Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Getting Started: Setting a Budget (Free Spreadsheet!)

You’ve decided to invest in a Disney vacation. Yes, I used the term invest. Some of our best family memories have been at Disney. In my opinion, that makes it an investment in my family, which is one of the most important investments of all. I sound like a commercial. Forgive me. While many people see a Disney vacation with nothing but dollar signs, believe it or not Disney can be affordable on almost any budget.

The first thing you need to do is sit down, take a look at your finances and come up with a total amount that you can afford to spend. Write that number down, or if you are like me, put it in a spreadsheet. Once you have that number, you’ll need to make some decisions. How many days do you plan to stay? What is most important to you? Are you more interested in staying closer to the parks? Are you a foodie that cares more about the restaurants you are eating at?  Do you plan to drive or fly? All of these things affect your budget. Talk about them and decide what experiences matter most to you.

Take me for instance. Disney is quite a drive from Arkansas. I hate long car rides. I’ll take a plane over a car any day. So to me, being able to fly is very important – more important than the proximity of the resort to the parks. If it means that I need to stay at a Value resort instead of a Moderate resort or a Moderate resort instead of a Deluxe resort in order to fly, then that’s what I’ll do. Know and understand what is important to you.

You’ve decided what’s important. Now what? Start dividing that number into categories. You’ll most likely have these types of expenditures: travel, resort, tickets, dining, and souvenirs. Obviously those are very broad categories. Check out the pricing of airline tickets. Calculate how much gas would cost to drive. Look at the difference between base tickets and base tickets with added options. Create a realistic budget based on that. You may come to realize that you can do more than you thought. Or it may be the opposite. You may find that you want to do more than you can afford. If this is the case, read this next paragraph and then read it again. Creating AND sticking to a budget is so important.

Here is my biggest piece of advice. If you don’t get anything else out of this post, please take this away with you. Do NOT go into debt to take a Disney vacation. Do what you can afford; go when you can afford it. If you sit down and let’s say you need $4000 to go and it’s going to take you two years to save that amount of money: plan your trip for two years from now. Disney memories are important. You don’t want those memories to have a black cloud over them because you constantly have to think and worry about money. Wait until you can afford it.

 Real Mom’s Disney has created a budget spreadsheet that you can download to help you in the budgeting process. And, as always, if you need help or have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email, tweet, or message us on Facebook!

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