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spending 2020 money already

November 6th, 2019 at 12:00 pm

So today I booked girl scout camp for 1 week for DK in August 2020. $25 deposit each but the camp will be $500/each including transportation and 1 overnight. They are going with a couple of friends and their first overnight away from us. So we decided to go for it. If they hate it we won't send them away. Interestingly a lot of kids in our neighborhood went last year to sleep away camp for a week and a bunch are going this year. My DK1 is not willing to try it. I figure by the time she's going into 6th maybe?

I booked a cruise in Japan in June 2020 through costco on Princess. For the four of us it's $5356 including free gratuities, shipboard credit, and free upgrade. I think we are planning on using our miles for the flights. I did find a flight to return through Hawaii on Air Asia for $168 per person and return home for $260. So that is on the table. I'm also getting the marriott bonvoy credit card for $95 and 3 nights free I want book and hope to use for our trip. I'm going to budget $10k for the trip not including the miles for airfare.

We also have a couple weeks away for 3 nights each and ~$200 so we are spending $600 for hotels 2x and I'm going to guess $200 on food each day plus gas and parking. That takes care of our trips thus far and spending for 2020.

I also booked hawaii in Feb but I had miles for that so I guess it was $40 total in fees. I also stay with family and don't rent a car so for the 6 days I'm guessing we'll spend $200/day eating out (gotta treat the parents and family so maybe more).

I have one more October/Thanksgiving trip in 2020 to plan. I am hoping to go to southeast asia. I will be out of miles but I may have points from Chase sapphire reserve that I might use for some of it. I'm hoping to come in around $10k for that trip depending on how long we go for and where. Tickets will be the cost eater. I'm hoping to stay under $4k for the four of us which will likely decide where we go.

I'm curious if these miles and free nights work out.

WDW part 2

October 30th, 2019 at 12:50 pm

So then on Monday 10/14 night we checked into WDW Marriott Swan hotel. Unfortunately for us the power went out that day in half the hotel. So checking in took over 1 hour and it was a ZOO. Had we known we'd have gone to eat out before arriving at the hotel and assuming we could eat there. The restaurants were closed and we had to go to the Dolphin and it was busy.

So besides the parking how much spending did we do? We spent $64 on magic bands to make using our fastpasses easier. It really helped with the kids. I sort of wish there was a way to buy express passes for disney like Universal or buy more fast passes. I hated waiting in lines and while we mostly skipped anything with lines, because of our compressed time frame it would have been nicer to have all rides planned.

I want to add we stopped at publix and bought 8 pack of coke and 8 pack of powerade to drink in the park daily. The kids each had a bottle of powerade and water daily and we refilled. DH had cokes and I had water. This saved us on paying park prices but was only possible because we had a car to shop. If we were really frugal we'd have packed lunches daily and lots of snacks. But I felt like part of the fun was eating disney themed food.

But 10/15 we went to HS by boat and we spent $103.70 on food for the day. We mobile ordered at Docking bay 7 while doing the millenium falcon ride during EMH and it was good. The ride was awesome and we waited around 40 minutes. Other than that counter service we ate at the Epcot food stands for dinner. We made it to Epcot riding the gondolas which took around 30 minutes. Then we drove that night to AK for the River of lights show. We did Frozen, star tours, and Buzz on fast pass 2x and I snagged the River of lights on my phone. Other than that we didn't really wait in line for anything else.

On 10/16 we went to AK and took and uber round trip $22 including tips. We spent $177.54 on Food at Harambe Cafe for lunch (mobile ordered), snacks at cart, and dinner again at Epcot. We loved animal kingdom just walking around and doing a few rides. I wish we had more time to spend there. We did the Navi River, Kali Rive, and Safari bus on FP and did shows rather than wait in lines. We did dinner at epcot because I snagged FP at 6 pm for soarin. Then off to bed because we were up early for AK

The next day we went to EMH @ AK and waited 45 minutes for the flight of passage ride. We had fast passes for 10/19 but weren't sure we would do it. It was great. We ended up ubering there and back again for $25. We also took an uber from the Swan to the front of Epcot since it was our epcot day for another $10 instead of the free boat because we were running so late and about to miss our test track FP. We also did nemo and space on FP. Then we waited in our longest line probably 60 minutes for Frozen ride. I couldn't get fast passes no matter what.

Then we headed back to the hotel early around 3 pm and swam. Our meals for that day at epcot was $129.33 mostly because DH and I had I believe 3 drinks each. We also went to dinner at Todd English Blue Zoo for ~$125. It was nice. So we spent around $255 for food.

On Friday again we used uber to get to magic kingdom when they opened for EMH at 7 am. I took the uber to the contemporary hotel. It was 10.91 and worth every penny. We did the 7 dwarf train in 25 minutes, winnie the pooh, haunted mansion, it's a small world all before 8:25 FP to buzz lightyear. then while in line waiting for the train I got a reservation for breakfast at Be Our Guest at 10 am so it was our "brunch" for the day. The meal cost $109.70. It was nice but not really worth it. The kids I guess aren't huge Beauty and the Beast fans so they didn't care much about the castle or seeing everything. It was a nice break.

Then we did our splash mountain and peter pan FP and pirates and called it a day after seeing a few shows. We left the park by 2 pm because I had reservations at mama melrose's for Fantasmic dinner packages at 5 pm at HS. It took us an hour to get to our hotel after waiting for the bus. Then we took the boat to HS from the swan. If my DK could have walked to Contemporary I would have uber it back. The meal including tip was $152. Well worth it. Mostly because I couldn't get FP for the show and I liked not waiting in line for it. Plus we had a nice sit down meal and rest. The show was amazing and we loved it. It started to rain so we bought 4 WDW ponchos for $48. Turns out we needed it the next day. So our daily food total was $261.

We went back to HS to ride slinky dog at 730 am in a torrential downpour 10/19. There was NO LINE because it was POURING. I mean hurricane Norman was heading to florida. Then we rode the millenium falcon 3x in 1 hour before 9 am and the park opened and the line jumped to 90 minutes even in the rain. We checked out of the hotel and grabbed sandwiches to share for $20 in the lobby. We went to AK and rode Pandora 2x for DK1 and myself. DK2 and DH went to walmart and bought extra socks and long pants for the kids. We didn't know where the pants they wore coming was. It was in the mess of dirty laundry and our socks were soaked. So they shopped at walmart for 2 hours and we enjoyed the AK. We left by 1 pm AK and headed to tampa. We had a fabulous lunch at Ulele for $110 including tip then off to the airport for our 6 pm flight home.

All in all a fast and fun trip. All in our trip cost us $8500. Better than the $10k I was predicting. My surprise was how little we spent on food. $1400 for a week is probably less than what we spend here on food if we ate out 2x/day on average. But where we are eating out is expensive. Plus I think we tend to undereat when we travel so we don't have leftovers. We tend to at most order 3 meals because we know the kids can share and DH and I for the most part shared every meal.

Would the disney dining plan been worth it? Probably. We could have saved since it would have cost $175/day. But I'm not sure because a lot of our costs came from alcohol at Epcot. That would not have been covered I think in the entirety. But we would have had a lot of food.

But it really was a nice trip. The photos are great. I have to say I like how many group shots there are of us when usually it's just one of us taking a photo.

Orlando Trip part 1

October 29th, 2019 at 08:09 am

This a multi day post. My prior posts to may were deleted. Anyway how did our trip to Orlando WDW and Universal go? Great. Very nice we had a lot of fun but didn't obviously do everything. We plan on going back but who knows when?

So our tickets were $654 to Tampa for four people and leaving Tampa $853 for a total of $1507 for tickets. Our car rental (hyundai sonata) was $200 for the week all taxes and fees. Our parking was $28 for 1 day at universal and $25 a day at disney * 6 = $160. I filled up just before returning for $30. So $390 for the week. Did it beat the price of flying into Orlando? Yes. The orlando ticket price for red eye flights which we didn't want was around $1000 each way for 4 of us which was $500+ - $800 savings for tickets alone. The same daytime flight for us into Orlando was closer to $1200 for 4 of us negating any savings of flying into orlando and my DH wasn't about to do the red eye.

Plus the Uber between universal and WDW would have been $25 minimum, Uber to Universal $35 minimum, and Disney Swan to Orlando airport $75 minimum (not including tip, traffic, or surge pricing). So we were looking at another $150. If the prices for flying into orlando had been better I would have done that and used uber/lyft the entire time.

That being said we then paid $1551.85 for 1 night and two days park hopper at Universal staying at the Loews Royal Pacific. Worth it for many reasons. We did it to get express unlimited passes. Even though it was "low" season I don't know I could have survived without the minimal line standing.

We bought one adult and one child prepaid meal with refillable drinks for $55. We bought two Harry Potter wants (cho chung and hermonine granger) @ $55 each and a $35 wand stand. We only had 2 butter beers each day (total 4) 2 were covered as park snacks as well at 3 chocolate frogs for $33. We had dinner at Margaritaville $110. The night we arrived we spent $95 at Yard house and $8 in drinks at the airport. The second day we ate lunch at universal ~$35.

So the trip so far we were at $3582 with tickets, universal, souvenoirs, and food.

But my DK1 loved it. She spent hours playing with her wand doing magic in the Harry Potter world. The hogwarts express was amazing. It was definitely worth the park hopper passes. The train ride had different experiences going from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and the reverse. She already asked to go back again. She said please don't make me wait 2-3 years until DK2 reads all the books. So she really had a great time. I admit it was really amazing the harry potter worlds. We'll see when we go back.

vacation planning

September 6th, 2018 at 12:00 pm

I consider myself somewhat savvy with vacation planning. I typically can find good deals on flights, hotels, and just stuff in general for trips. But we've decided to go to WDW next August 2019 and I'm overwhelemed. I'm even stupid to be honest.

So I might as well write here the step wise intensive planning I'm doing. Somehow even international travel seems easier than WDW.

I'm starting with knowing I want to go the last week of August. It's still a month too early for plane tickets which will obviously influence our hotel. But right now the thought is Friday to Sunday of labor day. We may fly into ft lauderdale and then drive to disney to see friends.

I found a website that sells off the DVC timeshares that seem reasonable. 5 days at animal kingdom is $900. But it was suggested we stay at the 4 main resorts by magic kingdom. I'm not sure what to do. It's around 5 days for $1500.

So the next few weeks while waiting for my airline ticket is to figure out where we want to stay. I am realizing that going to WDW it's not the flights or hotels it's the cost of the tickets. Wow is it expensive to go to disney.

I think this will be our 1 in a lifetime trip. I'm doubtful we'll want go back. We're more likely to travel elsewhere but we want to do WDW before the kids get too old to enjoy the magic. While we might go back when they are older my older one wanted slightly better rides than the younger one this last trip.

Ugh I suspect this will be a very expensive trip comparatively. I just did 2.5 weeks in asia for probably less than 10 days will cost us at Disney. The flights while pricey compared to last year were still reasonable. Last year we went for $2800 for 4 people, this year we paid $3600 for 4 of us. Our hotels were around $150/night on average we spent around $2000 in total. Then another $1500 on tickets for activities including disney and universal and bus tours, entry fees. Then eating out probably another $2000. We did it less than $10000.

I see Disney being $2000 hotels, $2000 flights, and then tickets alone being around $1500 not including buying that line cuts. I'm forgetting rental cars and food. I'm not sure even what to budget for that since it'll likely be park food.

That being said the disneyland hong kong buffet was the nicest buffet I've ever been to. Way better than normal buffets plus it was cute for the kids. Pricey? Way more than anywhere else we ate in hong kong but we sat and relaxed for 2 hours. And since it was at the end of our trip we needed the destressor. We stay at the hotel and literally just walked upstairs and relaxed before and after the meal and then left the next day. PERFECT.

We'll see how this all plays out.

busy summer and London Trip and lots of spending

September 4th, 2018 at 12:35 pm

I've been busy all summer with the kids. We literally just go back on Sunday from Hawaii and school started today. I am a bit breathless seeing that it's the start of 3rd and 1st grade. I can't believe time is flying. I thought the years would go slower but it's not. I feel like screaming stop already I don't want them to grow up. Where is the time going? I swear I blinked and we had just moved and my DK1 was holding up her 2015 1st day of kindergarden sign. No no no. I can't imagine sending them off to college (I teared up a lot reading about Texaxhusker and CCF sending theirs off).

Anyway though we spent most of August traveling 2.5 weeks in Asia and 1 week in Hawaii. We also decided to do a week in October in London. I can't wait. I couldn't figure out a reasonable plan for adding Dublin in with my DH since he's working both places so we are doing London for a week. Now we need ideas for what to do. It was $1500 for tickets for the 3 of us and our hotel is covered staying with DH.

We also bought 5 day snowboarding tickets this year with a trip planned in March. I also plan on signing the kids up for lessons.

Also on the agenda booking our Feb Hawaii Trip and deciding next summers trips. I think we're doing Disneyworld last week of August. And my parents and in-laws have to pick what they want to do for a week each. I'd like to do a week in Singapore but I'm unsure right now. My dad turns 88 in october so I think we might do a weekend when they visit at Christmas.

credit card arbitage

April 24th, 2018 at 10:08 am

I'm interested in starting to use credit cards to get rewards and miles for traveling. I am reading a bit. But truthfully right now I'm still really busy with catching up after tax season, finishing setting up in the house after the remodel. I am actually proud to say we have been trying to be more thoughtful about putting stuff away and asking if it makes us happy and if not we are donating or selling it. (thank you to everyone in FB organized friends I have been both inspired and motivated reading stuff you purge).

That being said I really would love to have a lot of miles to travel with. So what cards do people love and use? Right now we don't really use travel cards but it's more laziness and we hadn't wanted to bring our credit down with too many inquiries.

But we have a house and car now so I'm thinking it might be okay. I have to wonder though I've found it difficult to use miles so flexibly as people who do these credit card arbitage. I've a friend whose always done it but he travels last minute on a whim. Literally he'll book a ticket the night before knowing they open seats and is willing to take the risk. Also he has a job where if he doesn't show up it's not a big deal. He can work from "home" and remotely if need be.

But it's not as easy for us. Until now we've never had jobs so flexible.

But how do people really use miles to travel so much? How does it align so easily with school vacations and breaks? I find that I end up paying a lot of the times because of our more rigid dates.

Disneyland is not for poor people

October 22nd, 2017 at 10:41 am

Our first trip to disneyland with kids is complete. It was really fun for the kids and the Halloween decorations and ambiance was fun. They were still pretty scared of most of the rides, frightened of Pirates, haunted mansion, etc. But we did a lot of the smaller toddler rides and they like looking at different things. Two days one at California Adventure and one at Disneyland was more than enough for us adults. I think our kids could have done a day more at each park and we could have taken it easier but the taste and fun was enough. Going during the week was nice especially Thursday it wasn't busy really. Friday it was a lot busier. I will say that staying across the street was well worth it. Very convenient and just easy.

But Disneyland is not for poor people. I've heard from people say going to amusement parks are where poor people go to waste money. The comments that it's a waste of a vacation. But personally DH and I have had fun at all the disneyland locations we've been and the kids had a great time.

But interestingly it's not a cheap vacation and I really doubt any poor people are going there. Actually if I had to guess it seemed more like middle to upper middle class people in terms of income were there. The tickets alone run around $90/day per person. Let's assume you have an annual pass and live locally. Then yes it could be very cheaper fun. But the annual passes from what I can tell still are around $1000 per person.

Then assuming you aren't local you have to pay for pretty pricey hotels, we spent $200/night. Which for us is a lot considering I usually consider $100 an indulgence. Then the flights and car rentals.

But then with all these people wearing paraphanelia which on average is around $20/each piece I'd say that no way does a poor or even really a middle class family afford this vacation. Not to mention the food. For the four of us I'd say skipping breakfast and eating lunch at the park and dinner outside we spent on average $50 for lunch. The kids shared or got a kids meals but with tax and tip and bringing our drinks in. We could have brought in prebought sandwiches from the stores on the way or panera but it wasn't that much of a savings actually. Panera and even mcdonalds for the 4 of us would run around $40 and we'd have to lug stuff all morning.

So I'm curious why people think Disneyland/world/amusement park vacations are so cheap? How they seem to think the average family can afford it? How do people have this stigma about it? Personally if anything after this visit I think the foreigners visiting must be upper echelons of money from their countries, and most americans did not seem local to southern california, probably are in the top 25% of income if I had to guess. We were asked if we were locals probably because we weren't dressed up and very casual about rides. But even the couple of locals we talked to, everyone had an annual pass with maxpass upgrade, and said they had to with all their friends and families they always came with.

I know my family in southern california always used to come with us to Disneyland when we would go. My first trip was at age 5. My mom scrimped for about 3 years to go but interestingly my family was known to travel on a dime and I know my aunts and uncles helped a bit financially. A single aunt traveled and stayed in our room and my uncle paid for my grandparents and we ate outside the park across the street where we stayed. Plus back then we booked huge rack room deals with connections we had and traveled en masse. All my aunts and uncles were massive savers and extremely thrifty when traveling and still are. In my family we are totally into trying to outdo each other with the best travel deal (i've been winning a lot lately!).

But I don't think people do disney the way they used to. Before talking with friends they would talk about how their parents would also do disney on the cheap. DH hadn't gone till after we met and even then it was for a day once until now.

But disneyland is not for those on a budget. I'm still astonished how much it can cost and how people can afford it. But the truth is I think most people are in the top income %.

What do you think? I'll put up some photos later.

success - last entry trip photos

September 18th, 2017 at 10:38 pm

See below entry

Trip Photos

September 17th, 2017 at 08:31 am

Okay I managed to resize some of the photos. I will start adding them probably in no reasonable order because I'm finding it difficult enough as is.

Asakusa Temple Daytime in tokyo.


Asakusa Temple Night


Asahi Brewery


Asahi Extra Cold


Tokyo Disneysea



Disney Sea Food (mochi ice cream and Gyoza dog)



Shinkansen (bullet train)


Kobe Beef


Kobe Cable Car, Port Tower, Zoo




Nara Deer park and Todaji Temple (day and night bon festival)




Osaka Castle, Kaiyuken (aquarium), Skybuilding


- one of world's largest


Hong Kong - Victoria Peak, Big Buddha, glass tram, buns





Hong Kong Disney