3 Questions To Answer When Planning a Trip to Disney World

Vacationing at Walt Disney World in Florida, USA, is a lot of fun… once you’re there. But getting there can be confusing, with all the options you have regarding travel, lodging, and tickets.

Before you set out on the vacation of a lifetime, here are three questions you need to answer when planning a trip to Disney World.

how to plana trip to disney world

Is it better to drive or fly?

The way you get to Disney World can end up being a significantly memorable part of your vacation – in a positive or negative way. So consider the following before booking your flight or gassing up.

Driving has a number of incentives. For instance, driving allows you to bring food along with you. This means you don’t have to worry about where your next meal or snack will come from; bringing food can also save you money. Also, choosing the driving option allows you to bring a stroller and avoid the high stroller-rental fees. Other incentives include stopping along the way for roadside attractions, and the ability to extend or shorten your trip as you see fit.

On the other hand, there are a number of reasons why nobody would blame you if you flew. Those reasons include you arriving at your destination quicker, potentially having a more comfortable trip, and not having to fret about finding or bringing food with you -it’s all there on the plane.

So, whether you choose to fly or drive, now you’ll be able to make your decision, confident that you know what you’re getting yourself in for.

What’s the cheapest way to get tickets?

Once you’ve made it to Walt Disney World, you’ll probably want… to go to Walt Disney World – that’s where the tickets come in. So how can you go about getting the most bang for your buck? Because ticket prices regularly change, and there are many vendors selling tickets, there isn’t any one answer to that question – but there are a few great places to start your search.

Before we go any further with the discussion of where to buy your tickets, we need to address when to buy them. Unlike our previous question, this one has an easy answer: as soon as possible. Once you’ve decided to take the vacation, buy your tickets as soon as possible. Do this because Disney’s ticket prices actually change, and you can lose serious money if you delay.

Now, you can buy your tickets directly through Walt Disney World, but there are a number of other vendors that promise reduced rates for identical products. Undercover Tourist, for example, sells tickets for less than gate prices. To sweeten the deal even further, Undercover Tourist’s website tells you which parks are busiest on which days, so that you can get more time on the rides and in the shows and less time waiting in line.

In addition to these options, you will find more if you wait to purchase your tickets until you are in Orlanda. Once there, you will find variou a vendors (many of which are located inside of hotels) that will offer deals that are similar to the Undercover Tourist website.

So use these tips and get started on your search for tickets as soon as possible.

Where should I stay?

Where you stay during your vacation can play a major role in your overall enjoyment of your trip. That being said, Florida has no shortage of hotels, so finding the right lodging to complement your dream vacation can be tough – but not impossible. Here are some tips to help you find a hotel you’ll be happy to stay in.

The first thing you have to decide when it comes to your lodgings is whether or not you would like to stay on the premises of Disney. To help you decide, here are some things to consider about both possibilities.

If you do not stay on Disney’s premises, your hotel may have awesome amenities, including pools, game rooms, and activities, but it won’t have anything with a Disney theme.

If you do stay on Disney’s premises, you can looking forward to experiencing a lot of unique Disney content.

That being said, why would someone not want to stay on Disney’s premises, knowing that they would be missing out of some really cool Disney stuff? The cost. Hotel rates change constantly, but in general you can expect to pay half, if not less than half, on your hotel if you stay off of the park’s premises, than you would if you stayed on it.

Now, to justify their high prices, Disney teases a number of creative, handy incentives that you can enjoy – if you stay in one of their resort hotels. These incentives include Disney bringing your bags from the airport (if, indeed, you fly) to your hotel without you ever dealing with baggage claim, complimentary resort transportation and parking, extended theme park hours, character dining, and themed rooms.

So, yes, you pay a premium for the full Disney experience. For some, it’s not worth it; for others, that’s what their whole trip to Florida is about. Wherever you fall, there are tons of options, so do your homework (don’t worry, it’s fun homework!) and find a place that you’ll love.

Whether you decide to fly or to drive, to buy your tickets straight from Disney or from another vendor, to stay on Disney’s premises or not, use these tips to help you craft the perfect vacation for you and your family. One that gets you the most bang for your buck, keeps your vacation as hassle-free as possible, and let’s you have a great, fun time at Walt Disney World.

Our Home Buying Process

When we were searching for a home two years ago, we quickly found out that the process was nothing like the one that you see on TV when you’re watching HGTV.

You don’t see three homes and make a decision between the three.

There are many homes on the market but finding the right one is a very difficult process. Between problems with foundations and odd situations where the current owners refused to leave the home that they were trying to sell when we were looking at it, the process took a lot longer than we had expected and we had to look at dozens of houses.

We did end up in the perfect house, so this work was worth it. Here is a small, short version of a few of the houses we looked at.

The First House

This house was actually what kicked off the search for us. Our Realtor told us about this house because it hit everything on our wish list:

  • large lot 
  • two stories
  • good bones
  • great neighborhood
  • 3 bedrooms upstairs
The basement was partially finished and it had a huge workshop and a carport which could easily be closed in. The best part is that it backs onto a strata park so that nobody could build behind the house. Really, it was perfect and we fell in love right away.
The problem? It was out of our price range.
Now, our Realtor showed it to us anyway because:
a) it was a buyers market so buyers have more negotiating power, and
b) it had been on the market for 3/4 of a year and that gives the buyers even more negotiating power and
c) it wasn’t that far out of our budget.
We made an offer for $10,000 under our budget because we would need funds left over to finish the basement into a suite, and the owners counter-offered $1,000 less than their asking price.
We weren’t going to play that game and we really couldn’t come up any farther so we asked for final right of refusal on the property and walked away.

The Next House

If possible, I liked this house even better than I liked the other one. This house was amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it was god awful ugly on the inside (I’m talking turquoise carpet), but with a little interior decorating and minor renovations, the house had SO MUCH potential.

This house had a:
  • huge lot
  • nice neighborhood
  • quiet, no-thru street
  • 3 levels (sprawling)
  • potential for a suite
The problem? It didn’t have good bones.
The foundation was cracked and the fix would cost $26,000.
This was actually a huge point of frustration for us. We felt completely misled because when this issue was disclosed, they told us it would cost $15,000 to fix ($7,000 if the my husband did the carpentry work).
We got a quote on it (we made an offer subject to a reasonable quote) and it cost substantially more.
At that point, we had gotten a $26,000 quote, they will have had to disclose that to other future potential buyers, but the seller and the listing agent were the worst to have to deal with during this process.
The listing agent wouldn’t give us the answers to any of our questions until we made an offer.
When we did make the offer (with all of our subjects), he didn’t even present it to the owner for almost 24 hours.
When our Realtor tried to follow up, the listing agent was never available, always completely unprofessional, and she would have to phone him time and time again to get a response.
One time, we counter offered and he didn’t tell us what the owner’s response was for two days. His excuse was that he was having a dinner party when we submitted our counter (and he’s a Realtor?)
When we walked away because of the high cost of repair, it was a huge weight off of our shoulders not having to deal with these people anymore.

It All Comes in Time

We ended up finding the perfect home a few months after we saw the initial two houses. The house we ended up in is far better than the ones that we looked at and liked earlier in our house hunting process and we’re glad that, in time with patience and persistence, we found the perfect place.

The house hunting process was a bit strenuous for us, as we saw far more than the three houses, but it paid off.

 

5 Ways Musicians Can Make Money

Sure, playing music is fun, but you can’t make any money!

Ever heard that? Ever thought that it was true? Well, I’m happy to say it isn’t. You can make money as a musician. Through lessons, selling music to other artists or companies, busking, sell merchandise, and performing, you can make money as a musician.

how to make money as a musician

Make an Hourly Rate by Giving Lessons

Everyone has to start somewhere. And when someone is just starting out, they want to work with teachers who are knowledgeable, successful, and talented. Don’t save all of your talent for audiences – share some with the up-and-coming musicians.

Depending on how well known you are, and the sort of clientele you work with, you can make anywhere from $25 – $50+ per lesson. Either providing your services through a local music store or freelancing through Craigslist or fliers around town, this is a great way to make money as a musician.

Use Teamwork to Make Money by Selling Your Music to Other Artists

One of the best ways to make money in the music business is to sell your songs to other artists. You could make a deal where a percentage of whatever the artists makes off of your song(s) goes directly to you. So, while they are out there performing, making deals, you can sit back and rake in the money coming from this one-time deal that you made. And this is the sort of thing that spreads. Once one of your sold-songs becomes successful, don’t be surprised if other more well-known artists are knocking on your door, interested in paying healthy amounts of money for your material.

Make Money as You Practice By Busking

Take your music to the streets! Performing out in the open, for anyone to see is fun and you, as an artist, can get a lot from it. For instance, you can see which of your songs people instantly respond to, which ones people dance to, which ones pay, and which ones flop. This information can be very useful when it comes to preparing the set-list for your next show. Also, busking gives you an opportunity to play out in a way that you might not be able to in your home/apartment. And while you’re playing out / practicing, you’re making money – that beats playing along in a bedroom.

Make Money by Selling Merchandise

Whenever you play a show, have something there for people to buy. Whether it be a demo album, a full-length album, or some sort of t-shirt, several members of your audience would like to support you by purchasing something from you. So be sure you have something there for them to buy. And while you have these things to sell at your performances, have them available to buy online. This will give you a source of income in addition to the money that you earn from in-person sales.

Make Money by Performing

Even though it’s getting cheaper and cheaper all the time to enjoy listening to recorded music (here’s more about how to get your music fix on the cheap), it’s just as difficult as ever to find an opportunity to see a quality live performance – help meet that need! Whether you are touring or staying in your hometown, research venues. Find venues that frequently host artists that perform the genre of music that you do, and get in contact with them. Then negotiate a time and fee for your to perform at their venue. This can be a great way for you to gain exposure, while simultaneously earning money for your performance.

So, despite what you may have heard about it being impossible to earn money as a musician, it’s not – it simply takes creativity. Luckily, that’s something that musicians have in spades!

Being Sick is Expensive

Out of all the seasons, autumn is my favourite season. With its cool crisp air and leaves of red, orange and gold it’s a beautiful season. Unfortunately it is also the start of flu season. I managed to get the flu, strep throat AND hives within the last three weeks. Thankfully, they weren’t all at the same time. However, it was one after the other. When I thought I should have been getting better, I only seemed to be getting worse.

I think the hives were most likely an allergic reaction to the antibiotics I was given for the strep throat. All I can say is, thank goodness for Benadryl.  I’m not even sure which the worst one of them all was. Each health problem was bad in its own way. It has been a rough three weeks. I like to call it the trifecta of illness (Even though the hives were only a rash, the itching was absolutely unbearable the first few days).

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

While I’m almost back to being fully recovered (at least I hope I am. I don’t think I could deal with another sickness right now), I can’t help but reflect on how the last few weeks affected my finances. What can I say; I’m a personal finance geek. Even when I’m bed-ridden I’m thinking about finances.

I am lucky enough to have a job where I have accumulated a large amount of paid sick days. With the exception of this year, I don’t sick too often during the year. I still got paid my base salary, however being sick made me lose a week and a half’s worth of overtime pay. I also was in no condition to work at my second job, which is also quite physical. So I lost money (a couple hundred dollars) from that job as well.

Some of the things purchased to help me combat the flu, strep throat and hives:

  • Lozenges
  • Tissues
  • Popsicles
  • Tea
  • Orange juice
  • Antihistamines For day and night
  • Antibiotics
  • Buckley’s cough syrup (I’ve forgotten how awful tasting that stuff is)

While I haven’t actually calculated the total cost for my sick supplies, a rough estimate would probably be anywhere from $40-$50.

Being sick has cost me several hundred dollars’ worth of pay overall. I’m still fuming over it.

There were many factors contributing to me getting sick. Aside from the weather change and a bug that seemed to be going around, there was also: Not getting enough rest during the week, not being able to catch up on rest during the weekends (Due to several commitments/gatherings), being in contact with a lot of people,  working the long hours and pushing myself too much. It’s a vicious cycle I go through. I go, go, go until I’m burnt out or almost burnt out. By that point, I’m usually able to get some much needed rest and recuperate. However, last month just felt like there was absolutely no time to rest.

We all try to work as much as we can for as long we can. We want to earn and save as much money as possible. However, we also need to take the time to rest as much as we can, when the opportunity arises. I know I should practice what I preach. Being really sick finally opened my eyes and made me realize how much I take on and how much more I need to rest. You may think differently, but I think it’s ok to say no to friends. Even to family. Even to your significant other. Even if it’s quite often.

Say yes more to yourself.

I knew by working a lot more hours I was making more money. Then I ended up getting sick which ended up costing me quite a bit of money. So in the end, I didn’t really end up getting too far ahead financially.

I don’t get it when people almost always constantly sacrifice sleep/rest in order to get everything done. It’s not healthy. There’s a reason why you should try (I know, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Believe me, as a light sleeper, I know) to get 6-8 hours of sleep. Your body needs to recuperate. Even machines eventually breakdown over time and need scheduled maintenance.

When was the last time you were sick and how much did it cost you?