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Virtual Shopping Smarts - Financial Literacy for Kids

Virtual Shopping Smarts

Did you know that 73% of millennials do all their shopping on their smartphones? It’s not surprising, really. 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. It’s mainly in the form of unpleasant surprises when the item arrives, costly shipping expenses and impulse buys that are too easily made. 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. Also, couponing is now just a matter of seconds, with no need for tedious clipping and saving.
Sit down with your teen to brief them on the pros and cons 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 apps and websites like the PriceGrabber app,, and the Shopbrain app.
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.

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:

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. Five 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 teen is ordering from eBay or another site with multiple sellers, they should be careful to only make purchases from sellers that have excellent ratings. Buying from a poorly 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. Five 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 teen makes a purchase. 

8. Tally up the score and explain the points you gave, congratulating your teen on their online shopping skills.
Your child is now on the way to being cyberspace-savvy!

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