The $100 Vacation Plan

20 Apr 2015

So, vacation has come to an end and we are back in reality again.  The trek to and from Navarre, Florida with our crew of 8 plus 2 grandparents was quite adventure filled with great memories and lots of much needed sunshine.

In a recent article, The Anxiety Free Vacation, I shared our plan for staying within our budget.

The $100 Plan was simple:

-Each child will receive $100 when we pull out of the driveway

-Each child is responsible for budgeting their $100 for the week

-Mom will grocery shop for all meals plus extras to be cooked/eaten in the condo

-Beginning the minute we pull out of the driveway, they are responsible for all meals out, souvenirs, sodas, junk food, snacks for the road etc.

-We will eat at nicer restaurants 3 times during the week

 When our girls began trying to manipulate the plan, we added the following stipulations:

#1 They may not take any of their own money

#2 Any money not spent by the end of the week is to be given back to the parentals

#3 If they run out of money, they are out of luck.  That means they will be eating in the condo for the remainder of the week and/or packing sandwiches for the drive home.

I am pleased to tell you the vacation and THE $100 PLAN was a HUGE success.

As soon as we pulled out of the driveway and handed $100 to each of our kids, their eyes lit up.  The game was on.  I have to admit, micromanaging their purchases and keeping my control freak trap closed was tough.  When one of the girls ordered a $6 meal at McD’s on the first day, my heart palps kicked in as I envisioned her broke by day 3.  The kids hit the gas station and to my great surprise, they made very wise purchases.

I saw a transformation begin to take place before my eyes with all of my girls.  They avoided the high priced junk and normal, thoughtless indulgences and looked for bargains.

I took my five girls to Waffle House for dinner the first night while the hubs opted for the BBQ joint with the grandparents and our son.  I listened to the conversations amongst my teens and they carefully planned out how much they wanted to spend and detailed what they were saving their money for later in the week.  The server overheard their conversation about whether they should get water to save money and she directed them toward the $5 menu which included a soft drink.  They all got so excited.  Then our 7-year-old daughter announced for all to hear that she wasn’t spending $5 on anything because that was way too much.  She opted for a waffle and water and made sure to tell the waitress that their soda was too much money for her to spend.  Day 1 was a success.

The week continued on very much like that first night at that Alabama Waffle House.  The wisdom they displayed really blew my mind.  Of course, Ramen and soda was a staple for them that week after they raided the Dollar Tree.  They had lunch together at the pier next to our resort, but it amazed me how frugal they became when they were empowered to act like adults.

When we went out to dinner, the kids each got their own bills.  They chose to share meals and appetizers and still had a marvelous time.

The only cheating that took place was by Mamaw and Papaw.  It was hard for them to accept “The $100 Plan” and not spoil the kids.  I have to admit, they did pretty well too, but when the girls would choose not to eat at a restaurant, they felt guilty and offered to pay.  The girls had plenty of money to pay for their own meals; they just chose to save for what they really wanted to do later in the week.  I urged Mam and Pap to let the girls make their own choices because this was a great learning experience for them.  In the end, I think they saw the value as well.

We did offer to pay for ½ of a special event for each child that week.  I took 3 of the teens to Panama City for a Dolphin and Snorkeling Cruise.  The $22 Groupon was too great to pass up.  Three girls chose to go, knowing they would have to pay for half. One chose to stay at the condo with Pop because she wasn’t really into it and wanted to save her money.  It was WELL WORTH the money as the girls and I had a blast.  Then we took our youngest daughter to the Gulf Breeze Zoo and she had to pay for half of her admission ticket.  Again, well worth the expense as we had a ball and made great memories.

By the end of the week, Our 7 year old had $40 left, so she opted to buy a and the teen girls had between $.08 and $3 remaining and because they did such a great job, we let them keep the remaining money 😉

As far as Mom and Dad were concerned, we ate at restaurants quite a few times and felt no stress or anxiety about over spending.

The girls made numerous comments throughout the week such as:

“I never realized how much money you and Pop spend when we go out to dinner.”

“If all of us ordered a soda at this restaurant, it would be over $20.”

“Budgeting for myself really makes me think about everything I buy and I have to plan ahead.”

“This really made me think about how much money I spend on stuff I don’t even care about.”

“It was awesome getting to buy whatever we wanted.”

The girls LOVED being able to budget their money for the week and are eager to go on our next trip so they can do this all again.  When we asked if they wanted to budget their own money for every trip, there was a resounding, “YES!”

Happy Kids.  Happy Parents.  A fabulous and stress-free vacation.


Thank a Foster Parent HERE

Thank a DCS Professional HERE



Read More:
















Jill Rippy

Being a foster mom is one of the biggest blessings of my life. Bio mom of two and foster mom to many, I count myself lucky to be on this foster journey. My mission is to change the lives of children who enter the foster care system and to recruit quality foster parents to join in this life changing work. I consider it a blessing to be a mother, foster mother, teacher, author and inspirer.


  1. What a fantastic idea and experience for the kids!

  2. I’m so glad it worked for you! We haven’t tried this on vacation yet, but it’s amazing to watch my 5-year-old with his saving, budgeting, and spending of allowance and birthday money. He will ask to browse the Toys R Us website, he’ll go to the store with some ideas, he’ll compare every Transformer from both aisles (on opposite sides of the store), figure out which ones he likes best and how many he could get if he chose big versus small… The thought process that goes into it all is mind-boggling and such a good life lessons.

    How did the waitress respond to your daughter’s comment about the soda prices?

    • Jill Rippy Says: April 20, 2015 at 8:03 pm

      Jodi, she laughed out loud along with the few other people in the restaurant. I explained and she thought this was great idea.

  3. Hi Jill,
    My hubs and I are foster parents in Southern Indiana, well, mid/southern Indiana. We are only 5 months into being licensed, but what a crazy 5 months it has been. Whew!! However, also very rewarding. We are wanting to take a vacation this fall and I am big on being frugal at every corner as I am a stay at home mom and living off one income is not easy. This $100 vacation plan is amazing and one I will definitely be trying. I love the fact that the kiddos also learned responsibility and the fact that money goes very quickly if you don’t budget and watch what your doing. One question I did have was; did you have much problem getting approval to take your foster kiddos on vacation, ie interrupting visitation and such. Every time we mention it we are directed to “maybe sending them to respite” instead. For me, I feel that everyone deserves a vacation and to experience new things, plus I would feel terrible sending them off to ANOTHER strange place after they are comfy here. Thanks for any suggestions/advice.

    • Jill Rippy Says: April 25, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks for your question Phyllis,
      You should have no problem getting travel approval. If you make the request, the case worker will get permission from the bio-parents and as long as they agree, you should have no issues. If the bio-parents say no, then ask your case worker to request approval from the judge. My experience is that the judge will override the parents and allow the child to travel. Children are to be treated just like your other children and that includes family vacations. Please keep me posted on how this works out! Take those babies on vacation!

      Wishing you an easy road,

  4. Stephanie Says: July 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Our family has done this with the kids the last 3 vacations and it’s always turned out surprisingly well. Glad you had fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *