Life Lessons with a Disney Twist: Teach Kids to Save Their Money

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Updated for 2018!

If it seems like it’s been forever since you started saving money for your family’s vacation to Disney, then you just might be a Cheapskate Princess. It’s no secret that Disney World vacations are really expensive, but they can also provide an excellent opportunity to teach your child life skills before, during, and after the vacation.

Money. Mullah. Cash. Greenbacks. Dap. Cha-ching!

Money makes the world go ’round, and you can’t go on vacation without it.  If I’m paying for the actual vacation, (accommodations, travel expenses, food) then I can’t possibly buy my children every souvenir they want. Even worse, if I did, I would be providing a completely false sense of reality. As adults, we know we don’t get everything we want in life. No matter how many coupons we clip, no matter how much cash we sock away, we just can’t have it all.

Today’s Disney life lesson?  Teach Your Kids to Save Their Money

Read: Here’s Why the Wrong Shoes Can Cost You Money on a Disney Vacation

kids and money on vacation

There is always a nicer motel room tempting us from just around the corner, a more expensive meal, and a bigger gold Mickey Mouse bracelet waiting for us in Disney Springs’ “World of Disney” store. Jewelry at WDW tends to taunt me from the case; surely I can’t be the only one hearing the voices in my head?! (Buy me…) Vacations are expensive, and it takes a lot of money to fund your Disney dreams.

But do kids know this?

Does your child really understand that your Disney vacation will cost a lot of money, and that without a money tree, the vacation funding has to come from somewhere?

kids save money for Disneyland vacations

My kids can’t have it all, but they can certainly do “their part” on vacation by paying for most of their own souvenirs. I know a lot of families spring last-minute surprise vacations on their children. This makes for great Disney TV commercials, with happy little tykes opening pizza boxes with “We’re going to Disney!” messages drawn in thick Sharpie marker.

But you can’t save money for a trip you don’t know about.

how do you teach kids to save money?

I decided long ago that if I have to save money to go on vacation, then my kids can save money to buy the goodies they want. My children know the exact date we leave for our next trip.  They know, to the penny, how much money they have right this minute, because it’s posted on our refrigerator door every day. If they buy an expensive video game two weeks before we arrive in Orlando, they know I won’t swoop in to buy their souvenirs, no matter how much they beg.

If you’ve stood in a Disney gift shop longer than say ten minutes, you’ve heard children begging for money.

But I will guarantee you, they weren’t my kids.

get kids to save money for vacation

My teenage children know they have a choice in what they spend their money on, hopefully keeping an eye on the future Disney trip dates, and I’m always subtly hinting for them to save, save, save their money.

Everything, and I mean eve-ry-thing, looks good in those Disney gift shops.

Save, save, save, because Sugar Daddy’s pockets are only so deep.

Read: The Day You Arrive at Disney World, Don’t Waste Your Tickets on This…

Disney Moms and saving money for vacation

How can you teach your kids to save money?

Three easy ways…

#1. Start with a Conversation

Encourage your child to start saving money for your vacation months before you leave. This opens up great dinner conversation opportunities, and they’ll be glad they had money to spend once they hit those gift shops.

#2. Provide Some Eye Candy

Pull up the and let your child see how much Disney merchandise costs online. This will give them a realistic sense of how much Disney items cost (a lot) and how much money they will need to take with them (a lot). Now is the time to tell your child if you plan to pay for any souvenirs.

#3 Give an Example

Every month, you could show your children a chart with how much money you have saved for your Disney vacation, and take a look at how much they have saved.

Post this on your fridge, so it’s never far from sight. Out of sight is out of mind, and that’s how even adults wind up in financial difficulties.

Read: Want to Save Money on Food at Disney World? Ziplocs Can Save You Cash!

why kids need money on Disney World vacation

I usually give each of my three kids $20 for the vacation, and past that point, it’s up to them. Christmas $$, birthday $$, chore $$ – I hope they’ve saved it.

In our fast food world of overwhelming credit card debt, the ability to save money for items you really want is a valuable life skill.

If you ever said to your child as you walked through a Disney park, “You better go ride your favorite rides now, because we may not be coming back for a long time,” then you know exactly what I am talking about, and you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

Read: When Should You Tell the Kids About A Disney Vacation?

tips for kids going to Disney World and Disneyland

Thanks for stopping  by for Life Lessons with a Disney twist. We’ll see you at the parks, holding little hands as you walk through the mine fields known as gift shops…


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Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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