If you are a “Disney Person,” or are planning a trip to Disney in the near future, you no doubt know by now that the cost for a one-day value ticket is climbing to over $100 for the first time, an increase of about 7 percent, while a peak-admission, single-day entrance ticket has jumped 10 percent to $149.

It brings to mind three stories. First, the one and only time I was at Disney in Orlando, it rained for days. Some days, because of the rain and the puddles, in order to try to keep out feet dry, we even put plastic bags over our feet, and then put on our sneakers. It didn’t help that everyone at Disney said that “this never happens.”

The other two stories are from the Bankruptcy Court, and some teachers always insist that I tell them. Maybe it is because so many people have been to Disney, or they aspire to go there some day. I have told these stories in the past, but they are thought-provoking.

The second story was about a couple that had about $50,000 in credit card debt, which was more than the family’s annual take home pay. I inquired as to how they could have incurred that much credit card debt, given their income. Finally the husband explained that his spouse had been constantly on him because they couldn’t afford to go to Disney World, like so many of their friends and family members. No problem, they just went, and they put it on a credit card. I said that it was probably very expensive to bring a family of four or five there — transportation, tickets to the parks, staying in a hotel, meals, and souvenirs, etc. — but what did that have to do with $50,000 of debt? He
admitted that they enjoyed it so much that they went five years in a row, so that most of that debt was those trips and unpaid interest.

The third story is about a couple with $180,000 in credit card debt, and their take home pay wasn’t a fourth of that. They explained that they couldn’t understand how they had that much debt, because they only used their credit cards for things that they or their family needed, and they had a few emergencies. One of the things that they “needed” was to take their grandson to Disney World, because his family couldn’t afford to take him there.

I have always wondered how many individual debtors had credit card debt, including unpaid interest, from going to Disney. With the increased prices, will there be more?

On a different subject, for those dinosaurs like me, who still pay their bills by mail, it is now official. We have discussed the possibility in this column. The price of a Forever stamp is going up from 50 cents to 55 cents on Jan. 27, a 10 percent increase. I plan to buy a little over a two-year supply before Jan. 27. I can’t make those savings in an interest bearing account at today’s rates and any reasonable increases, if the fed raises rates over the next 2 years. I suppose there is the stock market, but it’s a little volatile compared to buying stamps.

On another subject that we have discussed in this column, artificial intelligence, you may have heard this, but, as recently as last week, venture capitalist and AI expert Kai-Fu Lee told Scott Pelley of CBS News that he thinks about 40 percent of all human jobs in existence today will be displaceable. That doesn’t mean that those jobs will actually be displaced, or that that would be the actual net loss of jobs, since artificial intelligence advancement will create new jobs, and I have no idea how many jobs that could amount to, but it sounds like a lot of jobs. He also said it will change the world more than electricity.

On another one of my favorite subjects that I am always talking about — unit prices — I heard an interesting story. A friend told me that she was buying something, and she automatically went for the bigger bottle, assuming that it would be cheaper. What she found was that buying two smaller ones was in fact cheaper. I didn’t ask her, but I assume that she was buying roughly the same number of ounces. The lesson is, always check. I wonder if it is a marketing tactic, because we generally believe that buying in bulk saves us money. Speaking of unit prices and buying in bulk, I recently saved over 10 percent by buying a two-pack of toner. However, because our toner usage seems to be increasing as our activities are increasing, going forward, I have committed myself going to checking for sales and coupons, offerings online, and even looking at generics. There is no reason not to always look for the best price.

On a final subject, families seem to be more and more “scheduled up” these days. Often it seems to me that they are overscheduled, and the costs of all those activities can add up to real money. I can’t help thinking about that when I watch the new Urgent Care television commercial. After the mother checks the family calendar, a boy is told that he can’t get a sore throat on a certain day next week because he has a birthday party that day. Not to worry, his mom pencils him in for another day.

I write this personal finance column, so I have another thought whenever I watch that commercial. What if someday the mother, who never actually looks at her son, wrote down daily dollar estimates on the family calendar for all of the activities that day? She and the family might be surprised.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo.