Our vacation fund jar is mostly symbolism, but we love it. We decided years ago that debt free was the way to be. We plan out everything. Our goal is to always pay cash, and never buy something with credit. If we don’t have money in the bank for something we don’t buy it. While we may purchase our lodging and plane tickets online using a credit card, we always have the money saved first. When we were first married we had a small vacation fund for short getaways. Once our first bundle came along we continued that way, saving for trips before we went. It was the perfect set up! Save well, spend what you have budgeted freely, no guilt when we returned home. A paid for vacation is a stress free vacation!
Our adoption journey claimed our ‘vacation fund’ for many years. Money that was once for fun trips was now being funneled into our adoption fund. Our Russian adoption hit a couple very expensive snags and for the first time in our marriage we were in debt. Couple that with the fact that we bought a house at the top of the market. Months later Harry’s overtime was cut, he lost his two largest freelance clients, and his pay was cut. We all know the story. All that to say, we didn’t do much in the way of vacations once our son came home. Vacation was always something we did with extra money, but since we had debt at the time we didn’t have any of that.
Well, if you read our post about the blessings of a smaller home, you know we weren’t able to save that house. While our cars were paid off (they were old junkers – but they were paid for!) and we whittled our credit card down to a 0 balance; the house was a goner. A few years later in our smaller fixer upper we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of last year started our vacation fund in our bank account again for the first time in about 7 years. Every month a comfortable amount (read : small) goes into the fund. It transfers directly from Harry’s paycheck. One of my affiliate checks goes right into that fund as well. We don’t feel much pressure to fill the fund up quickly. One of these days we will hit that goal. No pressure. We enjoy press trips from time to time, and while a working vacation isn’t a true vacation, it certainly feels like it part of the time.
In the meantime we are trying to teach the kids a valuable lesson about saving. Our kids never see the real vacation fund. Money is deposited every month and we see the fund grow, but they don’t. We wanted a visual for the kids. We wanted them to be able to see the money grow little by little, even if it was just a small piece of the big picture. Our idea is not really a new one, we just put a ‘fund jar’ out in clear view. It’s a community pot that we all throw extra into. I think what really makes our Vacation Fund Jar pop is the fact that it is see through. It’s just a regular old mason jar with a chalk board label. A slit in the cap makes it easy to toss money in whenever we have it.
Our kids are so into the idea that both decided they should have their own ‘vacation jars’ in their rooms as well. Our kids earn a small allowance. The key word there is that they earn it. They also earn money when the neighbors are out of town. Grandma is sometimes very generous to helpers when they visit. While they are free to spend and save their money as they wish at this point, there are certain things we don’t pay for. We think it is important for kids to save and participate in their own spending.
When on vacation or even just an outing, it is customary for our kids to pay for some of their activities. For example, we don’t pay for treats or souvenirs at Disneyland. We cover tickets, parking, and meals. Everything else is on you kid. This goes for everywhere we visit. If you want a special treat or a stuffed animal, that’s between you and your saving skills. Recently my son has really gotten into the idea of saving. We are planning a very special trip for his birthday and he know that even though it is his birthday we aren’t buying toys or t-shirts. He really wants toys and t-shirts so he is saving! He wants to have lots of money to shop so for the first time in his life he is really thinking ahead. I love watching the kids put money aside for the future. Not to be outdone by younger brother, sister is already saving for that trip in October as well.
But back to our family jar…. A chalkboard label Mason Jar was perfect for the job. During family meeting we all decided that we wanted to save towards a family trip to Hawaii. Years ago, before our littlest came along Grandpa treated us to a trip to Maui. Maui beaches and luaus are calling our names! We explained to the kids that it may take a couple years to save for our family trip to Hawaii. We explained that this jar would need to be packed full of money before we could ever afford five plane tickets, a condo rental, and all the fun that awaits in Hawaii. Saving will be worth it, even if it takes a long time. Our empowered little monsters are determined to get us there quickly. Everyone pitches in. When we had a garage sale this past summer the kids decided to unload a few extra toys knowing that all proceeds would go in the vacation fund jar. Kids love to put found coins in the jar. “I found 17 cents at the park and I put all of it in the jar!” The kids love going to the recycling center and bringing home $5 – $10 every month or so to put in the jar. Craigslist sales always go into the jar.
We started our vacation fund shortly after Christmas last year and have passively saved over $500 already in the jar alone! We’ve made it clear to the kids that we of course all want to go on vacation soon, but that we need to still be responsible. We still have to pay our bills here. We will not be less generous with charities or friends in need because of our hopes of a Maui vacation. It’s all about balance!
Check out the Chalkboard Labels in our Amazon store for your Vacation Fund Jar!
And if you’d like a mason jar like ours – here is another pretty prime eligible item from our store…
Again, this isn’t a new idea at all, but people seem to really love it when they see it. Do you have a fun way that you help kids understand money and savings? I’m always looking for tips! Please leave a comment to share. Happy savings friends!