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Right now my nieces and nephews are too young to know any better, but I'm willing to bet that between the ages of 7 and 15, I am going to be their least favourite aunt. I refuse to buy them presents. Because, really, what kid actually needs more plastic toys or wants more underwear?

Instead, my husband and I opened bank accounts for each of them in the year they were born.  We discussed how much we thought we would spend on gifts in an average year and deposit that amount into their accounts every January.  They'll get access to their accounts when they're 18 and there is only one string attached:  the money must NOT be spent on something "practical" like school or a car.

My husband and I are the only ones who travel in our families, so we know that the chances of our nieces and nephews getting firsthand exposure to other cultures and landscapes are slim.  That's just not a priority for their parents and that's fine.  But we know how amazing international travel is and want to foster that curiosity and desire to see what's beyond their borders, and extend their education beyond the classroom walls.

We haven't stipulated that it *must* be used for travel, but the bank accounts are labeled "Adventure for [insert name]", so we're hoping that each of them will decide to use it to see some far-flung corner of the world that they've always wondered about, or seen on TV or in a magazine.  Hopefully, when they open their birthday card each year and look at the growing bank balance, it will kick-start their dreaming...

Do you encourage your extended family members to explore?
8/23/2011 11:05:25 pm

I love this idea for relatives. We have started an account for each of our children in the same vein. Our goal is to give them the acct at an appropriate time (sometime during college or right after) with the stipulation that it must be used for travel (or a semester abroad). We travel extensively and both my husband and I wish we had done the backpacker thing instead of heading straight for jobs.

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8/24/2011 10:54:32 am

I hear ya! My husband and I have been able to do a bit of backpacking here and there (the longest was 10 weeks), but I wish I had realized earlier how amazing this great big world is! :) Thanks for stopping by...

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8/27/2011 02:41:38 pm

This is a fantastic idea! What a cool aunt and uncle. Don't worry, they will definitely thank you someday.

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