positive attribute of my personality. It causes me to not only think with my heart, but to also act with my heart before actually engaging my brain. Some say I wear my heart on my sleeve. You might say I tend to act on my emotions. It’s no wonder why Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen has alwasys been one of my favorite books.
This way of life has been good for me during times when I was able to better my life or the lives of others through my decisions. Where it has not been helpful, though, has been in the area of finances. This fact, coupled with my deep sense of wanderlust and my deep desire to steal precious time with my family before my kids grew up, caused a great financial burden. Acting emotionally without regard to the financial means necessary to fund my decisions was a very big mistake and a hard lesson to learn.
Charging big vacations onto credit cards with no extra income to pay it off was definitely not the way to go. At the risk of sounding preachy, I want to provide an alternate solution, as I don’t want anyone else to end up where we were. I feel that it’s important to keep other young families from repeating my mistakes. So, today, I am sharing way too much about my personal life in order to reach out to help others make better decisions.
There are great ways to travel with your family while being financially responsible. I know that, when budgeting for your family, a Disney vacation is not a necessity (although to some of us it’s as important as the air we breathe) but life is too short and children grow up too fast to let the opportunity pass you by. Using these 5 Simple Steps to Budget for Your Dream Vacation will enable you to experience the best of both worlds.
Step 1: Start with a Budget
Create your monthly budget and decide how much expendable income you have once all expenses are paid each month. Be sure to have a cushion for emergencies as there are always emergencies. Sticking with a budget is easy for some but harder for others. As ridiculous as it may sound, I do better with everything if it’s decorated or wrapped in a pretty package. This even goes for my budget and my cash envelopes.
I make out my budget with pretty embellishments. As you can see, my line item for vacation is Mickey icons going across the page with a Mickey at the end. This reminds me that I have something awesome to which to look forward and something great that I’m working toward!!
Step 2: Pay in Cash
Use cash envelopes for everyday expenses. I personally care much more about what I spend when I’m actually paying cash from an envelope than when I’m swiping my debit card. It helps me to curb my spending when I can actually see how much I will have left in that category if I make the purchase. It’s funny how opportunity costs can sway your judgment about things you previously wanted. As you might guess, I made these pretty cash envelopes (above) so I am more likely to use them. Having decorative envelopes just makes me happy; they’re much better than plain white ones. Plus, I designed them to fit perectly in my wallet.
Step 3: Price your Trip
There are so many different options available when planning your Disney trip. Some things to consider are:
- Will you drive or fly? Flying can add quite a big chunk to your vacation budget.
- Which type of resort will work for your family? I can work with you to help you decide what is best for your family.
- How many days do you want to visit the parks? Do you want to park-hop to visit more than one park in a day? Again, I can advise you on this.
- Would you prefer to have a dining plan or do you want to pay out of pocket for meals? There are many things to consider here and this decision often depends greatly on the budget.
- Do you want the memory maker photo package?
- Will you want to purchase travel insurance?
Working with an agent (like me) who has your best interest at heart and can help you to decide these things is paramount. It is good to have a resource who is free to you but can help you plan your trip. If your trip needs to be tweaked to fit into the budget, we will work on that together.
Step 4: Add the Trip to Your Budget
Once you decide on the best options for your trip, you will be required to pay a $200 deposit on your reservation. After subtracting that $200, you will need to divide the remaining balance by the number of months remaining to pay it off. Make sure that amount fits comfortably within your budget. It is then time to add that to your “Dream Vacation” line item in your monthly budget (just like mine with the Mickey line).
Step 5: Set up a Payment Plan
Some people put their vacation savings into a savings account or a sinking fund. Luckily, I can provide the servicing for your vacation savings by working out a payment plan for you. I have many guests for whom I maintain payment plans. I simply keep their debit or credit card on file and make payments from it.
I tailor-make the plans based on my guests’ wishes. Some guests receive monthly paychecks so they prefer a payment to be made in a certain amount on a certain day of every month. Some are paid bi-weekly, so I process a payment for them in a certain amount every other Friday. Other guests pay in chunks every once in a while, so they send me a message asking me to process a $500 payment on the 13th, for example. Making payments definitely makes it easier to pay for your vacation. This same method works for your Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani, or any other trips booked through me.
Making payments toward my own vacations is so much better than trying to tackle a bill after all the fun is just a memory. It’s my pleasure to help my guests however I can too. How do you budget for your trips? Do you pay all at once or a little at a time? Regardless of how you fund it, your Dream Vacation is waiting!
How can I help?