Vacation can teach your kids about money in so many ways. The good, the bad and the ugly all comes out when you are spending time with your family. Maybe it’s the close quarters, maybe it’s because mom and dad see that they are spending WAY MORE than quarters, but whatever it is, take a deep breath and then take this opportunity to help your kids understand money a little better.
#1 Let Your Kids Pick An Adventure!
First, they research vacation options, which they will probably do on their phone. Then they is make sure it is applicable for the whole family. So, don’t do something mom or dad will hate. And the third thing is, they do the research on how much it costs. It is not like they are paying for it, but the hope is they will appreciate the experience a bit more when they actually know what they are spending.
We did this with our oldest last year. He said, “Dad I did the research. It costs $75. It’s going to be great. It’s this inflatable ball thing where we roll down a hill.” So we drive through this trailer park in the back woods of Missouri and we get to this barn where this guy has dug out a huge ditch all the way down this hill with a tractor. So we squeeze through this tiny hole to get into this inflatable ball (Beth and I did it together), we clamp each other in and the guy just literally kicks the ball down the hill. You could just hear my sons laughing hysterically. I was horrified. We got to the bottom, alive, but with our hearts racing a mile a minute. It was a great memory and our son got to own that.
#2 Money Up Front For Extras
So what is an extra. You know when you are on a road trip and you stop at a convenience store for fuel and next thing you know everyone grabs chips and a soda? That is an extra. Or, you know when you are at an amusement park and you want to get a souvenir? You came for the experience not the stuffed animal, so that is an extra. So up front you explain to your children how much money you will give them for extras each week. Explain the total amount and then…let it go. Say, “This is your money for extras. If you spend it all in your first two days, oh well!” So, it teaches the kids how to make their money go farther. And, here is the opposite side to that. Some kids are afraid to spend money so you tell them, “This is your vacation money, you have to spend this money this week.” If they don’t spend it they have to give it back to you. So we want to make sure we teach both the Spenders and the Savers.
#3 Describe Your Money Anxiousness Before The Trip
Often times there is one parent who is really anxious about spending money so they talk about it the whole time and spoil the trip. Things like, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe we are going to do that it costs so much money.” It ruins the trip for everybody. And what that teaches your child is that the trip is all about money, but the trip is really about memories, fun, and family. So talk about your money anxiousness before the trip because that teaches your child that it is okay to have money anxiousness but you need to talk about it, get it out, set it aside, and then go have your fun vacation.
As we age, we’ll never say, “I’m sure glad we never took any vacations with the kids.”
Yes, trips take some work to plan and it takes money, but memories are truly priceless. Every moment won’t be filled with smiles and rainbows and thankful kids, but some moments will be. And those moments will make it all worthwhile. Involve them in the planning, give them an opportunity to budget some funds, and share how you feel about money and you’ve made a memory and helped your son or daughter take steps toward a positive financial future.
Now that’s worth it!
Scott & Bethany Palmer