Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Homemade Autograph Books for Disney

Well, we arrived home yesterday (BOO!!!!) from our Disney vacation. It was both wonderful, and horrible, but that's what you get sometimes. Overall, I have a lot of fond memories of the trip, though.

Before my trip in 2012 with my friend and her family, I designed some digital autograph album pages- they turned out super cute, and the kids really liked them. Over the past 18 months, I have continued to add a few pages here and there for friends.

I finally offered them on Etsy over this past summer, and of course, made custom ones for our trip last week.

We got SO many compliments, and people (from cast members, to actual characters, to other guests) asking where we got them from, and wondering how they could get one- I really wish I had thought to make up business cards to have on hand with us in the character lines. Seriously, we could have handed out at least 50-100 when people were asking.

On our first night in a park, Minnie noticed that one of the books had a name on the cover (all of ours did), so she checked the name each time, and personalized her autograph for each of us!



Now, I am working on adding more pages for both specific characters, and generic pages for any character to use. We had a lot of characters we saw with no specific pages (which is fine, we had generic pages to use), but some were common enough we should have had pages for them. Below are some of the nearly 200 pages I have made. I have around 150 of them currently available on Etsy, with a new set of 110 that will be available by next week.







You can find these in several different sets to suit your needs. Each set is digital, so it can be reused over and over again for future trips.

Holiday Specific (currently includes Halloween and Christmas themed pages & covers only) - 32 pages including covers for $7.00

A 20 page book with 2 album cover choices, Princess themed - $5.00

A 20 page book with 2 album covers, Classic Character themed - $5.00

A 20 page book with 2 album covers, Assorted Characters - $5.00

A 110 page set, 100 unique pages, plus 10 album covers (No holiday pages included, but it includes all of the other pages & covers posted) for $20.00


Coupon Code available currently:

Blog15 - Save 15% on any purchase
Facebook25 - Save 25% on all purchases over $15.00



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Disney, here we come...

...in 40 days, anyway.

So it's been a few months. Disney is paid off. We scored free dining, too. I have made a few changes along the way.

We now leave October 18th, and do not return until October 28th. We are going to spend 2 days with my FIL on the gulf coast first- he's excited to show us around, and is already planning meals!

We will be at Disney from October 20-28th, though the 28th is not much. We have to be up and on the bus to the airport by 6am. Yuck!!  But overall, it gives us 8 full days at Disney. That is a LOT.

I can't wait. It's really happening. :)

Now what I am doing is saving up spending money. Our hotel, 2 meals and 1 snack per day, our park tickets, and even our Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets are all paid off. I'm planning to stop at a grocery store on Sunday before my FIL takes us to Disney and do some grocery shopping for the room. Nothing real big, but definitely some healthier options for us- fruit, granola bars, yogurt, etc.

Oh, and alcohol. Yes, yes, I would like to grab a bottle of rum or schnapps, so my aunt and I (did I mention she is tagging along?) can have a drink or two around the pool without going broke.

We have Halloween costumes either bought or planned. My oldest is going to be the Cheshire Cat, and has her costume. My youngest is going to be Alice in Wonderland- we need to find a costume locally, I did not have any luck with Etsy for her. I am going as Minnie Mouse, and I have my costume already! It's a fun swing style dress in red with white polka dots. Then, my friend who runs a theater department scored me a huge white square dance dress to wear under it :)

I can't wait.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Disney Earning Update


Originally, my goal was $300/month. That would have been enough to go to Disney this fall, but it wouldn't have left much wiggle room. But, I was at $300 in early January. Like the 7th, I believe. Maybe later? So I upped it to $400/month. Then I met that.

Currently, I have earned $706 this month, and I have $53 in invoices waiting to be paid. I have already put down the $200 deposit on the vacation.  I doubt every month will be a $700 month, but I am hoping to reach $800 this month, thus doubling the earnings I was hoping for.

My guess is that most months will be much closer to the hopeful $400.

We leave October 19th for 7 days in the Magic Kingdom. That gives me 9 months left to earn the money. I need to have an average of $366 per month to reach that. Here's hoping for more months that I reach $700! The faster it's paid off, the better!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saving Money: Tips for Trips

Saving money can be tedious. It can be a pain in the read. It can be confusing. Over the past 6 years or so, I have learned to channel my energy into saving, instead of random spending. It started out small- saving for a camping trip. That particular year included the added expense of camping gear.

 All of the photos were taken on various small vacations we took in the summer of 2012. Over the course of the summer, I spent $1700 on vacations. All of it came from saving.

 Here are my tips-

1. Know your trip. Plan it out, down to the smallest detail. Why? Because you need to know how much money is needed. If it's a trip that might include cost changes between planning and going, plan for them. For example- if I start planning my Summer 2014 vacation in September 2013, I know that the cost is going to be higher. I try to add in $50/day to account for increased costs. Later on, when it's getting closer, you can adjust your budget to reflect the actual prices. But to get started, you need to know your costs- everything from hotel down to gas money, souvenirs, and food.

2. Set a date. Make sure it's realistic. If you know your trip is going to cost $3,000 to go on, and you know you can save $300 a month, plan it for at least 10 months away. You may be able to save faster, but don't count on going sooner. That's when you get discouraged, and upset if it gets closer and doesn't look like it will happen. Take your time. Big trips take money, and money takes time.

3. Cut the Fat. Are you trying to take your family on a big vacation on a small budget? Trim out extras you don't need- either on the trip, or in your day to day life. The bonus of cutting out $40 in extra's a week in daily life, is that it add's up fast. Skip the morning coffee. When you get gas, pay at the pump- you won't be spending money on extra goodies. Pack a lunch of left overs. Call your cable company- see if you can trim out anything you don't need. Same with your phone- we recently realized we were over paying on our data plan by $20/month. It isn't much, but it adds up.

4. Learn to coupon. Coupons don't always fit every lifestyle, but they are helpful- whether it's saving $10 on your oil change, or getting a $20 gift card for getting a prescription at your grocery store pharmacy. That's $20 in groceries, and $20 you can stash in your trip fund. Check your weekly circulars. Sometimes you can snag free bath & body products. Every little bit saved is a little bit more into your trip fund.

5. Budget your weekly spending. Set a grocery budget, and stick to it. Try and get under it as often as possible. If you have a weekly budget of $100, and you only spend $60, put $40 in the trip fund. Budget your weekly gas- if you know it will cost $45 a week going to and from work, plan on $60 for gas- that $15 will cover the extra's- going to the school, stopping to get groceries. Every time your gas budget is under $60 for the week, stick the extra in the trip fund.

6. Pay yourself. On the last day before payday, we transfer everything in our checking over to our savings account. Sometimes, it's $100. Sometimes it $20. It depends on what all we have going on, but even $2 is $2 more than you had.

7. Work with cash. A card is easy to swipe. It's harder to keep track of each swipe, and before you know it, OOPS! With cash, you have tangible proof in your hand of what's left. Some people will split the money into envelopes for each purpose: Gas, Groceries, Bills, etc. You know immediately exactly what you have, and if you know you only have $5 in spending money left, you are far less likely to spend it on a latte with 6 days left until payday.

8. Stash the cash. On payday, take $20 and put it away. Out of site, out of mind. Don't keep track of how much you have stashed away. If you can afford to stash more than $20, then put away $40, or even $100. Every couple of months, collect the stash, and put it in the trip fund.

9. Cash Jar.  Several years ago, I planned to have a family trip to a big amusement park. Not Disney, but still out of our daily price range. I made a decision to start not just a change jar, but a cash jar. At the end of the day, I emptied my purse of all $1 bills, and all change. Sometimes, I would stash a $5 or a $10. At the end of 4 months, I had deposited over $900.

10. Earning Extra. Sometimes, you live paycheck to paycheck. We certainly have, and many others do as well. Having an extra $20 isn't always the case when you are just hoping to make it to payday this week. This is when it's time to figure out a plan for earning the extra money. Whether it's a yard sale, or baby sitting after school, or even finding a part time job on weekends. Use your resources- you can stash the extra money without hurting your daily budget at all. Personally, I design web graphics from home. Before that, I did advertising for shops on facebook. Before that, I made hair bows and necklaces. Before that, I worked lots of the survey websites for small amounts of money.





11. Remember to budget for fun. You are budgeting to save money for something fun. But that doesn't mean you should never have some fun. Whether it's going to see a movie, or spending a day at the zoo, or even just renting a movie. If you aren't having ANY fun at all, and your money is just sitting there, you are more likely to want to spend it. 

12. You Can Do It. You really can. It may take 5 months. It could take 15 months. But if you keep your eye on the prize, and just keep adding to your trip fund, then you'll find out that you can do it.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Remembering 2012: February

February 2012 was a big month for me. Nick and I attended 2 Pistons games- these were a lot of fun for him, and I'm hoping to do this again this year. Our first game, we had nosebleed seats. See?


But when we went back, I found a great deal online- 2 tickets for around $100, and they were pretty much right on the floor.


These were all taken right from our seats. The cheerleaders sat AT our feet- yes, Nick liked that. ;)

Shortly after, I went on a trip. On Valentine's Day, I boarded a plane at an ungodly hour, and went to the happiest place on earth. Disney World!

My best friend had been going through a lot- she found out that her husband had been unfaithful. Not just unfaithful, but she found emails between them that described him wanting to just leave the state, and start over. It was awful. Before this happened, she had booked and paid off a family vacation to Walt Disney World for her, him, and their two kids. Needless to say, he did not go. He opted to move in with his new girlfriend. :(

I accompanied her to Disney, and helped with the kids. And of course, had a lot of fun as well! We got to show the kids around, and I helped make their trip as magical as I could. I had a LOT of fun, and really enjoyed spending some much needed time with my BFF and my adorable niece and nephew.

Because I had to book my own flight, I wound up down there about 12 hours before them, so I spent the first day kicking around Epcot.










This, of course, only spured me on towards wanting to go back. Which is why I plan to take my two girls back in October 2013!