Family Dollars

I found an image of play money that I adopted and printed as our official “family dollar.” Family Dollars are earned by helping out the family. I try to give them out when I notice someone doing something nice or helpful without being asked, or doing chores without reminders. The kids can also earn them by doing little jobs to help out like watering the plants, or washing the sliding doors. Hunter and Emma also earn one family dollar for every paper they bring home from school with 100%.

We keep our family dollars in a binder that has a clear pocket (page protector with their name written on it) for each person. We used to keep them in envelopes, but the envelopes were too easy to lose. I have a “bank” (a jelly jar) of family dollars that I pay them from and they can either turn their family dollars in for cash, or use them to buy things at “Mom’s Store.”

Mom’s Store is in our coat closet. I have a little store of craft projects, notepads, stickers, boxes, little toys; anything that catches my eye as something the kids might like to have. When my store has a good selection, the kids are motivated to do more helpful and nice things so they can save up for something. There is also a list of privileges they can buy in the family dollar binder. Things like: a “date” with Mom or Dad, A family trip to Legoland (this one is a biggie and would require them all to pool their dollars to get it), $15.00 to spend at Toys R Us, a pass to stay up an hour past bedtime…

I have really enjoyed doing the family dollar store with the kids. They are learning how to make buying decisions and have to think, “would I rather have a princess notepad now for $2 or save up and get a date with Dad for $15?”

They are also learning to delay gratification. Sometimes they will see something in the store that they just have to have. If it isn’t too spendy I’ll tell them, “I’ll put it in my store, and you can buy it with your family dollars.”

They have to problem solve. If they don’t have enough to buy something they need to think of something they can do to earn more family dollars. It’s cute to see Hannah run to get one of her dolls that she knows Brina likes to play with, and offer to share it. Of course she’ll give it to her and then turn immediately to me and say, “Can I get a family dollar for that?” I think it’s ok that they are getting immediate rewards for little things. There are other opportunities to teach the idea of service, or doing something good without expecting anything in return. For now, I’m just glad that the younger girls are sharing, and that the older two are thinking about what might make Mom, Dad or one of their siblings feel happier.

We have our ups and downs with the program. Sometimes I forget to give out any family dollars or there are tantrums when someone buys something another person also wanted. And sometimes it takes getting new inventory in my store to motivate the kids to earn dollars, but I think it’s a good start.


  1. Tami
    Jan 13, 2009

    We did our own variation of a family store once upon a time, but I’m really liking your version. I’ll have to think about implementing something like this–the kids love it, and it teaches them so much. Thanks for all of your great ideas–I used the pillow lesson in fhe last night, and one of my favorite Christmas gifts was a new kitchen timer!

  2. Melly
    Jan 14, 2009

    I think Korby did something kinda like that. Cute idea.

  3. Erica
    Jan 15, 2009

    I think this system would work better for Davis than what we are doing…love the ideas!!!

  4. korby
    Jan 15, 2009

    I have a Mommy store and Mommy dollars. Scott designed mommy dollars with my picture on them. I love the mommy store it is a great motivator.

  5. jenn
    Feb 8, 2009

    What a great idea, I love it! My kids are starting to get the age where we can do something like this!