Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why my 10, 8, 3 & 2 Year Old are Paying for Their Own Cruise to Mexico...

We have been trying desperately to teach our kids about money and how to manage their money well.   When they were younger, they didn't have "chores" they were paid for.  Being a part of our family comes with both rights and responsibilities.  Everyone pitches in.  So setting the table, clearing the table, loading/unloading the dishwasher, putting away their own laundry, cleaning their room... those things were all just viewed as being "expected" if you're a member of our family.

Over the past year, however, we have wanted to teach our children about saving and spending and giving.  And to do that, they were going to need some cash.  So we set up a system.  Some of the things they do are still just "expected."  But we made a list of certain things they can do to earn money.  And when I say "money" I mean 25 cents per item on the list.  (the point here is money management, not a giant cash flow)  ;)

Anyway, the kids have been doing this for awhile now.  They have also had birthdays and other holidays, celebrations, and have earned some extra money here and there.  To the point that they now have some actual cash in each of their "give" "save" and "spend" canisters.  Like, enough money to actually purchase something with.

It's become this funny thing though.  The kids have come home from school day after day saying, "I just don't know what to buy with my money.  Maybe another scooter?"  (Insert me cringing, thinking, 'You already have 4 scooters!')  "Or maybe I'll buy another Xbox game."  "Or maybe that dress at Justice."  Jackson and Taylor have had the big (first world) problem of not knowing how to spend their money.  (They also give money away.  But I'm talking about their delegated "spend" money.)

So one day I was deleting some junk emails and came across an email advertising a 4 day cruise down to Mexico over the holiday weekend.  Jon and I have taken these cruises several times and you just can't beat it - room, food, entertainment... all included.  So I began to think... I texted Jon to ask if I was being creative or crazy.  He graciously said 'creative' and let me proceed.  ;)

That night we sat down with the kids and explained to them that money doesn't have to just buy "stuff."  In fact, a common phrase we say in our home is "people are more important than things." So they do know this Truth.  They just hadn't thought about it in the context of money.  We told them about the cruise and explained that instead of buying a "thing," they could buy an "experience."  We told them the cost of the cruse was $120 and if they wanted to pay half of their way, we would pay the other half.

Their responses were both different.  Taylor immediately wanted to do it.  She didn't have as much money saved as Jackson did, so she would have to sell some gift cards she had, to make up the difference.  Jackson however, wanted time to think.  Process.  (he is SO his father)  ;)  We told him there was absolutely no pressure.  If everyone was not on board (pun not intended) we wouldn't do it and it would be totally fine.  We just wanted to introduce another option.  But a few hours later, he came to us and said that he absolutely wanted to spend his money this way.  What's cool?  The 2 babies had recently had birthdays and had been given money for "toys."  But they clearly have no need for one more toy.  So even the littles ended up paying with their own money!

So tomorrow morning, our family of 6 is headed out on a 4 day cruise.  And our kids are paying half their own way!  We take family vacations in the summer.  This is different. This is a few kids making a few creative, and I think wise, decisions with their money.  We let our kids save up for the Lego set they want.  We let them save up for an iPod or new skateboard.  Why wouldn't we expand their minds to all the options?  I'm super proud of the decision they made.

And to make it even better?  A 4 day cruise for $120 was just too good for my dad to pass up!  So my dad and mom are coming too!  With my mom's terminal illness, time with her is precious and we know, limited.  What incredible memories we'll get to create with her - This is a trip we will never forget!

Now that my kids minds have been expanded beyond toys and games, I can't wait to see what they do with their money in the future!  I think they will 'give' more creatively, 'save' for more creative things, and 'spend' on things that truly matter to them.
And me?  Well I only have 2 more words to say.  Bon Voyage!!!   ;)