Credit card offers flood our mail boxes year round, yet the volume seems especially heavy around the holidays when banks know that many of us are hastily purchasing goodies for friends and family. The flow of these offers does not let up in the New Year either, as balance transfer and deferred payment offers seems as attractive as the diamond necklace you received on the 25th.
Instead of discarding these offers straightaway, give the envelope a good once-over, feeling for something rectangular and a bit hard. A good plenty of the envelopes that arrive in the Post come with fun freebies, those little pretend credit cards! They have a realistic string of 16 digits and sometimes feature a John Q. Public type of name (some companies are even savvy enough to plant your real name on the cards) and make excellent kid’s toys. An ideal compliment to any toy cash register or grocery store, these fake credit cards allow your children to pretend paying for things just like mom and dad (better to pretend it is a debit card, than that of the credit variety!)
Note: If you child has a fancy electronic cash register, be sure they do not damage that device by shoving these cards into it!
Another great application of these freebies is to treat one as debit card from the Bank of Mom and Dad. Tell them they have a certain amount of “money” at the beginning of each week and allow them to use the card around the house for things like a bonus Fig Newton after dinner, extra bubbles in the bathtub, or an additional book at bedtime. Place a value on these little treats and they can learn how to “save” and make decisions with their money. They can also enter an accumulation phase and increase their “balance” by completing some household chores; helping with the laundry, dusting, cleaning up their toys, that sort of thing. You could start a spreadsheet on the home PC or keep a tally posted on the fridge to visualize the “banking” experience. This activity should open the door to valuable discussions about money, credit, hard work, and savings.