How to save $200 in a month (or less!)



If you are a Disney veteran, you know about the $200 deposit. When making your reservation, Disney requires a $200 deposit to hold your room. Forty-five days before your arrival date, the balance is due. For some, $200 is no big deal; for others, that $200 needs to be planned and saved for just like the rest of the vacation. Here’s how our family does it – I sell things.

I begin either by cleaning out a closet or searching the house for things we no longer need or use. There is always something, or lots of somethings, as is usually the case. This time around, I found a pile of clothes I had bought for my daughter with the tags still on them, a Lululemon running shirt one size too small and rarely worn (but it was on sale!!!), some never used Thirty-One bags that I bought for giveaways when I was a more active consultant, an outgrown car seat and stroller in the garage, and a couple of storage cubes that don’t match anywhere and had been stashed in a closet, taking up valuable space.

The larger items, I post for sale on a local yard sale page. In the last place we lived, there were several yard sale pages on Facebook. You can also use Craigslist. In Minot, there is also a page called Bisman Online (I have no personal experience with it). Regardless, be careful.

I live on a military base, so as often as possible, I try to have buyers meet me on the base. If they have base access, I feel pretty safe. I do realize that this isn’t an option for most people. When I am not meeting someone on base, I make sure I’m in a heavily populated area with lots of people and security cameras around. Just use your nugget, and be smart. Meeting someone to sell a pair of boots in a dark alley at night is probably not the best idea.

How do I price the items? It depends. These are yard sale pages, so you’re probably not going to make back what you paid for that Britax. I am usually selling items that are just a hair nicer than what I’d donate to a thrift store, but I don’t sell them for anything close to their original value. For example, the stroller I sold was a Chicco umbrella stroller. I think we bought it for around $80, but it survived two kids and had been kept in the garage for a while, so I sold it for $5. The car seat was only a couple of years old, was probably $70-80 new, but I didn’t feel like cleaning the lint and dog hair off of it, so I sold it for $15.

Another suggestion is to watch the pages before you list something. Observe how other people are pricing similar items and whether or not they sell. Also, watch and see whether the people commenting and purchasing items are wheeling and dealing. When I was in Louisiana, every single time I sold something, it was for a lower price than what I originally asked for. It didn’t matter if it was just $5, every buyer tried to talk me down in price, and there was almost always someone telling a sob story about why they needed it for free. I learned to price items a little higher than what I actually wanted to get for my items to compensate for that. Here in North Dakota, that hasn’t happened once. What I ask for, I get. But if I price something too high, I get absolutely no responses. Know your area, your potential buyers, and price accordingly.

To sell smaller items that are easy to package and ship, I use EBay. You will have the best luck on EBay if you can sell things that are still in the package or have the tags on them. I never remove the tags from Neely’s clothes until she wears them for the first time. She is incredibly picky when it comes to clothing, and I’ve learned that even if it is too late to return something when I realize she’s never going to wear it, I can at least recoup some of my losses on EBay. Take decent photos, write an accurate description of your item, and be super sure that you get your shipping costs correct. There is nothing worse than losing money on a sale, because you estimated the shipping cost too low. The only downside to using EBay to sell things is that it takes a little more time. You can choose the length of your auction, but I generally find that seven days is a good time frame.

In the last month, I have made $350 selling the small pile of things I collected on EBay and yard sale pages. That’s my $200, plus I’ve already started saving for my trip! Just don’t go too crazy. Sometimes when I clean out too much, my kids start thinking I’m going to sell all of their favorite things. I’m not proud of it.

Other tips to help save for your Disney vacation are to ask for gift cards. If anyone in your family has a birthday, or Christmas is happening before your trip, request Disney gift cards. They are good at the Disney store, yes, but you can also use them to help pay for your vacation. Or you can save them and use the gift cards in the parks to pay for souvenirs.

You can also apply for a Disney Rewards Visa through Chase. Watch your internet sidebars. Periodically, they offer a deal where you can receive a $200 Disney gift card when you pay your first statement. There’s your deposit payment. When you use your rewards card to make purchases, you earn $1 for every $100 you pay off. Even though we usually make sure we have cash on hand to pay for bigger ticket items, I like to put them on our Disney Visa. We immediately pay it off with the cash and have earned rewards dollars. School tuition? Disney rewards. Plane tickets home for the holidays? Disney rewards. Ours add up pretty quickly. Disney also usually releases vacation discounts to cardholders first, then to the general public a little while later. It’s kind of nice to get “dibs” on the best deals.

Get to work! Save up that deposit! Then, get in touch with me ( I’d love to help plan your next magical vacation. My magical service is always free!

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