Thursday, April 28, 2016

How setting yearly vacation goals, actually help you save money!!!

In prior posts, I've written different ways on how to save money here and there. Being that I'm not a very materialistic person, I don't own a bunch of things nor do I struggle with walking out of Target having spent more than I initially intended to...anymore. Instead of craving "things", I crave the creation of memories through experience. I enjoy taking my son to vacations - big or small - instead of going out to purchase a new toy that will inevitably be donated to our local Goodwill. 

Initially when I started to embark on my money saving journey, I didn't necessarily know what I was saving for. Which ultimately led me to spend our savings on frivolous things, making the savings pointless. After buckling down and deciding not to spend the money on anything, I began wondering what all my hard work would lead to. On new years eve 2014, I decided to sit down and begin a "2015 Goals" list. A list where I could write down activities, places, and events that I wanted my son and I to partake in. A list filled with high priced memories. A list that would give me greater motivation to save for a big ticket item. 

After an entire year of going off of my "Goals" list, I realized that not only was I saving even more money throughout the year, but adding an actual purpose to the entire thing made me want to work even harder. During each vacation or activity, I decided to push my creative thinking. I wanted to save money on my vacations as well!

"Small World" at Disneyland
To give you a better understanding, I wanted to go to Disneyland with my son. So I saved more throughout the prior months than initially intended, by creatively thinking of alternatives. Instead of paper towels, I used a pack of $1 wash clothes. Simply rinse them off and let them air dry. Instead of buying juices or teas, I went on a "water only cleanse". Instead of purchasing new clothes from my monthly budget, I sold my son and I's old clothes, things I knew I didn't wear or that didn't fit him and riding of shoes, then using only that money for my sons brand new clothing. I ended up making $150 in clothing and spent $75 on an entirely new wardrobe/shoes for my son, by using coupons and only hitting up sales. (He'd hit a growth spurt so almost everything had to be replaced. PJ's, undies, socks, clothes, shoes). The week before our Disneyland trip, I made a point to extend our money saving techniques to the vacation by doing some research. 

I knew we would be staying at a hotel, so I had to choose between staying at a hotel that was close enough to walk to Disneyland (but I'd have to pay for hotel parking), a hotel that had a free shuttle (still had to pay for hotel parking), or a hotel that I would just drive my own car to Disneyland (and pay the Disneyland parking), then drive back to the hotel. I found that booking a room at a cheaper hotel that offered free parking and only paying for Disneyland parking, was actually the cheapest option. It ended up saving me around $100 by not choosing the "conveniences". I also packed our own snacks and small lunch. My son has a severe peanut allergy, so I always do this regardless. I still planned - and did - purchasing a lunch or dinner at Disneyland, being that it IS delicious, but I wanted to spend our money (and time) on memorabilia, not food. I ended up only buying a $22 meal and dessert for us, which left us with leftovers! I budgeted $50 so I was beyond thrilled to have saved $28! I also budgeted $100 on "Disneyland exclusive" items. Ahead of time I expressed to my son that while he could buy a few special items, we were only going to purchase things he not only loved, but those that he couldn't purchase at the regular Disney store down the street. After all, I didn't drive 2 hours to buy a toy I could find at the mall down the street from our house. We ended up only spending $75! With the additional $25 savings, we left Disneyland with smiles and a total of $153 savings, that can be used for the next trip! 

Solvang, CA
Having the idea of going on another trip, is exactly why I pushed myself harder to save more money, even when on vacation. I truly think that if I didn't have a "Goals" list, I would've just spent the total budget as it wouldn't have effected my living expenses budget. Instead, I was able to save up and take my son for an awesome weekend trip, another item on our "Goals" list, with that added savings! Again, I applied my savings technique. 

Once you begin finding new and useful ways to save money, you'll notice a giant snowball effect. You'll begin questioning whether or not you're buying something because you're bored, or because you ACTUALLY need it. You'll also start to find out what is really a necessity. 

The number one way to save money is simply research. Don't run to the first option. A few examples:

1. With so many big stores offering price match, you can save money by also applying coupons WITH your cheaper price match. Target price matches Amazon, so if that book you've been dying to read? Check it out on Amazon. Is it $8 instead of $16? (most likely yes). Let guest services change that for you! 

2. You don't HAVE to purchase paper towels and/or napkins. You don't have to impress anyone. I went out and bought a few $1 packs of wash clothes. Some that I didn't care whether or not would be stained. We'd use half for wiping hands/face during eating time and half for wiping down the counters. At the end of the day I'd simply fill up one side of the sink half way, add a little laundry soap, and put all the wash clothes in for a soak. After our nighttime routine, I simply rinse and ring out each one, laying them out to dry on our drying rack. The next morning, freshly cleaned wash clothes. Buy enough, and you'll only have to wash them when you do laundry. You will also be reducing your waste!

3. Want to go to a theme park? Do some research and look up when/where you can purchase tickets for additional savings. The Del Mar Fair is coming to our town in June, but instead of going to the ticket booth on the day of to pay for entrance, I can go to Costco and purchase a bundle (saving me tons of money on food, rides, and more), or pre-purchase my admission tickets at Vons/Albertsons for a cheaper fee. Don't go unprepared and overpriced!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This year I created a new list of "2016 Goals" and I plan to roll over my savings from last year into this years funds. We've already been able to cross of "Mini Hotel Vacation" and "Road trip". With so many other exciting travels awaiting us, I'm excited to see where this year takes us! I've included checking out Solvang, CA (a hotel in the heart of Downtown Solvang is only $70!), Disneyland for the holidays (Christmas time with Star Wars? YES PLEASE!), Universal Studios (I'm coming Harry!!!), and of course St. Helens, OR during a weekend in October to experience Halloweentown! 

We are so close to the Universal Studios trip, I can almost taste the butterbear. I will admit this particular trip may be a little hard to save while experiencing, as I will be wanting to purchase every single Harry Potter item not available in the normal muggle world! I will try nonetheless. 

Hopefully this will inspire all of you to rethink what is necessary, that sweater you saw at Forever 21 for $45, even though you already have 7 at home, or go experience a really amazing trip with a loved one or friend(s). After all, $45 is half way to an admission ticket to Universal Studios. You'd be half way to shaking hands with minions and getting your own wizard wand.


  1. Thank you for sharing your tips! We have plans for two trips this summer and saving money while have fun will be great. I am always looking for ways to save. Thanks again.