Word of the Month: Debit Card

Teacher and student

Brandon was super-excited. His mom was taking him to Chuck E. Cheese’s today!

“Am I going to get a lot of tokens?” he asked his mom as they drove together. “I need a whole bunch so I can get a ton of tickets and win the best prize!”

Mom just smiled. “You’ll have enough,” she said.

They pulled up in front of Chuck E. Cheese’s and made their way inside. While Brandon’s mom got busy in front of the token machine, Brandon checked out a few of the games and tried to find the best ones to start with.

“Brandon,” mom called. She had finished paying and was holding out a card.

Brandon took it from her, puzzled. “What’s this?” he asked. “Don’t I need tokens to play?”

“Nope—you use this card,” mom explained. “You just scan it in front of the game you want, and it lets you play.”

Mom showed Brandon how to use the card, and he was soon off trying to win the most tickets he possibly could.

Brandon had a great time playing arcade games—until his card stopped working.

“Hey, mom!” he called, running towards where she sat, working on her laptop. “My card’s broken! I need a new one!”

Brandon’s mom quickly snapped her laptop closed. “There’s nothing wrong with your card, Brandon,” she said.

“So why isn’t it working?” he asked.

“Because you used up all the money I put on it!”

“What do you mean?” Brandon was confused.

Mom stood up and motioned for Brandon to follow her. She walked toward the machine she’d used earlier and started punching in numbers.

“I need to put money into the card in order for it to work,” she said. “It’s like a debit card.”

“A what?”

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out a plastic card. “This is a debit card,” she said. “I have a checking account at the credit union. I put money into that account, and when I use this card, money comes out of my account. Do you understand?”

Brandon nodded slowly.

“And that’s sort of how this machine works, too,” mom continued. “In order for you to use the card, I need to put money onto it.”

“And when I finish that money,” Brandon said, “I can’t use the card anymore, right?”

Mom smiled. “Exactly. Then we need to put more money into the ‘account.’”

Mom stuck her debit card into the card machine and punched a few numbers again. Then she took Brandon’s playing card and put it into the machine, too. A minute later, the machine beeped and both cards came sliding out.

“Here you go, Brandon,” mom said. “Your debit card is ready to use!”

Talking Points:

  • How is the card at Chuck E. Cheese’s like a regular debit card? How is it different?
  • Why do people use cards instead of cash (or tokens)?
  • Do you think people spend more or less money when they use a debit card instead of cash? Explain your answer.

2019 Mutual CU Scholarship Recipients Announced

Press Release

May 14, 2019

 

2019 Mutual Credit Union Scholarship Recipients Announced

(Vicksburg, MS): The Mutual Credit Union Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce the following High School Seniors as selected recipients in the 2019 Mutual Credit Union Scholarship Program.

Alyshia Moore – Vicksburg High School – $3,000

Alexis Lomax – Central Hinds Academy – $2,000

Jonathan Shelton – Mississippi School for Math & Science – $1,500

Emily Vandennieuwboer – Warren Central High School – $1,500

Abigail Wallace – Warren Central High School – $1,000

Reann Ponder – Warren Central High School – $1,000

2019 Mutual CU Scholarship winners collage

Each year, Mutual Credit Union offers graduating high school seniors the opportunity earn one of six scholarships to pursue higher education. Mutual has a firmly held belief that the education of our community’s youth is a solid investment in our community’s future. This year we were proud to award a total of $10,000 in scholarships to six selected recipients. We congratulate all 2019 graduating high school seniors and offer encouragement to you in all your future endeavors.

For information on the Mutual Credit Union Scholarship program, please follow this link to our web page. For questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or call (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

###

2019 Mutual Credit Union Scholarship Press Release

WORD OF THE MONTH: BUDGET

Teacher working with student

David’s friend, Mikey, had the most awesome basement ever. It had a ping-pong table, a foosball table and an air hockey table. That’s why David loved going over to Mikey’s house to play.

But David wanted an air-hockey table of his own.

“Can we get one, Mom? Please?” he asked his mom one day after coming home from Mikey’s.

Mom shook her head. “Not now, David. Air  hockey tables are fun, but they’re also expensive.”

“So what?” David cried. “Why can’t we buy something expensive, just this once?”

Mom pushed back her chair and stood up. She walked over to a kitchen drawer and pulled it open. She took a bunch of papers and checks out of the drawer and motioned for David to come join her at the table.

“Let me show you something,” she said. Mom started dividing the papers into two separate piles.

“These are our bills,” she said, patting the larger pile. “And these are our paychecks.”

Mom took out a piece paper and drew a line down the middle.

“Look, David,” she said. “On this side, I’m going to write all of our expenses and on the other side I’m going to write our income.”

“You mean like how much money you and Dad get paid?”

“That’s right,” said Mom. “I’m not going to tell you the actual numbers, just an estimate so you get an idea.”

“Why won’t you tell me the real numbers?” David was curious.

Mom smiled. “Because there are some things you don’t need to know about just yet. You’ll have to do all this when you’re older, but for now, you can learn about it without knowing the actual amounts.”

Mom started listing items:

  • Mortgage payment
  • Credit card bills
  • Phone and internet bill
  • Electric bill
  • Gas bill
  • Insurance payments
  • Car payments
  • Cable
  • Gym membership
  • Groceries

There were so many expenses! Next to each item, she put a small number.

Then she wrote a few larger numbers on the other column.

“You see this, David?” she said, holding up the paper. “This is called a budget.”

She pointed at the longer column. “This is the amount of money we need to spend on certain expenses each month.”

Then, she pointed at the shorter column. “And this is the money we have to work with each month.”

“But how do you figure out how much money you need for everything?” David asked.

“That’s where the budget comes in,” mom explained. “I set aside the amount we need for our fixed expenses—that’s stuff that costs the same amount each month—and then I set a little bit aside for the expenses that cost a different amount each month.”

“But how do you know how much to set aside if it always changes?”

“I take an average of a few months and use that number.” Mom pointed to Groceries: $350.

“But you see,” she continued, “I only have a little bit for extra expenses we don’t have all the time, like new shoes or winter coats, or household repairs.”

“And air hockey tables,” David added.

“And air hockey tables,” mom grinned. “That’s not on our budget.”

David was thinking. “But what would happen if we bought one anyway?” he asked.

“That would really mess us up this month,” Mom said. “It’s not planned, and we don’t have enough money in our budget to cover it. We might not be able to pay the electric bill this month, or make a payment on the car if we spent that money on the air hockey table. Do you understand?”

David nodded. “Does that mean there’s no way I can get an air hockey table?”

Mom laughed. “You can—just not right now! We can save up for one together. How about we build a save-up-for-air-hockey-table plan into our budget together? We can think of ways to cut back on our budget and use that extra money to put into an air hockey fund.”

“Sounds good!” David smiled.

He bent over mom’s paper and after 15 minutes of discussion and writing, they had a plan in place. It would take a few months for it to happen, but they had a plan to make it work.

David was happy that mom had taken the time to explain how budgets work. He knew he would have his air hockey table soon. After all, it was part of the budget!

Talking points:

  • Why is it so important to stick to a budget?
  • What would happen if David’s mom bought the air hockey table without a plan?
  • How long do you think it will take David and his mom to save up for an air hockey table?

Word of the Month: Savings Account

father and daughter counting change

Kyle’s friend Ashley was always buying new things with her own money.  Today, she’d come to school with a brand-new glittery case for her laptop.

“How’d you pay for that?” Kyle wondered out loud. “You must get a really big allowance each week!”

“Not really,” Ashley said. “My parents give me just $6 each Sunday.

“Six bucks? That’s all?” Kyle’s parents gave him $8 each week. “But that costs a ton of money! How did you pay for it?”

Ashley smiled. “I saved up for it. I put away a little bit of my allowance each week in a special place. I also saved up my birthday cash and the money I earned helping my aunt out during the summer. It all adds up!”

Kyle was interested. His allowance never lasted more than a few days but he really wanted to buy a new Wii game. His mom had told him he’d have to pay for it himself.

The next Sunday, when Kyle’s mom gave him his allowance, he carefully put all eight dollars in his sock drawer. He’d have that Wii game in no time!

On Monday afternoon, Kyle’s friends decided to make a Slurpee stop on the way home. Kyle followed the group into the 7-11 store and started reaching for an extra-large cup when he stopped. His spending money was at home in his sock drawer. He wasn’t wasting his allowance on Slurpees!

He hung back and watched his friends fill up their cups with icy treats. He was surprised to see Ashley joining the line at the register with her own small Slurpee. Didn’t she know there were more important things to spend money on than a slushy drink?

***
That afternoon, he went with his mother on a trip to Mutual Credit Union.

“What’s that?” he asked his mom as she slid a small pile of checks across the counter to the Teller.

“This is some extra money I earned this month from a side job,” Mom answered. “I’m going to put them into our Savings Account.”

She held up another check. “And this,” she said. “Is going to go into our Checking Account.”

“But why don’t you put all of the money into savings?” Kyle wondered.

“Because we need money to live on now,” Kyle’s mom explained. “Savings Accounts are for money we will probably need sometime in the future, but we need to keep some money for today.”

Kyle nodded. That made sense.

On Saturday, Kyle and his friends met up at the pizza store for lunch.

After they finished eating, Kyle’s friends started digging out quarters and dollar bills and heading towards the arcade games at the back of the store.

Kyle stayed in his seat, watching them. His mom had given him enough money for pizza, a can of soda, and fries, but none for extras like arcade games.

“Hey, Kyle!” Ashley called from behind him. She jangled a small pile of quarters in her palm. “Want to race me in the car game?”

Kyle looked at her. “I don’t have any money on me.  I’m saving it all up for something really big.”

Ashley shrugged. “So am I. But that doesn’t mean I can’t keep anything for now. If you put all your money into savings, it can get really hard and you might give up quickly.”

“So how do you do it?” Kyle asked.

“I put 2 or 3 dollars into my savings jar each week, and the rest I spend on stuff like Slurpees and ice cream.”

“That sounds easy,” Kyle said.

“It is!” Ashley grinned. “Come on, I’ll lend you some money. Are you going to race me or not?”

“Nope,” Kyle smiled. “I’m not going to race you. I’m going to win!”

Talking Points:

Why do you think Ashley bought a small Slurpee?
• Why is it important not to put all of your money into savings?
• Why does Kyle’s mom put most of her earnings into her Checking Account?

9 Ways For Kids To Make Money

Lemonade stand

The best way to teach a child financial responsibility is by encouraging her to earn and manage her own money. As the weather warms and summer nears, there are many ways for your kids to pull in extra cash. 

In honor of Youth Savings Month, let’s take a look at 9 easy ways your kids can earn money.  

1. A lemonade stand 

It may be old-fashioned, but kids can bring in good money by selling America’s favorite hot-weather drink. For optimal exposure, let them set up near a local yard sale or another neighborhood event. 

2. Help a senior 

Your pre-teen can be a huge help to a local senior while earning money on the side. Let your child run some errands, take out the trash, clean the litter box or just chat with a lonely senior. 

3. Hold a yard sale 

Spring-cleaning season is the perfect time to host a yard sale. Let your kids be in charge by having them choose the items to feature, set prices and run it. You’ll want to be available to oversee things, but let them make most decisions on their own. 

4. Do yard work 

If your children are old enough to handle a gas-powered mower and can be relied upon to trim shrubs and weed gardens, let them offer yard work as a service. 

5. Help with pets 

Let your kids walk dogs around the neighborhood and offer to pet-sit. If your child is truly a budding entrepreneur and has the skills, they can set up a pet-grooming station out in the yard. 

6. Be junior tech-support 

Generation Z kids are practically born holding smartphones. Let your kids use those skills to help older folks who may not be as tech-savvy. They can offer to organize digital photos, assist with data entry or help set up a Facebook page. 

7. Help a mom 

Your child may be too young to babysit alone, but he can offer services in assisting a neighborhood mom while she’s at home. 

8. Collect recyclables 

Help your child gather empty bottles, cans, cardboard boxes and newspapers to bring to a recycling plant. You’ll be keeping the planet green and helping your child earn pocket money at the same time. 

9. Wash cars 

Let your child try out her car-washing skills on the family car. Once she’s got the technique down, have her offer car washing services to the neighborhood. Your neighbors will cross another weekend chore off their list and your child will be learning that hard work can pay off. 

Your Turn: How do your kids earn money? Tell us about it in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.moneytalksnews.com/10-ways-for-preteens-make-money-this-summer/

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-can-kids-make-money-2085398

https://selfsufficientkids.com/how-to-earn-money-as-a-kid-elementary-age/

2019-2020 Mutual Credit Union Scholarship Committee NOW Accepting Applications

Press Release

February 1, 2019

2019-2020 Mutual Credit Union Scholarship

(Vicksburg, MS): The Mutual Credit Union Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce the we are accepting applications for our 2019-2020 Mutual CU Scholarship. Every year, Mutual provides $10,000 in awards for the upcoming school year to recognize its members who have shown scholastic achievement and who are interested in advancing their education. We will award six (6) scholarships in the amount of $3000, $2000, (2) $1500, and (2) $1000 to High School Seniors who best meet the requirements.

The deadline to apply is Monday, April 1, 2019. A completed application package must be mailed or delivered by April 1, 2019 to the following address:

Mutual Credit Union • ATTN: Susan Mandarino • PO Box 25 • Vicksburg, MS 39181

It can also be emailed to smandarino@mutualcu.org or delivered to any of our branch locations. For additional questions or to request an application be mailed to you, please call 877-457-3654 ext. 1226 or email smandarino@mutualcu.org.

Mutual CU has a firmly-held belief that the education of our community’s youth is a solid investment in our community’s future. We wish the best of luck to all applicants and to each of our graduating seniors.

Hours of operation for all Mutual locations are Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; drive through services open at 8:30 a.m. Account access is also available 24/7/365 by visiting www.mutualcu.org, using the Mutual Credit Union app on your mobile device or by calling our SAM Audio Response System at 1-877-457-3654 Option 1.

For more information about the Mutual Credit Union Scholarship program please follow this link to our webpage. For additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

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Impulse Purchases

impulse purchase cartoon

Aisha was walking home from school with her best friend, Katie. They chatted about the upcoming Science Fair and the new Phys. Ed. teacher as they shivered in the cold.  

They passed The Coffee House and watched as a bunch of their classmates walked out holding steaming cups of hot chocolate. 

“Hey Aisha. Hi Katie!” their classmates called. 

Aisha and Katie waved back. Aisha grabbed Katie’s arm. 

“Let’s stop here for a minute—they make the best hot chocolate and it’s freezing outside!” 

Katie shrugged. “I don’t want any.” 

“Oh, come on, Katie, you can get a cup with mini marshmallows and a drizzle of caramel—it’s awesome!” 

Katie shook her head. “I really don’t want any, but I’ll come in with you if you do.” 

Aisha pushed open the door, and a few minutes later, she was holding her own cup of chocolaty deliciousness. 

“I don’t know why you never spend your money,” Aisha told her friend before taking a long sip. “That’s what it’s there for, you know.” 

Katie just smiled and they walked the rest of the way home in silence. 

That evening, Aisha was looking through her wallet. 

“Mom!” she called. “My allowance is gone again—and it’s only Tuesday!” 

“You need to be more responsible, honey,” Aisha’s mom said. “Those seven dollars should be enough to last you all week! Are you ready to go?” 

Aisha snapped her wallet shut and ran to grab her coat. She was going with her mom to pick up a some groceries at Target. 

As they passed the front of the store, Aisha turned toward her mom. 

“Mom—look! They have your favorite coffee store right here inside of Target. Why don’t you pick up a latte or a cappuccino to drink while we shop?” 

Aisha’s mom turned toward her. 

“Because that’s not on my list,” she said, pointing at the paper in her hand. “It’s just an impulse purchase, and if I make too many of those, I won’t have enough money to buy the things we need.” 

“What do you mean?” Aisha asked as mom grabbed a cart and started wheeling it toward the grocery section. 

“There are some things I need to buy, and all sorts of things I want to buy just because they look good—like those,” Mom pointed toward a rack of candy bars near a register. “Impulse purchases taste good now, but I don’t really need them. And they cost a lot, too.” 

Mom patted her wallet. “I’d rather save my money for the stuff I really do need and keep those impulse purchases for special occasions that only happen once in a while. Doesn’t that make more sense?” 

Aisha nodded. It did make sense. And she was finally starting to understand why her allowance never lasted long enough. 

Tomorrow, she was going to be like Katie and skip the stop at The Coffee House on the way home from school. 

She also wanted to save her money for the things she really needed. 

Talking points: 

  • Can you give three examples of impulse purchases?
  • How can you keep yourself from making impulse purchases when you shop?
  • What are some impulse purchases that might be worth buying?

Impulse Purchases Worksheet

Impulse Purchases worksheet

6 MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE IN THEIR 20S AND HOW TO FIX THEM

Like many people, you may have blown through your 20s making financial decisions that served you well in the moment, but may not have been particularly responsible. 20s and 30s Dinner out several times a week, credit card bills you barely looked at and luxury cars way beyond your budget—life was practically a party!   

But now, the party’s over. You’ve woken up in your 30s and realized that all that overspending is going to cost you big—and it’s going to cost for years to come. 

Luckily, there’s hope. It’s not too late to fix the financial mistakes we all make when we’re young and blissfully ignorant. 

Here are six of the most common mistakes people make in their 20s and how to fix them: 

1.) The mistake: Racking up credit card debt 

Maybe you were broke while in college, but desperate for a good time, so you swiped your way through vacations and nights out on the town. Or maybe you knew you were falling into the debt trap to cover student-related needs on a shoestring budget. Unfortunately, it didn’t just go away like you’d hoped. 

The fix: Stop using your credit cards 

It’s time to be an adult and own up to your mistakes. Learn how to say no to impulsive purchases and to live within your means. Create a budget to help monitor and track your discretionary spending instead of mindlessly plowing through your paycheck each month. Stop swiping your credit cards and stick to debit or cash only. Don’t let those credit card bills get any higher! 

2.) The mistake: Ignoring your credit score 

Aside from being the gateway to endless spending, aggressive credit card balances have probably handicapped your credit score, making it difficult or impossible to obtain a personal loan. A poor score will also burden you with an unfavorable interest rate for the loans you do qualify for. And that means you’ll be paying off the mistakes of your 20s for years to come. 

The fix: Know your score and pay down your credit card debt 

It’s never too late to fix a credit score. Begin by monitoring your score. You can order a complimentary credit report once a year from each of the three major credit agencies at annualcreditreport.com. You can also check out your score on sites like CreditKarma.com and Bankrate.com. This will give you an idea of what you’re working with as you work on climbing out of financial hardship. 

Next, work on paying off credit card debt instead of only making the minimum payments each month. Look through your credit card bills and crunch some numbers until you know exactly how high your credit card debt really is. Then, choose one bill to pay down first and begin making the maximum payment your budget will allow. Once you’ve paid it off, divert all those funds onto the next bill until it’s gone and repeat until you have no more debt. Paying down your debt and minimizing the utilization rate on your credit cards will greatly improve your score. 

3.) The mistake: Skipping student loan bills

When you’re facing a debt in the tens of thousands of dollars while earning an entry-level salary, it’s tempting to just pretend it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, though, that’s the worst thing you can do for your loan and your credit.

The fix: Work it into your budget

Call your lender to work out a more feasible payment plan. You can also check if you qualify for a student loan forgiveness program. Most importantly, make your student loan payments a part of your debt payment plan so you never miss a payment.

4.) The mistake: Neglecting your retirement

Planning for your decades-away retirement may be one of the last things on your list. However, starting to fund your retirement later in the game means missing out on years of compound interest gains.

The fix: Think of it as a fixed expense

Don’t think of retirement savings as an extra; think of it as a necessary, fixed expense that belongs in your budget like your rent and phone bill. Work with the most you can afford and max out your contributions to an IRA or your company’s 401(k) plan.

5.) The mistake: Not having an emergency fund

Life’s great—who needs to think about emergencies? Unfortunately, you do. Scrambling for funds to pay for a large medical expense or to live off of during an unexpected layoff can be a nightmare. Turning toward credit cards to help you get through a rough time can also be the beginning of a debt cycle whose effects are felt for years to come.

The fix: Start small

Experts recommend socking away 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses, but if that’s just not possible for you, start small. Work with whatever you can to make monthly contributions to an emergency fund. Set up an automatic monthly transfer so you never forget. It’s best to keep your emergency money in an account that offers an attractive earnings rate but allows you to withdraw funds without paying a penalty. [Credit union’s Flex Certificates and Savings Accounts are both good choices. Call, click or stop by to speak to a MSRP about setting yours up today.]

6.) The mistake: Not creating financial goals

It’s understandable not to have your entire life planned out yet, but it’s important to set some financial goals.

The fix: Create goals now

Take some time to set some financial goals. Do you want to buy a house within the next decade? Do you dream of opening a business? Are you hoping to retire at 55? Having a concrete goal in mind will help you stick to your budget and manage your money responsibly.

Messed up while in your 20s? It’s not too late to get your finances on track! Follow our tips for a financially sound future.

Your Turn: How did you fix the financial mistakes of your 20s? Let us know in the comments!

 

SOURCES:

https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2018-10-25/how-to-recover-from-financial-mistakes-made-in-your-20s

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-fix-money-mistakes-in-your-twenties-2385529

https://www.mybanktracker.com/news/fix-financial-mistakes

Making The Holidays Count

Don’t spend your holidays sleeping in until noon and letting the time slip through your fingers with nothing to show for it.college break with laptop

Check out our handy list of ways you can make the holidays count while still getting some of that much-needed rest and relaxation you’ve been craving all semester. You can still get your beauty rest and sleep in, only not until noon – well, at least not every day.

1. Apply for scholarships and internships

During the semester, you’re so bogged down with schoolwork and other obligations that finding the time to pursue scholarships and internships can be daunting. Put your looser holiday schedule to good use by getting a leg up on your applications. Devote one afternoon – or more if you can swing it – to researching and applying for those scholarships and internships. One great resource can be found at careeronestop.org –  Scholarship Finder. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, this search provides great tools to find those scholarships that match up with you best. Don’t Delay! Many deadlines are December 31, 2018 at midnight! 

2. Catch up with old friends

Don’t let your childhood friendships die because of neglect! Take the time this season to call up your old neighborhood pals and high school friends and have fun hanging out with those who know you best.

3. Plan next semester

Get a head start on planning next semester’s schedule by taking the time to do it now. You’ll be able to think more clearly when you’re not pressured and you can make your decisions at leisure. You might also want to give a thought to creating a daily, weekly and/or monthly study schedule to help you give school work your best shot.

4.   Workout

Don’t go back to school with that telltale holiday bulge! Fit a regular workout routine into your more relaxed vacation schedule and skip the binge-eating this season. You’ll look and feel a whole lot better! Many gyms offer a visitors plan or a trial price to try out their facility. This would be a great way to workout on a budget!

5.   Perfect your resume, cover letter and personal essays

It’s always a good idea to review, update and improve these documents every few months or so. Why not do it now? All it takes is an hour or two to make sure your resume, cover letter and personal essays show you in the best possible light. Be sure to tweak with any changes you’ve had in your work experience and education level and, of course, triple check for those pesky typos!

6.   Spend quality time with family

This might sound obvious, but don’t forget to spend some relaxed time just catching up with your family and creating new memories to take back with you to the dorm. It’s more than just sharing meals; give them your undivided attention, away from your phone.

7.   Volunteer

You might not have much opportunity to give back to the community during the semester, but when you’re on holiday break, why not offer your time and energy to a local cause? To partner with local agencies, consider contacting the United Way of West Central Mississippi at 601-636-1733 to match your time and skills with serving others. Volunteer to be a part of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign or identify a need near to your home.

Your Turn: How do you make your holidays count? Share your best tips and techniques in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/the-10-things-you-should-do-over-holiday-break

https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-experience/2011/11/23/holiday-survival-guide-for-college-students-and-parents

Do Your Kids Have Virtual Shopping Smarts?

Did you know that 73% of millennials questioned in a Bazaar Voice survey do all their Online shopping tips for youthshopping on their smartphones? It’s not surprising. The world of commerce is constantly becoming more digitized as retailers focus on improving their online presence to cater to cyberspace shoppers.

Online shopping has its downsides, though, mainly in the form of surprises when the item arrives, costly shipping expenses and impulse buys that are made too easily. Fortunately, it has its upsides, too.

Comparing prices between stores is a lot simpler when all it takes is clicking through a few sites instead of traipsing all over town. Couponing is now also just a matter of seconds, with no need for tedious clipping and saving.

Teach your kids to make the best of online shopping with this fun, educational activity. All you need is a computer!

Step One

First, sit down with your child to brief them on the ups and downs of online shopping. Talk about comparing prices, checking for discount codes and being wary of overspending or buying items of inferior quality. Teach them about reading reviews and looking for reputable companies. Mention comparison-shopping engines like Google, and others they may have never used, like Nextag, Price Grabber, Shopping.com and Shopzilla.

Step Two

When they have the information down pat, tell them they will now be tasked with buying an item online! The item should be something popular and one they’re interested in.

Step Three

Give your child a debit or credit card, a fixed budget for the item and the following instructions:

The goal is to purchase the lowest-priced, yet best-made product. This will earn a minimum of 100 points. They will earn points for each part of the process, using the following guidelines:

Guidelines

1. The purchase must be of decent quality. They can earn 25 points for this category.
2. Shipping costs should not constitute more than 10% of the object’s price. The lower the
shipping costs, the more they earn for this category, with free shipping earning the full 15 points.
3. They must search for discount codes and coupons before making the purchase. This
can be done by checking coupon sites like Retailmenot and Couponcabin, or by signing
up for a store’s emails and earning a promotional discount. 5 points will be rewarded for
every discount search/website visited in search of a coupon code. Actually finding and
using a discount can earn them 15 points.
4. If your child is ordering from eBay or another site with multiple sellers, they should be
careful to only make purchases from sellers with excellent ratings. Buying from a badly
rated seller can cost them 5 points and using a high-rated seller can earn them 5 points.
5. Price is of utmost importance. If their object is of decent quality and very well-priced,
they can earn up to 40 points. 5 points will be given for every search for a cheaper
product.
6. Points will be taken off for any random ad-clicks, failure to do substantial price-checks
and comparisons, and for ignoring discount offers.
7. Sit back and watch, being careful not to offer any advice as your child makes a
purchase.
8. Tally up the score and explain the points you gave, congratulating your child on their
online shopping skills.

Your child is now cyberspace-savvy!

Your Turn: Are there any online shopping tips or tools that you have shared with your child or just a tip you yourself follow when shopping online? Share in the comments.

Source: www.cucontent.com