My Disney tips

Well we went to Disney last year thanks to a great tax return- taxes the state owed us from 2 years previous and my picking up extra shifts along the way. I used half of the money to pay back the Saratoga payday loan I’d taken from ConiLoans – and just needed a break for our family after my dad’s illness and death last year. we stayed inside the park in the cheapest hotels ( all stars ) my Mom came along and we had joint rooms. we had a small fridge- we flew ( we are in NJ) i probably could have done a bit better getting the airfare myself rather than with the travel agent do it but planning a trip for 7 people – i didn’t want to have any problems i couldn’t throw to someone else to fix (and since out flight was canceled due to a hurricane warning i am glad i did as she got us a new flight once the warning was over when the airlines themselves said they couldn’t ) we got hopper passes for the 6 nights 7 days we were there that meant we could goto whatever park as many times as we wanted and that worked out well- we had free transportation with in the parks areas so that was nice too (with a 2 yo and my Mom and kids of different age ranges from 11 down i figured if one got too tired cranky we could take a bus back and leave the others with dh etc) we took our own stroller

I took plastic ponchos from the $ store so i didn’t have to buy them – i bought souvenir autograph books at the dollar store too rather than pay $5 for them -since everyone on the flight could take their own suitcase and i had the girls share a suitcase and the boys share a suitcase- i filled a hard-shell American tourister suitcase i got at the thrift store for $4 with cereals- snacks – ramon noodles etc etc – cool aid powder to mix with water in the room for a treat we always ate in the room for breakfast and bedtime snack – we were in the parks all day and ate lunch and dinner out – it can be done cheaper but as this is a once in a lifetime thing for us we did it – we ate some character meals for the kids- kind of pricey but my kids eat a lot so the buffet was great for them – they had 2nds and thirds LOL!! we did take a diaper bag/backpack that had snacks water bottles in them – as much as i didn’t mind paying 9$ for my kids to have a healthy sit down dinner and entertainment I did mind paying $3 for a soft pretzel !!!

i refroze water bottles during the night in the tiny freezer section of the fridge or in a trashcan – we filled with ice and sat in the bathtub- we refilled them at fountains only had a soda / other drink with meals- i shopped at yard sales before we went for souvenirs and shoved some stuffed animals etc. in my suitcase – i gave each older child $50 in Disney $ to spend before we left to stop the “i wants ” ( my Mom paid for 25$ of it ) the younger two got $25 – the kids were really careful about what they bought as they knew that was it !! when my older Ds got a Mickey sorcerer and my younger Ds wanted a stuffed Mickey – I pulled a Mickey identical to one that cost 22.99 in the gift shop from my suitcase that I had paid $2 for at a yard sale-DD 3 got a dumbo I got at a yard sale for 50c – and if you look around some of the Disney stores even had red ticketed clearance stuff in them !!!

really would like to go back some day – if we ever do we will probably drive – possibly stay outside the park or in the cheaper places again- would probably pack more food and pack lunches to eat and only eat dinner or eat lunch and have ramon noodles or sandwiches for dinner back in the room – we definitely could have been more frugal with our trip = but when i tell people about it they seem to think I was really frugal LOL!! Plus it was our first vacation in 13 years (since our honeymoon ) and I wanted to enjoy myself – we used no credit- went into no debt and even came home with $100 of the money we had taken with us – so I think we did pretty good !!

Returned from Orlando

We just got back from a trip to Orlando on Tuesday of this week. AND, what a trip it was. We had planned for a long time and set aside a good amount of money, but I don’t think anything really prepares you for vacation costs. I think all in all we did really well. We got our tickets some time ago for $212.00 round trip from WA state. That was really good. Our lodging was in a condo by Aaron’s Accommodations – three bedrooms, two baths 1400 sq feet., laundry, kitchen. Only about 15 minutes from Universal and less than a half hour from Disney.

We paid $125.00 or thereabouts for three adults, three kids for six nights. (My parents were there the first week – family reunion, and they picked up the hotel costs the first week.) Near the end, we moved to another hotel, as the one we were in was not handicapped accessible, and was becoming very difficult on my husband. But even that was nice, it was Hawthorn Suites near the airport (which proved helpful, when we had to be to the airport at 5:30 a.m. the day we left). It was only $89.00 and was a full kitchen, and a living room with fold out couch and a big bedroom with two double beds – certainly adequate. We did eat at least one big meal out each day, and that averaged $55.00. I did take snacks and drinks into the parks, and we drank a lot of water.

But yes, we did buy ice cream a couple of times from the vendors and a few other snacks and such. The big killer was souvenirs. My husband, dear as he is, wanted to be able to buy souvenirs without worrying about cost. He would not hear of buying them in advance at garage sales or whatever, so we spent more than $300 on that. And our rental van was pricey, but that is because it had to accommodate a motorized wheelchair. It actually was a God-send to find the place that had those available. But – it was $75.00 per day. We have lots of wonderful memories, and that is what it is all about, right!! Oh, we bought our amusement tickets ahead of time, through the military, five days of Disney and three of Universal for three adults and two kids (one still young enough to be free) was $1,252.00.

Occasionally you can buy online for ten percent off or such. Wendy – about shades of green, I called there when we were going to move and they said that they could only accommodate four in a room, even though we were a family of five, with an extra adult. So, please check on that, so you don’t get a surprise at the end!. AANNDD – the baby rooms at the Disney parks are awesome. Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom had places with videos for the older kids if you just needed a break. Plus there were quiet areas for nursing moms, and changing tables and (pricey) diapers, and baby food, if you absolutely needed to buy some.

They were really accommodating. MGM had a place also, just not quite as nice and roomy as the others. So, that was a real bonus. If you think of any specific questions, I would be happy to try to answer them. Most of all, go and enjoy. For us, it was most likely a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we did enjoy. (But it was hot!!)

Reducing the grocery bill

Here are the things I do for reducing the grocery bill:

  • try not to take anyone with you to the store.
  • identify several of the cheapest meals that my family likes, and serve them more often. For our family, this is potato soup, scalloped potatoes (with ham, cheese, or plain); stir fry; various pasta dishes; homemade pizzas (store-bought pizza bases); tuna/macaroni salad, tuna casserole; veggie lasagna.
  • make some things myself. I use a lot of the recipes that Amy Dacyczyn features. I make my own dried onion soup mix, hot cocoa mix, cream soup mix, breadcrumbs, croutons, chicken coating mix, fudgsicles, pancake syrup, teriyaki sauce, and chocolate sauce. On occasion I make homemade salsa, spaghetti sauce, bbq sauce, and salad dressings.
  • pop our own popcorn.
  • use ‘bowl bonnets’ to cover food bowls with in the fridge. You can get 6 for $1 or so (they look like shower caps), and this saves on the yards of plastic wrap I used to use.
  • use meat more as a condiment rather than the feature of the meal. I serve meat as a feature item.
  • I serve meals for 2 or 3 days and then declare ‘nuke night’ where folks zap leftovers in the microwave. I might make a salad or heat up some canned soup to go with it. This saves me from having a bunch of little odds and ends growing fur in the fridge, like I used to have.
  • Look in the fridge every day! Know what’s in there growing old.
  • I learned to use my freezer – bulk cooking, also freezing items that I never did before. I now buy cheese on sale or in huge economical chunks and then cut it into smaller pieces and stick in the freezer. I also chop bacon into bits and freeze small packs to use in flavoring casseroles; I freeze fresh ginger, overripe bananas, ends of bread (until I make breadcrumbs or stuffing).
  • I’ve learned to use powdered milk. Not for drinking but for cooking. I just make it up in the measuring cup when I need it. Easy and cheap.
  • I try like heck not to go to the grocery store between weekly trips. I modify recipes or make something else if I need to.
  • I made a price book. Now I am quite aware of what a good sale price is (versus a fake sale price!) and know when to stock up.
  • I freeze chicken breasts individually so that I only take out what I need and not more.

These days, I am trying to take my food budget to the next level – more freezer cooking, new frugal recipes, maybe even learn to bake with yeast. I’m having a ball doing all of this stuff and see it as an immense challenge. Good luck to you. Lise

$75 weekly for groceries

If you are willing to work a bit and have some patience you should do very well on $75 a week. The patience thing comes in because you have to be willing to wait for sales and not just buy something because you want it today or tomorrow. When I want to I can feed my family of 5 (kids 12, 9 and 9- 10 in 2 weeks) for $50 a week and less. You have to be willing to eat frugal type meals. One of our favorites is potato soup. For me it is almost free and Dh loves it.

I am making it tonight with free (gleaner) potatoes, free milk (powdered that someone gets and hates so she gives it to me), free ham- I did a service for her and she gave me some extra ham. The only thing I have to pay for the the margarine, and pepper. We will also have free bread (in trade for eggs), and cauliflower (gleaners) or veggies that I canned last fall.

For dessert we are having cantaloupe- it was given away by the grocer to gleaners because of a few soft spots. By the time it’s peeled no one will even notice.

We rarely have steak and prawns and that type of thing. I do work hard all year procuring food for my family. A friend raises pigs . She sells most of them (she doesn’t eat pork) and we get 1.

All we pay are the cut and wrap fees- usually about $100 for a whole one. We get several hundred pounds of pork for this. During the year we do things for her. This year we bought and raised about 30 chicks for her so they are past the tender stage- I also help her with some other things like canning. it all works out well for everyone.

She says it doesn’t cost much more to raise the extra pig. She raised 6-10 so she gets their food at a greatly reduced price. She also is able to get foods from a warehouse- things we buy in the salvage stores like open boxes of cereal rather than just dented so she can feed them almost free.

They are considered unusable for people but fine for livestock. If you do hand crafts you could trade it with people for foodtoobut these are a little more extreme. You can do it (feed your family) at a low rate just by careful shopping. I haven’t for a couple months as I have been preoccupied with family problems but I am back in the saddle.

LOL you are not crazy

I took a 3 month old last year. We drove 1000 miles with 3 kids including the baby. We had a great time. The Orlando parks are very friendly to babies. You can “baby swap”.

This means you take the baby to the exit of the rides, which most times is air-conditioned. Some new rides even have special rooms for this purpose. Then your husband takes the kids on the ride. After they are done, they meet you and you get first priority on the next ride. YOu can take 3 people back on the swap so my 2 older kids got to ride everything twice with no extra waiting. ( Once with Dad, once with me) they loved it!

I loved it too because while they waited on line, I could rest , nurse , or change the baby without having to waste time. Also, having the stroller was a huge help. We carried a collapsible cooler with ALL our food and drinks. Then we didn’t have to wait in line or spend money on the food and it was always with us.

We carried the baby in the sling when she was fussy and some rides you can even take her right on in the sling. We never paid for parking. We parked at “boardwalk” Disney’s new shopping complex. From there you can take a boat to Epcot and MGM. I would recommend “Doing Disney Like A Pro”.

I got the book at my library and it had tons of great tips on avoiding crowds, prices, good things to do, etc. the Boardwalk tip came from there. Oh yea, the kids liked to get autographs from the characters. We picked up a cheap notebook at a drugstore. The autograph books in the park are $5. It goes without saying , don’t buy anything in the park if you can avoid it. You can get Disney stuff at Walmart or anywhere in Orlando. We had a great time and barely spent a cent besides our tickets and hotel.

I’d love to hear tips on this as well

We have a trip planned for late March, early April of next year. We will be staying at the military hotel, Shades of Green, so that will be a big savings on accommodations and they have duty free shopping as well as discounts on tickets if you are military or civilian working military.

I think our hotel rate is $85 and the rooms are roomy. We are trying to decide whether to drive or fly as we will be a family of 6 by then and my mom is going too. I will be taking a 4 month old as well and could use any tips on that as well. AM I CRAZY?????

We planned this before we planned the pregnancy. LOL

Thanks in advance.

Vacation help/tips

I am asking for help from all my fellow mates. We are planning next years vacation for Disney. I know the biggest budget buster in the world. I am looking for tips advice anything you can dish out.

I do a few reward programs and I thought I would get food GC’s to help out. I want to start planning and saving now so I don’t blow the budget like I did this year.

HELP ME OH WISE AND WONDERFUL FRIENDS! I will be in your debt. If you want to e-mail me privately as to not clog up the list go ahead. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

Well, an update for those of you interested

My husband has been working on the non-working car all day. With a little help from a friend who ran to the parts store for us (5 miles away), we have it up and running. The timing is still a bit off, but we can fix that when we get down to my parent’s house.

*So* we are headed down there in a bit (my husband literally did a happy dance when the car started!!), then tomorrow we have a lot of running around.

The plan:

  • Go down and pick up the boys, drop all the kids off at their grandparents so they can spend the day at the fair.
  • Pick up a tow dolly and head back up here and pick up the van (after borrowing my grandfather’s pickup).
  • Tow the van down to my parent’s house and start looking for a new engine.
  • Hubby heads back up here (have I mentioned it is a 3 hour trip between here & my parent’s?) to work on Sunday – firefighter, 24 hour shift.

Dad and Hubby spend the rest of the week pulling old engine and *hopefully* putting in new one. So, that’s the way it stands right now. I’d appreciate your continued prayers as we drive down tonight.

Hopefully the car will get us there with no problems.

And please pray we find the engine we need, in good condition, that’s not too expensive. Thanks for all your prayers.

How do you know how much is enough?

Mine are DD12, DS9 and DS9 and 11 1/2 months. I want them to have enough so as not to be teased yet not have so much that they do not wear them and end up tossing them. We do not have people of near ages to do the hand me down thing except that DS9 -11 1/2 is smaller than DS9 and gets his yonger brothers hand me downs if they are good enough.

I am thinking 3 pr. of jeans and 5 tops for each of them. I usually let each of them pick out $50 worth of clothing and I buy the underthings , coats and shoes.

Thank you.

I bought my older daughter 5 pairs of shorts – 3 jean, 2 kahki and 5 solid color shirts, she also had 2 other shirts received as birthday. I also just bought her 2 more shirts because they were on sale at Target. She also has a brownie uniform she wears once a week (actually two uniforms, but one was bought with cookie credits since she sold so many cookies). And she gets t-shirts for different things, Day camp, resident camp, dance recital, etc that are actually worn more than the other ones!

We also need dresses for church – I usually buy those at a resale shop – They each have 3-4 so it doesn’t look like they are wearing the same dress every week. I only get fancy hand me down dresses since my niece is a tomboy and she gets one dress a year for all dressy dressy occasions – these are usually too dressy for every day church wear (our church is actually fairly casual, I’ve seen adults in shorts and I wear pants, but I work in the nursery and am on the floor – but the group of girls my daughter’s hang out with dress up and I don’t want them to feel underdressed, so they wear decent dresses, some nicer than others, but they never look under or over dressed) I have never bought blue jean pants – I get TONS (we probably have 10 pair in each size) that were handed down.

If I was buying though, 3 would be plenty. My rule on things that look the same- buy 3 – one being worn, one in the laundry, one clean in the drawers. (sheets, towels, etc are the same way. Undershirts too since it’s hot here and aren’t needed that much). Socks and underwear are a two week supply (usually two packages, so that can translate anywhere from 10-14 depending on the brand) since they go missing so often (usually under the bed, in the car (socks, not the underwear!).

My 13 yo is the only one I have to worry about

Everyone else has millions of hand me downs. He has 2 pairs of jeans,1 black, 1 blue, 3 pairs of jean shorts, and 2 pairs of Dockers. About 8 shirts and 2 nice shirts. He he would ever slow down his growth spurt I might get three pairs of jeans. I homeschool them so they dont see the same kids everyday. My 9 yo has about 6 pairs of shorts and wears the 3 denim ones over and over. Sometimes I will forget to watch them so he has to wear a different pair….grin.

I have three girls, ages 7, 5, and 2. I get a lot of hand me downs from my sister who has a 10 yr old girl. By the time my 2 year old gets the clothes, they are worn out. So, I’ve been getting more (probably not really spending more, but she’s getting more clothes, they are just not as expensive) for her than the other two.

I take everything I have and see what each child needs – usually my older needs more than the middle child, who rarely needs anything, but does get a few new things for Christmas and Birthdays that are purple since she insists on wearing purple every day. Then I make out a list of what we need to make a complete wardrobe for the new school year.

We do 90% shirts and jeans or jean shorts so it’s easier to match, but some of the hand me downs are printed shorts or sets and it makes it hard to use those. My dad gives me $100 per child for school clothes each summer (he thinks that makes him the worlds greatest grandpa when actually they would really just like to spend time with him – they don’t see him except for maybe an hour every month or two.

When my mom was alive we saw them every day, his new wife doesn’t want to do the grandkid thing with kids that aren’t hers apparently – sorry, I’m a little bitter). I actually spend some of it on me and dh, and spend about $150 on all three getting the fill in stuff.