Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Strange Bucks

Many personal finance blogs I read say that kids should get an allowance even at a young age so they can learn how to manage money. Some suggest $0.25 per chore, others say $1 per week per year of age, and a few just write that the amount should be small, but meaningful. Even giving my three kids (the baby would just eat the money or hide it under the couch) $1 per week per year of age would have me handing over $60 per month.  That's real money!  That's DirecTV money!  And while my children's financial future is probably more important than Mythbusters, Dexter, and Designed to Sell, I knew there had to be a cheaper solution.

So, after many failed attempts at motivational tools (from sticker charts to "if you behave, maybe I won't yell at you") and a discussion with the kids, we've started printing our own money.  Each Strange Buck features a family member's picture; we have 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s, and 100s (because we have a big family and we couldn't leave anyone out).  Sure, Phoebe's cute face won't fool the cashier at Albertson's (the lady looked at me like I was a total idiot), but it will get Ian to put away his folded laundry and unload the dishwasher.  

Here are the basics:
Each chore is worth one Strange Buck (gotta keep it simple).  Strange Bucks are redeemable for rewards (trips to the library, 30 minutes of computer time, a dance party--it was Ian's suggestion, etc.).  Strange Bucks can be awarded randomly for good citizenship or revoked for violence against siblings.  Stealing others' bucks is bad news.  Lost bucks are just lost (too bad, so sad).  Kids may combine bucks for rewards or give each other bucks out of kindness.

We'll see how it goes.  We may have to refine our monetary policy or abandon it entirely and go back to trading in whiskey and puka shells.

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