Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The Money Diary: A Week In Orlando, Florida


money diary blog

Whenever I see a money diary style post, be it on Refinery 29 or a blogger's take on it, I'm always so intrigued and instantly click onto it. To be honest, I've been meaning to post one on here for ages but it took paying my credit card bill this month, after last month's trip away to the USA, to finally give me the push to do so. That and the fact that October started on a Monday this year, which made it feel like perfect timing.

So here's what I spent during a week in Orlando, Florida;

where to shop in orlando

Monday

10:30am - An early morning trip to the Orlando International Drive Premium Outlets/the best outlet mall that there is. I make a beeline for the Victoria's Secret Outlet store and pick up 3 bras for just $7.99 each. Yes, you read that right, SEVEN DOLLARS! I was so impressed that I managed to find colours and fits that I would actually have paid full price for, with the original tags on each bra showing at least $50, I certainly made some serious savings that morning. Total spent $25 (including tax).

12:30pm - We take the next exit on the Interstate to Mall at Millenia where we head to one of our favourite places for lunch; Johnny Rockets. I have fries and a coke and my parents split a chilli cheese fries and Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. My parents very kindly take care of the bill.

1:00pm - To walk off lunch I hit up some of my favourite shops but nothing really catches my eye until I pop into VS PINK where I see that they have the Coconut Oil body mousses that I'd had my eye on last week for just $7 each plus you get a free sheet mask with each one. I grab two of each and spend $15.

5:00pm - We grab something quick and easy for dinner and this means McDonald's. I get a McChicken (without mayo), a large drink and a large fries for $5. One thing that kind of blew our mind about McDonald's in the US; every drink no matter the size was just $1! Crazy!

Total = $45

mickey's not so scary halloween party reviews

Tuesday 

10:15am - We have a lazy morning in the villa as we've got a long night ahead of us at the Magic Kingdom that evening. Pretty much any time not accounted for in this money diary has been spent in or around the pool.

12:10pm - I finally bite the bullet and place an online Sephora order. There are so many online exclusive holiday sets that I have no other option but to order it and have it delivered to the villa maintenance office. I pay with my PayPal as it won't accept my credit card details and in doing so, it doesn't really feel like 'real' money. The total comes to $208.57 exactly, which isn't too bad when I consider what I managed to get and how much everything would have been had it not been this time of year. If you want to see exactly what I bought, head over to my The Big Sephora Holiday Haul post here.

1:20pm - We make lunch in the villa from groceries that we bought in our first week. I have a sandwich and wavy Lays (why don't we have them in the UK?!)

4:05pm - Me and my Mum are dropped off at the Transportation and Ticket Center at Walt Disney World ready to attend Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. We get our tickets from Florida Tix prior to leaving the UK so we don't have to pay anything on the night. Top tip: you can arrive at the Magic Kingdom at 4pm, even though the party doesn't start until 7pm. That's 3 more hours of Disney magic for your money!

11:50pm - We get home from the party just before midnight and have a few of the candies we got from trick or treating around the park (expect a full blog post on my night at the party very soon), before heading to bed.

Total = $208.57

florida holiday blog

Wednesday

11:00am - We make a trip to our local supermarket, Publix, to pick up some essentials. I see that Halo Top ice cream, which I've been really intrigued by over here but not keen to pay at least £5 a tub just to find out that I don't like it, is 2 for $5. I grab a tub of birthday cake and a tub of peanut butter cup.

12:30pm - We take the drive out to Altamonte Springs which is about half an hour outside Orlando. It's much quieter as there are basically no tourists and the last time that we were there we managed to find some hidden gems that we hadn't seen in any of the larger more touristy malls. We decide to grab lunch. I get a bottle of Coca Cola from one of the soda machines for $1.75 and a large original pretzel nuggets from Auntie Anne's for $5. For Better Call Saul fans, the Auntie Anne's at Altamonte is twinned with a Cinnabon which instantly makes me smile and think of Gene. If you watch it you'll get what I mean.

1:00pm - I can't resist the Bath & Body Works PocketBac 5 for $6 deal any longer and end up picking up 10. I also see that they're doing sleeker, less gaudy PocketBac holders so add a tortoiseshell one to my basket. Bath & Body Works sent me a 20% off coupon via email (if you're ever in the US and planning a Bath & Body Works trip, be sure to sign up for their newsletter as they regularly send out incredible coupons!) so everything comes to a little over $15.

3:20pm - We head back to the villa to relax for a bit. I spend an hour or so in the pool and lazing about on the huge duck pool inflatable that lives at the villa.

6:30pm - For dinner we head to another one of our favourites; Longhorn Steakhouse. I pick up the bill. My Mum has a chop steak, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. My Dad has a Flo's Filet with double fries and I have chicken tenders with double fries along with our soft drinks. We always find it unbelievable that instead of having a salad with your dinner you can opt to substitute it for even more fries! It comes to $80 with tip.

7:40pm - Steps away from Longhorn's is a TJ Maxx and I decide to go for a wander to try and walk off dinner. I spy some incredible beauty steals and end up spending $40 in a matter of minutes. If you'd like to see what I bought at the likes of TJ Maxx, be sure to check out my big US Beauty Haul post, which went live on Sunday.

Total = $146

universal studios orlando travel blog

Thursday

10:00am - Today is Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure day. Since we already have our reservation printouts we simply head to Guest Services at the front of the park to exchange them for our tickets and Express passes. I'll be doing a full blog post on how to save time and money when it comes to a holiday in Orlando and the Universal Express Pass are a great example of that.

1:50pm - We take a break from the rides when we see a stall selling ICEE's. It's basically a slush but we are completely sold by the fact that they have a Fanta Orange flavour. I should really have taken a photo to show you as over in the US Fanta, well at least the orange flavour since they have a whole range of them, is radioactive orange. The ICEE is $6 but we share it between us. We also crack into our bags of candy that we've brought along with us to the park to snack on. We don't even really make a dent into our Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween candy haul.

4:15pm - Earlier in the day we meet Hello Kitty, my absolute favourite character, outside her store and I spy a few things that might just need to come home with me. We decide to come back later as we'll be going on water rides and don't want anything to get wet or damaged. Before we leave we pop in and I see the most adorable stuffed toy that will go perfectly on my bed. I go to buy it myself when my Mum asks if I'd like it for my Christmas. She then realises that she only has about $15 in cash on her, enough for food etc. so I pay for it on my card and she promises to pay me back when we get home. It comes to $26.50.

6:05pm - KFC is just unreal in the U.S. of A. I have a popcorn chicken meal which comes with a portion of the dreamiest potato wedges (honestly guys, I have had dreams about them since returning home) and a drink. It's around $6.50 and I am stuffed afterwards.

8:30pm - Despite a big dinner, I decide to crack into my tub of Halo Top ice cream and sadly, I am not impressed at all. Has anyone else tried Halo Top ice cream? For me, it was really powdery and had the strangest of aftertastes. I'm definitely glad that it only cost me a few dollars instead of the £5 a tub that it does back in the UK.

Total = $39

where to shop in orlando for bargains

Friday 

10:45am - We take another trip back to the International Drive Premium Outlets in the hope that there will be some more bargains to be had. I dig deep in the baskets at the Victoria's Secret Outlet and find two more bras that fit perfectly for just $7.99 each again, taking my total to about $17 with tax.

11:30am - There's a line outside the Kate Spade New York Outlet store, much like there was last week when I managed to nab the last burgundy leather backpack in the store for around $70. Expect a blog post featuring it soon. I decide to get in line and I'm glad that I did. I spot a brown leather belt bag after it stands out right away and end up in the ever growing line in a matter of minutes. It comes to $50 with the 70% off discount and then a further 20% off.

1:00pm - We get ice cream cones from McDonald's for the car ride home. I run in and get two; one for me and one for my parents to share. It comes to $4.

5:00pm - I discover that you can buy food from certain fast food places such as TGI Fridays, Checkers, White Castle and more at supermarkets in the US, which blows my mind a little. I pick up a big bag of Arby's curly fries (I had them when I was in New York and they were SO good!) from Wal-Mart for around $4.50 and have a big plate of them for dinner that night. I'll definitely need to check out more of the frozen food section on my next US trip.

6:35pm - We head out for a wander after dinner and I make my way to Michael's which is easily one of my favourite stores in the US. I see a few different scrapbooking paper pads have 70% off and have a feeling that a lot of the sheets will make for great blog and Insta backgrounds. I pick up a mermaid pad and an astrological pad (keep an eye out for them in future posts). Instead of being $19.99 each, I pay $11.50 for both.

Total = $87

wolfgang puck express review

Saturday

10:20am - We decide to check out our local strip mall (it's basically a big stretch of land with stores like Target, Best Buy, Michaels, a cinema, Petsmart, etc. all within walking or what is actually driving distance). JCPenney are doing door busters (deals that are only on as the doors open) so we have a look inside. I end up buying a big fluffy back support pillow like one you'd see in Legally Blonde or a college student's dorm in a movie for $8.99. That works out at around £5 for something that would easily be £30 or £40 on Amazon back home.

1:15pm - Another cheap meal for lunch. This time I have two buttermilk chicken tenders (these are just $2 for 2), a large fries and a large drink. It comes to just over $5.

2:55pm - I decide to start packing some of my purchases away into my suitcase solely to see whether or not I can actually fit the JCPenney back pillow into it. It just fits and takes up about a third of the case. Remember that time when I did hand luggage only? Well, that's certainly not happening this time!

5:25pm - We rather foolishly head to Disney Springs on a Saturday night and as can be expected, it's pretty busy. I have a look in World Of Disney, the Christmas store and Sephora but they're all packed with people making it difficult to get a good look around. We vow to go on a week night or earlier in the day next week.

6:20pm - After years of saying that we'll try it, we finally find Wolfgang Puck Express tucked away in a much quieter spot at Disney Springs. As we've never been before we get a selection of things to share. We go for a hand fired pizza, a mac and cheese (my Mum's go-to dish) and two fries between us along with refillable fountain drinks. I put in $10 for my share of the bill.

Total = $23.99

uk travel blogger in orlando florida

Sunday 

9:50am - After a great visit two years ago when we were here, we make the trip out to LEGOLAND Florida. We are very kindly provided with complimentary tickets but parking is $17. My Dad pays this in cash.

10:10am - We head straight for the newest and most exciting ride; The Great LEGO Race Virtual Reality Coaster. Despite getting there for the park opening, the line is 30 minutes long but we decide to wait in it. We drag my Dad, who hates rides onto it, exclaiming that it's obviously made for children since we're at LEGOLAND. Oh how wrong we were! The virtual reality aspect was really cool but because you can't see the track, you have no idea when to brace for a rough turn or a drop. I leave it with what feels like whiplash despite zero warnings of anything like that possibly happening beforehand. And as our car comes down the last straight the whole coaster slams to a halt. After ten minutes or so sat in the blazing hot sun we find out that it's BROKEN DOWN! We actually have to be rescued from our car and taken down to the ground by staff one at a time!

12:40pm - After checking out a few more rides (with a bit of a sore and stiff neck) we decide to call it a day and head for the car.

1:10pm - I spot that there's a TJ Maxx not too far away (I definitely visited pretty much every TJ Maxx within a 50 mile radius of us!) so we head there next whilst we're still out in Winter Haven and I'm so glad that we did. I manage to get a double ended jade roller, an Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipstick and liquid highlighter, a Too Faced rainbow strobing brush and much more. My total comes to $71 but for what I get, I'm more than happy to pay that. Again, check out my big US beauty haul blog post to see everything in more detail.

1:30pm - My parents won two free snack size McFlurries when we were last at McDonald's (it's the exact same as the Monopoly stickers over here). They redeem them and the snack size in the US is about double the size of our normal ones back here. I get a cone which comes to about $1.75.

2:30pm - Mum buys the most incredible Hello Kitty cake from Wal-Mart to cheer us up after our slightly traumatic day at LEGOLAND. We each have a rather big slice once we get back to the villa.

6:00pm - We take it easy for the rest of the night and have dinner in the house from groceries we picked up at Publix earlier in the week. We watch a few Family Feuds (why don't we have Steve Harvey here in the UK at all?! Netflix, get on it!) and spot that The Haunting is on TV On Demand. Me and my Mum love horror films and have been looking for this one on DVD, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc. for years. It's pretty cheesy but brings back good memories.

Total = $72.75

Weekly total = $622.31 (eek!)

So there's what I spent during a week in Orlando, Florida. Obviously this is nowhere near what I would usually spend at home but I had been saving up for two whole years for this specific trip back to the US. I hope you enjoyed seeing both what I got up to and what I spent whilst I was over there.

Let me know if you'd like for these money diary style posts to be a regular feature, especially as I show a 'normal' week in my life or if you'd like to see a Christmas shopping week version or anything else money or saving related.

Are you as fascinated as I am by reading money diaries like these? Have you ever been to Orlando or would you like to visit in the future? And what do you spend the most on each week (food, shopping, entertainment or the bare necessities)?

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