December 13, 2013

Budgeting in the Disney College Program

In my post about picking up extras hours and overtime pay, I mention that many participants live from paycheck to paycheck. This is not new or unheard of  . . . it's actually quite common. It's no different from living on college campus and working.

It's really depends on what your plans are for your program and how you budget your money. Balancing your program time and your post-program plans are also deciding factors.

Some tools to use:

Check Calculator - A free paycheck calculator. Choose Florida. Enter your estimated hours and pay rate. Enter 1 or 0 for exemptions. In the last section (Voluntary Deductions), include the name (Rent), your rent price (based on where you expect to live) and put fixed amount for the type of deduction.

Budget Worksheet (DOWNLOAD)- This is a simple worksheet of all expenses for college students/young adults that you can download.

Budget Worksheet II (ONLINE) - An online budget worksheet for college students/young adults.

Research "frugal living", "college budgeting" "saving money" to learn the basic of savings but to get new ideas on how to save. You may be introduced to new ways of saving and living frugal . . . so research!

Check out my tutorial on how to calculate your Disney paycheck. Seeing these numbers will give you a strong idea of what you will be making at Disney.

Staying in Florida/Transitioning

If you plan on staying after the program, this means your using the program as a gate way to stay in Florida. More than likely, your looking to save money and transition into living in Florida. Many alumni often do this, they play more during their first program and come back for second program to stay especially after completing school and graduating. They see no need to return home.

You'll probably be doing a lot less playing and spending less money. This means you need to prioritize your budget to put more into saving and balance your entertainment budget while maintaining your bills (phone, loans, car/gas, food).

You shouldn't overwork yourself too much, have fun while in the program before living without the safety net of the program and your parents.

Saving for Something

If you plan on buying a used car, new laptop, or anything in particular you should save according to how much you need for your item. Of course, leaving the rest for necessary expenses such as your phone bill and credit cards. While still leaving some money left over for entertainment and food.

Post-Program Saving

If you plan to save money, even though your going back home, then plan accordingly. It's also best to bring money from home before your program starts. Save for those expenses, that you expect upon returning home and balance in the fun.

Care Free & Lots of Fun

Plan on doing everything? Buying what you want? Eating around town? Going everywhere to do everything . . . . then this is for you! 

My best advice: 

Make a DCP Bucket List to organize your thoughts and divide everything up. It'll help you achieve more in a limited amount of time if you plan things out in advance.

Once you have a bucket list, price EVERYTHING!!! Write those prices next to each activity or an estimated price and get your total. This will help you decide on how much you need to bring and how to budget your DCP paycheck to pay for the activities.

Don't forget food and any other bills!

Ideas for creating a Disney Bucket List are coming soon!


I recommend setting an entertainment budget for merchandise, dining out, and movies. It'll keep you from spending your money. Train and discipline yourself.

Save Money Anyway

If you're planning to go back home and have no need to save for anything major or anything at all  . . . . still save a little bit of money because things happens.

If you have a car you should set some money aside unless you have a back up credit card or spending money from home.

For medical issues, unless your covered by your parents insurance or some other plan, then your medical fees will not be covered by Disney unless it happens at work. You will then be sent to one of Disney's onsite medical clinic for workers.

Not enough hours, this CAN happen during your program. You are guareenteed 32-35 hours per week because of rent. But after taxes and paying for food you will be left empty. It can happen, so having a little savings on the side can be very beneficial.

You have a monthly bill expense, try setting aside a certain amount per check instead of waiting the paycheck before the bill is due to pay. Your check may be short (due to circumstances) one pay day and cannot afford to have $50 coming out that paycheck for your phone bill.

You forgot to turn in a uniform! This happened to me!! On my check, they took almost all of it leaving me with close to nothing. Once I immediately returned my uniform, they gave me my money back on the next paycheck but still one week with next to nothing is harsh!

You failed inspections. This COULD happen!! You may end up with less than stellar roommates or that ONE room mates who does absolutely nothing and doesn't care about that $25.00 fee coming out of their check. YOU on the other hand care and all of your money is accounted for every week and you calculate every penny of your check. Be prepared for this just in case!

You broke/lost something. You lost your housing ID/Nametag/Disney ID (you gotta pay up), dropped your phone, lost your glasses, keys . . . you get the point.

Unexpected fun & outings. There may be some events that you didn't plan for and you really want to go! Housing plans day trips such as: going to other parks, sporting games, and shopping trips, so be prepared to pay for those if you know it's something you want to do.

Just save for those rainy days.

Other Ways to Save Money:

Take advantage of all discounts and coupons. This is a major perk of being a cast member with Disney. It helps to save a dollar or two. Those one or two dollars can save you from overdrafting your account. Take advantage of free things and opportunities.

Know Where to Look

Cast Members get a special discount book called the Incredible Discount book, every year so be sure to read this to see what's new, free, or discounted.

Other things: The Communitcator, Eyes & Ears

The Disney Intern Weekly Emails - There's also information that comes in this weekly email. You'll automatically be signed up. The usually do giveaways too!

Sign-up for those point cards - Walgreens and whoever has them available.

Sign up for newsletters online, get newspapers, tourist booklets and anything you can think of.


Use Groupon or visit the Outlet near The Commons and get their coupon booklet - more discounts!!

Get Orlando entertainment booklets - usually $20.00 and available online for purchase.

Many CPs on the Facebook group, are thinking of couponing to save a little money. Nothing extreme (I think) because you won't have much time. While at home, start gathering manufacturer coupons to use in Florida. Plan out which stores you prefer and make it a point to view their weekly ads.


If you want to eat at many Disney property restaurants, look out for Disney Dining plan discounts for cast members and take advantage of eating at restaurants you would never consider outside the dining plan.

Use your room discount!! It's such as steep discount - 40-50% off regular rates. Do it and get a chance to see what regular Disney Park guest experience.

Want to dine out? Eat at places that give us a discount like CiCi's, Sweet Tomatoes, etc.

Many places outside of Disney property offer discounts, don't be afraid to ask. You'll be surprised where your discount applies.

READ ABOUT ALL DCP CAST DISCOUNTS - I have written a break down of cast discounts and benefits.

Free Things

After going to the parks so many times, you will learn or create free activities to do in the parks (hats around the world, coloring, collecting fastpasses, etc) or around Orlando (window shop at the outlets, pool at your complex, mickeys retreat), free samples in the park or Downtown Disney (lol).

Do grocery bingo!!!! Take advantage of this, please for the sake of your pockets. LOL! Free food means more money for your entertainment budget.

Go to housing events - they always have refreshments or FREE PIZZA. GO AND DO THIS!! It's good for a lunch or dinner. You might get free DCP merchandise and other goodies. It's also a time to see characters in rare costumes. DO IT!!

Job Freebies - Sometimes your work location may have events where they have free mickey bars, pizza, cake or some refreshments. For QSFB, your managers may offer some food items before throwing them out . . . you can ask for them sometimes as well but don't expect it all the time. It's usually things from the bakery, chicken nuggets or something. Once, I got mash potatoes, cake, huge muffins . . . so it's possible.



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