Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Family Fun Bucks

For the past few months we have been using a reward system for the kids that we call "Family Fun Bucks".  In a nutshell, the kids earn Fun Bucks and spend them on various specified items.

I decided to blog this because several people have asked about it, as apparently my kids love it so much it's become quite a popular topic of conversation with their friends.  I love it as well, as it's simplified things for me as well in many ways.

For instance, when Peter wants to play video games, (all the time) now, I just ask him if he has the required Fun Bucks.  If he has them, he can play, but usually he'd rather save his bucks to have a friend over.  Video game time has dropped dramatically with virtually no whining.

Another nice perk is that it's easy to maintain.  As busy as I am, the last thing I want is a labor intensive (or attention intensive) system. 


To start, you'll need to print out several sheets of Bucks on card stock.  If you can, I'd recommend paying the extra bit to have them laminated.  Remember, the kids will be handling them often!  (Link here for the printable via Google Docs.)

Plan to have at least 40 Bucks per child and write their name on the Bucks (if you do this on the first copy and make copies from that, you won't have to write their name 40 times).  Invariably someone will drop their Bucks or someone will accidentally put their bucks in someone else's slot (I have done this myself accidentally), and having each child's name prevents panic, tears, and general hysteria on the part of child and mother.

Then, you'll need a 3x5 index card box with dividers for each child.  You probably won't be able to fit more than three kids' Fun Bucks per box.

Keep unearned Fun Bucks in the box in the back but also wrapped in a rubber band.   Trust me, eventually the box will spill and all the Bucks will be scattered all over the floor.  If unearned bucks are wrapped up and only earned bucks are loose it will be easy to get everything put back in it's place.

Print out a chart of what they can use their Bucks for and laminate that as well and keep it in a place for easy viewing, like the fridge.  If you'd like to use my chart, you can click here for the printable.
Of course, you can modify this to suit your family's needs.  For us, I have worked out the amounts so that generally if they work hard they earn enough for one friend's visit and about three hours of TV a week.  Not listed on my chart is that they earn one Buck for each homeschool subject they finish (provided they do it with a good attitude).  

The Toy Chest has a question mark because I have a box I keep stocked with fun, cheap items (such as bubbles) and the amount of Bucks needed depends on the value of the toy.

Here are some tips I'd recommend if you decide to implement this: 
* Make it clear that for the first month the amount to be paid for items are up to Momma's (or Daddy's) discretion and can change.  For instance, you might find that you want to charge more or less for ice cream cones, and letting them know ahead of time prevents "But you saiiiiiid . . " arguments.  After a month you should have a pretty good idea of how to space things and charge fair amounts.
* Don't allow the kids to count up their Bucks until the evening unless they're using them to spend on something.  Otherwise they'll have them out constantly, which creates problems of keeping the Bucks put away, etc.
* Let the kids "pay themselves" for their chores as they finish each chore or school subject (so you don't have to waste valuable brain energy on remembering if you've paid them or not), but wait until the evening to pay them their fun bucks for having a clean room.  Also, make it clear that they must first ask permission before paying themselves so you can keep tabs on them.  (Otherwise smarty pants kids will start pulling arguments like, "I breathed correctly so I get a Fun Buck".)


Finally, I want to give a shout-out to my friend Renee.  She did a blog post about using a ticket reward system for her classroom, and that gave me the idea to use something similar for our family.  Thanks Renee for the inspiration!