Young Americans Blog

Tales from Towne: Credit or Debit?

By: Susan Stenhaug Published: September 11th, 2014
A student from Timber Trail Elementary School swipes her debit card to check her balance.

A student from Timber Trail Elementary School swipes her debit card to check her balance.

The financial world we live in today has changed a lot for consumers in the past ten years.  We have new tools to make payments such as Paypal or Venmo.  We shop online.  We rarely write checks anymore.  Small businesses accommodate the consumer with card swipe attachments to cell phones and tablets because people are more likely to carry a credit or debit card than cash nowadays.  Because the mission of Young AmeriTowne and International Towne is  to improve financial literacy for young people, it’s important that we stay relevant with the changing nature of the financial world.  This often involves providing more up to date methods of conducting monetary transactions.

Young AmeriTowne- Cash or Debit?

In the fall of 2013, tablets with card swipe attachments were added to Young AmeriTowne. With the addition of the tablets, the students can make their purchases faster and businesses can keep track of revenues more efficiently.  Before the day of Towne, each child is assigned a debit card and an account number.  Once town opens, the child will take their paycheck to the bank, deposit $10 into their account and get the rest in cash back (usually $15-$20).  Each shop accepts debit cards, so if the child runs out of cash they can make purchases with the debit card.  Our intranet system automatically deducts the purchase from their account and adds it to the business’s account.  The child, however, must keep track of how much they are spending in their checkbook register so they don’t overdraw their account. This is especially important because there are still two instances in which an AmeriTowne citizen might be asked to write a check: if the student is arrested and required to pay a fine to Towne Hall after a guilty verdict,  or if the student is admitted to the medical center and must cover their co-pay.  As in the real world, checks take longer to process in AmeriTowne as well.

International Towne- Cash or Credit?

The tablets allow shop employees to easily track transactions.

The tablets allow shop employees to easily track transactions.

I am very excited to announce that tablets with card swipe attachments will be added to International Towne this fall!  Each student will be assigned a credit card with an account number before the day of Towne.  On the day of Towne, 25% of a child’s salary will automatically go on the credit card, kind of like a pre-paid card.  After purchases are made with the card, the child will receive a bill charging 20% interest of their total purchases, which needs to be paid back in cash to the bank in Singapore.  At the end of the day, unpaid credit card bills will be deducted from the bank account of the country of which that  student is a citizen.  For those of you who didn’t know, there are four different currencies in International Towne.  The credit cards and tablets will eliminate the hassle of converting foreign currency and they will make spending more efficient for the students.

Teacher’s Tip

Stress the importance of keeping track of purchases in the checkbook register.  A child may forget the price of something they purchased and we don’t track the product prices throughout the day.  Specifically for International Towne, make sure each child understands how to convert foreign currencies.

 

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