Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Rewards and Punishments

We are now on part five of this series: Rewards and Punishments.

This is a difficult thing for most heads of families to deal with. You need to give your spouse some control over you for a Rewards and Punishments system to work effectively.

First let's get some definitions for this particular system to work most effectively
  • Reward Something that you like, which you receive for doing a behavior that needs to be encouraged. (i.e. I just cleaned the house before my wife got home so I was rewarded with a backrub.)
  • Punishment Something that happens to you as a result of failing to do an action, or doing a wrong action, intended to discourage wrong behavior. (i.e. I left dirty socks on my wife's pillow, so I got to sleep on the couch.)

The key to getting rewards and punishments to work for your finances is to have preset rewards and punishments for each person in the family who handles family money. Whether that be just the parents, or the parents and a responsible child who can do the family grocery shopping, or other adults in non-traditional families.

So let's say that there are just 2 people who have some stewardship over the family money. Set up rewards and punishments for each person, here are some examples:

Michael (who loves watching football and hates doing the dishes)

  • Reward for spending less than $30 a week on lunch is: 2 hours of uninterrupted TV time.
  • Punishment for going over the $40 budgeted for lunch each week is: Dish duties every night for the next week.

Julie (who will buy any clothing if it says on sale, and doesn't like to wash the windows)

  • Reward for spending less than $40 on clothing for 3 months is: $200 shopping spree during a holiday sale.
  • Punishment for spending more than the $180 budgeted for clothing is: "earn back" the money spent at the price of $0.35 per window before she can go shopping again.

These should be tailored for each person, but also be adjustable so that any action that's an improvement will get some kind of reward. Also, generally the rewards that cost little to no money are better off than those that cost a lot of money.

What are some kinds of rewards that you might consider using, is there anything your spouse could use as a punishment which would help motivate you to avoid mistakes?

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