Category Archives: Family Finance

Saving Money at Disney World

Disney World castle lit up in icicle lights at night. Bluish purple words beneath the image read: "Disney World Savings Tips"

The capstone on our Florida trip was Disney World. We had gone not all that long ago, and I had politely put in a complaint about accessibility issues at the park. They offered me free tickets to compensate us for our troubles, so we tried again a few months ago.

Things were mostly better this time. Far from perfect; policies at the park still do not give adequate access to the disabled. But I appreciated that they tried and that we only ran into one gnarly park employee this time around.

Aside from having an overall better experience, I did learn a couple things I wanted to tack on to last year’s Disney savings tips.

Balloons are exchangeable.


I spent an embarrassing amount of money on a balloon for one of the littles. I mean, it was pretty awesome. A balloon inside of another balloon–both of which have yet to pop.

The quality might be the reason why the balloon lady let me in on a little secret: you can totally exchange your balloon. If it pops or flies away, just bring your receipt and any balloon remains to the nearest person selling balloons to get a replacement.

Now, let’s say you bought your balloon at Magic Kingdom. The balloon floated away on your way to the car, but you’re not going to Magic Kingdom the next day. You’re going to Disney Hollywood Studios.

Doesn’t matter. Take your receipt to the balloon seller at Hollywood Studios and they’ll get a replacement with no hassle.

Yes, I was tempted to take my receipt to the balloon seller at Hollywood Studios to score a second awesome balloon dishonestly.

No, I did not follow through.

Eat before you go to the park.

Last time we went to Disney World, we tried to wake up early and get there as soon as the parks opened. It was May. It was muggy. Everyone got moody.

So this time, we left a little later in the morning, grabbing a leisurely brunch on the way there. One day we did pancakes in the timeshare (which was once again kindly given to us as a gift by a family member), another we hit up a diner, etc.

In turn, we grabbed one meal, generally at a quick-serve place, while we were at the park and stayed out past bedtime.

If we judge by happiness levels, this was a much better plan. Although another contributing factor may have been the time of year.

I mean, was I happy to pay $60-$70 for quick-serve food? No. But if I’m honest, the quality of food there was higher than what we would have gotten at the fast food joint I would have stopped on the way home out of sheer exhaustion. The price wasn’t ideal, but…

Budget-wise, it was a major win over last year. We ate far fewer meals at the park total, and I cut the character meals altogether. We had already done that once, and the hack I found to meet characters for free for sure at a scheduled time was employed heavily this time around. Calling it a hack might seem like a bit much, but after you’ve spent money on the character meals, it feels like one heck of a hack.

So we didn’t have to stress about meal plans, It also meant we weren’t rushing around to make our reservations because we didn’t have any. So. much. less. stress.

And so much less money.

Ordering professional photos.

Around the different parks, you’ll see opportunities to get your picture taken. Sometimes it’s with mascots, sometimes it’s just at a scenic park. We noticed a bunch of these especially in Animal Kingdom.

I don’t have the best camera on my phone and I’m not the best photographer, so this time I made sure to purposefully take advantage. I tried to bunch together all our professional picture taking at two parks so I could pay to buy the photos from the Disney app for each day. By only doing two days, I was able to save money over paying the “whole trip” price.

Unfortunately I did that last time. There were just too many great memories and pictures. But I did learn the bunching method from that experience.

Do you have Disney World savings tips?

What are your favorite Disney savings hacks? Leave them in the comments!


Disney on Ice: Mickey’s Search Party Comes to #Pittsburgh

Logo with Mickey Mouse ice skating reads: "Presented by Feld Entertainment Disney on Ice." Green, glowing lettering reads "Pittsburgh February 28-March 3, 2019" Character Maui from DIsney's movie Moana is standing on the ice holding his hook, mist floating up from the surface over an illuminated green spea on a balck background.

This past weekend, I took the kids to see Monster Jam Triple Threat. I initially wanted to go primarily to watch the enjoyment on my kids’ faces, but once we were there…

It was pretty impressive. You got to vote for who you think should win each segment by ranking each truck’s performance with your smart phone. It was really easy and the kids got a huge kick out of it.

There was this one part where the trucks were doing stunts on just two wheels. Favorite part. For sure. I went into this knowing three monster trucks in total: Grave Digger, El Toro Loco and Zombie. If I came out learning nothing else, it was the name of another truck to my lexicon: Soldier Fortune.

Next Up: Disney on Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party

Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Disney's Toy Story link arms and pose on ice skates in the dark with backlit hay bales behind them.

Because of my work, we get to go to live performances for free pretty regularly. Some organizations I’ll work with on a repeat basis, and some I won’t, depending on how their cost:value ratio stacks up for you guys.

Feld Entertainment is one of those companies I end up working with again and again. They put together great events like Monster Jam, on top of past Disney on Ice performances we’ve attended.

The ticket prices are affordable, and the entertainment value is tip-top. Which is why I’m super excited that Disney on Ice is coming through town again! This time, they’re showing Mickey’s Search Party, which sounds pretty fun:

Join Mickey Mouse and his friends at Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party, a brand-new adventure filled with world-class skating, high-flying acrobatics and unexpected stunts! Help them follow Captain Hook’s treasure map and look for clues in the search for Tinker Bell in immersive, fantastic worlds. Explore the colorful spirit realm of Coco in Miguel’s Disney On Ice debut, sail away with Moana as she bravely saves her island, see Belle in the sky above you as the enchanted chandelier comes to life, and sing-along with Elsa in the icy world of Frozen.

Make memories with your whole family during Aladdin, Toy Story and The Little Mermaid as the search party becomes an all-out magical celebration on the ice, in the air, and all around!

Also, it looks pretty fun:

Why I Love Disney on Ice

When I was growing up, I thought Disney on Ice was so expensive. Prohibitively so.

So when I went to my first Disney on Ice with Feld Entertainment, I was shocked when I saw the ticket prices. For example, this Mickey’s Search Party, which is showing eight times at PPG Paints Arena from February 28 to March 3, 2019, has tickets starting at $15.

Yet the performance still has me feeling like the tickets are pricey. It’s the like the non-alcoholic, kiddie version of champagne lifestyle on a beer budget. And I love it.

How to Make Sign Language Valentines

Pinning so I can help my kids make these sign language Valentines in February!

Studying other languages shows us the similarities and differences between the ways we all communicate as human beings, opening up such great beauty.

For example, German and Welsh among other languages seem to have an endless supply of compound words for complex concepts. As I study Japanese, I’m recognizing loan words not just from English, but also Russian. My previous studies also help in the noun declension–a practice that is foreign to American English grammar.

As you get the kids ready for Valentines Day, I wanted to share a project I worked on some years back that brought together the beauty of love and foreign language. It was way more frugal than buying boxed Valentines. I used American Sign Language’s visual modality to create cards in the language’s one, singular sign that takes three English words to express:

“I love you.”


When I made these, I completely lucked out.  I found these foam heart cut-outs at the store that just happened to be the exact right size to fit into the palm of a hand. They also came with a little stand.

The teachers loved this because they could stick them on top of their computers, desks, you name it.  You were supposed to put a photo in them, but I just used the hole to address mine. They were $1 and I think I got 25.

No need to fear, though.  You can simply use hearts cut out of construction paper.  That’s what I had the students I worked with do the next year when we made these.

You’ll need:

  • skin tone colored construction paper or cardstock (you can gets packs of this at somewhere like Staples or Office Max for a ton cheaper than  at crafting or scrapbook stores.)
  • pink/red construction paper or card stock (or purple.  Or really whatever colors you want to make your hearts.)
  • scissors
  • a pen or pencil for tracing
  • a pen or sharpie for addressing

How to Make Your Valentines

  1. Trace your or your child’s hand onto one of the pieces of paper.  Do it as many times as you can fit without overlapping.  When I did this, I traced my hand every….single….time.  In a day of 3-in-1 printers, that probably isn’t necessary.  Just do one, and use the copy feature on your printer to copy the hands onto the skin toned paper.
  2. Cut out the hands.
  3. Cut out hearts. Mess around with the first one  until you get it the right size to fit in the hands. Then use it as a pattern to cut out all the rest of them.
  4. Glue the hearts onto the palms of the hands.
  5. Bend the ring and the middle fingers down so they are holding the heart, but not covering it. Glue the two fingers down.
  6. Write your “To/From” info in the middle of your heart and you’re done!

Uncommon Gifts from Uncommon Goods

This post is in partnership with Uncommon Goods.

I LOVE Uncommon Goods. Did so much of my holiday shopping there this year!

What do you get someone who has an obsession with tacos?

Or travel?

Or animal balloons?

Or sensory toys?

You could get them a taco kit. Or plane tickets (you baller, you.) Or an animal balloon kit. Or a super soft blanket.

But those are all such predictable buys.

Today, I want to show you a shopping solution that lead me to find totally unique. This shopping solution treats their workers fairly, and has something for everyone.

This shopping solution is Uncommon Goods.

Uncommon Gifts from Uncommon Goods

I’ve been crushing on Uncommon Goods for years. Their products are unique and fun, and each one comes with a story. I was super excited when they approached me to review some of their products as I still had some people on my shopping list. Here’s what I got with my budget, and the story behind each piece.

Uncommon Gift for the Taco Lover

gifts for taco lovers

I’d like to introduce you to Tricerataco. He’s BPA-free, lead-free and phthalate-free, so he’s completely safe for holding your food in lieu of or in addition to a plate. He’s extinct, so he’s literally got nothing better to do with his time. Also, he’s going to my brother-in-law who, on everyday of our vacation, went to a taco stand to sate the craving. Dedication, man, dedication.

Hey, family, if you’re reading this, it would be awesome if you could not tell brother-in-law until after December 25. 😉

The Uncommon Nightlight

led dog night light

This is a gift for child and mother. I think the child part is pretty obvious: an adorable and functional gift that chases away monsters at night!

But for me, it’s nice for a couple reasons. First, the Balloon Dog Nightlight can be turned on simply by squeezing its silicone paw, which makes it super easy for kiddo. Second, I have this issue where I always forget to turn the night light off after the kids are asleep. This leads to drained batteries and ultimately an abandonment of said night light.

Well, this night light is different. It automatically turns off after 30 minutes of emanating glowing cuteness, which means the batteries are going to last me a heck of a lot longer.

Uncommon Building Blocks

sound activated blocks

What kid doesn’t love building blocks? I know mine do–we’ve even been to expos celebrating that love.

But these Sound-Activated Blocks add two new layers of sensory play to the equation. First, they light up! You can have your creation lit solid, fade in and out or flash. If you want to get really fancy, you can add that second sensory aspect: sound. You can literally clap to light up your creation–or to black it out.

We’re gonna have so much fun.

Novelty Books

100 tales of extraordinary women

I first spotted this title when Jana and I were scouring Dallas for independent book shops. I fell in love, but my wait-and-see-if-I-still-really-want-it rule kicked in.

I did still really want it days later. And now, over a year later. Regardless of the gender of my children, learning the stories of strong women is something I want to implement with them, as they’re not as common in history books and general education.

So I was over-the-moon excited to see that Uncommon Goods carried Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. I mean, of course they do! The book’s awesome, and that’s what they specialize in: carrying awesome products.

Uncommon Scratch-Off Map

map your travels

Guys, I’m so bad. I got my last Christmas present for me.

I’ve been eyeing one of these Scratch-Off Travel Maps for years, and just couldn’t resist when I saw it in the Christmas Gift section at Uncommon Goods.

The idea is this: when you travel somewhere, you scratch it off. If you have a travel maniac on your hands, their goal will probably be to scratch off as much of that map as possible, revealing the beautiful colors underneath the gold foil.

It’s hella cool. I’ll be posting my own map, how it looks in my room and all the places I’ve traveled over the next few days on Instagram. Follow me to catch all the goodness!

Common Questions About Uncommon Goods

Okay, so we know Uncommon Goods has cool products, but what about pricing? Ethics? Can I get it in time for Christmas?

Let’s review each one of those.

Is Uncommon Goods affordable?

It all depends on what you’re buying. The products featured above range in price from $12 to $48. After doing some comparison shopping on like–though not identical–items, I’ve found these prices to be fair.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can browse the Under $25 section, which has some awesome gifts. Think avocado tree starter kits, top 100 movie scratch-off posters, solar photography kits, llama socks and more.

What do they do with the money they make?

uncommon goods

Pay their employees a fair wage and treat them like human beings. They’re doing this without undercutting market pricing to gain huge industry shares, unlike other companies you might be shopping with this holiday season.

Can I still get my gifts in time for Christmas?

Yes! If you order today and select 3-5 day shipping, it should be there in time for Christmas. Three to five day shipping costs $9.95, but I have a hack for you.

Right now, if you join Uncommon Goods as a member for $19, you get free 3-5 day shipping for a year. You will also get two $5 credits in 2019. So:


If you can front the extra ten dollars, you’d actually save $0.95 long-term by signing up for membership right now and still get your presents on time for Christmas. Just be sure to double check the dates on that 3-5 day shipping–depending on where you live and what day/time you place your order, your results may vary from mine.

How are all their products so awesome?

I know, right?

Aga-Boom: #Pittsburgh Children’s Theater #Giveaway

This post is in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Win free Children's Theater tickets

A couple of days ago we announced a partnership with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust here on Femme Frugality. A major part of this partnership is to bring you free tickets to children’s theater performances over the 2018/19 season!

These tickets are already affordable, starting at just $12 a pop. But through these giveaways you’ll have a shot at getting them for $0.


Get tickets here

The first performance I want to highlight is Aga-Boom, which looks like an insanely fun show. Coming through town on November 9th an 10th, it’s a physical comedy act featuring three former Moscow Circus clowns that has audience participation as a centerpiece of the performance. Check out all the fun they had when they came through Shanghai!

Here’s the official description of the show coming through Pittsburgh:

Jump headfirst into a chain reaction of absolute silliness and a blizzard of laughter with three former stars of the Moscow Circus. This lovable trio extracts endless delight from everyday cleaning supplies, a towering punch-away paper wall and some brave audience members. Rooted in theatrical clowning, AGA-BOOM brings together the best traditions of circus arts, physical comedy and European avant-garde. Get ready for a live-action cartoon, exploding with sophisticated slapstick, outlandish chases and the most chaotic finale ever. Sure to inspire many a belly laugh for both young and not so young.”

Ticket Giveaway

Now the part you’ve all been waiting for–the ticket giveaway! Use the widget below to enter for your chance to win four (4) tickets to see Aga-Boom in Pittsburgh. You pick the day. You pick the time.

This giveaway is a bit of a shorter one–it only runs through 11/7–so make sure to start logging your entries today! Best of luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway