30 April 2008

Game tokens help teach saving skills

Mike's hack may make that trip to Chuck E. Cheese slightly more bearable:

After my 4.5 year-old son's friend's Chuck E. Cheese birthday party, I went home with a pocket full of tokens. Later that week, when my son was helping me with laundry (one of his chores), he noticed when I took the pocketful of tokens out of my jeans and put them into our laundry room change jar. Out of the blue he asked me if he could have tokens in place of his chore money. BAM it hit me! This would be a great way to teach him to save for a goal.

Game tokens are a bit easier to understand than actual money because he knows what a token is worth to him. It's a lot more concrete then saying you need 80 quarters to get Lego set X. So I told him I would give him 1 quarter and 1 token and when he earned all the tokens we would go to Chuck E. Cheese to use them. This worked out really well and I think it has helped him learn about saving towards a goal as he started to get excited as we got towards the end of the tokens.

The other thing I think it has helped with is that he doesn’t shortchange himself just because he has money to spend. So rather than giving up on the $20.00 Lego set to get $10.00 set RIGHT NOW, he has learned that he has to reach the goal to get the prize. Surprisingly he has never asked to go Chuck E. Cheese early.

Keep in mind (up here in the Seattle area at least) there are Sunday newspaper coupons for Chuck E. Cheese where you can buy tokens at a discount.

If you're not into attaching the tokens to a particular establishment, you could create a home-brewed system with poker chips and a prize or outing.

Poker chips: raw material for creative play
Ticket system helps kids track their own TV and game time

Your comments

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We used marbles in a jar. One marble earned for every day of completing chores. One extra marble for doing additional chore ON TOP OF expected ones.

When the jar was full, a reward was given. The kids each were given their own jar so it encouraged a bit of rivalry.

We used marbles in a jar. One marble earned for every day of completing chores. One extra marble for doing additional chore ON TOP OF expected ones.

When the jar was full, a reward was given. The kids each were given their own jar so it encouraged a bit of rivalry.

I think you have a great site!

I am always looking for good parenting ideas to apply in my home.

Mark Salinas, MN

If you're a frequent Disney visitor, like we are, then you might want to think about giving Disney dollars instead of money for chores and good behavior. Disney dollars can be redeemed at the theme parks and your local Disney store.

When we go to Disney its understood that our son can spend HIS Disney dollars anyway he wants (with final parental approval of course) but once they are gone he gets nothing else. This include toys, extra snacks, etc. No whining about getting something once all the money is gone and if there is he gets a lecture about making his bed or helping take out the trash more often.

For Chuck E Cheese tokens you can sign up for their newsletter/specials and get coupons sent to you monthly. Good deals on tokens and food. For example $19.99 for four drinks and a large (or med, can't remember) and so many tokens.

That is similar to what we're doing at our house. We're saving money to go to the beach this summer. So I went to the craft store and got the clear "paint" cans and stickers. I let my oldest two decorate theirs and we made one for the baby and mommy and daddy. Every week I go to the bank to get $20 in quarters. When they do their chores or they do something really nice or good that they usually don't do they get quarters put in their buckets. They can also get them taken away. We keep the quarters in Mommy and Daddy's bucket until they are earned. Even the baby gets quarters in her bucket too.

This way we know that we are saving $20 a week towards our beach vacation and we're all working together.

Something else I just thought of while typing. Is when were out and they want something (they really don't need). Ask them if they really want the item or should we put the money in the bucket for going to the beach. For some reason my 4 year old daughter really wants to go to the beach.

We did something similar using gift cards. My children wanted DS Lites. They saved best buy gift cards and cash (holiday and birthday gifts) for months until they had enough to get a DS and 1 game.

Now, they know that if they want another game they can:
Wait for a major holiday and ask for it.
Save up.

I think it's really helped them understand the "value of a dollar" at a young age.

You can just visit the CEC website for coupons too: http://chuckecheese.com/coupons/everyday-coupons.php

They'll give you your Sunday paper coupons by zip code.

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