Supporting Teens to Realise their Financial Dreams

This blog was started not so long ago with the intention of merrily charting how my husband and I went about saving a sum of money to go on an adventure holiday with our three teen children. Easy! That’ll make an interesting read I thought. I can chart our travel research and our saving tips.

First things first, as we surveyed our finances, we realised that we are carrying quite a lot of debt, and so my attention quickly turned to how we should pay it off. I like a challenge, I’ve made a plan, and I am confident it will be done. No worries.

Now, as we know, life is what happens when you are making other plans, and whilst my head has been buried in budgets, travel research and side hussling, one of my lovely boys has been offered the opportunity of a trip of a lifetime to Tanzania, with an organisation called World Challenge. The project aims to build young people’s personal and social responsibility through a combination of physical challenges, and participating in charitable projects.

I am genuinely thrilled for him, and pleased that he has signed up for it so wholeheartedly. In order to go, he needs to raise nearly £3000 over the course of a year. The organisers are keen to emphasise that the young people need to raise this sum for themselves, and that it isn’t gifted by parents. (No chance of that! Ha ha!) It is a brilliant way of teaching them about resourcefulness, entrepreneurship, deferring gratification, and ultimately, financial literacy.

We have jointly worked up a list of ways he can make the £3k, which include services to friends and neighbours such as babysitting, gardening, and teaching the family elders to use computers (he is very patient). He is a great baker, and intends to join me at car boot sales selling cakes. Car washing, bag packing, and organising a party are all on his list. I have encouraged him to think of the £3k as 600 x £5. This makes it feel more manageable. He has made a chart with 600 little squares on his wall to plot his progress. He has researched the best bank account that will give him the best rate of interest.

In short, I have no doubts that he will achieve his goal.

Which is a bit of a bittersweet realisation for me, as I have to acknowledge that his travel dreams are not the same as mine. He is a young man about to enter the world in his own terms. The Tanzania trip will take place during the window that I had earmarked for our family adventure.

My wish was for us all to have one long family holiday together before my children grew up. It seems I am too late. They are grown up. And I could not be prouder.

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Budget Holidays with Teens…

Budget Holidays with Teens

We had to think long and hard about whether taking a fortnight’s holiday was allowable within our current financial constraints. Would taking a holiday just involve wasting money we don’t have?

On balance we decided that we should, because, life being life, we may never actually manage to take our intended sabbatical next year, regardless of whether we manage to save the money (more on this later).

Everyone needs a chance to kick back and relax. We haven’t managed a full two week family vacation for over 5 years. This has been mainly due to husband having set factory shut downs which have not corresponded with school holidays, or have clashed with children’s exams, race fixtures (my son is a runner) my work, or other unbreakable family commitments.

This year, the hubster has been able to take two weeks off, over the Easter holiday!!! We have no weddings to go to, no exams to be sat (although both lads have bought mountains of text books to revise for exams when they return) no important races to compete in, and no house renovations to be done. This may never happen again, and so the decision was taken, and we are now settled in a lovely little house on the Bodrum peninsular in Turkey.

Bliss.

Two sunny weeks with which to do… not very much.

We still need to be conscious of the pennies though, and I think we have managed to get here very reasonably indeed, with change from £1500 for flights and accommodation for five of us. Not bad eh?

Here are some of the ways I have managed to minimize my financial guilt trip!

1. Check the age the airline charges ‘adult’ prices from. We managed to get my 13 y/o a child’s priced airfare by shopping around.
2. Don’t think you have to fly there and back with the same airline. We saved quite a bit by flying with 2 airlines.
3. Some airlines accept Clubcard points or airmiles. We have taken £150 off the cost of the flights.
4. Watch the extras, and pack carefully. At £20 a bag, hold luggage is expensive, and £6 each for advance check in, these extras all add up. Don’t feel pressurised. We have managed to get everything in hand luggage and one hold bag, which admittedly contains mainly text books for revision. Without impending exams, we could probably have done without hold luggage altogether.
5. Cashback. We have managed to get Cashback on our airport parking and our holiday insurance from http://www.topcashback.co.uk/home
6. Like many large families with teens, hotel accommodation just doesn’t work for us. We need a house or apartment, and we have found that Airbnb offers great accommodation at very reasonable prices. Basically, the concept is that people put up their own properties for rent while they themselves are on holiday or not using it. The choice ranges from “pretty basic” to “OMG That’s a castle”. We are currently situated in a three bed house, a little away from the main holiday resort, but with the most amazing view over the bay, all for just under £600. Check out http://www.airbnb.com/ for some ideas.

I intend to check out houseswopping for future holidays, and am currently working up an Airbnb listing for my own house, to try and make a bit of extra money in the school holidays.

I’d love to hear how you have saved money on your family holidays…

Ta at speak later xxx

Financial Planning Begins…Oh Dear

I should state from the very outset, that I am fully aware that we are in so many ways very very fortunate.  I completely understand that what I am about to describe here, as a headache for me, would be a non-problem for many.  This is not a whinge. This is a statement of the facts of our lives.

Hubby has a good secure job. It’s well paid, and he has a good pension. We are all healthy. We live in a lovely house, in a lovely town, and have two cars. The downside?  I rarely see my husband, and my children rarely see their father.  Every day he engages in a commute that requires him to leave the house at 5am, stay overnight, and then return at 8pm the following day.  He is a family man.  I know this situation must be incredibly rough for him. This is why we are planning the big holiday. Not just two weeks, but a two month long sabbatical.  An adventure.  He needs a break, and we all need to be together to create some amazing family memories before our children spread their wings.

For many years, his salary was more than enough, and then gradually, since 2008, we have felt the squeeze a little more each year. So, for this holiday to take place, we not only have to reign in our current spending considerably – we also have to find enough to fill the overdraft hole, and then find ‘extra’ money, and save it somehow.  Now, I should add here, that I am already fairly hot on not wasting money. I already think we are fairly pared down to the bone. We no longer spend money on meals out (except on birthdays) and I compare every major bill to ensure we are getting the cheapest rate. I don’t get my nails done, or have my hair done (very often) and I rarely buy new clothes preferring charity shop bargains. I cannot remember the last time I bought any new make up, and whilst I hate to think of the bacterial build up – I am proud to say that I still have a lipstick compact that I bought in 1996. Oh – and I love a voucher!

Getting the husband to actually sit down and look at the finances has been very tricky. Firstly, we don’t see each other very often to talk, and when we do see each other, the last thing he wants to do is talk about money. Secondly, I think (but he doesn’t say) that my worrying about money is an affront to his ability to bring it in.  A challenge to his perceived role as provider for his family. In the end, I took a spreadsheet on a dog walk, and hassled him as we walked.

And the result of todays meeting/harrying?  Well, we have discovered that we have a very very long way to go, in order to save enough money to venture on an extended holiday.   But, every journey starts with a single step, and the step we took today was to stop closing our eyes to our financial situation and to vow to take positive action. And, we have identified some potential areas for savings.   When I find a gem of saving – I will pass it onto you!

Every little helps. Look after the pennies. Many a mickle macks a muckle – and all of that!

Ta ta – speak later.

xxx