Your summer vacation plans may be firmly set, but there’s still an opportunity to offer your kids a valuable lesson on how budgeting, saving up and spending wisely can buy not just what’s needed in life but also those pleasurable things, too. Here are some ideas:
Get them in on the planning. Help them manage their expectations ahead of time. If they want to visit an extravagant theme park, help them decide how to narrow down their list of rides and how you’ll spend money once you’re there.
Make it fun. For example, hand out Monopoly-style money and count out how much it might cost for different experiences, like splurging on a sightseeing cruise or staying at a fancy hotel with a water slide. Your kids can learn that there is not an endless source of money is and how easy it is to spend it all if you’re not careful, with nothing left for special treats like ice cream.
Set limits on souvenirs. The lure of the gift shop is compelling, but discuss limits on these “extras” in advance. And don’t overlook how less expensive “found objects” such as a heart-shaped stone discovered on a walk or a handmade trinket from a street vendor can be as precious a memento as many glitzy items found in stores.
Have them earn extra vacation money. Give them a small allowance to feed the pets, wash the car, fold the laundry, etc. You might offer to match their savings a little along the way. Adding just a bit every week to their stash is a great lesson in how saving accumulates interest.
Make saving a big deal. As their piggy bank gets fuller, celebrate it! Offer praise, post a sign on the fridge, or congratulate them.
One last tip: Remember to continue the money talks all year long.Discussing budgeting and money decisions is as important as teaching them about nutrition, hygiene, manners and other aspects of growing into a responsible adult.