Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Frugal Family - Frugal in Florida

In an effort to save money this year,  I'm joining my friends Marcy +Ben and Me  as well as Sam +Sam's Noggin  to bring you this weekly  link up full of tips for becoming a more Frugal Family. We will be sharing ideas to help you save money on groceries and meals, homeschool, crafts, and plenty of frugal DIY posts. 

We've made many sacrifices so that I can stay at home to teach the boys, and I've become pretty frugal in order to help make that possible and to keep it that way. It's become a challenge I truly enjoy, and one I enjoy sharing with you!

Fun in the Sunshine State doesn't have to break the bank. We are sharing our Spring Break AdventureZ this week to give you a look at how we roll - frugal style!

We started our fun at the Disney Fort Wilderness campground with a $149 tent I bought on clearance at Walmart for $75 (it's the one with the red rain flap in the background of the pic below). We can easily fit 2 queen size mattresses and a twin with room for a dinner/game table. It's like a condo tent. You can rent a campsite there for just $54 per night and be treated to some genuine Disney fun.

We were invited to be part of a group camp with my nephew's cub scout troop. We used the Disney free transportation system (buses, boats, monorails) throughout their resorts to visit the pools, the shows, and movie night on the big outdoor screen. Even getting from place to place was a fun adventure with a Disney atmosphere.
Cost: $125 for 2 nights ($50 for a tank of gas)

I packed a cooler of food for the trip to save a bunch more as well. I cooked up some steak (bought on sale of course - $6.56) I seasoned it with our taco seasoning and brought grated cheese and tortilla's to roll 'em up with. We eat plenty of fresh fruit and raw carrots while on the road too. See here for more info. We ate chicken from Publix, beans and hot dogs and enjoyed smores with the group too! All in all, I didn't spend much more on food than we normally do each week.

Save on food while traveling by cooking ahead, by planning ahead and instead of running to a restaurant or fast food joint - step into the grocery store! There are many places to grab a picnic table to sit and enjoy a healthier meal together while on the road.

Next on the list: LegoLand Florida - $130 including LegoLand, hotel, breakfast, and lunch- 5 people

When we left Disney, we headed a short piece down the road toward LegoLand Florida. I had booked a hotel room using my Choice Privileges Membership. It's simple to find hotels for any taste with their system. I was looking for cheap but safe. I found a Quality Inn with entry from the lobby only (no outside doors to the rooms) for only $60 including tax and breakfast. It was older, but it was clean and affordable. It included a microwave which we used to cook beans and hot dogs and a fridge where we stored our milk, carrots, and cheese. 

The kids loved it and we brought our snacks too. We splurged on lunch with a bucket of chicken, fries and drinks for $29.99 - it fed 5 of us and we got free refills on the 4 drinks. I shared one with my little guy and no one seemed to mind. The GoGo Squeeze and raisin snacks were easy to carry in the backpack too!

Choosing the right day to go to LegoLand was the key. It was homeschool day, so we got in for a great deal. Only $8 per student (normally $69) $25 for parents (normally $79) - for every 5 students you get a free "teacher" ticket. LegoLand has several homeschool days planned each year, see dates here. You must provide homeschool ID and make advanced reservations to take advantage of those special rates. We had extra homeschool friends so I got in free.

. . . and then we were off to Tampa Bay. Again I used my Choice Rewards Membership and booked a safe, cheap, clean hotel for only $50 (no fridge and microwave and no breakfast) I bought dinner at Publix and breakfast as well - we did have the cooler. We used our blow up twin mattress for an extra bed in the hotel rooms - because we were traveling with a friend.

The next day we used our membership to MOSI Science Center to explore the new NASA exhibit and learn all about life on the International Space Station. I bought the membership using my free homeschool ID card from Homeschool Buyers Co-op here. (also used at LegoLand for hs ID)
The membership to MOSI usually costs $99 for the family, but we paid just $50 as a homeschool family. We also get free parking which saves an additional $4 on every visit.

*As part of the ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) the MOSI pass gives us access to some 300 + museums around the world - get more info here. We plan entire getaways around the ASTC museums.

We spent the rest of the day at the Florida Aquarium where we also have a family membership. It includes other museums and aquariums in the SHARE program here for Florida and here for the AZA reciprocal program. We have visited the FL Aquarium at least 5 times this year saving plenty of money since adult tickets are $21.95 and children are $16.95 each visit. It would cost our family $85 per visit + parking, so our $144 membership was well worth it. We've also used it to visit other reciprocal museums during the free months.
Call the membership line and give my name "Kelli Becton" to receive 15% off your membership.

Total cost: $56 for the room and ice cream - memberships provided free entry and parking- $50 gas

The kids were on a photography assignment during the aquarium visit. Some of their pictures are being shown above. We are studying Swimming Creatures with Apologia Science so this trip fit right in with our homeschool studies.

Our big splurge at the aquarium was on ice cream for a snack! That, with a tank of gas for the 1 1/2 hour trip home was the biggest expense of the day. All in all - it was a whole lot of adventure for a little bit of green.

Total big adventure: $461 includes 5 people for 5 days - camping at Disney, hotel stay with breakfast, LegoLand FL with lunch, hotel stay, science museum, and aquarium - gas to Orlando, Tampa and back home.

Using discount memberships can be well worth the effort if you make the most of it and plan wisely!

Link up your own tips for saving money on our Frugal Family link up for January
Please grab the button to use or link via text - Visit others to encourage each other and
share great information! The group Pinterest board is here - I'm pinning away!


No comments: