Spending Money for Kids?

I want to start by saying that I realize there are a lot of factors involved, and this can be a very personal decision based on said factors.

I’m curious if you give your kids spending money for the parks and how you determine how much it is. These are some things I’m considering: does the age of the kid affect how much they get? (ie teenagers get more than those under 10 or something) Do they have to earn their spending money beforehand with chores, or is it a gift? Do the number of travel days/ parks affect how much money they get? Is the money supposed to cover just toys/souvenirs or snacks/candy, too?

I have always done this, for my children, and now my adult children do same for their kiddos on our trips (actually I think I learned this back in the day, with the Unofficial Guide):

We set a firm $ amount, same for each child as long as similar in age. The amount is whatever you feel comfortable with. I’ve heard of people saying $100 per child, even those under 7. IMO a little much, but that’s a personal thing.

We sometimes give the Target gift card for a set amount, keeping track of how much is left for each child.

The advantage of this method is that the kiddos get to understand the $ amount of the things they see with their big eyes haha. I’m sure my fam is not unique with children who want every bright & shiny object they see at Disney!

When we went in 2016, I did not do that with my then 6 year old daughters. I felt like they didn’t understand and didn’t want try to teach them then. Since, I have started giving them allowance if they clean up at night. When we go back in 2019, I am planning on giving them a gift card and letting them choose what they want. I haven’t decided how much yet.

DD7 is an only child. My method would be significantly different if I had more children and/or if my finances were different.

At age 7, we talk extensively about what she is buying before we buy it. She is the kid who buy one of everything in the store if I let her. Yet, 5 min after we leave the store, she’ll forget about the thing she really thought she wanted but didn’t get. I typically stay very involved in the selection of the items we buy and try to steer her towards good purchasing decisions. I’m trying to teach her the difference between a want and a need.

I never spend more than $100 in souvenirs for her on any one trip. I give her a $20-30 budget for the Lego Store at DS. This will have to increase as she gets older because the sets get more expensive. Then, she gets ONE other item that I try to also limit to roughly $30. Once it ended up being $55 in the hotel gift shop, so a little over budget. Last trip, I spent less than $50.

These items are gifts and are not tied to chores. The # of travel days does not impact the budget. I don’t count things like the emergency hair ties I needed to buy at the Emporium last trip because between the 2 of us, there wasn’t a hair tie to be found!

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My family is really good about giving DS9 gift cards for holidays and birthdays so that is typically his spending money for the trip. It’s been as high as $150 (for a February trip, right after Christmas) or as low as $40 (the June trip). He has chores to do around the house, but we don’t tie them to money (I tried the Wiggy Piggy but we just couldn’t get consistent with it).

Inevitably, I will also find some shirt or stuffed animal that I think he just has to have (translation: It’s really cute and I want it but I’m too old) that I buy for him as well. I usually cover snacks/candy under my budget. The most common question is ‘am I spending my money?’ and when the answer is yes, he usually thinks a little harder about whether or not he really wants an item.


When we went on our cruise we told our two kids, then 6 & 9, that they could get 1 souvenir. We went to visit grandma before that and she gave them $20 each for a souvenir, lol.

This trip will be similar. We will probably get gc at Target, 1 each for them to get a souvenir. We are on the DP so food in the park is included. We only drink water. We will allow 1 specialty drink during our trip but I know there will be lots of desserts so no juice or specialty drinks needed on a daily basis. If we weren’t on the DP, I would give them a heads up of 1 snack a day. DDP allows for 2 snacks a day so I’m going to try to save up snack credits for breakfast. :slight_smile:

My DD is 7 and she has been saving allowance, birthday and holiday money in her “vacation” bank for a year (and she doesn’t know she’s going yet, this is just for an unknown trip in the future). We will cover snacks so her money will be for toys, etc. She has saved enough, but if she hadn’t I would make up the difference. She is starting to have some concept of the comparative cost/worth of items, so I will let her make her choices with some guidance. If I think something is overpriced, I explain to her in terms of “That item is worth 4 weeks of allowance, while the other thing you were just looking at is worth 2 weeks of allowance. Do you really want to pay that much?” or “Are you sure that is what you want when we still have this other store to go to?” There’s nothing like the things you can buy at Disney around here, so our budget will probably be a little more than it would be for a normal vacation.

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As stated, this will look different for every family, and even in the same family, for any given stage of life.

We have 5 kids, and when they were young, we didn’t really give them spending money directly. Instead, we would tell them something like, “You can pick out one souvenir for the trip” and “you can choose one special snack per day.”

So, then as the week progresses, we would take pictures of anything they might be interested in so that they can see it all at the end of the week and make a final purchase decision. If we had the money to, we might supplement their decision by buying something else for them we know they especially liked. But it just depends on how much money we had available ourselves!

When the kids were older (say, 8, 9, 10 or older), we started giving them instead a budget. And once they were responsible enough to carry the money themselves, we actually gave them the cash (or in one case, a Disney gift card) in the amount they could spend on BOTH souvenirs and special snacks. (In this way, if they wanted to forego the snack so that could buy a more expensive souvenir, that was their decision.)

Now, they were always welcome to use any additional money they had earned on their own to supplement the spending money we would give them.

The AMOUNT we give them varied widely from any given vacation because it was based on how much we actually saved. We usually save for about a year for a given trip. If the actual costs of the trip comes to $3000, and we managed to save $4000, that means that $1000 was available for that trip for souvenirs. Part of that we allocated to the kids and divided it up. Some trips, the amount “extra” would be like $200, so that means very little money was available for souvenirs unless they supplemented the money themselves.


Great thread! This is a huge discussion with DH every time we head to DW. I think this year we are going to give each (dd7 and dd9) a gift card with set amount. When it’s gone, it’s gone. We also try to have the conversation about is this something you really want? Is there something you saw you’d like more? This bit us once, tho, as dd9 (then 5) fell in love with a stuffie she wanted. After that, we could NOT find it anywhere. We even had CMs make calls for us. SIL found it when she went to DW a few months later.

The jokester in me wants to say that I give my kids a spending limit and that they can’t buy anything more expensive than this:


I’m not a parent, though I’ve been teaching (high school aged) kids for 26 years.

I like the idea of giving kids a fixed amount — first, because it helps you control the family budget, and second because it teaches them the value of money. You can’t have everything. (Actually, now that I’m a private tutor, it turns out that for a lot of my students they actually can have everything.)

I’m suspicious of souvenirs. I try hard to resist the temptation to buy them because, cute as they look in the store, where do they actually end up once you get home?


Under the couch.


I’ve tried to limit myself to “useful” souvenirs. So I bought a coupe of sideplates, for example. But I also bought a small Steiff teddy bear key ring because (a) it was cute and (b) I’m an idiot. I have no idea what to do with it now that I’m home.

Um. Put it under the couch.


He is not an “it”.

And that would be cruel.

He’s currently dangling from my noticeboard. I’m not sure how he feels about this.



These threads always remind me of Christmas and gift giving, in general.

I generally dislike buying my kid toys. As a baby and toddler, she played with toys and actually got enjoyment out of them. As a school aged kid, she has moved onto electronics. Last Christmas’ toy of the year was the Hatchimal. It’s an interactive toy about 6 inches tall, and cost roughly $75-100. She played with it for a few hours. Now she doesn’t even know where it is. I can tell you it isn’t under the couch, but it might as well be.

This is partly why I’m less worried about an actual “budget” and more concerned about “how much do you really like this item”. Some kids will find stuff to buy just because they have the money and feel the need to buy something.


As our kids have gotten older, they tend to buy things more useful. Most often, clothing items, as do we. I ended up buying myself, for example, a nice Universal Sweatshirt. Not a cheap, run of the mill sweatshirt that I likely wouldn’t wear out in public, but one that actually looks sharp. (Actually, the one I REALLY wanted they didn’t have my size in, but I found another I liked ALMOST as much.)

I’ve worn it a lot, and once the winter weather returns, I’ll wear it again.

My kids have generally done the same. Only when they are young have they gone for toys, although this year even my DS8 decided on the Universal T-shirt, which he wears a LOT.

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My kids get Disney gift cards for Christmas and birthdays from us and family. That is their spending money. My 9 year olds and 6 year old did well with it and they had to really think about what they wanted to purchase with their money.


My step son (9) just went on his first trip to WDW this month with us. We chose to allow for him to have $200 for the trip, which we put on a gift card. The rule we had was that he couldn’t buy anything until day 3 so he could get past the “This is SO COOL I NEED IT” phase since it was his first trip.
When my daughter and I go ourselves, it’s a little different- she’s 17. She has to contribute whatever she wants to her own spending money, and I tend to match it unless we are doing experiences that are costly- for example she and I had pedicures at Senses last summer and that was part of her ‘spending money’ from me. She tends to like it when we do it that way- she’ll save money and I pay for the ‘extras’- she won’t take home as much to just get shoved in a closet and we get to experience more.

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