Why we make our kids pay for vacation. Think this is a crazy concept? There are very good reasons to do this. You'll be surprised at the great life and financial lessons kids will learn.

If you have ever taken the family on vacation then you know, it is not cheap. Our family consists on the three girls, my husband and myself. Most of our vacations involve flying somewhere which becomes quite expensive with a party of five. You may think we are asking the kids to pay for vacation because the trip costs too much and we need help paying for it. This is not the case. I also want to explain that we are not making them pay for the entire trip. “Hey kids, we want to go on vacation, give us a few thousand dollars!” Nothing like that is going on. As you’ll see, the amount that we ask them to contribute is nominal and our reasons for doing so have nothing to do with money.

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Some important reasons you would make your kids pay for vacation:

Help them appreciate the trip. Let’s face it, people just appreciate things more when they buy it themselves and have to save up for it. Kids will be more invested in making the trip a good one if they have contributed to the payment.

Teach them to save for a goal. In today’s instant gratification world, delaying gratification is a skill that many don’t have any more. Yet it is something that will help your child throughout their life.

Teach them the value of a dollar. We have found that when our kids realize how much something costs, they are less likely to constantly ask for things. Of course my kids would love to go on another cruise, but they don’t keep begging for it because they know how much it cost and how long it took to save for such an experience.

How you get kids to pay for their vacation:

Set a meeting to discuss the trip. Talk to the kids about the trip which will usually get them pretty excited. You can choose to disclose roughly how much the trip will cost, depending on the age of the kids.

Come up with a dollar amount. Mention that they will be expected to contribute to the cost of the trip and come up with a reasonable dollar amount. This amount will change based on the age of the child, their ability to earn money (do they have a job?) and the timing of the trip (with last minute trips, there is less time to save). When we went on our cruise, we asked each child (age 5 and 7) to contribute $35 which they saved in their  saving jar. Now if you have ever been a cruise you know that such a small amount of money doesn’t make a dent in the cost of the trip. However this amount was able to be worked for and saved by my kids in the months prior, so we felt it was a reasonable goal.

Give them a way to earn money. There are many ways to do this. Kids can save birthday money, start a lemonade stand, sell some of their toys that they have outgrown… When we decided to go on the cruise, we set up a chore chart and gave the kids a chance to earn a commission for doing some extra chores around the house.

Set up a system that makes saving easy. We use a saving jar to make the saving process a breeze. When the kids would get paid, they would deposit some in a jar for spending, another portion for saving and another for giving. The saving jar is what they use to pay for trips. The bonus of using these jars is that if kids want to, they can bring the money from their spend jar on the trip to buy souvenirs.

Now, as with most parenting philosophies, this is not for everyone. You may find your kids appreciate travel without contributing, that they are already savers and know the value of a dollar. Awesome! This system has worked for our family and we have seen positive results from it.

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