Credit Unions and Schools Partner to Equip Digital Natives With Financial Management Skills

financial literacy

From buying groceries and getting a credit card to applying for a bank loan, making financial decisions is part and parcel of everyday life, making financial literacy a core life skill that every individual must have. 

And it must begin early in order to give children and teenagers a strong foundation for financial independence, Will Carmichael, CEO at U.K.-based FinTech firm NatWest Rooster Money, told PYMNTS in an interview last year. 

“Research shows that we form a lot of money habits by the age of 7 […],” Carmichael said, adding that with the increasing prevalence of cashless transactions, there is an added urgency to make the concept of money tangible for young, cash-free kids who are spending their allowances and pocket money on video game app downloads. 

In response to this challenge, Go Boldly, a Las Vegas-based financial education startup, has introduced a new mobile application to transform the way young adults learn and manage their money. 

According to the firm, the app utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to create personalized learning experiences tailored to individual financial interests and lifestyles — a departure from traditional school-like curricula. 

“Financial literacy isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ subject; it’s a dynamic, personal journey. […] Our app empowers users to confront and overcome their financial obstacles with confidence,” Joe Mahavuthivanij, founder and CEO of Go Boldly, said in a Feb. 5 press release.

Credit Unions Promote Kid Financial Literacy

Beyond the domestic space, a number of credit unions (CUs) are also embracing the trend by partnering with schools and associations to equip students with money management skills. 

Bellco Credit Union, for instance, has recently partnered with Economic Literacy Colorado (ELC), a nonprofit providing K-12 teachers with professional development skills, to launch a free “Funancial $marts” educational activity book for high school students.

Activities related to real-world financial situations, such as managing credit and debit cards, factors to consider when making purchases or seeking an auto loan, tips on avoiding money scams and saving for college are included in the book, which is accessible in both hard copy and eBook formats. 

“Developing smart money management habits now will help teens as they are making more of their own financial decisions,” John Rivera, senior vice president and chief retail officer at Bellco Credit Union, said in a Jan. 10 press release, adding that “at this age, they will likely have their first part-time job, may be saving for a car, or have their first credit card.”

Local officials of Flint, Michigan also made a similar move. In January, city mayor Sheldon Neeley announced a collaboration with Financial Plus Credit Union to expand a youth financial literacy program for Flint kids, per an ABC12 News report.

The New York State Parent-Teacher Association has also teamed up with Mountain American Credit Union on a new Financial Literacy program, adding to the series of initiatives aimed at enhancing financial education for young school children. 

These collaborative efforts align with recent PYMNTS research indicating that Gen Z and millennials have a lesser grasp of financial concepts like loans, mortgages, investments and retirement accounts — a struggle attributed, in large part, to the institutional shortcomings of the public education system. 

In fact, the study found that over 40% of teenagers say that their high schools lack financial literacy courses, while 34% of Gen Z individuals turn to social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok instead of formal education or parental guidance for personal finance education. 

Against this backdrop, financial institutions prioritizing features that cater to these needs are strategically positioning themselves for success. CUs like Bellco Credit Union and Financial Plus Credit Union, in particular, stand to benefit significantly from embracing this trend, especially considering that they currently have only 4% and 5% of Gen Z and millennial as members, respectively.