Vacations are a great for families to spend time together, bonding while they see a different area of the country, or even world.  But the price tag that comes with these vacations may not always be so “family friendly”.  It costs how much to take a family of 5 to Disney World? In order to afford our dream vacations, we have to start getting creative in saving for it! Because this is an expense that benefits the WHOLE family, why not get the WHOLE family involved in saving for it?  Often children aren’t very aware of how much small expenses can add up over time. If you point out that every nickel they can save the household will get them closer to a week at the beach, they may surprise you!
Have a family meeting to discuss vacation saving, gather their ideas and suggestions, and then agree to put aside what you’ve saved for your vacation fund. Be sure you have a plan for keeping the saved money separate, so that it doesn’t get spent elsewhere. That might mean writing a check for the amount of money saved and depositing it into your vacation account, or putting that amount of cash into the change jar. Whatever it is, do it consistently.
Here are a few ideas your family might consider: Vacation Account – First & foremost, set up an account specifically for your Vacation.  All of your planned “vacation savings” goes directly into it.  Maybe you’d consider adding a percentage of everyone’s earnings into it monthly.  If Dad puts it 10% of his paycheck and kids add 10% of their allowance, then savings start to add up fast! The Change Jar –  Every evening, everyone empties out their pockets and all the change (including $1) go into the Vacation Savings Jar.  Put a picture on the Jar or label it “Our Vacation to California”. Saving Your Savings –  Most grocery stores promote how much you “saved today” by purchasing sale items, using coupons, or the store savings card (on the bottom of the reciept). Use this as an incentive to clip coupons, buy sale items, and meal plan a little more fiscally. Put your “savings” into your account.  My daughter loves helping me plan out he meals and remind me to deposit my “savings”. Budget your Entertainment – Figure out the average of what you have spent in the last 3 months on family entertainment per month and cut that in half, putting the other half towards your vacation spending.  What a great conversation to have with your kids about how much we can save by cutting back on frivolous spending.  Take it a step further and plan with them how to do it.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
  • Eat out less
  • Borrow videos from your public library instead of the video store
  • Look for free local family entertainment and events
  • Have a family game night instead of going to the ball game
Have a “vacation fund” yard sale –  Spend a day going through your stuff (Keep, Sell, Trash)with your kids. Get the kids involved in a Yard sale and take your earning and apply them directly towards your vacation fund.  Leftovers? Take children’s clothes, baby stuff, and toys to a consignment shop. Take books to a book resellers.  Take furniture to a consignment shop or sell it online. Creative gift-givingDiscuss with your extended family your plans for savings and put a hold on elaborate birthday gift giving.  Talk to your kids about “gifts of love” – how we can give our time and effort on gifts, like washing Dad’s car or cooking a meal with Grandma. Coupon books (back rub, take the dog for a walk, etc.) are always popular in my house.  Again, figure out what you are saving in not purchasing gifts and apply that to your savings account.
With these creative swings ideas, your dream vacation will be in sight sooner than you know it.  But the real incentive here is the life-long lessons you are teaching your children about money and saving for something important. Do you have any creative ways to save money that have worked for your family?  We’d love to hear them!
Here are some tips for saving money and teaching financial responsibility in children:

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