Saving for Disney with Bill Shark

So I like to get creative when I am working on reducing my monthly budget. I like to work smarter, not harder. So I’m a huge fan of set it and forget it solutions like Paribus. Another I just tried is Bill Shark. Bill Shark is a service that negotiates your service contracts for you to reduce your monthly costs.

Every 3-6 months I call my service providers to renegotiate our household contracts. Sometimes I save, sometimes I don’t. It is a timely endeavor with a lot of time spent on hold, and a lot and back and forths with managers. However, it’s usually worth it.

Lately, though, I’ve been striking out. So I thought I would try Bill Shark. I had seen the service on the news a few months back. I am so pleased with the results. After filling out a form and uploading 2 of my bills for my internet service and my wireless bill, Bill Shark saved me $157. As part of their fee system, they will keep 40% of that savings, but some is better than none. It was easy and simple, and I really can’t recommend it enough. Check it out!

Note: Bill Shark links are referral links which if used, I receive a small giftcard. However, if you are new to the service you will receive $10 off.

Swagbucks: Easy Earners for the week of 7/5/17

So you may have heard me mention Swagbucks before. It’s a website that gives you points for doing small tasks, taking surveys, online purchases, and signing up for subscriptions.

I have a love/hate relationship with it to be honest. Sometimes it’s great, and other times it’s a real pain. If you are going to sign up for it (and I suggest you do), make a separate email address just for the account as it will frequently spam you.

Many religiously spend an hour each day on Swagbucks to meet daily goals and earn bonuses. Personally, I think there are much better uses of your time, so I am only going to share with you easy returns. Most will require you to spend money, but then earn additional money back in Swagbucks points.

For the week of 7/5/2017:

  • Sign up for Hulu and receive 2300 Swagbucks under the Discover tab. Easy money maker as Hulu can be cancelled at anytime and is only $9 a month. I have had Hulu for many years and gave up cable altogether 8 years ago, and never looked back.
  • Sign up for eStories and receive 2200 Swagbucks under the Discover tab. Pay $6 a month for three months.
  • Sign up for Paribus (free) and receive 300 Swagbucks under the Discover tab. I am a big fan of Paribus.
  • Sign up for a bundle of products from Honest Company under the Discover tab and receive 2500 Swagbucks, and 40% off your first bundle. I love their bug spray and stain spray.
  • Donate to WCS and earn up to 6500 Swagbucks under the Discover tab. For $9 donation you receive 2000 Swagbucks, and 1500 for each additional month for three months. Great moneymaker and you can help wildlife!
  • Donate to the Sierra Club and earn 3000 Swagbucks under the Discover tab. For a $15 donation you receive 30000 Swagbucks.

Each Swagbuck is equal to a penny. They can be traded in for cash via Paypal, or receive a bonus for the first $25 giftcard you redeem each month for only 2200 Swagbucks. This is what I usually do. I set a goal of getting that $25 giftcard and then take a break until I can purchase my next one at a discount. Happy Swagging!

Please note all Swagbucks links are referrals.

 

Can You Save on a Last Minute Disney Trip?

So many people plan for a long time for their Disney vacations – and they should. It’s a large expense especially for families and with many others going, it can be difficult to get reservations for dining and attractions that you prefer. So what happens when you decide to plan a trip last minute?

Well, my family recently found out when we threw a Walt Disney World trip together in less than a month. The sudden rush was due to a number of reasons, but namely it was due to my husband changing jobs. We had a small window time to take a vacation, and didn’t have much time to research. Since we had meticulously planned our previous trip, and I have consistently followed along with the changes in the parks, a trip to Walt Disney World ended up being an easy plug and play solution. Continue reading

Saving for Disney using Paribus

Are you an online shopper? I always have been, but since having my daughter I shop online a lot more than I ever used to. The ease and convenience of shopping from home is appealing when you have to cart a tiny human around. From couches to groceries, you name it, I’ve probably purchased it online.

One major advantage of online shopping, besides the quick cost comparisons, and the whole not having to leave your house thing, is that I heap savings on savings a number of ways.

One of my favorites is a service called Paribus (referral link). By accessing your Amazon and email account, it can price track items you purchase and will automatically request a refund for you if the price drops. Best of all after the initial set up, you don’t have to lift a finger. Considering that Amazon prices can change several times throughout the day, and other more traditional retailers daily, it has been a handy tool for me. It has successfully found savings from retailers such as Old Navy, Kohls, and Macy’s. The system keeps a small percentage of the savings found, but it’s still better than no savings! Have you tried Paribus? What do you think?

How I Paid for my Disney Vacation

It’s all fine and dandy to read savings tips on how to pay for a trip, but without real numbers it’s sometimes difficult to understand so I wanted to lay out how my family of three – two adults and a toddler – paid for our 8 day trip to Disneyworld in April 2016.

First off, we put down a $200 deposit immediately upon our dates opening up (the minimum required for booking and totally refundable), and stayed flexible. This allowed our travel agent to easily take advantage of new promotions, while remaining in the hotel room we wanted. We ended up changing our touring plans three times, ultimately saving 15% off our hotel stay, and receiving one day free with the purchase of our 4 day park tickets.

Our total cost for tickets and hotel room is: $2126.67

I chipped away at that number – which is nearly twice what my family normally pays for a week’s vacation – a number of ways.

Continue reading

Prepping for Disney: What to Pack

Packing for a Disney trip brings up some unique challenges. Here are a few items you should bring.

  1. Refillable beverage containers. Water is free and readily available in any park. Drinking a lot in the hot Florida weather is very important.
  2. Rain gear. Ponchos are a great idea for that famous Florida afternoon shower. Also a good solution for wet rides. We bought ours at Dollar Tree, but if you’re expecting a lot of rain you may want to upgrade to a sturdier option. We’re also bringing a stroller cover.
  3. Other items to keep cool. Hand held or stroller fans are a great idea. If you want a misting fan, bite the bullet and get the one in the parks. I hear great feedback on them, and if they malfunction or break they will replace them. We are also bringing a frog togg which cools as it dries. We are trying out a new product a pad for the stroller that will help keep our daughter cool.
  4. Something for characters to autograph. Autograph books are the classic way to capture characters’ autographs. They are cheaper and readily available on ebay, as well as the Disney store. But if you want to be more unique you can bring something else for characters to sign. For us we are bringing a large canvas letter of our daughter’s first name so we can hang it on the wall when we return. Others bring bags, pillow cases, or even photo mats to sign. Another idea is to bring a storybook and have the character sign where their story is in the book.
  5. Glowing and light up items for nighttime activities. This is a great pro tip. Bringing these items at home – mostly from the dollar store – will save you a LOT of money. Bring some to share and you’ll be a hero.
  6. Good walking shoes. Leave the flip flops at home. You will be walking several miles at Walt Disney World by no stretch of the imagination. You need something with support. Bringing an extra pair and switching every other day will help keep your feet comfortable and dry.
  7. Snacks. I’ve been on the hunt for Disney themed snacks for a while. I found boxes of cookies at Dollar Tree that were Disney branded. I found packs of freeze dried apples on Amazon. And applesauce pouches and Mickey shaped veggie chips at Target.
  8. Cleaned pennies and quarters. My daughter absolutely loves pressed pennies. There are MANY of these machines throughout the parks so I knew this needed to be part of our experience. It makes for a great cheap souvenir too. I cleaned the pennies and then stacked them in a mini M&Ms container which seems like they made just for this task. Pennies are also great to carry to throw in various wishing wells and fountains throughout the parks.
  9. Things to occupy kids during travel. We are flying, so our travel time is fairly short. Still we are packing some coloring and loading up our tablet so our daughter is occupied.
  10. Things to occupy kids during line waiting. Looking for hidden Mickeys will only take you so far. I picked up this eye spy sort of game at Target. I also plan on taking a small container of bubbles.
  11. Necklace for a pearl from Japan. Picking an oyster and finding a pearl inside in Japan is one my cherished childhood memories of Walt Disney World. The necklaces available to contain your pearl are quite pricey. Thankfully, you can purchase a similar necklace on etsy for much less. Saved me quite a bit.
  12. Princess dress. If you are bringing small children, dress up items are a must. The parks do sell these items, most exclusive to the parks which means a lot more money. Priced at more than $100 in some cases, I knew I had to bring along some dress up. I ended up stalking the sales at the Disney store and got two dresses (Elsa and Rapunzel) for $50 total. These dresses are high quality, not like the ones you may find at Target, Toys R Us or elsewhere.

Prepping for Disney: What to Watch

So in order to get maximum appreciation for all the cast of characters at Walt Disney World I decided to embark on a list of movies to watch before arrival. I will attempt to make this list as comprehensive as possible. Character appearances tend to change nearly weekly, so please always check schedules before promising little ones you will see a certain character. Continue reading

Disney Hack: How I saved 56% off my Disney Vacation

So I’ve mentioned a few times on here we are headed to Walt Disney World this spring. I was able to save a lot of money on my trip using a variety of tactics, each of which I’ve explained on here. But it’s always helpful to see things with a real life example.

So I wanted to outline how I got my roughly $3,800 vacation for around $1,700.

First let’s breakdown what I got.

  • Three round trip plane tickets from Trenton, NJ to Orlando International Airport including assigned seating, three personal items and one carry-on.
  • Seven night stay in a preferred room at Disney Pop Century Resort.
  • Two adult and one child five day tickets with parkhopper option.
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    With some strategy you can get your vacation for less than half price.

Continue reading