My kids love two things more than anything: shopping, and playing video games! Sadly, mom and dad aren’t made of money, and the obsession with screen time was getting out of control. I needed a way to keep the kids in check and teach them something valuable along the way, so I set off looking for a solution. One day my friend sent me a link to a blog post she had recently discovered and from them on my life was never the same!
That being said, ALL credit to what I’m blogging about today goes to Erin over at Keeper of the Homestead. Her mom bucks system is something everyone should know about! It has truly changed our lives! Here is how we adapted her system to work in our home.
Mom Bucks is basically printable fake money (sort of like monopoly money) that you print out and use to pay your kids for doing chores, school work, etc. We began by printing out the normal dollar amounts ($1s, $5s, $10s, and $20s). I did this because I was trying to keep it as real as possible, to prep my kids for the real world. As they earn their money for chores and such, they save up to try to turn it in for REAL money. In our house as of right now $100 in mom bucks equals $10 in real money, and they can’t cash in their mom bucks until they’ve hit that $100 mark. We also do not allow them to buy mom bucks (for example, if they have $0 in mom bucks because they just cashed in, but they want to buy something, they have to earn more money. Once they’ve cashed in, that’s it!). This usually encourages the girls to save a little over $100 so they aren’t completely “broke” after cashing in.
The only way they can earn mom bucks, is by doing chores, schoolwork, and being helpful (helping their sister wash her dishes after a meal, or fetching something from the other room for mom and dad, for example). I used to just print new time cards everyday, but I realized that I was just too lazy to keep up with it every day, and I didn’t want to waste that much paper. Also, the original cards were just a little too small for us, so I typed up a brand new sheet with our own chores and dollar values. I made sure to leave spaces big enough to add in random chores here and there. Every time they do a chore, they put a tally mark next to the chore they did. Then at the end of the night, after their bedtime snacks but before bed, we “clock out” for the day. I check their cards and make sure they actually did what they said they did (I keep up throughout the day by checking their chores before they can mark their card) and then I pay them from my bank. They then keep all of their money, time card, and a dry erase marker in their “wallet”. We decided to use these pencil pouches instead of actual wallets because my kids lose wallets way too easy, and they couldn’t fit their time card in it. This way everything fits, and they keep their pencil pouch in their school binder so it never gets lost.
This part of the system has greatly taught them the value of real money! They realize how hard they have to work just to earn a simple $10 in real money. They also realize why mom and dad aren’t out buying the expensive toys! Their new favorite store to go shopping at is 5 Below – because they can make their money stretch a little there. Or, they save for the bigger item they want that mom and dad refuse to buy for them (because sometimes that stuff is just not worth the money – but hey – if they want to waste their own hard earned dollars on it, then, that’s fine! They’ll learn a lesson on wasting their money as well, right?). Of course, we always have the ultimate say in what they’re buying. If its inappropriate, it’s not allowed in our household!
Not only has this system helped us teach the girls how money works, and the value of a dollar, it’s also helped us with snacking healthier, limiting screen time, and discipline! Not only can the girls earn money by hard work, they can also lose their money if they get in trouble or spend it if they want to have some screen time. I currently charge them $3 for 1 hour of screen time for anything that’s not educational. Educational games or TV is free to encourage learning. But if they want to play the wii, watch cartoons, play games on the ipad or computer, etc, they have to pay for it. This is great because it makes them use their imagination more and play with their toys in their bedroom. If they want to spend all of their free time in front of a screen, its going to cost them! If they get in trouble, I make them pay me and the amount varies depending on how much trouble they are in. They also have to pay for their sweet treats! For example – Ice cream is $1 per scoop, and $1 per topping (up to 3 scoops at a time). Healthy snacks however are free! This has encouraged healthier eating as well!
We absolutely love this system. I’m sure as the girls get older they’ll learn how to buy things off of each other or barter with them. I think these are all very important lessons and the girls have a lot of fun with it. The best part, when they’re ready to go shopping with their own hard earned money! Today my oldest has $75 in mom bucks saved. In her journal entry for the day she wrote that she is going to do lots of chores so she can try to earn $100 by the end of the day. I definitely won’t complain about that! I’ll just sit back and enjoy my sparkling house, that I didn’t have to clean! ha!
Do you use mom bucks in your house or something similar? I’d love to hear about it! Share your experience in the comments below!