Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mommy Dollar Update

Being far too cheap to pay my kids with real money, about a year and half ago I set up a system of "Mommy Dollars".  To my surprise, this system is still going strong at the home.  Here's J-son flashing his cash:
Our dog plays the role of George Dogington.
Older sisters get their faces on other bills.
And here he is, demonstrating how he maintains his account register at "BoMama" (Bank of Mama).

Tallying deposits and withdrawals in the BoMama.
I think the two secrets to the longevity of this program are (1) a detail-obsessed mom who doesn't mind keeping the system going and (2) a fee for bedtime snacks (this bribe keeps the boys coming back for more).  Hence, bedtime is financial up-date time for us.

J-son's Lava Lamp, left on at night.
Over the holidays, the boys each got decorative lights -- a Sponge Bob lamp for N-son, and a Lava lamp for the stylin' J-son.  (Total cost, $6 at yard sales).  They love the lamps so much they want to leave them on all night.  Their miserly mom, who bought the lamps for a song and a few bucks, hates the idea of leaving lights on.  How do we deal with this conflict of desires?

We deal with Mommy Dollars.  A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that running a 40-watt lava lamp all night costs about 4-8 cents, or about 4-8 Mommy Dollars.  If the boys leave their lamps on, I don't yell.  If I grit my teeth, at least I don't show it.  I just charge the boys their fee -- the decision is theirs.  Often, they opt to pay up.

Here's N-son.  On a recent snowy Saturday morning, he decided to pay not only the lamp fee, but also another $40 to watch a movie on TV with K-daughter.  Since he wasn't carrying that much cash on him, he visited the BoMama to withdraw funds.
Paying for Sponge Bob (the lamp and the TV time).
The boys are fairly wealthy for their age; they've both got between $300 and $400 in their BoMama accounts, which they saved up slowly over the course of a year.  Of course if you do the conversion rate in your head, remembering that $100 in Mommy Dollars gets $1 in US currency, the number isn't quite so impressive.

But Bill Gates would say the same thing about my own savings accounts, I'm sure.  

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