Vacation Spending Money for Kids

This is a series on Kids and Money.  If you haven’t read my first post you should start with Teaching Your Kids the Value of Money.

When our kids were in 3rd and 5th grade we decided to take them to Disneyland.  Now, it’s no surprise that I am frugal, hence the blog, so dishing out money for vacations is always an issue for me.

It’s actually a 2 fold issue.  We were on a tight budget at the time, so I didn’t have a lot to give and I hate just giving a ton of money and letting the kids run through aimlessly buying crap.  I know it’s Disneyland, but seriously it’s all junk that lays around once it’s home.

I came up with cleaver idea.  Our kids were doing chores at the time and they were earning around $3 a week.  Now at our house, not only do you have to do the chores, but I won’t hound you to get them done.  You don’t do them, you don’t get paid.  If I need it done badly, you pay me to do it for you.

I know what you are thinking…I have a lot of money saved up for my kids’ therapy when they leave home.

Anyways, I gave my kids 2 month warning.  I told them that whatever they earned between now and when we left, I would match that as their spending money.  So if they earned $21, I would give them $21 to take, plus if they wanted they could also take the other $21 and have a total of $42.

I am pretty proud of myself at this point thinking I am pretty cleaver.  First day out, my son goes into the neighborhood and sells toys and comes home with $17.  Crazy kid!!  He did this a few times and also did some chores, and in the end had nearly $40.  Yeah, that idea bit me in the butt. Smart kid though, right?

Who was he selling to?  One of the neighbor kids at the time had a dog and got paid $10 a week to walk the dog.  This kid was still in elementary school. When you have a pet, that is a responsibility NOT a chore.  This kid was not learning the value of money.  How do I know, because 1) he bought used toys for lots of money and 2) the kid would walk down the street throwing quarters into the air.   Don’t worry my son was close behind picking them up.

Needless to say when we went on the trip my son had a lot more money than my daughter.  My son chose to only bring the half that I offered, smart kid.

As both kids walked through Disneyland, ages 9 and 11, they watched for the perfect thing to buy.  My daughter bought this and that and here and there.  Not my son, very thoughtful until he found the perfect thing.  The monkey that wraps around your neck.  He loved that thing.  Plus he got a few pencils.  In the end, I don’t even think he used all his money.  He got to keep the extra.  My daughter watched as he picked the perfect thing and she learned her lesson from him.  Later she wished she had chosen one big thing instead of lots of little things.

See my son, by the age of 9, was already aware of what money could buy and how it cost him personally. Not once during that whole trip did I have to hear, “can I have that?”  Not once.

Stick around as I talk about Kids and Budgets.

Linked to Tuesdays Tips and Works for Me Wednesday


  1. What a great idea! I love it! My kids are SLOWLY learning the concept of saving their money;)

  2. Thanks for the post. For now my kids are too young to really understand about money, but my 2.5 year old does like to play with it and understands that we use money to pay for things, so at least that’s a start.

  3. You have to start somewhere I guess. 🙂

  4. We have done the same with our kids on all vacations. We match what they save (or sometimes give them a little extra), but they are not allowed to ask us for ANYTHING. They are very, very careful with their money, and two of the three usually come home with money as well as souvenirs they treasure.


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