For my 50th Day, I thought I’d take a step back and revisit my goal for this 365. As I wrote in my first post, we are saving for Premier Passports to Disney, which are good for one year to Disneyland and Walt Disney World concurrently. Being quite expensive ($1600 each), we need some time to save that up and spend as little out of pocket as possible. Now, you may be wondering how it is possible to save up for something without paying full price.
Enter Disney Gift Cards
Disney gift cards are extremely valuable because they are so versatile. You can use them for virtually everything Disney, from food and souvenirs in the Parks to tickets and rooms at the Resorts. Not only that, you can get them at a discount, sometimes up to 20% off or more depending on how you stack the deals. Currently, my favorite way to get discounted Disney gift cards is to purchase them at Best Buy, earning Swagbucks on the transaction, plus Best Buy Rewards.
I’m always interested in quantifying my progress towards any goal, and earning Disney gift cards is no exception. I began keeping track of my earning and saving toward Disney in 2015 when we decided to go to Disney World in late 2016. I had major sticker shock when I filled out an online form to get a quote from a Disney travel agent. Wow! I was happy that I had some time to figure out how to save money on our trip and reduce the sticker shock to a minor blip on the family budget.
That’s when I started my Google spreadsheet. I enter each gift card I buy, how I saved on it, and log the value against the amount I actually paid for it. That first year, I only had about a 12% savings for our annual Disneyland trip, but by the time we went to Disney World in 2016, I was getting my gift cards for more than 50% off! After each trip, I just roll any leftover value over to the next trip at the same percentage of savings. Some trips have better savings rates than others, due to many factors, but especially how long it takes to save up rewards and how many deals come along in the interim.
After our 2016 Disney World trip, we went to Disneyland in January 2017 on an extra trip. While planning out the trip, circumstances led me to realize we could save money by getting annual passes. We usually go in the fall with my mom and brothers, so annual passes made financial sense, even with just two trips. However, we ended up taking nine trips in all during our AP year! We had so much fun, we planned to do annual passes again, but not until after our triennial trip to Disney World in the fall of 2019.
At the beginning of this summer, I started doubling my efforts to collect discounted gift cards in earnest when it was revealed that Disneyland was going to restrict lower level passholders to California Adventure when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens next year. That meant my strategy of buying a Premier Passport for myself (for the discounts at both Disneyland and Disney World), and Deluxe Passports to Disneyland for the kids, plus their seven day Disney World tickets, wasn’t going to work. It was too much of a gamble as to when those lower level passports would be blocked out at Disneyland for next year, and I would end up taking the kids out of school too often for our trips. So the only thing that makes sense is to get Premier Passports for all three of us!
Progress Toward Our Goal
As you can see on my Home Page, our target goal is $6000. This includes the Premier Passports for myself and the kids, plus a four day ticket to Disney World for my husband, with some extra added in for food and souvenirs (and to make it a nice round number). I use the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free benefit to book hotel rooms for four nights or more, so that doesn’t factor into the gift card budget since any accommodations have to be paid with that specific credit card.
I couldn’t believe it when I entered the last transaction (gift cards from Best Buy) into my spreadsheet the other day. I am already over halfway to my goal! My savings percentage (amount saved verses out of pocket) was below 40% for our last trip at the beginning of September, but now I am getting 47%, which is impressive for the sheer amount involved ($1551 shaved off of our goal so far). On a separate page of my spreadsheet, I keep track of my earnings from Swagbucks, cash back offers, discounts, and rewards sites to calculate my savings percentage. While the ultimate goal is to only use funds from these sources, I have to balance that with taking advantage of a deal when it becomes available.
You can see how I calculated my savings in the spreadsheet below, or click here.
Stay tuned for more updates on our goal progress in the coming months!