In January of 2014 my little Alyssa, at that time 9, announced that it was her dream to go to Sea World. At that time, her daddy was completing his master's degree and all of our finances were directed towards his schooling. A big vacation was out of the question unless we worked together to make it happen.
That night we sat down together and made a dream vacation budget. We calculated gas, food, lodging, and entertainment. Once we had our estimate, we made a goal to raise money over the next ten months for our family trip.
It was a great experience for all of us. The kids found odd jobs to make money, and they donated some of their birthday cash towards the trip. The best part was that they budgeted for souvenirs, so when the time came, they didn't have to ask for things, they knew they had money they were free to spend.
It's been a while since our last big vacation, so it's about time to set our eyes on another trip. My sister moved to Boston a couple of years ago, and we flew out there once, but flying isn't cheap. Remembering the success of our last travel savings plan, we worked up an itinerary, estimated costs, and set a budget.
Training kids to plan and save is challenging. It takes a long time to work together to save the kind of money it will take to drive the nearly 4,000 miles. Hard things produce character. I'm just as interested in the journey we'll take to save for our trip as the trip itself.
Saving over the course of months requires patience, elicits wisdom, and cultivates contentment. Aside from the wonderful character that comes from hard accomplishments, there are also a lot of other great skills that are cultivated:
- Making sure we're on target with our savings
- Counting our money monthly
- Tracking our savings
- Delayed gratification
- Goal setting
I remember as a kid, my dad would set out three jars for me and my sisters before any vacation. In the month leading up to the trip, he'd divide his loose change at the end of the day between the tree jars. On the night before we left, each of us would count our jars and this would be our trip spending money. It was so fun to line up the quarters and nickles and dimes.
My kids love to count money!! Who doesn't?
Our trip is set. We're well on our way to our saving goals thanks to some hard working kids. I love that they are learning that setting aside a little money along the way can add up to some great rewards like a road trip across the country to see family. I can't wait.
How do you encourage your kids to save?