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Tip of the week: Go without now to get what you want later

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Published: October 9, 2012 at 3:58 PM
I suspected, when I wrote last week's tip about getting a passport, that some readers would bring up cost. Not just the cost of getting a passport ($100+), but of paying for a trip outside the country (more than that), too.

Allow me to suggest that anyone reading this post has the money for both a passport and a trip abroad. The trouble is you're probably spending that money on something else. :^(

So let's share some ideas on how you can stop spending money on stuff you don't really need - so you'll have that money available to spend on the stuff you really want. Please add your tips in the comments.

On the train in France
Let's travel!

Car payments

Let's start with a long view. For many people, the car payment's the biggest check you write each month after your mortgage or rent payment. But it's the easiest one to mine over the long haul for vacation money. Here's what you do: Drive your current car into the ground. Don't trade it in for a new car (and a new loan) after you've paid it off. Keep driving it for as long you can, until the a repair bill comes in that's greater than the remaining value of the car. That's when you'll know it's time to buy.

Here's the trick, though. Keep making your payments in the meantime, even after your current car is all yours. You won't make the payments to the bank, of course. You'll make them to yourself, by putting the money into a savings account.

Once the car's dead, if you've driven it for several extra years, you'll likely have enough money in the bank to pay cash for a new (or slightly used) and fuel-efficient car. (Save at the pump, too.) You might even have some money left over. If you do - that's your trip money! Keep stashing cash every month, and you'll be able to pay cash for your next car, too. And the car after that, and after that. You'll never have to pay interest on a car loan again. And, the leftover money - the cash each month that would have gone toward loan interest - will be yours to pay for theme park trips.

Pay TV

Okay, I live in Southern California, where I get more than 60 high-def TV channels over the air, free. When I want to watch movies or cable TV shows, I turn to Netflix or Hulu. (Amazon Prime's another option.) I watch ESPN online. What I don't do is pay for cable or satellite TV. Even with the Netflix cost, that still saves me hundreds of dollars a year that I can spend on other entertainment I like more than "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." If travel is more important to you than the Travel Channel, try going without cable or satellite for a few months. Worst comes to worst, someone will give you a sweet "introductory" deal to get you back if you can't hold out, saving you some bucks on the monthly TV bill.

Food and drinks

Going out to lunch on a workday? Pack a lunch instead. Cook and freeze meals on the weekend so you won't have to go out when you're busy during the week. It's cheaper. Gotta go out? Get a glass of (free) water instead of buying a drink. Buy a reusable water bottle and refill it, instead of buying bottled drinks. Cutting soda out of your life will save you money, calories, and weight. What's not to like about that? Brew a cup of coffee at home and skip the trip to the coffee store, too. Saving five bucks a workday on soda, coffee or lunch adds up to $1,250 a year. You can get a round-trip air ticket between Chicago to Tokyo and a two-day Tokyo Disney passport for less than that. DisneySea, here you come!

Play the rewards game

This tip's for advanced savers. If you can pay off your credit card every month, go ahead and get yourself a rewards card that helps you get points or credits for your theme park trips. Airline or hotel-branded cards, or affinity cards from Disney or Universal, can help you get points with each purchase, and often throw in another bunch of points for signing up. These cards can be good deals only if you avoid high interest charges by paying in full each month. Many cards will hit you with a high annual fee after the first year, so make sure that the benefits you'll be getting are worth that cost. But 30,000 free airline miles can buy you a free trip round-trip ticket at certain times of the year, right there.

For more travel tips, please visit our 100 Travel Tips for Visiting Theme Parks and How to get the best deals on theme park tickets pages.

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on October 9, 2012 at 5:20 PM
I agree with the TV thing. My family is thinking about getting Apple TV when our contract is up considering we spend alot on channels we don't watch.
From Jake Johnson on October 9, 2012 at 7:03 PM
agree 100 and 50%.. I have not bought a new car in years.. get a one year old car for 30% or more less than new. Last car i got was 2008 impala LTZ with 13K miles that was only 8 months old, buying it in Nov 08. the car listed for 29K new and i paid right at 16K out the door, tax, tags, and full tank of gas.

Now this was when auto industry was on the bottom and sales were real slow on new stuff so i was able to get a killer deal. But the deal is always going to be slightly used over new for saving money and getting that uses less gas is good as well.

An with free over the air TV the picture is better that most HD cable, plus for now its still free.. Having hulu and other streaming service or even redbox can save money each month.

all good things but if you use the extra money to pay off debit first and live like no-other then you can live like no-other.. Dave Ramsey saying..

From Aaron McMahon on October 9, 2012 at 7:54 PM
Did Carl Weathers take over as editor of Theme Park Insider?
From Jason Read on October 9, 2012 at 8:18 PM
Where in the valley are you getting over 60 OTA TV channels! Doesn't the UHF dial only go to 57?
From Daniel Etcheberry on October 11, 2012 at 4:08 PM
The closest I will be able to get to Japan is Epcot's japanese pavillion.
From Tom Cunningham on October 10, 2012 at 8:55 AM
Just something that could have a major impact on themepark tourism in the US that you might not be aware of. You may have heard of an airline in Europe called Ryanair and despite the horror stories(which are normally generated by customers not following the rules) they are a brilliant budjet airline and the largest single carrier in Europe (for a reason). They are extremly cheap no other airline is even close.

Now Ryanair are on their 3rd attempt to buy Aer Lingus the Irish flag carrier. This has been turned down twice by the EU on competition grounds but they appear to have a really good case this time.

This is important for one reason only !! Ryanair want Aer lingus for their Transatlantic routes these include Orlando etc... Ryanair are promising €99/$99 dollar fares one way including taxes.

With the ryanair model their are usually some catches and add-ons but this will drive the price up to the $300 dollar return fair price.

Now picture a family of four going on a two week holiday to orlando who are currenly paying an average of $600 per person to fly now being able to do so for $1200 for the family v $2400.In short if Ryanair win their case in January the number of tourists travelling from Europe and multiple times rather then once a year could seriously increase and have a serious impact on tourism. I know Im keeping my fingers crossed

From Anon Mouse on October 10, 2012 at 8:57 AM
I would like to say most advice is personal. It is up to you to decide the best way to spend your money whether or not you choose to live in the present or later in the future by rewarding yourself with a trip.

Cars: Missing in the advice is the amount of money spent for a car. Don't buy more car than you need.

Car loans can range from 4 to 6 years. Try to pay off early. If you want to retain ANY resale value of your car, sell before 10 years and 120,000 miles. Otherwise, drive the car as long as possible without consideration of a replacement car especially if you don't have a deposit for new car.

Thus, there are tradeoffs to consider for the 2 paths to take. That deposit money can go to a nice new car, or you can take that precious trip to Europe.

Pay TV: Get a bundle package with TV, phone, and Internet. Avoid Pay Per View. Use Redbox. No premium movie channels like HBO and Showtime. I got DirecTV for the Sport channels and I avoid going to live games (saves on tickets and parking).

Lunch: I usually pack my lunch. I usually cook during the week and eat out on the weekends. The dinners I cook might have leftovers that I save for lunch.

Rewards Cards: Don't have too many. Too many rewards cards means you never accumlate enough rewards in any one card to take advantage. I prefer DiscoverCard since the rewards are actual dollar rewards that I can exchange for merchandise, cash, or gift cards.

From Robert Niles on October 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM
The 60+ over the air channels includes digital channels - the 7.2 and 5.3 channels that stations now broadcast on their sliver of digital spectrum, in addition to their main channel.
From 86.183.6.71 on October 10, 2012 at 1:35 PM
So so so so true! It took us 5 years to save for our last florida trip from them uk. 5 years with not holidays, meals out, alcohol, nights out, magazines, new clothes, nice food etc. But it was so worth it, everytime I wanted some luxury item I asked myself 'how much better would that be to enjoy in Main street or Hogwarts or even just in them sun. After 2 weeks of heaven we went back to saving. And dreaming and planning for out next trip. I found we saved a lot by ordering groceries etc online. And living the social lives of hermit crabs, but I an an antisocial girl anyway so that was not hard ask.
From Wok Creative on October 12, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Giving up the over-priced Disney passes after many years, to be able to take a real vacation next summer. Can probably still afford to get passes to a few other local parks instead, too - maybe even upgrade Knott's to the bigger Cedar Fair pass to go to other parks.
From Derek Potter on October 12, 2012 at 9:51 AM
We dumped cable TV quite a while ago. There are just too many cheaper ways to get programming. Between network websites and Hulu, over the air stations, Netflix, and my ever expanding DVD library, I just can't justify over a hundred bucks a month for a cable package.

I think the trick to managing money isn't just controlling the numbers. It's also about controlling the urge for immediate satisfaction. It's so prevalent in today's culture to want things now. It's what drives people to pay $12.00 to see a movie that will be available on DVD or Netflix in a month, or what makes them decide to agree to a high price or a bad loan so they can take it home, or what makes people stand in line for hours and pay full retail price for the new Iphone with bugs that still need worked out. It's the worship of goods...handing over our mind and self control to stuff. It's really easy to do in the age of endless and easy credit, and it's also the surest way to spend our working lives getting nowhere financially and running on a hamster wheel.

It's amazing how much money you will find in your pocket when you truly ask yourself the question with every purchase... "Do I really need this right now?"

From Mike Gallagher on October 14, 2012 at 1:36 PM
AJ said: "(no ride in existence is worth more than a two hour wait, not even the best ride on Earth)."

And that ride would be....?

:)

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