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Just for Kids: Super Saving Tips from Credit Union Mascots

by on November 18, 2012

Saving money is a great way to prepare for your future, help others, and buy the things you’ve always dreamed of. However, as all kids and grown-ups know, saving money can be really tricky. How can we make it easier? To find out more, NerdWallet asked the experts: a penny, a tree, a monster, a dinosaur and an eagle! We learned that saving money may not be easy, but it’s really important, and it’s actually pretty cool, too. Here’s what these credit union mascots had to say about spending, saving, asking for help, and hanging out with kids like you.

 

Penny Saved
President, Super Saver Club for KidsSM
Vantage West Credit Union (Tuscon, AZ)

NerdWallet: What do you like most about being a mascot?

Penny: I like being the mascot for Vantage West Credit Union because it is very important to teach kids about money and saving, starting at an early age.

Why is it important to save money?

By saving money, you can prepare for emergencies and plan for major expenses like college tuition, a special gift, a new car or house, or even retirement. The younger you are when you start saving, the better prepared you will be for the future.

What should you buy with the money you save?

Always keep some of your money for long-term savings. What you buy with the rest of your money is up to you, but be sure you buy something that’s meaningful. It’s never a bad idea to wait before you buy something. You may be able to save money on your special item by looking around for the best deals or sales!

When you have a question about money, whom do you ask?

I always ask a qualified Financial Representative at Vantage West Credit Union. If you have questions, you should always ask someone you trust, like your parents or grandparents.

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

I would first set aside at least 10% for my savings, of course. Next, I would give 10% to worthy charitable causes that I care about. Then, because I’m a penny, I would buy myself a nice, fancy, new piggy bank, where I could invite nickels, dimes, quarters, other pennies and maybe even some dollar bills to come “jingle around” and play with me.

Reddy the Redwood
Mascot and Financial Literacy Expert
Redwood Credit Union (Santa Rosa, CA)

What do you like most about being a mascot?

I always get invited to fun events like the county fair, parades, festivals and community non-profit events like the Human Race, but the best part is getting to meet all the kids! They always seem so happy to see me, and love getting their photos taken with me. I love making new friends! I also enjoy writing my column in RCU’s youth newsletter each quarter, so I can share fun tips to help kids save money and learn new things.

Why is it important to save money?

As a kid, your parents pay for most of the things you need like a house, food, clothes and transportation, as well as things you want, like a television, video games and toys. When you get older, you need to pay for those things on your own, so you have to save money to make sure you can meet your basic needs, and also pay for the things you want.

What should you buy with the money you save?

I always recommend saving with a goal in mind. It could be a small goal, such as a toy or game; a bigger goal, such as a bike or a computer; or it could be a really big goal, such as a car or a college degree. By keeping your goals in mind when you are saving, you will be less tempted to spend on other things that you might want, but may not really need.

When you have a question about money, whom do you ask?

If I have money questions, I always ask someone at my credit union. Because credit unions are focused on people (and trees), I know that they’ve got my best interests in mind. And the people who work there know a lot about money!

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

A million dollars is a lot of money! But just like I always tell the kids, I’d save, share and spend it. I’d put most of the money into savings. I’d share some of the money by donating to my favorite, local nonprofits, such as the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, that plants trees every year for our local wetlands system, and the United Way, which helps local children, families and seniors in need. With the holidays coming up, I’d probably spend the remaining money on presents for my friends, and maybe I’d buy a brand new pair of sneakers for myself.

Moola Moola the Magical Monster
President, Moola Moola Savings Club
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (Philadelphia, PA)

What do you like most about being a mascot?

As the leader of the Moola Moola Savings Club, I get to teach PFCU’s youngest members the importance of saving money. So do my friends: Pennyopolp, Nickelodeo, Scratch, Two Bits and Doodadime.

Why is it important to save money?

It’s important to save money so that you can buy the things you want and need in life. The earlier in life you begin saving money, the more financially healthy you’ll be when you grow up.

What should you buy with the money you save?

I always tell kids that they should save for things they want to buy now and things they want down the road. Here’s one of my favorite savings tips: take two jars and draw a picture of a short-term goal on one (maybe tickets to the movies) and a long-term goal on the other (maybe tuition for college) and then fill them up with money you get for allowance and gifts!

When you have a question about money, whom do you ask?

When I have questions about money, I ask Philadelphia Federal Credit Union’s Financial Educator, Dominique Jenkins. Her job is to educate the credit union’s members on budgeting, credit, savings and more.

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

If I had a million dollars, I would put it in my Moola Moola Savings Club Account!

Max the Dinosaur
President, MoneyKids Program
Michigan First Credit Union (Detroit, MI)

What do you like most about being a mascot?

There is nothing more fun than teaching kids about money in a way that makes them laugh and smile! Through Michigan First, I work with students at more than 20 local schools in Metro Detroit to help them understand the basics of money management—and to help them not be afraid to ask questions.

Why is it important to save money?

Saving money is where it all starts! Building the habit of saving will help you get started down a great financial path and understand what it takes to achieve your dreams. Back when I was a young dino, all I wanted was a new rock to play with. I did chores around the cave, and my parents helped me to save up for it. When it finally came in the mail, I was so excited I was jumping out of my scales! I knew that I’d worked hard and earned it.

What should you buy with the money you save?

I might save to buy a new house with a bigger front door or a bigger car with more room for my tail! When we budget for our expenses and for fun, it means we can enjoy ourselves without the guilt.

When you have a question about money, whom do you ask?

Working with a financial institution you trust has a lot of benefits—including giving you a place to ask questions. Not-for-profit credit unions like Michigan First are great resources with lots of experts to help answer questions on saving, loans and investing. I love my dinosaur friends, but they’re not always the most knowledgeable about money.

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

I always put 10% of whatever money I get in my savings account. Beyond that, I’d love to travel. I’ve always dreamed of visiting Australia. I would also support more financial education for young dinosaurs and humans.

Cash the Eagle
President, Cash’s Club
Texas Trust Credit Union (Mansfield, TX)


What do you like most about being a mascot?

To be honest, the perks are great! Texas Trust is always hooking me up with free t-shirts and free buttons. I get tons of free giveaway swag, and there’s almost always a post-event meal! But that all pales in comparison to knowing I’m helping to educate the next generation, even if my role is simply to make the learning more fun.

Why is it important to save money?

Well, birdseed isn’t cheap! And just because you can get by on your exceptionally good looks (and the fact that you’re a 6′ 6″ walking eagle) today, doesn’t mean it’ll pay the bills tomorrow. That’s why it’s so important to save. It’s a way to ensure your tomorrow will be okay, today.

What should you buy with the money you save?

Beyond simply saving for tomorrow, it’s always smart to save for the bigger items you want. Maybe it’s a Gucci beak warmer you’ve be eyeing, possibly a new nest on an even bigger mountain, perhaps it’s a fully functional light saber that you’ll need to develop and secure the rights for from Disney. Who knows? By saving first, you don’t have to feel guilty about dreaming big.

When you have a question about money, whom do you ask?

I know I can always go to my dad, Mint. He taught me a lot about finance and savings when I was just an eaglet. As I grew older, I did a lot of research on my own, using the Internet. Thanks to sites like Nerdwallet.com, there is a plethora of information available at your feather tips. My parents introduced me to my eagle-friendly credit union, Texas Trust, and I’ve always been able to go to them with questions. They’ve never steered me wrong.

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

A million dollars provides for a pretty hefty nest egg (pun intended). But in all honesty, I’d probably start by spending some of it on things that I want. But I would limit myself to a small percentage of it for that. I’d probably buy a new nest for my mom, some football tickets for my dad (he’s a big Philadelphia fan) and probably a new Xbox for my niece, Penny. I’d probably talk to my financial adviser at Texas Trust, too. A good financial adviser can help you structure your savings in a way that will best help you reach your goals. I’ve always wanted to retire to Mount Rushmore.

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