What to do with damaged banknotes

banknoteThe dog chewed your money? Don’t throw it away! – A guide to dealing with damaged banknotes.

Next time you accidentally put a banknote through the washing machine, don’t immediately throw it away. That mangled piece of paper could still be worth something, because as long as a certain amount of the note remains, the bank will probably replace it for you.

Both the Bank of England and the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing will generally replace damaged banknotes as long as you still retain over 50% of the original note. If you have less than this you can still try to claim but your chances of success are much lower. This is because the bank can’t be sure where the other half is, and someone could later try to claim the larger piece.

However, each authority has a special claims department that deals with your enquiries, and they have even been known to accept burnt notes – apparently some people keep their money in the oven for safekeeping (who knew?!). So whatever the condition of your chewed, disintegrating note, it’s worth checking whether you can claim.

What’s more, you can also claim for money that is no longer in circulation.

Both the Bank of England and Bureau of Printing and Engraving still view withdrawn currency as legal tender. This means they’re obliged to accept discontinued banknotes and pay you their face value. Some individual banks and building societies may also accept the withdrawn currency, but it is entirely at their discretion.

Of course, if you do find old currency it’s always worth checking how valuable it is. A keen collector may be willing to pay you much more than the bank!

Talk to your particular authority for further information, and be aware that you’ll need to fill out the relevant claim forms for damaged notes. For the UK and US these are the pages you’ll need:

UK:  http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/Pages/damaged_banknotes.aspx

US:  http://moneyfactory.gov/damagedcurrencyclaim.html

Learning Through Play: Can mobile games really teach children about money?

Learning Through Play: Can mobile games really teach children about money?

Children are increasingly using electronic devices to access games (much to the dismay of their parents’ wallets) but can these games ever teach them useful skills? We decided to put some apps to the test.

The Criteria

Our test focused on two main criteria: educational content and playability. A good play experience was very important to us because even if a game contains a wealth of academic information it will lie untouched if it fails to entertain the player. Find our results below.

The Test

Struct

structThe Apple Store description for Struct confidently claims that this building game will prove that ‘financial fun isn’t an oxymoron’. But whilst the game may be fun, we can see little evidence that it teaches much finance at all.

The concept is much like Tetris, in that you aim to place different coloured blocks in the optimum position to build a tower block. The financial angle comes in through the characters and materials the player uses, all of which are supposed to resemble a financial product. So steel is ‘a bit like cash investments… slow to build but always there’, whilst glass is linked to stock investments (which require greater care and are liable to break).

This is a clever concept, but fails to take account of the fact that very few children take the time to read through instructions before starting a game. The vast majority are likely to start clicking and learn the rules as they go along. The game itself relies on no financial knowledge, so it is only by reading through the glossary and material index that any information is likely to be learnt. If parents are willing to sit down with their child and use the game as a spring board to discuss investments the app could be useful, and the game is certainly addictive. But it is sadly not as educational as it purports to be.

Celebrity Calamity

calamityThe financial learning in Celebrity Calamity is happily much more integrated. The player becomes a personal assistant to three demanding celebs (a concept that will appeal to many star-obsessed youngsters).  Their role is to run errands for the celeb, decide which jobs they’ll take, and make sure their bank accounts stay in the black. Rack up late payments and your celeb will get angry, accumulate too many debts and you’ll be fired.

The mini games are entertaining and tricky enough to maintain interest, although we found the lack of reward for completing the game slightly disappointing. The concept of sensible spending is very neatly taught, and celebrity displays of overindulgence effectively discourage impulse spending (get ready for cries of frustration when your celeb tells you she just brought a new bike for 15,000 – sending you way over your credit card limit of 10,000).

As with Struct, players of Celebrity Calamity would still benefit from adult participation, particularly younger players who are less familiar with the concepts of credit and debit. But overall, this is a well-designed app and since you can currently download it for free, it is well worth a look.

Math Bingo

This colourful app does pretty much what it says on the tin: it’s a combination of maths and bingo. Equations appear at the top of the page and players tap the answer on the bingo card below. There are three difficulty levels, and upon completion you are given a new bug to add to your collection, which encourages further play as your child tries to collect them all.

Unfortunately the app doesn’t teach any maths, so a certain level of proficiency is necessary before purchase, but the game did prove to be an engaging practise tool and will help learning through repetition. Long-term playability is probably limited, but can be improved by engaging several children in play since the leader board encourages healthy competition.

 

The Verdict

The number of financial or money games on the market is still rather limited and the apps we tested demonstrate why: it is hard to develop a truly engaging game which teaches money skills whilst still feeling like a game. Apps like Struct are an example of developers with great ideas just missing the mark. Which is why we were pleased to come across Celebrity Calamity, which is closer to balancing the educational and game elements, exhibiting the addictive appeal of a game whilst also being firmed rooted in financial knowledge.

Celebs proves that apps can teach kids about money, and those apps that get it right can be hugely effective (as we know here at The Financial Fairy Tales learning through enjoyment is one of the best ways to learn). We just need more of them! So, to any aspiring game designers out there: get working on it! And in the meantime, please use the comments and share with us any of the games and apps you’ve found which are particularly good at making learning fun.

Take a look at our other recommended money learning websites and materials in our resource section