The Magic of MegaBucks

When raising our eight children, we sometimes struggled with how to implement Principle-based Parenting, come up with a workable solution that created ownership, responsibility, and unity in the family.  One of our fun success stories came with the invention of MegaBucks.

We wanted to provide the best of opportunities for our kids, and at the same time, we recognized how challenging it could be financially to juggle the dance and piano lessons, the sports teams, the fancy latest fashions, school supplies, gifts for birthday parties, money for special treats, and on and on and on…We never ran out of places to spend money!  So…how did we involve the kids in a way that made the solution fun and save $$$ at the same time?

I was shopping in the Dollar Store one day and came across notepads of play $100 dollar bills, like the one above.  They were giant sized, and designed for fun note taking on the other side.  But I had an idea!  I bought a pad (investment: $1) and brought it home. Note: these are not currently at the Dollar Store, but I found them on for about $9.00, which is great for getting started: They are posted under this heading: The Gags Set of 100-Enlarged Oversized Replica Fake Play Money-One Hundred Dollar Bills in Black and White-Single Sided Play Money.

We had a family council where I presented the idea. The kids were excited and engaged; they took ownership of the idea and it became a very fun family project.  Here’s how it worked:

When anyone did a chore or a project, they were paid in MegaBucks.  I would sign the child’s name, date, and my signature on the back of the MegaBuck (this prevented pilfering sibilings’ hard-earned wampum).  I’d do all the signing at the top in small handwriting, and then cross it off and initial when it was “cashed” so it could be re-used with another entry below it.  Thus, each MegaBuck could be spent and earned multiple times.  The relative value of a MegaBuck was $1 in work (but keep in mind I didn’t pay much for chores).  You could certainly have a MegaBuck be worth $5 or more today.  Eventually we ran out of MegaBucks from that purchase, so I took the few that were left and photocopied them onto green paper and cut them out for future use.  Still worked great.

If I found amazing deals on clothes or fun toys or school supplies or gifts for friends, I purchased them and kept them in a special closet hidden away.  Periodically we would have “sales” on the items in my closet, and the kids could purchase them with their MegaBucks.  They could also purchase special lessons, or uniforms, or sports leagues–anything involving money–with MegaBucks.  If the amount was huge (and with teams and dance lessons that’s kind of the norm), you can decide together in the family council if the MegaBucks count for half and parents contribute half…all of those details can be worked out in a family meeting where everyone has a chance to make their voice heard and understood.  Even the tiniest of family members can learn and earn with MegaBucks.

Here are some of the benefits we gained in the process:  *Our children became more discerning and discriminating in the use of money.  *They evaluated if the cost of the item was worth the work they had done to get it.  *Accomplishing chores was pleasant and virtually effortless as a mom: I’d post the chores I needed done, and the number of MegaBucks each chore was worth.  The kids were quick to assess which jobs paid the most for the least amount of work, and they worked quickly and willingly (and competed for jobs, so the first one to take the job got the money–high motivation!).  *Conflict was never a problem!  No badgering, nagging, complaining, whining.  Nada zip. *If nobody took a posted job, I’d up the ante on how many MegaBucks it was worth, until someone decided it was worth it.  No hassle.

Occasionally we’d say, “when you have earned all the MegaBucks posted today, we’ll go get a treat (or go swimming, or a movie).  This motivated the kids to work quickly and to help each other if someone had a big project.

Recently we got together as a family and were reminiscing about when the kids were growing up.  They all remembered MegaBucks, and we remembered how fun it was.  Win!

Cristie Gardner

Honored to be mother to eight talented and amazing sons and daughters, Cristie Gardner, "The Queen of Connections," teaches folks and families how to connect with themselves and each other in ways that honor individuality and unique purposes. Cristie's can-do, and can-do-it-right-now attitude shows clear blueprints to identify, focus and... Read more