I can’t imagine a time in my life where “I can’t wait to save money for 6 months so I can spend it all on a three day get-a-way!” would be an exciting statement to make. Just thinking about that makes my stomach turn. But it seems this is the reality we face in today’s economy; counting dollars and cents, hoping we can squeeze in a little bit of fun without experiencing financial ruin. Is there a better way to get away without drastically cutting budgets or giving up things that are considered necessities on a daily basis? I would say there is.
Being a family with 5 kids, my wife and I are ALWAYS looking for ways to beat the economic rat race. It’s been years since we have taken a ”typical” vacation. If I am being honest though, our kids don’t know the difference. It’s not that they wouldn’t absolutely LOVE a trip to a major theme park, or a week long beach excursion. Tangibly speaking, it’s merely unfeasible for our not so little family. Even so, I want to be intentional when instilling intelligent use of resources in the eyes of my children. I want them to understand that managing money doesn't have to be about doing without now so we can spend a bunch of money later; that true wealth can be found in the simplicity of things that cost (almost) nothing.
Something my children meet with eagerness is being woken up early on a Saturday morning to a surprise mini road trip. We typically like to keep these trips under 2 hours one way. Last weekend, we decided to drive to a town we have passed many times, but have yet to explore. During our visit, we discovered a city park sitting on 140 beautiful acres. We drove through the entire place letting the kids scout out their favorite play area. They quickly made friends with the other children around them, and they played to their hearts’ content. After a couple hours of wearing themselves out, we treated them to some frozen slushes. Belly laughs and delight filled the van on the way home. It didn’t cost much, the entire adventure under $50, but they loved it and they always anticipate the opportunity to do it again.
One thing I never want to do is take these trips for granted. They never cease to refocus my priorities. There’s no stress in finding an extra dime to spend. There are no real time restraints or anxiety driven schedules. It’s fun. I get to enjoy the relationships I’m developing with the people who matter most to me. I don’t want the burden of having to impress my kids with impermanent material goods. I refuse to let society put a ticket price on happiness. Whether in want or in need, I want my kids to understand that joy comes from what’s inside our hearts; To know the love of each other’s company. There’s no money in the world that can manufacture that feeling. For that reason alone, it’s enough!