June 10, 2019 | Kids Club. Share this article:
Money Lessons Kids Can Learn On Vacation
While family vacations provide much-needed downtime and a chance to create life-long memories, they can also account for a significant part of your yearly budget. According to American Express, the average vacation expense for a family of four in the United States is $4,580. Whether your family is taking a camping trip or heading for the shore, you can use your vacation to teach your kids some very valuable lessons in setting savings goals, making choices, and how to stick to a budget.
Get the kids involved in planning the trip
Several weeks before your vacation, hold a family meeting. Tell your kids exactly what your budget is for the trip and enlist their help in planning the itinerary. Older kids can research local attractions and make a list, including the time needed for each activity and the cost. Once you’ve gathered everyone’s ideas, discuss the pros and cons of each activity and how it fits into your budget, and get the kids involved in making choices. Would they rather go out for a lobster dinner or spend that money on a deep sea fishing trip? Aquarium or amusement park? To make this lesson even more tangible for your kids, withdraw cash for the entire amount you plan to spend on your vacation and place it on the table. When a choice is made, physically subtract the amount it would cost you from the pile to give them a visual of how much each attraction will cost. With this activity, the kids will be more invested in your trip, you’ll have your itinerary planned, and your kids will have learned an invaluable life lesson in budgeting and decision-making.
Set a savings goal for the trip
What if your kids decide they want to go to the amusement park, deep sea fishing, and have a lobster dinner? This is a good time to demonstrate how spending goals can be reached by cutting back on other expenses and earning extra money. Ask your kids to brainstorm ways your family could afford to do the extra activities. Could you have budget meals for breakfast and lunch so you can afford the lobster dinner? Could you cut down on dining out in the weeks leading up to the trip to save money? The kids could also use their entrepreneurial skills to earn money to contribute to the budget by cutting grass, doing chores in the neighborhood, or pet sitting.
Search for free activities
Vacations shouldn’t be a time to throw your budget out the window. Instead, use this time to teach your kids that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun. Look for free attractions like parks, historic sites, or hiking trails, or do a self-guided tour of the city. Older kids can visit your destination’s official travel website or Pinterest to research free and low-cost activities. Many sites offer free things to do, and may also have coupons and deals listed, as well. In the end, you might find that one of your kids’ favorite memories from the trip was the night you ordered pizza and played cards rather than the expensive amusement park you visited.
Give the kids a daily budget
With souvenir shops and entertainment options on every corner, the temptations on vacation can be endless. Whether it’s ice cream or snow globes, a t-shirt or Mickey Mouse ears, there’s no shortage of ways to spend money. Giving your kids a daily budget will help them make decisions about what’s worth spending money on and what isn’t, and can be a powerful lesson that we all have to make trade-offs in life.
Learning doesn’t have to stop on summer vacation. Getting the kids involved in planning your trip can be very empowering for everyone, and can provide financial lessons that will last a life time.