If money could burn a hole in your child’s pocket, imagine how many burned pairs of trousers American parents would be confronting on a daily basis.
For many kids, receiving a $10 or a $20 spot from grandma on a birthday usually means that as the child is removing the cold hard cash from the card, it’s already spent. At least in the past the child would have to head to the store to spend his or her wad of dough, but today the Internet has made it so much easier for children to spend money, cash may as well be igniting pant pockets upon receipt.
Without confiscating cash the minute your child receives it, what can you do to not only stop the money spending hemorrhage but also encourage him or her to learn strong saving habits?
Experts contend that you have to start financial education early if you want to make an impression. “Experts say children should start learning about money by early elementary school— but it’s never too late to start teaching smart money habits,” says Harry Carter, president and CEO of TopLine Federal Credit Union ($300 million, Maple Grove MN). “At TopLine, we welcome the opportunity to provide financial education in the communities we serve. Good money habits are so important, and we can support what kids are taught at home and at school. Helping children establish financial literacy early on can ensure their financial well-being a long way down the road.”
The Jumpstart Coalition for Financial Literacy reports that only a fraction of children between the ages of 13 through 21 have learned how to manage money by learning from their parents. So if it’s not mom and dad teaching smart saving habits, who is going to help guide an entire generation of (hopefully) savers?
Credit Union Programs Geared for Kids
Many credit unions in the country offer a child specific account, geared to promote healthy saving habits. Melina Young, Director of Marketing at Verity Credit Union ($380 million, Seattle WA) says that her credit union offers three youth accounts specifically designed for each lifestage.
“We offer three accounts, which vary by age – elementary, middle and high school that each have their own interactive website provided through CUNA’s Googolplex program.”
“We have a couple of items that we have added to the programs, including a free Moonjar for each kid, which are like three-part savings banks that teach kids to spend, share and save their money and an annual activity reimbursement for all the kids.”
Young adds that the elementary, middle and high school kids each get $20, $30 and $40 respectively back when they complete activities during the year.
Other credit unions offer adorable Scotty or Moola Moose Accounts like First Northern Credit Union ($250 million, Chicago, IL). Moola Moose is an account designed to provide younger children with ongoing educational materials and age appropriate information about saving. When the child turns age 13 he or she is moved to the credit union’s Compass Club Account that provides the same educational materials, but in language a tween, teen or young adult can appreciate. At First Northern Credit Union both accounts offer quarterly drawings for gifts and prizes.
Tap into Educational Resources During National Credit Union Youth Week
Some credit unions are hosting educational seminars and special opportunities during National Credit Union Youth Week, April 22 through 28.
TopLine Federal Credit Union plans to host a comprehensive seminar series to underscore the importance of financial literacy and how to cultivate general money management skills for children, teens and young adults.
Other credit unions are going one step further beyond youth education and are addressing specific member behaviors. For example, Philadelphia Federal Credit Union ($819 million, Philadelphia, PA) is extending its free financial educations seminar series through May 31, while at the same time revealing the results from its first annual Financial Literacy Survey that targets how members spend and save money in addition to overall financial attitudes. According to the survey, 84% of Philadelphians consider themselves less than “very knowledgeable” about personal finance.
Financial literacy starts at home. The best way for parents to encourage children to be shrewed spenders and savers is to step up their own game.
Take control of money management so you can help the next generation. Find a credit union and inquire about plans during National Credit Union Youth Week.