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Saving for a Family Vacation

Get the whole family involved in planning for summer fun

For most kids, summer means a break from the mundane school-year routine, endless days of pool time and an exciting summertime vacation to look forward to and tell all their friends about. Family vacations are special opportunities to experience new places and create memories that last a lifetime, but also the perfect time to incorporate valuable and practical lessons for your kids in the weeks leading up to the trip.

It’s no secret that the long break from school often comes with the daunting task of finding ways to keep our children occupied, entertained, and engaged, so I encourage you to include each child in the planning and saving process of your next vacation – and all future family trips. Financial awareness starts early, with children developing money habits as young as seven years old, so it’s never too early (or too late) to give them valuable lessons that will shape their financial future and keep them engaged.

Vacation costs can add up quickly, so planning early and involving your whole family from the start will ensure you have a fun, affordable trip everyone can enjoy and feel proud of.

The Budget

As your trip approaches, review your travel budget and do some research to make sure you haven’t missed key or unique expenses associated with your destination. Don’t forget to set aside an amount for souvenirs and incidental costs (forgotten sunscreen, unexpected need for medication, gratuity, surprise fees, etc.). If you haven’t already, determine exactly what amount you’ll allocate toward the activities on your family’s wish list. This is a great time to get the kids involved!

Let them in on what the finalized activity budget is and let each of your children propose which activities the family should participate in. Set a deadline by scheduling a day for them to present their proposals to the rest of the family and at the end of the presentations, help them pick the best combination based on what everyone is most excited for. For example, although they may want to spend multiple days at a theme park, the budget may only allow for one day if they also want to take surfing lessons.

Pro tip: As you plan future vacations, include your tweens as young as 12 in family vacation budgeting discussions to take the mystery out of money and help them understand how the household makes financial decisions. Doing this will set them up for success as they grow into their own financial independence.

Where to Cut Costs from Everyday Expenses to Help Save Money

Teach your kids, especially your little ones, the difference between “needs” and “wants.” For example, talk about how you will make coffee at home and cut out your drive-through coffee trips for a week – a “want” – so you can use that money to take the family to your favorite ice cream parlor on your beach trip. This will show them how to break down goals to smaller, attainable efforts and hopefully inspire them to do the same. Encourage them to think critically about their own spending and help them map out a plan.

Can you still have fun on a budget? Of course! Involve your kids in planning free or reduced cost activities leading up to your trip to save money. Check out your city’s event calendar or local library for free events, head out on a family hike, or volunteer as a family to provide your kids with new experiences leading up to your trip.

Easy Ways to Save Money While on Vacation (and still have fun!)

Vacations can be expensive, but you can find ways to save money and still have fun. Make a list of the things you want to do during your vacation and check for reduced-fee admission days and other discounts while planning your itinerary. Food costs can add up, so look for ways to save that will work with your family’s lifestyle, like cooking breakfast at your vacation rental before heading out for the day. Depending on your destination and the weather, consider swapping a pricey restaurant night for a takeout picnic in a park.

Get Started on the Road to Savings…Today

Plan for your next fall or summer vacation and get the whole family involved early. When the time comes to start planning, be transparent about how much you want to save and the timeframe you’ll need to stick to. It can be helpful to mark savings goals on a calendar or create a list to help children visualize the goals. Make this step interactive and brainstorm ways to save money, from kids collecting loose change in a piggy bank, a parent or teen picking up an extra shift at work, to an activity that includes the whole family like hosting a garage sale.

Consider starting an allowance so kids can earn money from extra chores and start saving for the things they want to do or buy while away. Help them identify chores to do around the house to earn extra money, like keeping their rooms clean, cleaning up after the family pet, or watering the plants.

Be sure to track everyone’s progress and celebrate milestones along your savings journey.
No matter your destination or itinerary, family vacations are wonderful opportunities to create memories and provide enriching experiences for your children. And if you involve them in budgeting and saving for your upcoming adventures, you will also build on their financial literacy and set them on the path to a financially secure future.

Rachel Galvez
Rachel Galvezhttp://www.arizonafinancial.org
Rachel Galvez is the Marketing Partnerships Manager at Arizona Financial Credit Union. A mom of two, Rachel is committed to empowering families with the information they need to make smart financial decisions now and set their children on the path to financial success in the future.



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