I was sent a box of Mumbucks to review, and I have been looking at this box of goodies for days now, feeling like writing a review on it is like opening Pandoras box. Not because of the product itself, but because of what it symbolises and stands for. See, Mumbucks offer parents a way of rewarding children, allowing them to 'earn' Mumbucks, helping them learn about saving, and encouraging trade-offs of rewards for Mumbucks earned. This all sounds great, but with so many different parenting styles and theories around everything from rewards to pocket money, to chores and more, it is a potentially explosive topic to write about, I think!
As a perfect case in point, Mumbucks finds its beginnings in the idea of reward or 'punishment' in the form of loss of something. It build on the the naughty step and time-out ideas of smaller children, but at the same time goes a bit further to incorporate or replace pocket money. As a family who don't do the naughty step or time-outs, it kind of loses me in that area, but it is a versatile enough system that I think you could adapt it to any family situation.
Mumbucks come in a box with six different denominations of a note based currency. They are 1,2,5 10,20 and 50 'bucks', and there are a lot more 1,2 and 5's than 20's or 50's, so you can imagine those are for the really big jobs.
In the box there's also a getting started 'Reward Sheet' and this is one area I really, really like how they've done it. Rather than just a list of tasks and 'rewards' - instead there's a page for you and the family to sit down around a table and discuss. I suppose you don't have to do that, but I find children much more invested in a system they've had a say in, which I love about this idea.
The first thing to complete is 'Family Name'. It's a simple idea, but gives it a sense of belonging and ownership, which is a great start.
Next up it says, "In our house, we earn Mumbucks for..." which is again great for helping the children take some ownership over what they'll be doing to earn rewards. It helps too if they can say what they should earn for each job.
Next there's the option to save. You can determine the real life value of each Mumbuck - they suggest 25p for each buck earned (in a given time period, I suppose?) which could become your child's pocket money, or maybe extra 'treat' money. That will depend on your starting point of view about pocket money I suppose. If you don't want to swap for financial rewards, there is another option too: you can trade bucks for rewards - say 10 Mumbucks for 10 minutes on the XBox, or if you were my 2 year old, 50 Mumbucks for an hour on the Kindle. The girl's obsessed with it.
I do quite like this aspect of it for encouraging some habits and reducing others - like an hour's reading buys you an hour's electronics. While I'd rather my children had a natural love for books, sometimes it needs to be encouraged.
Another aspect of it needs not have anything at all to do with rewards, but could be a really great way to teach children about money, shopping, savings and the way real money works. I certainly like that aspect of it, and would personally use it to 'pay' for certain tasks that weren't regular chores, since for us chores are just a side effect of family life and fortunately we're still at an age where chores can be fun.
In reality Mumbucks are a really simple concept and don't give you anything you couldn't achieve with a printer and a couple of ink cartridges, but for under £15 you can have it all ready packaged, good looking and without effort or fuss, so from that perspective it's definitely a winner. Their appearance gives them a little 'credibility' and 'realness' that you wouldn't necessarily get from something home made.
Where are they from
You can buy Mumbucks on their own website, and they will cost you £14.99
- It's a lovely, simple concept and easily adaptable for the way you run your family and home.
- It comes all nicely packaged and contained.
- It comes with the Reward Sheet, which like I've said, I really like for giving children a sense of ownership over the system.
- The 'bucks' are good quality, not flimsy or cheap looking.
It could have done with a few spare wallets for children to keep their Mumbucks in, so they don't get lost, damaged or ruined by being hidden in sock drawers or scrunched up in pockets
I don't think this idea is going to appeal to everyone - and that's okay. For those who do like rewards systems, I think this will be great, and for those who want to embed an early and permanent understanding of finances, I think it's fabulous.