Money Saving Tips- How you can afford a trip to Disneyland

This week I thought it would be fun to share our tips for saving money for our overseas holidays. Back when I was 22 years old, and a poor University student working multiple part time jobs, it literally took me four years to save the money to go overseas. This is back when airfares alone were around $2000 AUD. No matter what your income, if you are determined to go, you can make little life adjustments and make your dream a reality. As Walt Disney once said “If you can dream it, you can do it”.

My Husband D.H and I had a lot of fun compiling this list, calculating we save about $14, 302 per year – which is a trip to Anaheim Disneyland from Australia, just from these money saving tips below. The trick is, any money saved – you must put in your savings account –and not spend it! All amounts below are in Australian dollars. 
($1 AUD = $0.75 USD approximately)

Key savings tip #1 – the small dollars add up!
  1. Open a separate savings account. Keeping all your money in one bank account never works. Limit your number of withdrawls from this special savings account and make sure you have no ATM access. Any savings in this account, don’t touch it!
  2. Find the highest interest rate savings account and be prepared to move banks for a higher interest rate. Refer to 'Key savings tip #1 – the small dollars add up!' There are websites like that compare savings accounts. Interest is free money so make sure your money is definitely working for you every single day it is there. Be wary of high interest introductory rates from banks that drop back to normal after 3 months. Often these are not that competitive if you work out the interest, over a 12 month term. One of the great things about interest is it compounds over time. You will get interest on your interest! Over time, this adds up considerably.
  3. Do a budget. You might not stick to it, which is ok. A budget can always be modified as you go – that is the secret to budgets. One week you might have unexpected expenses, you just modify your budget and keep going. You can adjust the following weeks budget to incorporate the unexpected expense. This is what big businesses do. They do not have set budgets. Re-do the budget and stick with it. But make it something reasonable you can stick to or allocate some money as a ‘buffer’ for emergencies.
  4. It is useful to do a ‘money audit’ over a week. See where your money is actually going over a week. Your online bank account might have this feature already and tell you where your money is going. Do you always buy an extra coffee when you are at X? Find out where your weaknesses are in your budget and see whether you can get rid of that expense. 
  5. Pay yourself first. After you have done a budget – pay yourself first into that savings account you cannot touch. [$20/week is $1040 per year!]
  6. Bank your loose change/coins. Refer back to Key Savings tip #1. Have a 'small change' jar at home and every so often, literally go to the bank and save it. [$2 per week = $104 per year]
  7. Make your lunch every day for work or school. Don’t buy your lunch at work. So many people I see spend $10 AUD easily per day on coffees and food. Some people say they don’t have time. We make our lunches the night before straight after tea. It takes 5 minutes and often includes things like salad/meat which is already out from tea.  Some people say that they don’t like the tomatoes all mushy if they pre-prepare it in a sandwich – I have seen some people pack their mushy vegetables in a separate container and cut them up on the spot at work just before eating! There is also the option of left over dinners if sandwiches do not appeal also. Just don’t buy your lunch at work. [That $10 per work day is $2600 per year]
  8. Are you a 2-car family? We got rid of one of our cars and save heaps of money getting by with one car. Yes, it requires a lot of negotiation over this one car’s use – however, we have not found it a problem at all. We live near public transport and so use that quite a lot [Estimated savings $3000/ year which covers car insurance, petrol, maintenance, parking, motor registration. This does not include the car purchase!!]. Please note that this one savings tip alone is also the price of a cheap holiday!
  9. Shop around annually for car/house insurance. Be willing to move insurance agencies for a better deal. I know one friend who sticks with the same insurance company she bought from the original car dealer, year after year. She doesn’t bother to check. However, if you check you may well find you can save quite a lot of money by moving companies OR negotiating with your current insurer (or negotiate to pay more in Excess). You might even negotiate a discount for having multiple insurances with the one company. Insurance prices should also not be going up on a depreciating asset [We estimate that we save $70 per year in insurance and just renegotiated again!] Insurance companies try and put it up $100 per year and we negotiate it to go down rather then up.
  10. Mobile phone plans – we use ‘pre-paid’ so it is all budgeted for. We also use the smallest amount you can survive on. For me that is $40/month with Telstra pre-paid, which includes unlimited calls and 5 GB of data, that rolls over if you recharge before the end of the month [We estimate that we save using pre-paid $20/month, $240 per year]
  11. Cook meals at home – eat less takeaways. Cook meals your grandmother used to make. They are healthier and cheaper and use more simple ingredients. An example – Tuna Mornay. I think this must be the worlds cheapest dish at $4.00 AUD a can! Can feed a family with it bulked up with pasta. Eating Takeaways is a necessary treat for some, but instead of once a week, try for once a fortnight instead. Have easy meals at home like home made pizza’s for those nights you just can’t be bothered to cook [Estimated savings $40 per week, $2080 per year]
  12. Carry less cash on you. I find cash is easier to spend then cards. Some people may find the opposite is true. Do what is best for you. If you use Cash, often the change in coins, gets ‘lost’- or spent! Remember rule #1, the small dollars add up!
  13. Buy food at the supermarket, but buy fruit and vegetables at the markets. Even better grow your own fruit trees at home. Make it part of your weekend routine to go to the markets on your way out somewhere or returning home [we save $30 per fortnight buying fruit and vegetables at the markets– at least, which is $780 per year]
  14. Buy homebrand/generic low cost brands for things like sugar, plastic cling wrap, flour, dish washing liquid. It is hard to tell the difference between branded and unbranded for these items, yet they are so much cheaper [Estimated $10/week or $520 per year]
  15. Buy non perishable items on special at the supermarket. Buy in bulk when they are on sale.  A caveat to this is only buy what you know you will definitely use. Unwanted items take up space but are also a waste of your money if not ever used. Good items in this category include tinned food and toilet paper! [Save $10/week or $520 per year]
  16. Big ticket items – Always shop around and compare prices. Sometimes you can get a cheaper price for cash – always ask [$20 per month or $240 per year]
  17. Subscribe online to shops you have loyalty too. They may give you email discounts and let you know about upcoming sales. Make sure you use them. [$10/week or $520 per year]
  18. Sign up to your local library. You get free computer internet use, free Wi-fi, free magazines, Free CD’s and DVD’s (including latest T.V series releases). [$10/week or $520 per year]
  19. Want or need? Every item you purchase –ask yourself is this a Want or Need? If it’s a want – then you can live without it and put that money towards a holiday instead!
  20. Eating out – Sometimes you can just get away with eating from the salad bar for a cheaper price then a full main meal. As a University student, this was often a cheap way of going out but still catching up with friends.
  21. Limit Christmas and Birthday present spending. Some people spend a ridiculous amount. Stick to a strict budget and limit how much you spend on everyone and whom. If you think about it, a lot of gifts are actually unwanted and some are even re-gifted. Last year everyone in my extended family got the same gift – Haighs Chocolates! It also saved time by just getting everyone the same thing.
  22. Exercise – there are plenty of free online apps on Exercise/Pilates/Yoga/Stretching classes. No need to attend expensive classes (you know you won’t stick to anyway, ahem). The apps come with free reminders, and reminders of reminders to prompt you. You can still exercise with a friend, or a family member, but in your own home! Much more convenient and time saving. [Estimated saving at least $300 per year]
  23. Always keep your shop receipts. If you don’t wear it or change your mind, you can often take it back to the store and get your money back (if its in the original condition of course). This is money back in your hands [Estimated saving returning unwanted goods $50/year]
  24. Similarly, use eBay and Gumtree to get rid of your unwanted goods and make some money [There is probably something you can sell in your house for $50/year]
  25. Use UBER rather then Taxis. There is now UBER eats too which is cheaper than dining out.
  26. Check you are getting the best deal from your Energy providers (gas, electricity etc). Be willing to swap Energy providers and use that as a negotiating tool to get a better deal. You will find that they are often negotiable to keep you as a customer.
  27. Health Care Insurance - use all the free extras. Find out what exactly they are and make sure you use them. My insurance lets me get free eye glasses once per calendar year. [Saving $100/year]
  28. Use Loyalty cards like Flybuys. This is where you spend money at the same shop and you accrue points, and they give you discounts. [We save every week, $10/week or $520 per year]. Last week we actually saved $30 by using Flybuys!
  29. Visit your local Opportunity shop (Op Shop or second hand shop) to get very cheap CD’s, DVD’s.
  30. Try and stay healthy – eat well. It is also expensive if you get sick and see a Doctor, with medication etc. Use ‘Bulk billed’ (free) Doctors for minor complaints [If go twice per year, that is $70/year saved]
  31. Use Vinegar to wash your clothes. Especially for clothes that are black. Its cheaper than other washing products.
  32. Wash clothes in cold water and don’t use a dryer at all! Save money on electricity. Wash clothes around the weather conditions prevailing. Wash more when its warmer when clothes will dry quicker. [Estimated savings of at least $300/year – by not using a dryer alone!!]
  33. Clothing – shop for clothes at Sales time (January and July sales). BUT also shop at small ‘Big Department stores’ during sales time. Big name department stores with small area space, tend to discount clothes radically as they have no space for unwanted stock. I am talking small Target and Kmart stores here. Sales generally start on a Thursday (so shop then) and also try Outlet stores. [$50/year]
  34. If you don’t smoke or drink, you already save yourself a lot of money [$25/week or $300 per year – or a lot more!]
  35. Buy Ethnic cuisine from an authentic shop – not the general supermarket. For example we buy fresh Lebanese Pita Bread from a Lebanese bakery, that costs $1.20 for 5 slices. At the supermarket, it is less fresh and costs over $3 per bag. Similarly with Cheeses such as Ricotta and Fetta - it is cheaper to buy through a direct importer then to buy from a supermarket. Refer back to Savings Tip #1, the small dollars add up [$2/week is $104 per year]
  36. Hairdresser – Use a ‘home hairdresser’ rather than a hair dressing salon with a shop front. Their overheads are cheaper [Save $120 per year with 3 visits]
  37. At University, buy second hand text books, or buy new and sell them at the end of the year to the next years cohort of students. Don’t wait too many years before selling as they might upgrade the text book. You can always borrow from the library if required again in the future.
  38. Books – You can get many book titles from Amazon as eBooks for free or low cost (under $10). Old Classic titles are free as out of copyright.
  39. Make sure you claim all your tax deductions that you can. Look into what you can claim and make sure that you do! This is money back to you! Save your tax refund money!
  40. Fill the car up on Petrol discount days and use the discount vouchers you get with shopping receipts ($104/year saved)

Travel saving tips:
  1. The Smith Family put me on to a great website called The website advertises flights on sale, and they are certainly great deals.  You subscribe, and it sends you email alerts of cheap airfare deals. You do not book the flights through them. The cheaper you can get your original flights, the cheaper your holiday will actually be.
  2. Travel off peak or at the very least in the ‘shoulder’ season.
  3. Shop around for Travel insurance. You can often find travel insurance cheaper than the travel agents and I strongly suspect they take a ‘cut’ of the price! You do not need to take the travel agents travel insurance they recommend.  Please make sure you do take travel insurance though and it is with a reputable company! This is not something you really mess about with!
  4. Shop around for Accommodation on / and consult with for other suggestions and recommendations. I have found however, once you find your ideal hotel on trivago etc–always double check the hotel website is not actually cheaper. On two occasions, the hotel website has been the cheaper option (they have had special early bird deals!)
So there you go, how to save $14, 302 AUD per year without really trying which is easily a trip to Disneyland and more.  

Remember, any savings at all, need to go back to your untouchable savings account. It is not extra money to spend!!

If you have found these tips useful, please feel free to comment below. Just so you know, I am not sponsored by anyone, these are true savings.

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Until next week,

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Liz Powley said…
Wow, that is thorough :D You are giving me flashbacks to my college days and growing up on Dad's single parent pension :D

I am definitely guilty of the work lunch, though I don't buy any drinks at all (I drink water most of the time, bar the occasional frozen Coke or iced chocolate) and I've done the math on that multiple times $10 - $15 per day, up to five or six days a week can be nasty. Might be cheaper and healthier for me to stop eating - the other hard part is finding healthy purchased meals too.

I had no idea flights were so expensive - I just flicked over to the Qantas site to give me an idea of the cost to fly to London - from Melbourne over $1200! And that is on sale! From Adelaide it is well over $2000! For the four of us that would be over $6000 just to get there and back. I recently did the math on a holiday to Cairns (on our list for a revisit) and I found a house in the middle of the rainforest - adding it all up accommodation and estimates for travel (I think, it's been a while since I did it) a two week holiday would cost $6000 for six people (I included my Sis and her man). With savings we will probably do it or something like it in 2019/20.

One saving tip that saved me during college was investing in changing the car over to LPG. Cost money initially, but when I was the poorest, I could run that car on $5 a week (20 years ago, a little more nowadays :D )

Totally agree with the checking accommodation's individual sites, particularly here in Australia as several times I've managed to hunt down cheaper deals with direct contact with the owners as all those accommodation sites charge fees - and watch out for some of them like AURA(?) They appear to be an extra middle man grabbing sites like Country Getaways and marketing them again with a yet higher price.

Thanks for the list. Certainly full of smart reminders (yes, we have takeaway at least once a week ;) ) There are plenty of money leaks in my budget. I've plugged lots of them out of necessity, but food is our most expensive item. Comes from laziness and time issues. I really should have another argument with our electricity supplier, or boot them out completely.

Anyways, I'm rambling :D Hope you have a fabulous Christmas with lots of theme park related pressies :D

Best wishes,
K.J said…
Thanks Liz for your comments. If you sign up for airfare alerts on you will find alot cheaper airfares -like $850-$900 return Adelaide to London return and $950 to Los Angeles return. Something I didnt write in post is that children under 12 pay only 75% of an internatiobal airfare -so you save more again. Good luck with your travel plans
Leanne said…
Awesome tips, thank you

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