Disney World: Stopping the Gimmees

About 6 weeks before our trip to Disney World I presented each of my children with a checkbook register. They had $40 deposited in their “account” as spending money for the trip. It was theirs to spend as they wished, on whatever their little heart desired, no strings attached, other than once it was gone… it was gone. They had 6 weeks to earn extra money doing various chores around the house. Some of them chose to do this more than others.

I was hoping that giving them control over the money would also teach them some accountability and sharpen their math skills.

Everytime they would buy something they would need to do math to figure out how much money they had spent and how much they had left to spend.

It is important to note, that at Disney World some things are only available in certain locations. So you can not buy the safari hat anywhere but Animal kingdom. And the ship in the bottle anywhere but at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. So if the kids have their heart set on something, they should buy it when they see it. Unless you feel like spending a day going back to all the places where they saw something they now cannot live without, and in which case you are a way better mother than I am.

Before we left for the trip I bought my children Disney “gifts” which I saved them until we were at Disney World. Then every morning when they woke up there was a present waiting for them next to their breakfast plates. Like a Disney Hannukah. Sing along: Disney Disney Disney…I got it on ebay.

The Disney store is a good place to buy some presents if you can get the sales or clearanced items. I got my children t-shirts, Mickey Mouse beanie babies, and something else that was obviously such a big hit it has completely slipped my mind.

Children are much less likely to beg for the mickey mouse beanie baby if they already have one. And I was able to buy them for much less money than I would have spent if I waited to buy them things at Disney World. They don’t care if it cost $5 and not $25.

All my kids had fanny packs that they wore. In them they carried some snacks, their money for the penny press machines, their checkbook registers, a business card with their name and our cell phone numbers (just in case someone took them, realized how annoying they were, and decided to give them back), and their mini fans. Never have children had more fun with mini fans. I bought them so the kids couold keep cool waiting in line, but they found many more uses for them. Such as lawn maintenance:

lawn maintenance

27 Responses to “Disney World: Stopping the Gimmees”

  1. Notes from the Trenches » Part Two Says:

    [...] Disney World: Stopping the Gimmees is now up. Posted on August 8, 2006 by Chris @ 4:37 pm   [...]

  2. jody2ms Says:

    I love the idea of giving them a present each day.

    I am secretly planning a Disney trip for spring break 2007. Bill dreads it, but knows it is time to go again.

    I will totally hit the Disney Store for some good deals!

  3. Christina Says:

    Love the lawn maintenance :)

  4. Gwen Says:

    Um, Chris? Are you the smartest mother alive? We had seven kids in my family too and I don’t remember a vacation at all like this. Usually it started out with my mom screaming “We are going to have fun. Whether you LIKE.IT.OR.NOT!” My kids are young still and I only have two, but we plan on having a larger family and I’m so glad you share all your wisdom. Believe me, I am taking notes.

  5. sarcastic journalist Says:

    You are my hero.

  6. Maddy Says:

    I love the idea of giving them the opportunity to save for their own spending money. One of my son’s has deep pockets and the other is like his Mamma and spends his money ……. quickly. Great idea.

    My sister does a similar thing with her two teenage girls over the long summer break. she gives them $100 each at the start of the holidays and that’s to be used when they go to the movies and want snacks and for any shopping they want to do. She buys the 10 movie ticket packs in advance so the girls don’t need money for that.

  7. Jen Says:

    Thanks for your posts on this subject, Chris! We’re headed to Disney the week BEFORE Thanksgiving (to save $ by not having to pay holiday prices!) and I’ve been scouring for Disney-on-a-budget type things.

    My sister-in-law suggested hitting the Super Wal Mart near the rental condos for the Disney souviniers - says that they’re much much cheaper, and basically the same stuff you can get in the parks (save the mouse ears).

    Love both of your blogs :) Thanks for keeping us laughing!

  8. March Says:

    Great ideas!
    I just have a toddler girl and I’m 30 weeks pregnant with baby #2, but I want more kids and even if God does not give me more, the tips you are giving are great!!
    Making notes here!!
    Thank you

  9. Chris Says:

    I really like the idea of the checkbook register. Really like it.

    Has anyone told you that you are the smartest mommy, EVER? Well, I am. Great post!!!

  10. jennifer g. Says:

    You know, it’s not Disney that scares me so much as the thought of GETTING to Disney. We would have to fly because I don’t think I’d survive several days in a car with a 5-, a 3- and a 2-year-old. But I’d kind of like to go while they’re still little enough to believe and be in awe of the experience. Have you ever flown with any of your kids?

  11. T in HD Says:

    Chris, I love the checkbook idea! Very clever.

    Jennifer, I’d rather drive any day over flying. I’ve flown a lot over the years with 1, 2 and 3 kids from ages newborn up through 9 and it’s never something I do without the greatest dread and trepidation. Even having been blessed with babies who detest the carseat, I’d rather drive than fly…

  12. liz Says:

    Chris, you are so smart! I’m definitely going to do the little morning gift idea. And a check register is a really good idea! Muffin Man doesn’t have subtraction down yet, but it’ll be good practice.

  13. sarah Says:

    Those are great ideas. Please tell me how you modified them for the 19 month old and the 3 year old being as they can not really add and subtract yet. Did they understand the check book register or did you do something else for them?

  14. Jess Says:

    The gift idea is great. I will have to do that before we leave. The business card is a great idea too. I am not too sure if I can get the kids to wear the fanny packs but I will give it a shot.

  15. Gretchen Says:

    Chris, when we were growing up, instead of handing out cash for allowances my mom kept a register with a running total for each of us. When we wanted to spend money we had to ask her for the cash, but we didn’t need permission, it was ours to spend as we liked. Somehow having to go to Mom (like going to an ATM LOL) helped to make us think twice about what we bought. It was also fun to see the numbers add up. I remember how excited I was when my total went over $9! (LOL that tells you how long ago THAT was rofl)

    Great ideas, can’t wait to hear more!

  16. halloweenlover Says:

    I love it! You’re totally brilliant! One question, though. Did you double check their math? Could they try to outsmart you and subtract less money? I’m just wondering, because I think I would probably have tried to do that when I was little.

  17. april Says:

    I need more info on the checkbook thing. Did you carry their cash and when they spent it they subtracted it from their total? Did they spend all their money? I need all the details….please!

  18. chris Says:

    Okay, to answer the questions:

    1)Yes I did recheck the math. I have me some smart ass kids .
    2) No, there is actually no cash exchange involved. I would pay for whatever it was they wanted with my own credit card, or cash if I had it on me. But I rarely have cash. I use a card for everything.

    3) They spent almost all of their money. I think we used the last bit up when got home to go to a movie or something like that.

  19. tonja Says:

    WoW! Thanks for the great info.
    We are planning a trip to DW this coming March.
    What great ideas! Especially about the fanny packs and mini fans.
    Now my kids and carry around their own crap. LOL
    I also like the idea of starting to earn money early on!

    This is why you have 7 kids and why it works for you!!

  20. Elizabeth Says:

    I am still in awe at the fact that you took seven kids to Disney World and didn’t lose your mind. You should write a book about your organizational skills!

    We did the same thing with our boys last summer when we went to Chicago. We came up with a list of chores and how much each was worth, and they had to do them to come up with money to spend on souvenirs at the museum gift shops. However much they earned, we put in the same amount. They each ended up with about $40 total, and it was so great not to have to argue over which souvenirs they could buy!

  21. Kristi from Small Things Says:

    Ohmygosh, Chris, I love this blog of yours! I think you just might be brilliant! I was a fan of The Big Yellow House and now frequent Nothes From the Trenches, and I can’t believe I didn’t find this blog until now! I have to tell all my friends about this one. (Lots of them live near Disney.;-)

  22. Briana Says:

    Great ideas. I love your blog and all the great wisdom you bestow on the rest of us. :) Your stories make me laugh and your insight is fabulous. I’m so glad I found your website/blog. I’m always excited to see new postings from you. Keep them coming!
    And glad your vacation was a success. The checkbook register was a marvelous idea. I’ll have to remember that when my son gets older (and any other kids we have had by then). Thanks!

  23. joannmski Says:

    You are brilliant! I love the tips. I am a piker with only four children, but I sometimes feel like they are double that. ;-)

  24. RunnerMom Says:

    I just came across your sight tonight on BlogHer and am very excited to have found it. I am a mother of 4, ages 5 and under, and am just beginning homeschooling along with going overseas this fall for 5 years. I am looking forward to reading more of your blog and learning from you. Thanks for sharing your life!

  25. Andrew McAllister Ph.D. Says:

    I agree with your approach. The gimmees are definitely learned behavior, as is the ability to resist wanting every shiny object the child sees. Setting limits teaches kids valuable life skills.

    To Love, Honor and Dismay

  26. InterstellarLass Says:

    That checkbook register is a great idea. I’m going to have to remember that one!

  27. Want Not » How not to go broke or kill the kids on a plane Says:

    [...] Let me start out by addressing the last bit first; I know nothing about travelling to Disney, but my excrutiatingly pretty friend Chris wrote an entire series on just this topic, and she has seven children and is my hero. Read her suggestions here, here, here and here. [...]