Friday, June 27, 2014

Planning: Disney Dollars

By: Melissa
Disney Dollars Photo2

You’ve decided on your souvenir budget and let the kids know how you’ll be spending it. So how do you actually go about tracking how much the kids are spending?

It’s not likely that you’ll want to carry much cash with you at Disney, especially if you stay on-site and have a Magic Band. For older kids (or you), keeping a running total in your head during the day and entering it into a spreadsheet (if you’re a nerd like me) or just writing it down when you get back to the resort might work just fine. You could even track it on a note in your phone. But if your kids are younger and/or you’d like a more concrete way for them to understand their expenses, there is another way.

When our six year-old saved $75 to spend during our Disney trip, I knew that I wouldn’t have a hard time tracking his expenses on my budget sheet, but he might struggle with understanding how much he had spent and had left. He’s accustomed to spending his allowance in a very tangible way – cash. I actually mulled over this little dilemma for a while. Part of me thought, it’s vacation! Just tell him how much he has left each day and be done with it. But after considering it for a while, I knew that he would do much better if we followed a plan that he was already accustomed to. Because who wants to teach completely new concepts or invite a shopping meltdown on vacation? Not me.

After searching trusty Pinterest, I came up with a plan. I decided to print out Disney Dollars and let our son “pay” for his purchases at the end of each day. I considered carrying the Disney Dollars with us in the parks and let him pay me at the time of purchase, but I didn’t want to carry one more thing. I explained how it would work (and then explained it again), and he was ready. When we made his first purchase, he said, “Mom! I won’t forget to give you my Dollars when we get back to the room.” It provided a tangible way for him to understand how much he’d spent and how much he had left.

This concept can also work if your kids are earning extra money for Disney or even if you have a gift card you’ll be using for souvenirs. Go ahead and pay them for those extra chores with Disney Dollars, just make sure you are ready to back it up with actual money. (My little entrepreneurial guy always earns more money than I thought he would!) If you’re going to be using a gift card (either at the time of purchase or to pay toward your account at check-out), you can give your kids Disney Dollars in the amount equal to the gift card.

For older kids and teens, especially if you’re going to be breaking up into groups, you can certainly authorize charges on their Magic Bands if you choose. But another option is to give them a Disney gift card in the amount they’re allowed to spend for the trip, and let them manage their own souvenir expenditures without the risk of overspending.

You can download our FREE Disney Dollars printable here. Print it on the color paper of your choice (you can even use different colors for each kid) and have fun!

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