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Money: Teaching children how to use & save while traveling

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 We all know that money & budgeting are an important part of vacation planning. Including the kids in this is an even more important part. Who doesn’t want to raise their children to become independent and productive members of society? Introductions to the skills they will need later in life can happen during fun things like vacation planning!

First: Overview

Ideally you're doing this months before your vacation. We know not everyone plans vacations that far in advance, but the sooner you can do it the better. You don't want your kids to feel rushed and cause any unnecessary anxiety.

 

  • The first step is to sit down with them and give a brief overview of where you're going and how many days you will be gone.
  • Ask if they know or have any idea of what type of souvenirs they will want to bring home or what they will want their extra spending money for.
  • Ask them how much spending money they believe they will need based on what you’ve discussed.
  • Guide them based on your experiences and knowledge of what things truly cost. Sometimes our kids listen to us and take our advice and other times they don’t. When they don’t, this is when we choose to step back and let them find things out themselves. That might mean they run out of money on day two of a five-day vacation. It’s hard to watch happen but the best lessons are sometimes learned when they experience it themselves.

Second: Brainstorm

Once you have the total amount each child needs for their spending money, ask them what they can do to earn the money. Not every child will know and some will need more guidance than others, but that's ok! We have learned that asking our children to think about it instead of just immediately giving them the answer helps them to develop better problem-solving skills for later in life.

Third: Plan

Once you’ve made a list of possible ways to earn money, be sure to plan out the time your children have to do these extra chores and jobs. Time management is another skill they will also continue learning. They need to learn they won’t be able to do all the jobs in one weekend to earn the money they need.

Grab a calendar and have them mark their available days for earning money. Then ask them to allocate their time -- how many jobs they can do in one day or a weekend. Be sure to point out they need play time as well.

  • Extra chores in addition to their normal household responsibilities: washing the cars, cleaning out the refrigerator or freezer, cleaning baseboards, washing windows
  • Suggest the children ask their grandparents if there are any jobs they can do for them (give the grandparents a heads up that your children will be asking)
  • Ask neighbors if they need any small jobs done, raking, cleaning cars, (or for smaller children, cleaning car tires)
  • Sell toys -- you may have to help facilitate this but have them decide which toys and help them determine how much to charge for them
  • Yard sale -- the kids MUST be involved in planning, preparing, and the selling

Remember, these jobs don't have to be over the top. Anything beyond their normal household responsibility chores will work. Or if they want to go grand and open that lemonade stand, then by all means encourage that! Just be sure to guide them so they're not spending more money than they're actually earning.

Tracking list for vacation budget.

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Fourth: Book Keeping

As they do the chores or extra jobs come up with a way for them to keep track of their earnings. We find that our children tend to be very visual learners, so making a bar graph of sorts that they can color in based on each dollar they earn will help them see how far they've come and how far they have to go. CLICK HERE to download a visual savings printable.  It's generic so you can use it for many savings goals with your children - not just travel related!

We believe in setting the standards early in our children’s lives about what vacation is.  It’s not magic where they wake up and everything has been planned magically. Allowing them to see the process will continue to shape them into self-sufficient adults.

And….let’s be real….we do this in the hopes that one day they will be planning a vacation for us!  


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  1. Debbie Groover on May 6, 2019 at 1:07 am

    Great blog!

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