Updated for 2016!
Planning a Disney vacation? Got kids? If the answer to both is yes, you will need some money. If the children have no money of their own when they arrive in Orlando, they will soon be begging for your money. Many parents just hand over souvenir spending money because it’s a Disney vacation, and that a big deal, no doubt. But if you are on a more strict budget or just want the kids to be responsible for some of their own purchases, then you may need some ideas on how they can earn their own money.
We asked our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans how their kids earned spending money for Walt Disney World or Disneyland trips. They had some amazing ideas we wanted to share.
This is the response most parents gave us; they paid the kids for doing chores.
Megan, “Our kids earn their money for chores every week. They know when a Disney trip is planned, so they can choose to save it for Disney or spend it on other things.”
Gina, “I have five-year-old twins. They feed and water the dogs, get all laundry to the washer, empty the bathroom trash, and clean their rooms.”
Niki, “Our kids earn money by doing chores and know to save up when we go to Disney. They buy all of their own souvenirs.”
Alicia, “My kids start doing extra chores we put on a board to earn their souvenir money, we start the board about 4 months before the trip…. My house is really clean and my yard perfect those 4 months before Disney! Then they get to pick out one souvenir on the trip that I pay for.”
Personally, our children do chores every day, because they live in our house, eat up our food, and get rides to school and work. My kids are older, and the money they receive in our house is called “an allowance.” Routine chores like cleaning their rooms, feeding our pets, setting and clearing the table, taking out the garbage/recycling, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming the entire house once a week, etc. are jobs we expect to be completed just because. They do these things just because they are members of our home, and my husband and I refuse to do it all by ourselves. We are a team, so everybody has regular jobs to help out.
We give our teens an allowance to help our children learn to budget money, which we consider a valuable life skill. We don’t tie it in to chores, but I know lots of families that do, and that’s fine by me. It really matters not if the kids get paid an allowance or do just because-chores, because those are just labels, as long as the work gets done. No matter what you call it, chores or allowance, work is completed and money is received.
If you have started planning a Disney vacation, now is a great time to make the kids work hard for their money. Let’s face it – you’re working, so why can’t they?! If your children receive an allowance or chore money, have them save a percentage of it just for the Disney trip.
2. Good Behavior
Heather, “My children earn ‘Disney Dimes/Dollars’ for doing things around the house over and above their responsibilities. They also earn them for good behavior. We cash the $$ in before we go. That is their spending money over and above the pin and ornament that we purchase for them every time we go.
Erica, “In the past I have rewarded over and beyond behavior, and that money went into their Disney piggy bank. Now they save some of their weekly allowance to buy stuff. We’re getting ready to move there though, so I’m not sure how this will work because we’ll be there a lot, so I guess they will have to learn how to truly budget.”
I think this idea would work really well with younger children, especially when they tag along on grocery or clothes shopping excursions. These can be especially stressful with younger children.
3. Good Grades
Nobody suggested this idea, so this is all me! Back in the 70s, I earned $1 for every A/B I received. 30 years later, my kids earn $2 for each A/B they earn. Children can save a percentage of their education money for the vacation.
When our children were in elementary and intermediate schools, they took “AR” reading tests and earned points. We paid our kids $1 per point. I never had to listen to my children beg for money in Wal-mart or any other store. Why? I simply told them to spend their AR book money. If they wanted something bad enough, they did. And they took that AR money along on vacations as well.
Now our kids were big readers when they were younger, and points for Harry Potter books could hit 45 or more per book. My parents thought we were crazy, paying our kids hundreds of dollars a year for book tests. My response, “Have you seen the cost of college admission these days?” Paying our kids a couple hundred dollars in book point money, which increased their vocabulary and kept them away from TV and video games, seemed like a good investment in their future post-graduate education. It was a good investment in their vacations as well.
4. Wash Cars
Tonya, “My kids work the whole year to save money for the trip. Whatever they have saved is their souvenir money. We pay for food, airfare and lodging.”
I’m thinking car wash here. We see a lot of school groups do car washes as fundraisers, and this is not easy money. Many of you moms and dads probably remember washing cars for extra cash when you were a child yourself. I sure do!
But working hard for something you want is also a life skill. I don’t think setting up a car wash on the side of a busy road is a great idea, but calling family and friends to drive the car over could work. Tell them the kids are raising spending money for a trip, or better yet have the kids call, which allows them to work on their social skills before the actual hard physical work begins.
Jonathan, “If you have a recycling plant/facility near your home, have the kids collect bottles and cans to earn cash.”
Recycle. Bottles, aluminum cans, and newspapers are recyclable, but how much the facility will pay for may depend on your area. Recycling is good for the environment, and walking the neighborhood finding cans and bottles can be good exercise. Walking anywhere is certainly great practice for a Disney vacation. And the recycling cash will be good for their little piggy banks!
6. Mow Lawns
Kim, “My children each earn $100 to spend at Disney. They hoard it for most of the trip until the really decide what they want.”
Rachel, “I pay my son to mow the lawn. He earns money doing a job I sure don’t want to do!”
Kids can earn money mowing your yard, and if your child is old enough to mow your yard, perhaps it’s time to branch out into the neighborhood. They could create flyers to put on the neighbor’s doors. This idea could be extended to raking leaves, shoveling snow, and most any manual labor that requires hard work.
I’m all for paying kids to do labor intensive jobs I don’t really want to do. Manual labor jobs also teach character, and what child couldn’t use more of that?!
Briget, “Our kids earn money before we leave on any vacation by doing extra chores, picking bottles, and babysitting. We usually give them an extra $50 in addition to what they earn. They normally end up with a $100 each. We have two young kids and two teens. The teens normally have more money to spend. With that money, they buy their own souvenirs and snacks (if they want something after we eat as a family.) I found it cuts down on the ‘I wants’ if they pay for stuff themselves. I keep the money in plastic color coded envelopes so they can see how much they have every day.“
If your child is old enough to babysit for you, perhaps it’s time for them to branch out and do some babysitting for friends and neighbors.
Care.com reports that in 2014, the average babysitter cost per hour was about $13.50. They indicated that rate varies widely depending on a number of factors. But wouldn’t that be a great hourly wage for teens to work up to?
I remember babysitting for $1 an hour back in the early 80s, and man, what I could have done with $13.50 for an hour! Ok, realistically your kids won’t earn that much money per hour, but even half of that could add up quickly.
8. Pet Sit
Colleen, “My son is the neighborhood pet sitter. When our neighbors go on vacation, he earns money by taking care of their pets! We have a lot of families on our street, so most of his spending money comes from that and birthday money.”
This job would take a lot of maturity on the part of a child, but with the average home in America having multiple pets, that means there are a lot of pets that certainly might need sitting services.
9. Holiday Money
Amy, “We have the kids save a portion of Christmas and birthday money they receive from relatives. I call this easy money. I have them send a thank you note saying part will be used on vacation”
Did grandma send the kids money for a birthday or Christmas? Have them save a percentage of this. I agree with Amy – that’s easy money.
10. Yard Sales
Donnie, “My kids do chores for the grand parents, like cleaning the horse barn and have yard sales to raise spending cash they usually have $150 to $300 to spend on what they want.”
Have the kids round up toys they don’t play with and clothes that don’t fit, and not only could they make a little money, they might de-clutter their rooms at the same time. That’s a two for one deal right there.
Nobody but me suggested this, so I’ll assume I was the only one desperate enough to think this up. One year when my children were small and especially resistant to walking anywhere over basically around the block, we paid them $.20 per mile to “practice for vacation.” I wore a pedometer and so did they. Again, my parents thought we were insane, but I didn’t have to carry any exhausted children anywhere. We had use of a stroller too, but little legs give out quickly, especially if they want to get out and walk around gift shops and touch things at resorts. Sure, the money was coming from me, but they thought they earned it, and that’s what mattered.
Impulse buys are tough on kids at Disney. If possible, it’s good to discourage them from buying souvenirs on the first day. There seems to be something to buy at the end of every ride. If you are not prepared for the amount of spending opportunities your children will face on vacation, chances are you will deal with tantrums or Visa aches as you give in to avoid tantrums.
Brenda, “I’m an adult, and I sold some stuff so I could have $$ that I could spend and not feel guilty.”
It’s never too late to teach a child how pricey vacations can be and how they can contribute by paying for their own souvenirs. Hey, this will free up some of your money up to buy tickets, or maybe some ice cream as the Magic Kingdom is closing.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you and the kids, in the gift shops, undoubtedly with everybody wishing they had more money!
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