/oh.. and DVC members as well, so some nights are from that.
We take major advantage of the discounts from our Universal annual pass and our Florida resident discounts. Both help tremendously with hotel rates and special event tickets, and even discounts on food. We're also willing to go off-season. For instance, we haven't been to Horror Nights in October in years. The tickets (and hotel rates...) are SO much cheaper over the September dates. It usually means that the weather is less than appropriately "Halloween-y", but it's worth it to save a bit.
I don't ever cheap out on vacation but I don't go out of my way to be extravagant either. I do a nice sit-down meal every day, but only one. I go to Cinderella's Table one time and that's the only fancy breakfast of the whole trip. The rest of the sit-down meals are dinners. I order whatever I want when I am on vacation and don't look at prices…which is the only time I ever do that. At home while I am saving, I nickel and dime and almost never eat out. Vacation is my chance to live like the other half.
I actually think the every four years thing works well for me. I really enjoy planning my trips and looking for deals and I really appreciate my time in the parks since I know that it will be four years before I am back down there again.
From Australia, its been our best practice to book ahead when the dollar is at a suitable exchange rate.
This means I am tied into the scheme for three years and can't get the money out until the scheme matures. I am guaranteed my money back but it can also give me more if the shareprice goes up....If the shareprice goes down then I still get what I pay in, never lose out....No Brainer.
Last time the shareprice doubled so I was quids in.
Would never put a holiday on a credit card and pay it back when I can. This would spoil my holiday, I'd be worried about the debt the whole time.
In off years, I will visit the competition. When I'm generous or want to visit Walt Disney World, I find ways of cutting costs. I utilize my time share resort for the best rooms at the cheapest costs. I eat at my room. I bring lunch to the parks. I pack snacks and drinks. I only make a few table service reservations. I buy discount tickets online and charge them. I try not to pay anything in advance as that locks you in and what if you don't need it?
If we plan a bigger trip, like a cruise with the kids that we have booked next year, we'll start saving the money in advance-- the greater the expense, the earlier we will start saving.
I have a Disney Visa and a Southwest Visa. I use the latter to pay rent and the former to pay for everything else. By the time I get to Disney I've flown for free and paid for at least 1/3 of my park ticket if not more!