Introducing The Fun Fund: Your Budgeting Solution For All Those “Must Do” Travel ExperiencesPosted on May 8, 2012 | 8 comments
A long time ago Heidi and I found ourselves in China staring into the eyes of a baby panda. We were right there, and this 40-pound fur ball was begging to play with us.
Only catch was, it cost $50 to hang out with the little guy.
You want to play, you got to pay.
Heidi and I looked at each other. $50 in China is a lot, and we didn't have a lot, but we had enough.
Heidi voted Yes. I voted No. And to this day Heidi tells the story of how she could have held a baby panda and I didn't let her. My bad.
This stuff happens. It's tough to make choices in the moment when you're on a tight budget, especially when traveling.
What do we spend our money on? Who makes the call?
I know if we're going to travel for a living, something's got to give. The family arguments will just pile up if we have to debate over every experience we encounter on the road. We can't just base all our decisions on our feelings in the moment. We need to have a plan. And thus I have created: The Fun Fund.
Ahhhhhh, The Fun Fund - the answer to all your family's travel budgeting needs. Sick of all those family arguments over money while you're on vacation? Tired of having to debate over whether you should go shopping or golfing? Fed up with handing out buckets of quarters to your kids at the arcade? Done with having to justify the time you spent $15 on the "World's Greatest Margarita"? Finished with having to . . .
Ok, I'll stop. I'll admit that my "brilliant" Fun Fund is far from a stroke of genius. It's not going to solve the world's problems. And I probably couldn't sell it to anyone for $19.95, but nonetheless - here it is.
The idea is to have a separate account for all non-essential purchases, experiences, events, attractions, and indulgences. A joint account if you will. A combined pool of money that we can agree to raid when we start getting excited about that potentially amazing experience up around the bend.
I figure this way Heidi and I won't have to think about making the tough calls so much. We'll know that we set this money aside for all those moments of spontaneity and sticking our hand in the cookie jar won't affect our ability to put food on the table. As well, it's a good way for the kids to learn how to make some tough choices. We don't have a lot of money, and I know my young kids (like their parents) will be flooded with temptations once we hit the road. It's good for them to see how much money we've got in the fun fund and then play a part in deciding what we're going to do. It's good for them to understand that we have to make choices, even when it comes to the fun stuff.
So my plan is simple:
1) Start filling the fund now with any extra cash that comes our way. All the little Ebay Sales, the carnival tickets I sold to the neighbor, the checks I still get from Grandma on my birthday - they're all going in the fun fund. Even the kids can contribute.
2) Keep everything essential separate. All the work and saving we are doing now is paying for our travels. And I don't want my kids to have to worry or think about that stuff yet. The fun bonuses in life shouldn't come at the expense of basic needs and our goal of traveling long-term. I'm gonna try to keep these things on different scales.
3) When it comes time to choose - whether it be jet-ski rentals, horseback riding, or Disney - we will decide as a family. We will take a look at how much money we've got and decide if it's worth the price of admission. It'll be an experiment. Maybe we can even convince the kids to let mom and dad drop some of the fun funds on tequila tasting in Mexico.
And there you have it - the Fun Fund. It's yours to use or disregard at your leisure.
But I'm curious. When your family travels, how do you make those tough decisions around money?
What makes something worth it to you?
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