The point of this post is really to help me put my own thoughts into some kind of order. I find writing things down very helpful. I guess it’s the same reason some people are into journalling. I’m not, incidentally, looking for sympathy, though some understanding wouldn’t go amiss.
I spent some time last night with my beloved spreadsheets and I had something of a reality check. My income right now is down about 25% compared with this time last year. That is bad. I’m not clear on the reasons why, though there are a number of possibilities.
Last year, I was fully booked by the end of August. Given that my year starts in September, to be fully booked before the year even started was extraordinary. This year? We’re midway through October and I’m at 75%. It’s never been this bad before. I’ve been tutoring on my own account since 2006.
Perhaps it’s the economy. Things are bad in the UK and they’re getting worse. My domestic fuel bills have risen by 60% in the last year. Until today, the government had promised to keep the rise at that level for two years. Today they announced they were reducing that to six months. This causes uncertainty and anxiety. There had previously been talk of increases amounting to perhaps another 60%.
In June my landlord raised my rent by 7% and I agreed / was forced to agree to further increases of that amount for the next three years. (Finding a landlord who will accept a tenant with a dog is almost impossible. I did a search around renewal time to see what my options were. There were 80 properties in my price range. When I filtered by “pets allowed” that dropped to 4. And none were places I’d want to live.) Meanwhile, inflation is pushing 10%.
(Interest rates are rising, which actually benefits me as I’m a saver, not a borrower, but it’s hitting homeowners hard. We don’t have long-term fixed rate mortgages here. People are being hit with monthly repayment increases averaging around $500. Less money for them to spend on tutors, perhaps.)
TL; DR Income down a lot. Expenditure up a lot.
It’s not yet a disaster. I’m a reasonably good boy and I have savings. But the budgetary imbalance is ripping through them at a rate of about $1,000 a month. Something’s got to change.
My December trip is budgeted for. Everything is paid for, except food, drink and merch. This trip is about friends and friendship. It’s very important to me. I apologise to no-one for taking it.
But I have two other trips currently booked, with flights non-refundably paid for. One in April, one in June.
While I’m going to take steps to try to increase my income, I’m also going to need to make some choices about those trips. If I cancel the flights I do get something back: all the taxes and fees are refundable and they amount to a surprisingly big chunk of the overall fare. If I don’t cancel the flights, I’m committing myself to extra expenditure. How can this be minimised?
The simple answer is: Cut Disney out of the deal.
I am an Annual Passholder at UOR. I renewed a few weeks ago for another year. It cost me around $600 for the two park, Premier pass. That gives me a range of benefits, including 15% off pretty much all food, drink and merch, and Express Passes after 4pm every day. As well as the standard AP access to passholder discounts on UOR hotel rooms.
Disney is not even selling annual passes to out-of-state residents. UK guests only get offered one ticket type to buy, and it costs around $550 for seven days. Add G+ and LL$ to that for another $25 a day? Let’s say a total of $700. The cheapest hotel rooms on-property are more expensive than their equivalents at UOR. And, as I was recently reminded, ADR booking is hugely stressful and table-service dining is astonishingly expensive. I eat differently at UOR because I don’t see food as an important part of the experience.
So, given that the flights are paid for, and UOR entry is free to me, why not book the cheapest room I can find on-property, and have seven nights there? There’s a bit of sunk-cost fallacy going on here. Even this plan costs more than cancelling. And seven nights just at UOR? Will that not get pretty boring?
I don’t know. And I don’t need to decide now. AP hotel rates tend to be released within only a few months of arrival, so I could make a very last-minute decision for each trip.
So, for now, Disney has priced me out. I am unfavourable to them. Am I sad about this? Well, I’m damned sure going to make the most of the December trip. But what will I miss out on next year? Tron, for sure. But what else? They’re ditching my beloved Harmonious. What are they adding? Some nonsense stuff from the dirt pit at Epcot? Moana’s Journey of Water? WTF is that?
When does Epic Universe open? 2024? That will be the priority for me. Maybe I’ll skip WDW that year, too.