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!