For years, my husband Josh and I have had a “difference of opinion” about visiting Disney World. Put simply, he doesn’t want to go, unless we can go “for free” by using points and miles. While it’s possible to use Starwood points to stay at certain Disney properties (the Swan and the Dolphin) or to use a myriad of other points options to stay off-property, if I’m going to travel 3,000 miles across the country, I want to stay at the Grand Floridian. Nothing else will do.
The problem is that this hotel is incredibly expensive – rooms start at $500/night and skyrocket up from there – and there’s no way to pay for all of this with points. Especially because I want to stay in a club-level suite ($1,000/night). Am I crazy? No. No, I’m not. I just want to have an all-out Disney experience. And I’m going to get it for free.
Disney World, I’m coming for you.
I’ve come up with a plan for how to save up for this extravagant vacation – without taking a dime from our family budget. This post is the first in a series of many (how many? who knows?), in which I will detail my process and progress. Follow along if you like! Choose your own goal – it doesn’t have to be Disney World, it can be anything – and track your progress along with me.
My goal is to save $5,000.
Normally, when I take advantage of a deal, I just cycle the cash I earn back into our family bank accounts. I figure it’s all going to the same place anyway. However, starting now, I’m going to start funneling my profits into a separate account. That way, I can keep track of how much I’ve earned with all of the various Amex promos and free gift cards and anything else that comes up. My goal is $5,000.
Here’s what I’ve done so far (I’ve already made $1,070!)
In the past couple of weeks, a few very solid deals have surfaced. Here are the ones I’ve snapped up:
1. Amex Smart and Final
This amazing deal was worth a whopping $825 to me. Amex is offering a $25 statement credit when you make a single purchase of $50 or more at a Smart and Final store with your synced Amex card. You can get up to 3 statement credits per enrolled card, and since Josh and I have 11 Amex cards between the two of us (3 cards for me, 4 for him, and 4 authorized users between us), this pencils out very nicely for us. We used our cards to purchase $50 Amazon gift cards, which we will definitely use up quickly, as we order from Amazon multiple times a week (yes – really. We’ve got two kids and we work full-time – Amazon is our savior).
You can click here to sync your Amex card with your Twitter account, and click here to unsync. If you’ve got more than one Amex card, you can sync and unsync each card in succession to load the deal onto each of your cards. To load the deal, simply tweet #AmexSmartFinal.
Another way to accomplish this is to use the “multiple browser” trick to sync up all of your cards.
This link contains the details for this promo.
Tip: If you are using Twitter, just make sure you get confirmation from Amex that your card is connected and the offer is loaded before you unsync!
2. Amex Sam’s Club
Another fantastic deal – $20 off an online $20 Sam’s Club purchase. Read the details here, but the idea is the same as the deal above. To activate this offer on all of your Amex cards, you’ll either need to load this offer using the multiple browser trick, or sync/unsync all of your cards with Twitter.
I loaded this deal onto 9 out of my 11 cards (Twitter issues, another story), so this was worth $180 to me. What did I buy? Disney gift cards, of course 😉
Tip: you can split tender on your transaction and use two Amex cards for each purchase – just make sure you allocate at least $20 per card.
3. Amex Inspirato
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a random email I got inviting me to join Amex Inspirato and offering a $25 gift card for “learning more” about the program. As promised, I got a $25 gift card in the mail! Since it arrived a few days ago, I’m adding it to this account.
4. Target College Registry
Currently, there is a deal at Target that will give you a $20 Target gift card for creating a college registry.
As my kids have gotten older, we’ve found that making birthday/Holiday wish lists online is a wonderful thing. For my kids, being able to add items to their lists is fun. For us (and for friends and family), it’s easy to shop for gifts. Since my kids didn’t have a Target registry yet, I used this opportunity to create one for each of them. Yes, technically it’s for college, but honestly they will likely still have the same, ongoing list until that time rolls around.
So, $20×2 = $40. Woo hoo!
I’m actually really excited to start keeping track of how much free money I earn. At this rate, I’ll reach my $5,000 goal in no time! However, I’ve also got some ideas for how to maximize the return on what I earn by using shopping portals and a few other tips and tricks.
Do you track your cashback savings? What’s your savings goal? I’d love to know!