What I have happily coined “The Bunny Money System” came about from my desire to want to teach our children about the value of time and money. We weren’t really sure how to go about doing this, but after my daughter’s 2nd birthday party, an idea began to snowball.
I wanted my children to do chores and I wanted them to earn “money.” But at the time we didn’t have a lot of wiggle room in our budget (literally, every dime was going to pay off debt) and I had never gotten paid for doing chores growing up, so I was still wrestling with whether or not I liked the idea of paying my kids for doing something I thought they should be doing simply because they are a part of the family.
Then, my daughter’s birthday rolled around. She had a Max & Ruby themed party based on the wonderful book by Rosemary Wells called “Bunny Money.” It’s a super cute book about the two main characters going to buy a present for their grandmother but spending money on other things along the way. At the end of the book, there are two full color pages of Bunny Money that the author allows you to copy and with which your child can play. Well, for my daughter’s birthday, we set up a store and let all the children shop for gifts. Afterwards, I had lots of Bunny Money leftover. After playing with it for a bit, I realized that I could use this Bunny Money to actually teach her about the value of money. As she grew, I was able to work in the idea of spending our time wisely as well and what wasting time looked like too.
Everyday my 7, 5 and almost 4 year old children have an opportunity to earn Bunny Money. The minimum “Bunny Money” they can earn a day is about 12 Bunny Money and the limit depends on them. They have the opportunity to earn lots but they have the choice to earn more than I set out for them.
How my children earn Bunny Money
Each child receives the predetermined amount of Bunny Money by completing each item WITHOUT COMPLAINING. Yes, they have to do it with a kind heart or they don’t get the Bunny Money.
- Completing Morning Chores = 3 Bunny Money (Making the Bed, Getting Dressed, Eating, Taking Vitamins & Brushing their teeth)
- Bible Story & Devotional = 3 Bunny Money
- Reading a Book = 1 Bunny Money/book. They can really rack up Bunny Money this way…soon I will probably start giving 2 Bunny Money for Non-fiction and 1 for fiction for the older ones.
- Completing each Homeschool Subject for the Day = 1 Bunny Money/Subject
- Volunteering to do a Chore = 1 Bunny Money. I love this because it teaches my kids to be on the look out for ways they can help.
- Bedtime Chores = 3 Bunny Money (Toy Pick Up, Choosing Next Days Clothes, Bathing, Brushing Teeth, Praying)
- Character Building = 2 Bunny Money. This is great to use when encouraging new behaviors or wanting to re-emphasize a certain character trait. For example, if one of your children becomes impatient, then they can start earning Bunny Money every time they show patience.
Whatever you value and want them to value, you can associate a Bunny Money Value to.
Spending Bunny Money?
Bunny money can be spent a few ways:
- Misbehavior = 2 Bunny Money minimum. Back to the patience example. If they loose their patience & throw a fit, then they have to pay for it, by handing over some of their Bunny Money.
- Extra TV watching = 3 Bunny Money/30 minute show or 7 Bunny Money for a movie. I cut back on TV consumption several months ago. My children usually get 1 FREE show a day. However, if they don’t ask for it, I do not turn the TV on and we have gone as many as 4 days in a row without turning on the tube, which I am loving! Anyway, they have to pay for any time outside of the FREE show. Educational videos or anything that I use in the course of homeschooling is FREE to them.
- Extra Video Game Playing = 3 Bunny Money/30 minutes. Again, we use educational video games as a part of homeschooling, so those times are FREE. Anything above that costs them more Bunny Money.
- Treasure Box = 30 Bunny Money. Every Friday, the Treasure Box is opened and each child gets to decide if s/he would like to buy something out of the Treasure Box. The Treasure Box usually has notepads, colored pens, pencils, coloring books and sometimes a few very small toys.
- $1 = 30 Bunny Money. Every Friday, they kids have a chance to exchange their Bunny Money for Real Money.
- $4 = 100 Bunny Money. I’ve only had one child save enough Bunny Money to exchange it for this much real money. This is to encourage saving and gaining more than you would by trading in 30 Bunny Money at a time.
Bunny Money Checks
Once all 3 kids started saving their Bunny Money, I quickly ran out of the paper Bunny Money so I started exchanging Bunny Money Checks for their Bunny Money cash. Here is a template for the Bunny Money Checks, if you would like to use it.
What Lessons I Feel They Are Learning So Far
- Learning about consequences – good and bad. Good actions = an increase in Bunny Money income. Bad actions = a decrease in Bunny Money income.
- Learning that certain actions are valued higher than others. They begin to understand that doing certain things will earn them more Bunny Money so they may want to do more of that particular thing.
- Learning to be aware of what needs to be done. I have one child who empties every trash can every day without me asking and I LOVE IT!!!
- Learning about time and money wasters. For example, certain actions like watching TV or playing too many games can be a waste of time and money.
- Learning to budget. It seems to only take one time of not having enough money to get into the Treasure Chest at the end of the week for them to realize they shouldn’t have spent all their money on TV & Games, so the next time they begin to set aside and plan ahead for how they will use the money.
- Learning to be patient and save money. The more Bunny Money they save, the more real money they get over time. This concept falls in line with earning interest on our money. The basic concept is that if you save money you will earn a little extra. As they get older, we will start teaching about different types of accounts that can be used to earn more interest or help their money grow faster.
- Learning the value of what you get for your money. So truly, I put really inexpensive things in the treasure chest. In the Bunny Money system 30 Bunny Money = 1 US Dollar. To get into the Treasure Chest they have to pay 30 Bunny Money, but no prize in the container is worth 1 US Dollar. Sometimes they realize this and avoid those prizes and choose to exchange their Bunny Money for 1 US Dollar instead. I try to let them know if they could get a better deal elsewhere and to think about if they really want to exchange their money for that item or would they rather get a dollar, buy that item and still have some money left over. It helps them think about what they are actually getting for their money.
- Learning they can’t spend what they don’t have. The Bunny Money bank does not give out any loans, so again they are learning to plan ahead, save and budget. I never want my kids to get into credit card debt like we had.
- Learning how checks are written. Every time I write a Bunny Check, I explain what each part of the check is and what is written there.
- Learning to count in different languages. Of course, English is first but they are also learning to count in Spanish and German.
- Learning about people in history. On the back of each Bunny Money is the name of a historical figure like Jesse Owens, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc. Have a child pick a Bunny Money and then find a book at the library about that person.
- Learning math skills. Lots of times I will quiz them on how much more they will need to reach certain goals, so adding, subtracting & even a little bit of multiplication gets thrown into the mix.
- Learning about Exchange Rates. All throughout the world different countries have different forms of currency and in order to buy things in that country, you have to exchange your money for theirs. So they are learning the exchange rate from Bunny Money to US Dollars.
- Learning how to use the Envelope System. You Dave Ramsey fans know about this. I do this with my children. All the Bunny Money they exchange for US Dollars goes into their Piggy Banks. Then, when we count their Piggy Bank money, it gets divided up and put into 3 different envelopes: “1st we Give, then we Save, and any money left over, we Budget to Spend.” This is our little chant. Currently, we use over sized envelopes but I want to make these cute little Give, Save, Spend wallets for each one of them.
The possibilities with “The Bunny Money System” are endless. You can tweak it and use it however best suits your family. I tweak it all the time. And the learning possibilities are truly endless too…I’m already thinking about ways I can use it to introduce the stock market to them on a children’s level.
I hope you and your kids have as much fun with this as we do! It has really encouraged them to become more independent and more aware of their choices.
What ideas pop into your head about how you can use this system?