I've spent the last few weeks on a whirlwind family trip to Walt Disney World. It was an absolutely amazing trip. I could spend hours telling you about the stay at Beach Club Resort, where the pools had sand bottoms, or the Walt Disney cruise line with the clubs for children and origami towels during turndown service, or even the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we looked out our balcony to see two zebras and three giraffes. It truly was the experience of a lifetime.
At one point during our stay my husband looked over at me and said, "You realize you're setting a standard for our girls?" This actually was something I had already thought about and to be honest, worried about. I want them to understand the value of the trip and appreciate how much it took for us to be able do something so amazing.
I encouraged them both to start saving about a year out. It actually didn't register for our youngest until about three months out. I don't think they truly understood what they were in for or why they would need to have money. Each of them had saved on their own about two hundred dollars by the time we embarked on our adventure.
I know full well it's easier to spend someone else's money. I wanted to use this as a learning opportunity as well as give them freedom and choices during our trip. Kevin and I chose to give them each an allotment as their spending money. This money was from mom and dad and on top of their individually saved money. We gave them this along with their Disney Dining Plan and explained to them it was their spending money and their "snack and food" money for the entire trip. We talked about the importance of budgeting and saving a little for each day and gave them both options for how they wanted to spend it.
The first day out of the gate I just knew it was not going to work. Our youngest actually said, "I just want to get rid of my money." It was burning a hole in her pocket. She had money and Disney had things to spend it on. Our oldest could comprehend more of what we had talked and did much better. Still, based on their spending patterns on day one I was very afraid we were in for a world of "can I have this?' and "I wants" by the end of our ten day trip.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I think day one was overwhelming and fun. It was an opportunity to experience it all and take it all in, fast. Once things settled and they got their initial purchases out of the way they began — even the little one — to understand how fast their money was going as well as started to recognize what was worth spending it on.
I am proud to say they both returned with a little jingle in their wallet — ok so it wasn't paper — come on, they are kids you know they spent all they could. In our after-action review it was very rewarding for me to hear them talk about what they learned and also to hear them thank us for/recognize all the money and planning time it took to make the trip what it was.
The best part about it was that since our trip was pre-paid, the dining plan was pre-paid, and we had given ourselves a budget for all of the rest (including the kids) we were very happy with the outcome of our total spending. Coming home without wallet guilt definitely made for a very magical vacation!