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How to save for a family vacation


Financial literacy is an essential life skill needed to make informed decisions about budgeting, borrowing and more. Armed with this knowledge, children grow up prepared for financial independence.

Teaching children and teens financial literacy often falls on parents, and it’s not always easy. You need to both keep your teen involved and interested and make the process fun. One way is to take advantage of interesting occasions, such as holidays, to teach your children good saving habits.

Set goals for yourself and your children

So you’re going on vacation. It’s time to set goals.

Decide where you are going

First, decide where you are going. Use selecting a destination as an opportunity to get your kids talking about where they want to go and to build excitement. Choose a location together and let your kids know that the trip can only happen if they contribute financially.

Determine costs

Whether your family is planning a trip to Disneyland or a vacation to your kids’ favorite place, it’s time to figure out the costs.

Involve your children in the process. Break down the numbers for transportation, accommodation, entertainment and other expenses. Show the total to your children and discuss how they will help you save this amount.

Define a timeline

Saving is a task, and that task needs a deadline. Discuss with your children the date of the holidays and agree on the date by which you must reach your savings goal.

Once the deadline is set, you can move on to the most important part: growing your vacation fund.

How to build your savings

Let’s be honest: saving money is rarely fun. Nevertheless, you should keep the process engaging for your children and involve them as much as possible.

Here’s what you can do.

Make a family budget together

With your common goal in mind, sit down with your kids and create a family budget. Show them how much money is coming in and how much you spend on a regular basis. Give them the opportunity to discuss categories of expenses that can be reduced to increase savings.

Grocery shopping together

Take your kids shopping. Tell them that every dollar they can save at the store will go towards the vacation fund. This way they can learn to pay attention to prices. Will that money go towards candy or their dream trip? Let them prioritize.

do your part

Your vacation fund should be a team effort, so show your kids you’re working hard to save too.

Let them know which of your expenses you have limited. Negotiate lower rates on your monthly bills and share with your family how much it can save them. Lead by example.

Reduce your daily expenses

Keep teaching your children to prioritize saving. If they want a new toy, remind them of their goal. Or, see if they can part with some entertainment subscriptions, for example, to get more vacation time. Do they want Disney+ or an extra day at Disneyland?

Track progress

Keep an eye on progress and make sure your kids are too. This task can be easy if you have the right tools.

Greenlight, a debit card designed for kids that lets you set savings goals and track spending. As a parent, you’ll receive real-time alerts whenever the card is used, as well as access to historical account activity.

How Greenlight can be a resource

Greenlight can be a great tool to help teach financial literacy to your children. The card comes with an app to manage it, with different experiences for parents and children.

The card lets kids create savings budgets and goals, monitor balances, receive money from family and friends and more. And as a parent, you can track your children’s card usage, set store and cash withdrawal limits, and block or unblock the card if needed. Another cool feature is the ability to pay your kids for chores and set up an allowance schedule.

Greenlight costs $4.99 per month for up to five children. The card also charges no overseas transaction fees, meaning your kids can take their card on vacation abroad and use it without worrying about hidden costs. Greenlight also does not charge any ATM or overdraft fees.

Greenlight can benefit both you and your children. As your kids learn the basics of spending and saving with the card, you can keep an eye on their progress and guide them through the process.

The bottom line

Teaching children financial literacy is no small feat. One of the best strategies is to create a sense that your child or teen is in charge of the family finances and allow them to set goals that they are eager to work towards.

A family vacation can be one of those goals. Engage your kids in the savings process and help them learn the basics of budgeting and prioritizing expenses as you go. This way, they can begin to understand financial responsibility, while hoping for something fun and rewarding.

Tools like Greenlight can help you and your kids stay on track and deepen your kids’ financial education. With this debit card designed for kids, they can learn the basics of using a debit card, monitor their spending, and stay on track to reach their goals.