Budgeting Steps to Savings – How Much is This Vacation Going to Cost?

Step 1 of a Disney vacation: Figuring out the cost.


Before we can even consider a trip across the country, I have to start at square one. There are two thoughts…

How much money is this going to cost us?

I have estimated that we will likely spend $5000 on a trip to take my husband, myself and three children to Florida. We are very frugal people 24/7 in our daily lives so  naturally I’m going to get the best costs and bargains that I can. That being said, I intend to make the most of this trip and will not be tent camping or packing in peanut butter sandwiches! I plan on having us staying on-site, possibly at a deluxe resort for 6 nights and we’ll eat most of our meals in the parks or hotels. So right now I’m saying my Vacation Bank goal is $5000.

Just put a number for your trip out there and then do your research. See how realistic that number looks when you start getting down to the nitty gritty of real costs. Your Vacation Bank goal is just an estimate at this point. Play around with the Disney Resort website and see what numbers you get based on different dates, just know that you’ll likely be able to get much better pricing when you shop around or use a travel agent.

Write down estimates for the following on your trip budget:

  • Hotel
  • Food
  • Park tickets
  • Travel (airline, rental car, gas?)
  • Extras – souvenirs, excursions, etc.

See the WORKSHEETS tab under BUDGETING for a printable chart that will help you with finding your Vacation Bank number!

How much do I need to save?

Putting this trip on a credit card and paying it off later isn’t even an option for us. We don’t pay interest on any of our charge cards and don’t intent to start now! So anything we plan on spending for a trip has to be saved up front. I would never recommend going into debt for a vacation. One of our family mottos is “Spend only what you have”.  Which means you learn to do without if you can’t afford it, and that includes Disney vacations!

Plan on paying cash for this trip (or paying for it with your Disney Visa to earn points and then immediately pay it all off in cash).

All this money talk has me feeling topsy-turvy!

All this money talk has me feeling topsy-turvy!

Okay, two more thoughts…

How much expendable income do we have to set aside for this trip each month?

After taking a close look at the budget, I estimate that we can cut back in small ways and save about $400 each month. Of course if something comes up and we have an unexpected expense, this is the first place that the money is going to come from!

How long is it going to take me to save?

If we actually can save $400 per month, this would be a Vacation bank of $4800 in 12 months. Since I know that “life happens”, I’d expect that some of the bank will need to be used for other expenses, so I’m aiming for at least $5500 in 18 months.

Figure out roughly how long it would take you to save your amount. Or work backwards and start with an approximate trip date and then figure out how much you’ll need to save each month in your Vacation Bank to meet your goal.