Lessons For Life: Maine CUs' Mark Back To School With Proactive Financial Education Efforts

September 18, 2014

The 2014/15 school year is underway, and the Maine Credit Union League and Maine's credit unions have spent the first few weeks offering information, tips and resources to help parents, children and young adults with financial education.

Recently, the League appeared on a statewide radio talk show, Maine Calling, which aired on Maine Public Radio and focused on financial education and offered ideas and tips to listeners and callers who participated in the show.  From budgeting and credit cards to savings and debt, the League's Jon Paradise, VP of Governmental Affairs, and Michelle Broderick, VP of Marketing at Cumberland County FCU, shared their expertise on ways in which parents could talk to their children about money management, as well as advice for college students in successfully navigating finances.

"It's an issue of the utmost importance because kids who don't understand the basics of money and finances are going to struggle when they have to do it for real.  Parents can play an important role in helping by talking about finances and getting their kids involved at an early age.  Unfortunately, too many adults today are still finding it difficult to manage their money because money was not a topic that was talked about in homes.  It's a different world today and we are starting to see more conversations take place but not enough.  A number of credit unions have programs that can help with this process," explained Paradise.  As for college kids, Paradise explained, "Credit cards are not bad, if managed correctly and responsibly.  Having a college student have a credit card helps to build credit but it's important that they understand the expectations of paying it off, having a low credit limit and using it wisely."

Broderick, whose credit union runs two branches in schools, said that developing "good habits is important.  One of our branches is in an elementary school and we focus on savings and getting kids to understand the benefits of saving their money by offering incentives and prizes.  It makes a difference, as we have nearly 75% of the school's 500+ children participating, and we are seeing kids developing sound money habits as they transition to middle and high school."

In addition to the radio program, Paradise also provided back to school spending tips and the opportunity to turn it into a financial education lesson in a segment called Saving You Money, which aired on WGME CBS 13.  Paradise said, "Fiscal responsibility begins with preparation and a budget, and back to school shopping is a great exercise for parents and kids to do together."

The outreach by the League and Maine's credit unions to start the school year is just a piece of the proactive and leadership efforts that the League and credit unions do involving financial education.  During the upcoming school year, credit unions will be offering periodic financial tips with news outlets, as well as coordinating financial fitness fairs for high school and college students.  In 2013/14, 30 fairs were held that reached a record-setting 6,043 students.

For more information and to access many of the resources offered through the League and other partners, click here.