Wishes And Pixie Dust

Follow the journey of a Wisconsin family of 4 who relocated to the Walt Disney World area in July 2011

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Taking Risks

We have been anticipating this move unofficially since 2007, where all of the planning details have taken place mentally, in our heads, and verbally, as we discuss the details with each other.  It has been, and continues to be, an unspoken truth that there is risk involved.

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily.  To not dare is to lose oneself.  ~Soren Kierkegaard

We have great news on the apartment situation.  We were able to get in touch with the apartment manager regarding the 3 bedroom apartment that will be available in July, and we have submitted our application in.    The pieces all seem to be fitting into place:  there is a waiting list for this type of apartment, and it was offered to all current residents first, but all declined, and the apartment manager had only put the apartment listing online an hour or so before we saw it.   She said it’s not common for vacancies to be available, and for one to be available at just the time we need it, wow!  We are praising God for His mercies!

So we are moving forward with our dream, and hope to hear confirmation next week.  We are also very nervous.  We have an excellent reference from our landlord, and we more than meet their income requirements, but we do recognize the fact that we are out-of-state residents, and may be judged more critically than potential renters who live in Florida.   We will also lose $149 in application fees if not approved.  We have known for awhile that the application fees were a necessity, but it’s hard to send a check for $149, not knowing if it will bear fruit or just be money lost.  We refuse to think in the negative, however, and will assume the apartment is ours, and adjust our plans later if need be.

We also met with our Mayflower rep yesterday, who brought us some more cardboard boxes.  There was an issue with the original price he quoted us, and he was very nervous, but as it turns out, all is well, and our new price is $3 cheaper!

Thanks for following along~  We hope soon to have an update on the apartment situation.

Mark & Jen


Random Thoughts…

As we continue with our packing and moving forward with our dream of relocating to Florida, we thought this would be a good time to update you on different things related to our move.

Packing :       The boxes are slowly being packed, and we continue making our weekly trips to Goodwill. We are up to 47 boxes packed.  🙂   We have all our holiday decorations and supplies in plastic totes, and we have decided to transfer them to moving boxes, for two reasons.  One, it helps us to cull what we have, and two, it prevents probable breakage and ensures our holiday belongings will not be rolling inside a Mayflower moving truck!  We have not yet decided if the totes will be moving with us, or if we will buy new ones in Florida.

We did not reach our goal of completely packing the downstairs by Easter, but we have made a considerable dent in it.  Our oak video cabinets, secretary, and wooden fish stand are on Craigslist, but we have not had much success in obtaining a buyer.  We will leave them on there for now, but will soon be reaching a point (because of space issues) where we will need to make the decision to donate the items and forego the cash we may have earned from the sale. Another option is a rummage sale, but we really do not feel it is worth our time and energies to pursue this, to possibly earn a few dollars.

Medical :        We are making sure that all our medical appointments are scheduled in before we leave.  We are really fond of the doctors that we are established with here locally, and it will be hard for us to make the adjustment to find new ones in Clermont, but we don’t want that to be a pressing issue at first.   Vision and dental appointments have been taken care of, and the children will be obtaining physicals this summer before we leave.  This is a requirement of the school district in Clermont.  We are just waiting to finalize our housing plans in May, and then we will be able to obtain the appropriate form needed.

Soccer :      Our daughter is gearing up to begin her soccer season:  she will be able to attend all practices and games except for the final tournament, which we believe will be held on the Saturday after we leave.  The schedule is not up yet, so we don’t know for sure. We will need to purchase new cleats and shin guards this year, but she loves soccer and plans to continue it in Clermont once we move, so it is a worthwhile expense.   Due to our move, Mark decided not to coach her team this year, a decision we feel is best for all concerned.

It’s Getting Closer!      We are getting more and more excited as our moving date draws closer.  We are thankful that we have had time to sort through all our “stuff” and weed out the unimportant things.  We feel that we are on a good time table– we are under three months but we have a lot accomplished.  No, we did not meet our downstairs packing goal, but we are not far off from it.   In the month of May we should be able to finalize our apartment choice, which is awesome!, and while June and July will be busy months, we will not be frantic and stressed out because there is so much to do.  Jen plans to do some scrapbooking in May and June, as the craft room/sunroom will be the last room packed. We have discovered that staying organized is the key to a successful move.    We have tried to anticipate all our potential expenses and needs, set up a time table and work a little bit every day doing something in preparation for the move.   A box packed, or a file folder of papers shredded is one less thing that needs to be done in July.  Every night we listen to one of Lou Mongello’s podcasts, which really inspires us to keep moving forward and realize our dream of living in warm, sunny Florida with Disney World just a short drive away.

Thanks for following along!

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50 Ways to Finance Your Dream

Dreams….. we all have them.  Whether your dream follows our path (relocation to Florida) or a completely different road (such as investing in a small business), there is one common denominator necessary to see our dreams through.  Of course we are referring to the financial backing….money….. needed to reach our goals.   You may be at a point in your life where you feel you will never attain your dream, short of a miracle or winning the lottery.

Disneyland and Walt Disney World are the result of one man’s dreams. As Walt Disney himself stated:  “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”   You will find reference to hopes and dreams in most (if not all) Disney movies, from Snow White and Cinderella to The Princess and The Frog and Tangled.

One of the reasons we made the decision to relocate to Florida  is to have the opportunity to live within close proximity of Walt Disney World, and be able to experience the magic and dreams that exist wholly throughout the parks.  When you visit Walt Disney World, it truly is a magical and unique experience, one that we feel shouldn’t be relegated to occurring on an infrequent basis, such as once a year.  We want to be immersed in the Disney magic on a weekly basis.

In order to make our dream a reality, we need to financially be able to afford it.  We have come across several ways of saving money in the past five or so years that we’ve dreamed about our dream, and we want to share them here with you.  We haven’t utilized all of these ideas, but wanted to include them, because what works for us may not work for you, and vice versa. It includes ideas for direct savings, as well as ways to reduce your everyday expenses.   We hope this provides a way for you to jump start your dream.  Please remember that it is never too early to start saving to make your dream a reality.

1.  Start purging your items now if you are planning a long-distance move.  Trust us, it is never too early to start this!

2.  Think about how often you use an item.  Unless it is an heirloom piece or something that holds sentimental value, consider tossing it. Only keep things you love or you know you will use on a regular basis.  The less things you have to move, the easier and cheaper your move will be.

3.  Donate your unwanted items to Goodwill or other thrift stores and take the charitable donation deduction.  The IRS puts out Publication 561, which helps you to determine the value of your donated property.  http://www.irs.gov/publications/p561/index.html

4.  Sell your unwanted items on Craigslist.  We have had limited success with this avenue.  We do recommend that you start early with this process, and not wait until a week before you move.  It tends to be a slow process, because people have a tendency not to show up.

5.  Sell your unwanted items on Ebay.   This is a great way to sell certain items, but we recommend searching the site before you list to ensure there is a demand for what you want to sell.

6.  Have a piggy bank and put all your spare change, and Craigslist/Ebay sales into it.  Target has some cute piggy banks available in their stores, but it can be as simple as a decorated coffee can.  (We did this for our last trip to the World).  It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you apply the concept.

7.  If you primarily use debit/credit cards, make a special trip to the bank to get a roll of quarters (or bills) to put into your piggy bank.

8.  Set up automatic transfers to a separate savings or checking account designated primarily for your goal.    You can either do this through your bank, or through your employer.  We recommend setting this up through your employer, because you will not miss the money if it comes directly out of your paycheck.

9.  All raises should go to your goal.

10.  All bonuses and tax refunds should go to your goal.

11.  All unexpected money should go to your goal.

12.  Use coupons at the grocery store and Walmart, and put the savings into your piggy bank or separate account.

13.  Use cash only.  It’s harder to overspend when you run out of cash.

14.  Consider opening up a Disney Rewards Visa account or other rewards type account that offers you cash back on your purchases.  We currently have $150 in Disney Dream Dollars that we will be able to use at Walt Disney World.

15.  Eliminate a “want” from your budget and stash the savings into your account.  An example would be cutting your soda consumption: if you currently drink one-12pk of soda each week, try reducing it to 2 12 pks per month.  This is a savings of 2 12pk of soda each month:  2 x $4 x 12 = $96 yearly.

16.  Bring your lunch to work.

17.  Limit the amount of times you eat out.  With few exceptions, it is much cheaper and healthier to eat your meals at home.

18.  Stop wasting food.  All leftovers should be eaten, and only buy enough fresh vegetables that you will eat before they spoil.

19.  Utilize your library:   *rent* videos for free.  check out audiobooks, and read new releases.

20.  Use less detergent in the dishwasher.  Try a couple of tablespoons per load; you can always add more the next time.  Too much detergent can damage dishes.

21.  Use the least recommended amount of laundry detergent.  I use liquid detergent and I never fill the cap past the “1” line, even for heavy loads.  Using a full cap of detergent is primarily a marketing technique to make you use more product faster.

22.  Invest in reusable microfiber cloths instead of using massive amounts of paper towels.

23.  On every ATM withdrawal, take $10 and stash it away.  At the end of the month, deposit these stashes into your separate savings/checking account.

24.  If your company offers work at home alternatives, consider utilizing this option:  you will save money on commuting costs, wardrobe costs and lunch costs.  This will also allow you to relocate a lot easier, as you will not need to find a new job.

25.  Reevaluate your automatic withdrawals.   If you have $50 a month removed from your checking account for membership fees to a health club you never go to,  cancel the membership and divert the money into your goal.

26.  Reevaluate your car and home insurance.  Can you raise the deductible and reduce payments?  Do you have full coverage on older vehicles?  Contact your insurance agent to see if there are any savings you are not taking advantage of.

27.  To reduce heat costs, apply weatherstripping to drafts and turn down the thermostat.  For every degree you set back your thermostat for 8 hours, you can save about 2% on your bill.  Install a programmable thermostat, which automatically turns the heat down at night or during periods when you’re not home.

28.  Electricity:  About 20% of your electricity bill goes for lighting, but only 1/10th of that amount actually produces the light.   The rest is wasted on the heat that incandescent lightbulbs produce.   Switch to CFL’s (compact fluorescent bulbs) and you can save significantly on your bill.

29.  Unplug devices you do not use on a regular basis.  Even if not used, these items are still using power.  Items to unplug include the microwave, shredder, toaster oven, and extra TVs.

30.  When planning to save for a relocation or other dream, be sure your savings goals are specific, realistic and measurable.    To say: “I’m going to save $100 this month by transferring $25 a week into my savings account” is much better than saying “I’m going to save $1200 this year”.

31.  Check out http://www.freecycle.org for a local Freecycle group in your city or area.  This is a great way to acquire items you need at very little cost to you (only your time and gas required to pick the item up).   It is also a great way to dispose of other items you no longer need.

32.  Once you pay off your car loan or credit card bill, continue making those payments to your savings account.

33.  Consider downsizing your vehicles.  Do you really need a second car, or is it more of a convenience?    We recently sold our second car, and we were able to pay off the loan on our first car, plus reduce our insurance costs.

34.  Move.  If you live in a high-cost area, consider moving to a low-cost area if possible.  We expect our utilities to be cut in half once we move to Florida.

35.  Shop the thrift stores.  Name brand clothes can be acquired for a fraction of the cost.

36.  Consider taking on a part-time job to vamp up your savings goals.

37.  If you subscribe to cable, drop the movie channels and rent new releases.  We were able to secure a copy of Tangled at a Redbox and only paid .53 cents to see it.

38.  Give up one luxury item for one month.

39.  When writing a check, write it over so you receive change and put it in your piggy bank.

40.  Before ordering online, do a search first to see if there are online coupon codes that will save you money.

41.  Check out the “free” listings on Craigslist

42.  Use social media to gain free items:  “Like” pages on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter to enter giveaways and contests.

43.  Pay your credit card bills on time to avoid late charges.  Set up an online account to monitor your charges.

44.  If your supermarket offers mobile coupons sent to your cell phone, take advantage of them.

45.  Sign up for a Target Redcard.   Every purchase made with your Redcard will give you a 5% savings.

46.  Transfer your prescriptions to Target.  For every five prescriptions filled, you will receive a coupon in the mail for an additional 5% off your next purchase.    That’s 10% off your purchase using your Redcard.

47.  Have a rummage or yard sale.

48.  Only use ATMs that do not charge you a fee.

49.  Buy a Sunday newspaper for the coupons.  And then use the coupons.  :=)  Our Sunday paper costs $1.50, and we typically get $4-$5 each week worth of coupons that we use.

50.  Go paperless as much as possible with bill payment.  It saves on the cost of stamps, checks and envelopes.

We’d love to hear if you have any money saving tips not mentioned here.    Thanks for following along!

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Spring Break

Our kids are on spring break this week, and we have no real plans except to pack boxes. Boring, yes I know.  But with the image of the Magic Kingdom popping into our heads, it makes it so much easier 🙂

Saturday we decided to make up for a lost field trip.  When Ben was in first grade, his class went to the Children’s Museum in Appleton for their major field trip of the year.  However, poor Ben was not able to go due to a stomach flu.  Sadly, yes, it has taken us this long to go there, but we decided it was a must-do before we leave Wisconsin.   I have posted some pictures of the kids having fun:

Ben standing by the human heart exhibit/slide:

Catie & Ben standing in the golf/physics area.  We had to take a picture of them standing underneath the giant golf ball, aka Epcot.

Ben operating a crane:

And of course, suiting up to drive the fire truck!

The kids co-piloting an airplane:

And the treehouse on the way out, which reminds us a little of The Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom:

In other news, we have been slowly packing boxes, and donating unwanted items to Goodwill.   While we were out shopping at Walmart today, our landlord showed our house to prospective tenants.  It seemed really weird knowing that strangers were walking through *our* house!  We officially gave notice April 1st, but he has known since January that our intent was to leave.  He is the most awesome-ist (if that is a word!) landlord ever, and we really wanted to make sure that he had as much notice as possible.  We don’t feel he will have a problem renting this house out.  It really is a great house, and while we are excited about moving into a new place, we are also sad to leave our home.  But our hearts belong in Florida, and that is where we must be.


100 days and counting…..

As we reach the 100-day milestone, we thought it would be fun to make a list of 100 things that we plan to do once we are settled in Florida.   (We consider buying annual passes to Disney as part of being “settled”; so you won’t see it on our list!)  🙂  These are in no particular order, and certainly not an exhaustive list,  just thoughts that popped into our head.

1.  Resort hop. We have only ever stayed at POR-Riverside as a family, and we really want to experience each resort on property.  So even though our current goal is to live 20 minutes away from Walt Disney World, we plan to do weekend stays at each resort, over the course of a year or two, and really take in the charm and uniqueness each resort has to offer.

2.  Enjoy a Dole Whip

3.  Attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

4.  Attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

5.  Go on a Disney Cruise!   Right now with living in Wisconsin, the price of getting to the cruise has been a huge obstacle for us.    We’re of the mindset that if we’re going to spend that much money, we’d rather spend it at WDW!    Cruises are really very reasonable as long as you don’t have to travel over a thousand miles to get to one.

6.  Explore Animal Kingdom Park. There are so many areas of AK that we have not discovered simply due to the intense Florida heat, or lack of time available to us.  We have done the basics, such as Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Festival of the Lion King, Nemo & Friends and Kilimanjaro Safari, just to name a few.  (There are more).  But it seems that there is so much more to Animal Kingdom to take in, and we are looking forward to being able to do that in the cooler Florida months, when we have the time to dedicate to it.

7.    Go to Magic Kingdom in the evening just for the parades

8.    Have brunch at Chef Mickey’s

9.    Ride the monorails, just for the fun of it

10.  Start a new tradition of celebrating birthdays at Walt Disney World

11.  Ride Splash Mountain at night during Wishes

12.  Ride Big Thunder at night during Wishes

13.  Listen to Lou Mongello’s audio guides while on Main Street/Adventureland/Fantasyland/Liberty Square and take the time to absorb all the details

14.  Have lunch at Le Cellier

15.  Watch Illuminations on a winter’s night, enjoying the fact that it is warm & there is no snow on the ground

16.  Go to Universal

17.  Go to Sea World

18.  Explore the beaches of Florida–kids have never been to the ocean before.  We plan to go to both sides of Florida:  The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean

19.  Dinner with FL friends

20.  Being able to meet Facebook friends who do not live in Florida but come to Walt Disney World on vacation.  Shelley Urick Jones , we look forward to meeting you!

21.  Lou Mongello’s WDW Radio Meets of the Month

22.  Exploring the city of Clermont and getting to know our new home city

23.  Spending time in the Parks with Stephen and Judy Demeritt

24.  Meeting Marilyn Johnson in person!

25.  Go to Gatorland

26.  Enjoy the Osborne lights at the Studios as many times as possible

27.  Enjoy making new friendships with all our Facebook friends who live in Florida

28.  Walking through the World Showcase at Epcot while our kids are in school.  We have not been able to explore all the countries because of the kids not wanting to spend time there.

29.  The various shopping opportunities, not only at Walt Disney World, but at the many outlet malls in Orlando and the surrounding areas.  Ikea!

30.  Just enjoying the whole adventure of relocating to a new state!

31.  Day trips to explore Florida:  cities in particular that pop into our heads for no particular reason are Tampa, Naples, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville.

32.  Shelling at Sanibel Island

33.  Chuckling to ourselves in February when the temperature is 80 and sunny, knowing that back in Wisconsin it is probably blowing and snowing and bitterly cold.  Will we miss snow?  No we will not!

34.  Taking in Bob Jackson’s show at the Port Orleans Riverside resort!

35.  Staying at the Port Orleans Riverside resort for old times sake!

36.  Christmas shopping at Downtown Disney

37.  Riding down the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans Riverside to Downtown Disney (and vice versa)

38.  Exploring the cities of Lake County

39.  Visiting Celebration for leaf drop (to replace the Fall we will be missing in Wisconsin)

40.  Being there for opening day of the new Fantasyland

41.  Resort hopping at Christmas to see all the different Christmas decorations

42.  Counting garbage cans to make sure the Demeritts caught them all  😉

43.  Trying on every hat that is sold on Disney property

44.  Food and Wine Festival

45.  Enjoy a carrot cake cookie

46.  Visit Star Wars weekend

47.   Dinner, lunch and/or breakfast with Lou Mongello

48.   Movie at the Downtown Disney AMC theatre

49.  Trying all 500 flavors in the Coke Freestyle Dispenser

50.  DisneyQuest

51.  Enjoying the streetmosphere entertainment

52.  Festival of the Masters

53.  Going to the Night of Joy

54.  Flower and Garden Festival

55.  Holidays Around the World at Epcot

56.  Sounds Like Summer at Epcot

57.  The Candlelight Processional

58.  Finding a good Friday fish fry!

59.  Visiting the Kennedy Space Center

60.  Riding TTA during Wishes

61.  Sit at each of the Parks and take time to “people watch”

62.  MLB Spring Training

63.  Pick a fresh Florida orange from a tree

64.  Go swimming on a warm December day

65.  Enjoy a “work at home day” with Craig Petermann at Epcot

66.  Take a family Christmas picture at WDW

67.  Earn all the Gowalla WDW stamps and pins

68.  Be one of “those people” checking in all over Lake Buena Vista with Foursquare

69.  Move in to our new apartment in Clermont

70.  Find the best pizza places in the area

71.  Our first Saturday library visit to our new “home” library

72.  Stroll the Boardwalk

73.  Share a Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream with the family

74.  Wild Africa Trek at AK

75.  Pirates and Pals Fireworks

76.  Backstage Magic Tour

77.  Family Magic Tour

78.  Get a haircut at The Harmony Barbershop on Main Street USA

79.  The Pirates League with Ben

80.  Keys to the Kingdom Tour

81.  Walk through Fort Wilderness Campgrounds at Christmas to see the campers’ decorations

82.  See a University of Florida football game

83.  Stay in the Magic Kingdom until the wee hours of the morning to enjoy the peace

84.  Orange Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day

85.  Have a holiday sandwich at the Earl of Sandwich

86.  Have a diabetic friendly treat at Babycakes

87.  Go to Butterfly World

88.  Swim with the manatees

89.  Explore Florida’s state parks

90.  Visit the Everglades allligator farm  http://www.everglades.com/

91.  Hearing the word blizzard and knows it only refers to a waterpark or a DQ dessert!

92.  Go to Port Canaveral and watch the Disney ships leave port

93. Finding all of the local arts and crafts shows and fairs.

94.  Getting to see the White Sox play in Tampa Bay.

95.  Being able to get more exercise by taking walks and biking the trails of Lake County year-round.

96.  Enjoying the scenery of Florida, knowing that it will stay green year round, and not become brown and dead for six months out of the year.

97.  Enjoy a hot dog at Casey’s whenever we want one

98.  Sit at Cosmic Ray’s and enjoy an entire Sunny Eclipse show

99.  Take a yearly family picture in front of Cinderella Castle.

100. A family picture and mini-celebration immediately after we cross the Florida state line on our way to becoming Florida residents!