Optimization – the action of making the best or most effective use of a resource. But what good is a resource if you don’t know how to use it? That’s where we come in. In this blog we’re talking all things Budget & Savings Optimization.
We’ve invested in learning how to Budget from experts and have used those methods in our Budget Template, (it’s FREE btw!) Hear what Financial Coach Jaclyn Wise had to say after reviewing our Budget Template:
Head Foolish Mortal Melissa worked with Jaclyn in March of 2021 and had an incredible experience. Melissa says, “Jaclyn really helped me align my thoughts to optimize my existing budget. Learning the Fiscal Fitness Phoenix Budgeting Method helped me create efficient tools for Disney Trip Planning and establishing Savings Buckets.” Learn more about Coach Jaclyn here, or book a free 15-minute phone call with Jaclyn to find out if financial coaching is the right next step for you!
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Before Setting Your Budget
I know it seems like the best place to start would be with numbers, but those numbers will be meaningless without first considering your Intentions. Start with what’s important to you and your traveling party. You can do this with our Foolish Mortal Must Do List which is part of the Pre-Planning pages in the Foolish Mortal Digital Planner.
Consider things like location, dining, amenities and activities – all will help you decide what’s important for you and set a Budget that meets those needs. Here’s an example, an Intention that was set for our family was to be close to Magic Kingdom, that meant staying in a pretty specific location. We then looked at options to determine the best Budget to make that Intention a reality. In the end, we wound up staying at Bay Lake Tower so we would be in walking distance to MK.
Now, these decisions may mean making shifts elsewhere, for us that meant driving the 16hrs from NYC to Disney to reduce our Travel Expenses. That could mean making more meals in your hotel room or spending more time at your resort to spend less on tickets, those are all things you can decide by setting Intentions and Optimizing your Budget.
Setting & Optimizing Your Budget
Now that you’ve considered your Intentions, the first action step in any planning process, whether it be trips, home projects or life changes, is creating an accurate budget. We made our Budget Template free because we believe that a successful budget aligns with your intentions for the entire planning process.
After you’ve gotten through our budget prompts and feel comfortable with your budget, it’s time to optimize! Optimizing your budget can be a challenging task. It requires reviewing, reworking and removing expenses to really hone in on the important ones to meet your trip Intentions.
tips to optimize your budget and align it with your intentions:
- Keep your Pre-Planning Pages handy when setting your budget, use it to drive your selections. If you don’t have our Pre-Planning Pages, make a list of what’s important to you and your traveling party.
- Create Savings Buckets for each individual expense within your budget. For more information on Savings Buckets, read Blog #2: Set Your Budget
- Be realistic with your travel parties needs and wants, if you plan on eating dole whips everyday then budget for it ?
- Be mindful of the actual park days you plan to use and if you will park hop to determine the right ticket for you.
- Review your budget monthly, even if you’re booking far in advance, this will establish habits that will help you as payments are due and pieces booked along the way.
- Adjust your budget as payments are made, altering automatic deposits as needed.
- Have your budget ready when booking any parts or pieces of your trip, especially if using a Travel Agent. Be honest and upfront to ensure an efficient experience.
Tips to Optimize Your Savings
- Set up automatic transfers to individual savings buckets (PS: our template calculates this for you based on your timeline).
- Use your Target Red Card to save 5% on Disney Gift Cards, then use the Gift Cards to pay for your hotel, souvenirs and dining.
- Rent DVC points through a service like David’s DVC Rentals to save on deluxe resorts! You’ll also score extra perks like free parking for DVC Guests!
- Stock up on groceries to have at least one meal in your room, we recommend Orlando Grocery Express.
- Use refillable water bottles, preferably stainless steel to insulate from heat, and fill before you leave your resort from water gallons (we get at Costco and drive down with them but you can get these with your groceries too)
- Refill water bottles at Quick Service (QS) restaurants or Starbucks for free!
- Work with a TA to maximize the best possible savings. TA’s work for you, checking for the best possible offers even after you’re booked!
- Compare ticket prices to annual passes, in some instances an AP may be more worthwhile for the price, flexibility and extra savings. if you’re visiting more than once in a year the AP is worth it.
Post Trip Optimization
Yep, we encourage you to optimize even post trip! If you’re like us, you’ll find yourself wanting to book your next trip to Disney World as soon as your trip ends. That means understanding how to improve your budget. Set aside 30 minutes post trip to review your expenses, ask yourself:
?Did I go above or below my budget?
?What expenses were unnecessary?
?What expenses should you have captured?
With dining especially we recommend saving receipts to enter into your budget after your trip. This will help you generate a more accurate budget for your next trip and establish gaps in your budget you didn’t consider.
For more Optimization Tips check out Blog #5: Disney Trip Optimization and the Foolish Mortal Digital Planner which includes BONUS Optimization Cheat Sheets with our top tips, hacks and how to use them! Our tips align with our Three Pillars – Plan, Budget & Intentions!
Look for updates on Disney Genie and even more Optimization Tips as we continue to build a database to help you plan the most magical trip for YOU and your family. Join our email list to never miss a Blog or Tip.