Thrifty Kids

How to Use a Discount Travel Site to Receive the Best Disney Deals

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 16, 2014

how-to-use-a-discount-travel-site-to-receive-the-best-disney-deals

Summer of 2013, Disneyland Vacation with Grandma and Grandpa

Are you planning a trip to Disney sometime soon?  What about a trip to Southern California? Well, check out our tips and experiences and find a coupon code too for more money off your trip! 

Well, either way, we wanted to share this thrifty tip with you for this specific travel!

We live in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S., so when you are a family and you want a vacation, it often leads to somewhere in Southern California, and often Disney makes it on the list.  Despite Alex’s groaning, the rest of the family likes to go to Disneyland.

In fact, we went in our unthrifty days in 2001.  Shortly after we got married.  It was part of the “Show Me Just How Much Debt We Can Get Into“ stage.  As an “unthrifty” traveller, a trip to So. Cal and Disneyland was not cheap! In fact, during that trip – we will call it what it really was: “Debt-land.”

Well, several years later after we paid off over $100K in debt, we had a goal to take our family to Disneyland as the first vacation after becoming debt-free. Our kids really wanted to go and we really wanted to take them!

You can bet your bottom dollar that we shopped around this time and were determined to get the absolute best deal! This a few years ago.  I spent many hours and much time to get the best prices on everything.

When I put together my “own” package by getting hotel here, tickets there, etc.  I had my total price in hand.  Well, I decided to stack this up against travel agents and companies to see if they could do better.

I contacted several different agencies, but one of them was one that is headquartered in our backyard – Get Away Today.

Well, to make a long researching story short…… we ended up buying our Disneyland package through Get Away Today.

They ended up having the best prices that I could find on my own by piecing together the best of the best on my own.  In fact, going with an all-in-one package with them, vs. piece by piece myself, it was around $11 cheaper!

I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but more than just it being cheaper by $11…. they had free gifts for the kids, all of the reservations done by them in an easy package that required very little work, transportation, transfers, coupons, cancellation refund and even extra Disney perks that only come with booking through a company or Disney directly – but at the lowest price through Get Away Today!

Now, the nice thing about what they do is find the best prices based on what you want and they are personal, friendly, easy to work with and very helpful!  Their website is one of the easiest to use, which is GREAT because I spent lots of time on their site by trying several different options to see what came out on top!

Basically, what we wanted was a “good neighbor” hotel as this was much cheaper than a Disney hotel (but they also have the best prices on those, they are just naturally more!), a hotel within walking distance, as well as shuttle so we had both options. A free breakfast, family perks and swimming. 

We also kept our dates flexible, which is just another step in getting the absolute best price!

In the end, our trip was a HUGE success! It was fun, stress-free, all as planned and we received everything without a hitch.  We had one of the easiest trips in terms of planning and executing because we bought a package, which is always a plus – but even better, it was cheaper!

Get Away Today specializes in Disneyland trips.  They have been around for a while and so they now have many destinations globally and Southern California in general.  We do not know if they are the cheapest and best for the rest of the destinations since we have not traveled to those since knowing about them, but since they have a great reputation for Disneyland and millions of satisfied travelers, it is probably going to be one of the best deals for other trips too! But of course, you can always double check this with simple searches on their site.

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Head to their site HERE to see all of the Destinations and Options

One comment I wanted to make on this topic.  Last year, Grandma and Grandpa took us to Disneyland.  I was in charge of the package since my parents trust and know my deal hunting skills.  Since it had been several years since traveling with Get Away Today, I did the same process of finding the best deals for what our requirements are and then searching many package and individual options on Get Away Today.  

Again, we were actually going to get tickets and more from Get Away Today as it was again cheaper than anything else I could find. But at the last minute, there was only one option that was better.

My parents went back to school when all the kids left the house as adults. Well, my mom had entered an academic competition and the nationals competition was in Anaheim, CA.  Because hundreds of students were coming into Anaheim, CA for this competition, the association putting the competition on received a big discount for theme park tickets by reserving hundreds of them. So we ended up getting our tickets through this association this time, but the only way we could get it was in my mom’s name and she had to show proof that she was one of the contestants in the competition as well as photo i.d.  These tickets were the only tickets that were cheaper than any dozens of other options we found.

I took this to be encouraging that although we didn’t use them last year when Grandma and Grandpa took us due to the special circumstances, in the future, this is what we will be doing as the competition discount was once in a lifetime (the association goes to a different location each year – we just lucked out that it was Anaheim and that she was a contestant)!

Get Away Today has lots of different specials and discounts depending on the month! They also have some great ways to reserve prices and pay slowly (lay away plan) and many other ways to get a deal and not break your budget.

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See their current specials HERE

Even Better

We contacted Get Away Today to see if they have any extra specials that we can share with you exclusively! Well, they decided to give us a coupon code to save another $10 off your package to So. Cal! That’s great because we didn’t even have that! :)

So head to the Get Away Today site HERE and use coupon code:

ThriftyCouple14

By the way – Get Away Today has a “best price” guarantee – which means that if you find a better price (other than a special circumstance like the one mentioned above), they will not only match it but BEAT IT! YAY!

*As far as we know, this coupon code is good for life as long as you use it! They will honor this code for you no matter when you book!

Be watching as we will be sharing more Disney specific savings tips and tricks in upcoming articles under our travel section of our site.  If you are subscribed to our email newsletter, these articles will arrive directly in your inbox once we post them!

See our Travel Section HERE for more budget travel related articles 

See our Travel Pinterest Board

 

Alex & Cassie
 

Free Homeschool and Educational Materials For April 2014

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 9, 2014

free-homeschool-and-educational-materials

We are going to share a few of our favorite free things with you once a month – educational freebies! As The Thrifty Couple and as a homeschooling family, these are like treasure chests!

Even if you do not homeschool, these resources are very helpful to keep kids busy with learning activities!

Here’s this month’s freebies:

Free Kindle Books For Children – The top 100 completely FREE Kindle Books for kids!

Interactive Sight Word Reader from Educents

How To Help Children Improve Their Memory & Learn More Using Memory Pegs

Easter Scriptures Handwriting Practice Copywork

Free Printable Everyday Math Books From The 1920s – 2nd – 8th Grade

Antonyms Worksheets – 98 activities and puzzles bundle

Math Games Multiplication Download – PC Only (Windows Vista/7/8/2000/XP)

Greek and Latin Root Words Flash Cards

Free Frozen Themed Math Worksheets – Addition, Subtraction, and Multiplication available to download

FREE Earth Day Printables & Worksheets (must create an account and log in to download worksheets; many of the worksheets are completely free)

Printable Mandarin Chinese and Spanish Flash Cards from Parents.com

Three NASA Imagers units to teach Understanding Light, Remote Sending, and Biodiversity

Free BIG Handbook of Nature Study (books 1 – 6 in PDF form)

LEGO Build – Google Chrome application that lets you build online with virtual legos!

Free Spring Number Activities Set For Preschoolers

Maps Of The World – 96,000 completely free maps of the world!

Complete 10-week poetry course for kids

Free Puzzlemaker – create and print customized word search, cross-cross, math puzzles, and more using your word lists.

Free Everyday Arithmetic Books (for 2nd – 8th grade)

Daily Grammar – free online grammar program with 440 lessons and 88 quizzes!

Reading Eggs FREE 14 Day Trial

Elementary Geometry Interactive Math Software from A+ TutorSoft

How To Draw Birds PDF eBook

Anatomy Arcade – free flash games and videos that make basic human anatomy come alive!

LEGO Chemical Reactions – chemistry activity using LEGO bricks to represent atoms bonding into molecules and crystals

FREE Science Experiment Notebooking Pages

Free History Curriculum options

Mi Vida Loca – free Spanish curriculum from the BBC

Free Interactive Music Theory Drills from FiveJs

Book Adventure – free quizzes and prizes for books kids read offline

Free Wordly Wise 3000 Flashcards for iPad

100 FREE Worksheets for 1st Graders

Free Introduction To Linux online course – starts summer 2014 but registration is open

Free Study Guides for popular classic books from the Glencoe Literature Library

HUGE list of FREE educational videos from Watch Know Learn

FREE Codecademy lessons in JavaScript, HTML, CSS, PHP and more!

Free Language Arts Worksheets from School Express

List of Free Learning Resources for Preschoolers

Free Printable Family Travel Maps from I Heart Family Travels

FREE Online Art Classes For K-12 from Art Class 4 Home

Free Shakespeare Copywork: Quotations From Shakespeare’s Plays

9 Free Creative Writing Lessons – geared towards 5th – 7th Grade

Free 48-page History Worksheets eBook

10 Different Completely Free FULL Homeschool Curriculum Options

Free Multiplication Copywork (2-12s)

FREE You Be The Chemist Activity Guides – for K-4 or 5-8

Benjamin Franklin’s Secret Message – Free PhysicsQuest Workbook

Free Science Curriculum – several listings of completely free general science curriculum options

Handwriting Worksheet Generator – make full-page custom handwriting worksheets

MIT Open Courseware for High School Students – many subjects available to take online for free!

FREE Phonics to Vocabulary Workbook (Grades Pre-K – 5th available)

Learn the Months & Seasons Free Charts & Worksheets – 16 page download

Unit Study for Teaching Children About The Five Senses

Do you know of any more?  Please leave a comment below!

Huge thanks to How To Homeschool for Free for providing this roundup!

 

Alex & Cassie
 

Pull-Apart Pizza Bread Recipe (Including Healthier and Gluten-Free Variations)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 4, 2014

pull-apart-pizza-bread

Would you like a fun, easy, creative and kid-friendly way to enjoy pizza?

Well, give pizza a new spin with this: Pull-Apart Pizza Bread!

It is bursting with the pizza flavors, fun to eat, great for parties, great appetizer, get togethers and pleases everyone!

Here’s what you need:

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  • 1 cup of Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 cup of Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 8oz. package of pepperoni with each slice cut into quarters – tip, stack many slices at once and cut them all at once to save time!
  • 1/3 cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 TBSP of fresh minced garlic or 1/2 tsp. of garlic salt or powder

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  • 1.5 TBSP of Italian Seasoning (or a combo of parsley, oregano, basil)
  • 2 TBSP of Olive Oil

And of course….

  • The CRUST/BREAD/DOUGH!

Ideas for the crust:

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  • Or just buy the premade pizza dough like Pillsbury

Here’s how to make it:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease a cake pan, bread pan or a bundt pan.  A Bundt pan is a FUN way to make it and you can even put the dipping marinara in the middle.  It’s fun for a party, but really, any of the pans will work!

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  • Make your dough and roll it out and use a pizza cutter to cut it into about 1″ squares. It does not need to be exact, as you can see, I did this part pretty quickly without dwelling on the sizing to exact measurements!

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  • Then roll the pieces into little balls and throw in a bowl!

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  • Then throw the rest of the ingredients in, except the cheddar cheese, and mix by hand to coat it all well and evenly.

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  • Then put the mixture in your pan you intend to use.  Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top!

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  • Now you are ready to bake it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the top is crusty and brown!

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  • Then dump out the bread onto your serving dish. To help it come out with ease, run a butter knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the bread.

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Yummy!

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Are you ready to dig in?

  • Serve warm with a marinara or pizza sauce for dipping!

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Make it quicker:

  • Use canned biscuits and cut each biscuit into 6-8 pieces and roll in the balls.
  • Use mini-pepperoni to avoid cutting it up!

Make it healthier:

  • Use a whole wheat dough from scratch or from cans.
  • Add ground flax seeds in your mixing process.
  • Make it vegetarian.
  • Use a nitrate free meat, even the sausage we show here instead of pepperoni.
  • Use Turkey pepperoni.

Make it gluten-free:

  • Use an all-purpose gluten-free flour to make a dough
  • Use 2 gluten-free pre-made crusts cut up into chunks. Note, it will not really puff up, but 2 crusts gives you the density you need.
Pull-Apart Pizza Bread Recipe (Including Healthier and Gluten-Free Variations)
Print

Recipe type: Appetizer or Main Dish
Cuisine: Finger Food
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5
Well, give pizza a new spin with this: Pull-Apart Pizza Bread! It is bursting with the pizza flavors, fun to eat, great for parties, great appetizer, get togethers and pleases everyone!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Mozzarella Cheese
  • ½ cup of Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 8oz. package of pepperoni with each slice cut into quarters – tip, stack many slices at once and cut them all at once to save time!
  • ⅓ cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 TBSP of fresh minced garlic or ½ tsp. of garlic salt or powder
  • 1.5 TBSP of Italian Seasoning (or a combo of parsley, oregano, basil)
  • 2 TBSP of Olive Oil
  • For the dough: make your own or buy 1 refrigerated pizza dough
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a cake pan, bread pan or a bundt pan.
  3. Make your dough and roll it out and use a pizza cutter to cut it into about 1″ squares. It does not need to be exact.
  4. Then roll the pieces into little balls and throw in a bowl!
  5. Then throw the rest of the ingredients in, except the cheddar cheese, and mix by hand to coat it all well and evenly.
  6. Then put the mixture in your pan you intend to use. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top!
  7. Now you are ready to bake it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the top is crusty and brown!
  8. Then dump out the bread onto your serving dish. To help it come out with ease, run a butter knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the bread.
  9. Serve warm with a marinara or pizza sauce for dipping!
Notes
Make it quicker:
Use canned biscuits and cut each biscuit into 6-8 pieces and roll in the balls.
Use mini-pepperoni to avoid cutting it up!
Make it healthier:
Use a whole wheat dough from scratch or from cans.
Add ground flax seeds in your mixing process.
Make it vegetarian.
Use a nitrate free meat, even the sausage we show here instead of pepperoni.
Use Turkey pepperoni.
Make it gluten-free:
Use an all-purpose gluten-free flour to make a dough
Use 2 gluten-free pre-made crusts cut up into chunks. Note, it will not really puff up, but 2 crusts gives you the density you need.

 

Alex & Cassie
 

3 Great Parenting Tips To Better Your Relationship With Your Child

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 14, 2014

3-great-parenting-tips

We wanted to share these tips that we have heard over the years from many, many sources.  These three tips are some of the best that we have heard and that have been the most effective with our children.

Please know, we are posting these as a couple and family that is so far from perfect.  We have our struggles…. daily. We are far from perfect parents.  That’s where God’s grace is shed in our lives and poured over into our children.  It’s by His strength that we can do anything good for our children.  So please don’t read the following as “we know exactly what we are talking about and we are parenting experts.”  This is far from the truth.

We love our children immensely and want to raise them correctly in love, grace and truth.  And these tips have been an encouragement and reminder on what we can do better.  These tips have also yielded the greatest results in our personal family life when we do apply them diligently.

Please note: these are not the only great tips out there as there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, more!

1. Give more love than discipline and love while disciplining.  

When you are raising a child at any stage, there is a lot of edifying discipline and learning that takes place for the child (and the parent).  And then if you have multiple children, there are some days in which you feel like you are admonishing All.Day.Long.

It can be exhausting and frustrating.  But one thing that we were advised is to show more love than discipline.  This does NOT replace discipline as a child needs to grow and learn by gentle admonishment – don’t skip that as you won’t do your child any favors, and in fact, discipline is a form of love.  But what it simply means is if you are spending so much time a day in loving admonishment and discipline, then you need to spend even more time showing love outside of the loving discipline in other ways.

Read an extra book, listen to them tell you an extra story, joke with them, hug them, cuddle with them, play with them, listen to them, drop what you are doing and look at them, break out in random song and dance and random hugs, kisses and smiles!

And be sure to also lovingly discipline with grace, gentleness and discipline the right things. Don’t discipline just because you are mad.  You discipline for disobeying.  If they break your vase – perhaps it’s not a disciplinable act. Now if they broke it because they were playing baseball in the house and they were told not to, discipline them for playing baseball in the house.  See the difference?

We have this distinction happen a lot.  When you have 5 little kids, accidents happen and it’s hard not to get mad.  But this can even be taught amongst kids themselves. As an example, my kids made clay figures the other day.  They have been drying out for the past few days.  The 5-year old wanted to paint hers while the other kids wanted to play outside.

Well, a few minutes later, one of the other kids comes in and finds the little sister painting her cat sculpture.  I was in the room and saw that she was about to blow a top. I gently grabbed her shoulders and got on her level, looked at her straight in the eyes, told her to take a moment to take a deep breath and encouraged her to not be angry with her sister as she didn’t know and to show her grace – even if she thought it was the best sculpture she had made and was looking forward to painting it herself. Her sister was simply mistaken about whose was whose and she didn’t want to say or do anything that she would regret.

It is moments like those that remind me again that I need to do the same as I don’t have someone stopping me before “blowing a top” over something innocent.  But it is a reminder as parents that we too need to stop, take a deep breath and really think about what we are about to say or do and how we should really handle each situation – basically, being very thoughtful about our words and actions before we act.

2. Be strict with your toddlers and become more lenient as time goes on.

We love this one and had honestly not thought about rebellious teens in this sense.  

Basically, a common parent trap is that we allow our toddlers to make decisions – whether multiple choice or not.  We will ask things like “what do you want for lunch?” or “what do you want to wear?” etc. instead of just saying, “we’re going to eat this for lunch” or “you are going to wear these lovely clothes today.” etc. And then as they get older, instead of allowing them to slowly make decisions, we tend to get stricter with them about making choices. Then by the time your child becomes a teen and wants to be treated like an adult, we start treating them like toddlers with little or no ability to be responsible and deciding for them what they will do/eat, etc., which then in turn makes a teen more likely to rebel.  They were created to mature as time goes on and be taught at a young age how to make responsible decisions and slowly given the reins over the years and then making decisions as teens under your supervision and guidance, so by the time they leave home, they are actually responsible adults.  

In short, be strict with your toddlers by you making decisions and then slowly give them the reins, allow them to make decisions as teens under your supervision and guidance and then you may have a less rebellious, more mature teen and ultimately a responsible adult.  Don’t do it backwards and give your toddler freedoms and then become tight and strict when they are teens.

3. Repent to them and remind them that you are not perfect and to forgive you.

This is probably the most important advice for our personal lives.  When you are broken, humbled and repenting to your child, your child’s respect of you increases.  They see you as a loving parent that is not perfect and can admit mistakes and make amends.  Relationships of all kinds are strengthened when there is repentance and forgiveness from all sides. We do this as spouses, friends, church members, neighbors, co-workers, and often with a better relationship than before the hurt feelings or disagreement.

If you have wronged your child, you owe him/her your apology and seek forgiveness.  It’s fine and in fact respectable for your child to see you in a less than perfect way.  You will fail them and if anything, you will certainly fail them by not admitting your failures.

Don’t be a dictating tyrant, but a humbled, loving, gracious parent.  I think that you will find your children will respect and listen more once they see you this way.

This has been one of the best things for our relationships with our kids (and each other!).

Our hope and prayer is that these tips are an encouragement to you just as they have been for us!

Alex & Cassie
 

9 Cute and Easy Kid-Friendly Easter Crafts and Decor

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on March 12, 2014

With Easter coming up, it is a fun time to make some fun Easter crafts and decor!  Here’s 9 ideas that are cute, but also kid-friendly (which is code word for EASY :)).

hand-easter-chick-smHand Print Chick @ MomVsTheBoys

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Easter Bunnies made from paper straws @SillyPearl

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Easter Utensil Holder @The Country Chic Cottage

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Playdough Bunny Favors @Echoes of Laughter

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Easter Printables Craft @Laura Kelly Designs

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Easter Egg Shaped Garland @Practically Functional

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Bunny Ears from a Box @JoJoandEloise

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Easter Sticker Printables @ MerMagBlog

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Easter Printables @The DIY Dreamer

See more DIY Ideas

See our Holiday Pinterest Board

 

Alex & Cassie