My first few years of teaching, I was guilty of spending too much money on my classroom. Most of it stemmed from having a real adult salary for the first time with minimal expenses, but I also wanted my students to feel loved and cared for. I was at a title 1 school so my students didn't come in with everything they needed. I had a bit of a savior complex and that hurt, financially. I spent more than I should have on more than one occasion.
I visited the dollar store and target dollar section to stock up my prize bin. I spent a lot on crayons, pencils, and various other trinkets. I bought flavored lip glosses and stretchy bracelets. Of course I wish my students were intrinsically motivated to make good choices, but let's be realistic. They're ten. They thrive on positive reinforcement and small goodies. I picked up some freebies from various places. My students look forward to the prize bin, but many of the "good" prizes are snatched up quickly. Some of the original things I bought are still sitting in the treasure box.
So I changed up my strategy. I didn't want to keep restocking the prize bin, especially when I was still funding some of their classroom supplies and paying for other classroom rewards.
So I switched to coupons. Yes, coupons. Some of them are for individual rewards and some of them are for class experiences. I'm still in the process of updating them to post on TpT, but some of the coupons are:
-extra iPad time
-extra computer time
-extra recess time
-sit with a friend for the day
-sit in the teacher's rolling chair for the day
My students love these coupons. My favorite part? The rewards are free!