We got back from a Disney cruise a couple of weeks ago. My kids thought it was the best time of their lives. They couldn’t wait to do it again next year.
The only problem is… Disney cruises are very, very expensive. Going every year isn’t in the budget. I explained to them that it costs us nearly $1,000 each day when you count the cost of flying, excursions, ground transportation, and other incidentals. They were able to understand that it is a big number. However, they don’t have a reference to compare it to.
That’s when I realized I had to give them a comparison they’d understand. I explained that Great Wolf Lodge, a long weekend they loved before the pandemic, was closer to $250 a day. I said that we could spend nearly two months at Great Wolf Lodge for what we spent on the Disney Cruise. My oldest responded that he’d prefer that longer vacation at Great Wolf. My youngest disagreed – he liked visiting Norway and the other countries.
I often like to ask them about alternative ways to spend money. In this case, I said we decided on the Disney cruise because mom and I haven’t traveled to Europe for more than a decade. We get more value from visiting Westminster Abbey than the cute upselling wolf. We also can’t take two months off from work. I also explained that we chose Disney because we knew it would be a good vacation for them too. Everyone gets a little of what they want.
I’ve been looking into next year, and it seems that Royal Caribbean has a cruise that costs only about one-third of the Disney one. We found some videos online, and they looked like they had fun stuff for kids to do too. They said that they’d be interested in that cruise too. We’d be able to go on that cruise, a road trip to Hershey, PA, and have some money left over for a weekend or two at Great Wolf Lodge.
As we ended the conversation, I explained that one of my jobs is to write about making money choices. Spending money wisely is as important as earning it.
It’s hard for young kids to know about all these options. They don’t have the life experience and access to the tools to evaluate costs. These “buy this… or that?” conversations are critical for helping them grow their money skills.
Brian MacFarland has reached more than 10 million people on his personal finance journey to financial independence. He’s been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Lifehacker.
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