This summer, on a family trip the Delaware/Maryland beaches, we started issuing our six-year-old a “budget” for the trip. Although we would all still enjoy vacation activities and foods together to some extent, the purpose of the budget was for those moments when a kid decides he or she just has to have some treat or toy.
“Well,” our answer would be, “you have [e.g.] ten dollars for this whole trip. You can spend it all (or some of it) now, on this food/toy. Or you can try to save your money for when you get back home.”
It sort of helps. Some possible obstacles:
- You need to pick the right amount. Too much and there is no real weighing of the spending decision, because it doesn’t feel as significant. Too little, and you will still be arguing with the kid later as to whether more is warranted.
- Younger siblings must of course be treated exactly identically, lest the older one notify the UN Office of Unfair Sibling Treatment (UNOUST), but generally don’t care about/understand the tradeoffs. They will gladly spend the whole amount at once, on the first day, leaving you in the position of having to decide, later, whether you will cover something that the older kid would be expected to pay for out of said budget.
I have the vague impression that this is based on the book First National Bank of Dad, which I once skimmed while standing in the aisles of the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore.