The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.

I’m going to Disney World, again.  We just got back from our trip to Mickey’s stomping grounds and we started talking about our return before we even left.  Our family had such a great time while we were there, that we want to go back and thought about taking custom hoodies for the whole family with us.

I’ve talked before that we had been planning and saving for the trip for about 4 years.  My job, being the CFO of our house, was to ensure that we would have the money to go. The hard part of that task was deciding how much we needed to save.  I put the target savings number at $10,000, not really knowing whether that was realistic or not.  Turns out, I over estimated how much we would need.  We ended up only needing about $7,000.  That was after we were able to secure 3 out of the 4 plane tickets we needed for free.  We took advantage of the Southwest RapidRewards credit card bonus.

The Return Plan

I waited for the inevitable question from my kids, “When are we coming back?”  It did take them a few days to ask, but ask they did.  When my wife and I started talking about it, my off-the-cuff estimate was 4 years.  The quick calculations in my head figured we could comfortably save the same amount again in 4 years.  After all, we had basically done that the last four years.  Then, I began thinking some more.  Did it have to be 4 years?  Four years from now, my daughter would be almost 14.  Would Disney still hold the same enjoyment and excitement for her?  Could we do it sooner?  The simple answer is yes, we can do it sooner.  The big question is how?

The first step is to take the remaining money that was dedicated to Disney and leave it dedicated to Disney.  That dramatically reduces what I have to save, instead $7,000, I now only need to save $4,000.  That can be done in only a couple of years, assuming that we didn’t have to pay for the flights again.  Could we take advantage of the Southwest bonus miles again?  I took a quick look at how much we put on our credit card in the past year.  It was about $40,000.  Thankfully, the bill is always paid in full every month.  If we used the Southwest card for that instead, we’d receive 40,000 points, assuming our spending is about the same in the future.  In addition to those points, you receive bonus miles on your anniversary (6,000). We’ll have two anniversaries between now and then, for a total of 12,000.  That means in the year and a half between now, and when I likely book the flights, I’ll have in the neighborhood of 80,000 points.  That should easily cover the four tickets that we would need.

What Changed?

So, how did I suddenly come up with the extra money for the trip?  I changed my priorities.  I scaled back on some of my savings targets.  Don’t worry, I’m still saving and having actually increased it some since the wife began working.  I just took my foot off the gas a little, so to speak.  I realized that having a few extra thousand in the bank is nice, but that my kids will only be young once.  My original plan was to take the leftover Disney money and set that aside for some upcoming trips in 2018.  Now, I’ll just need to save for them.  I didn’t want to postpone or eliminate those trips, so I just scaled back how much I’m putting into savings.  Any recent priority changes for you?