With national bankruptcy statistics at a new high, and students continuing to fail financial-literacy tests, those at the Kauai Community Federal Credit Union and other credit unions on the island are ramping up their financial- education efforts, they said in a press release.
In the process, they are also stressing the importance of savings benefits to youth.
In 2004, a spokesperson in the administrative office of the U.S. courts system reported 1.6 million bankruptcies, up 98 percent from 1994.
Record numbers of bankruptcies should come as no surprise, considering that a large number of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck.
Now more than ever it is vital to teach young people the importance of saving and financial planning before they add to these statistics.
During the Fifth Annual National Credit Union Youth Week, next week, leaders of credit unions around the country will take the opportunity to stress the importance of financial education, and use the week to enlighten children and parents alike.
This year’s youth week theme, “My Money — My Credit Union — Where I Belong,” aims to help children understand the credit-union difference, explaining that, as members of a not-for-profit cooperative, they earn better rates on savings and loan products, pay lower fees, and receive personalized service.
According to a recent survey, 34 percent of high-school seniors said they were “not sure at all” or “not too sure” about their ability to manage their own finances. Sixty-six percent said they were “somewhat sure” or “very sure.” All groups failed a test of financial literacy.
The same survey found that the students learned most about managing their money from family at home (58 percent), personal experience (18 percent), class at school (20 percent), friends (2 percent), and media (2 percent). Again, all groups failed the financial literacy test.
Kauai Community Federal Credit Union is one of many credit unions nationwide whose leaders are reaching out to the youth to address these statistics.
In addition to holding youth-week celebrations in every office, throughout the year they offer free financial- literacy seminars to students in middle schools and high schools, and the general public.
In conjunction with youth week, many credit unions also participate in the National Youth Saving Challenge as a real-life exercise in making money grow.
The saving challenge, now in its third year, is a focal point for teaching the benefits of saving for goals, as leaders of credit unions invite young people to open new savings accounts and make deposits this week and throughout the year.
Officials at participating credit unions, like Kauai Community Federal Credit Union, will report goals and results for new youth accounts, number of young members saving, and total youth deposits during the week.
Next month, leaders of the Credit Union National Association, the premier trade association for America’s credit unions, will report nationwide totals.
The second year of the saving challenge produced outstanding results, as thrifty youngsters deposited more than $4.62 million into their saving accounts throughout the week.
The results more than tripled the inaugural year’s deposits of $1.39 million.
Additionally, those at the second year’s 280 participating credit unions reported deposits from nearly 36,000 young members, and welcomed more than 4,500 new-member accounts.
For more information about National Credit Union Youth Week, or to enter a youth in a local saving challenge, contact Kauai Community Federal Credit Union, 245-6791.