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Financial Literacy Resources for Youth: NerdWallet’s Favorite Credit Unions

by on August 18, 2012

Financial literacy is important at any age. However, it’s especially important for kids, teens and young adults. As they get older, they’re way more likely to make smart financial choices if they already have good habits to fall back on. For most young people, their parent or guardian will be their most important financial advisor. However, there may be times when they need a little extra help. That’s when youth-friendly financial literacy programs come in handy, and one of the best places to find these programs is—you guessed it—your local credit union. This article highlights our favorite youth-friendly financial literacy resources at credit unions all over the United States.

The best free (and fun) financial literacy resources

Almost all credit unions have a kid-friendly savings account. However, some go above and beyond to provide free financial literacy resources for their youngest members. It takes a great deal of passion, creativity and hard work to make money lessons fun. That’s why our top resources don’t just have good information. Many of them also have a clever medium for connecting with students, whether that’s a specialized website, an in-school program, a flash game, or a blog. We’re really excited to share these resources with you, and we hope you’ll share them with your family. Many of them can be found right online; you don’t even need to be a member. And, if you’re not already a credit union member, be sure to stop by your local branch and ask about becoming a member today. Without further ado, here are NerdWallet’s picks for best of the best.

Best Online Partnership: Westerra Credit Union (Denver, CO)

Westerra Credit Union has branches in Arvada, Aurora, Centennial, Denver, Lakewood, Littleton and Parker. To help high school students in the Denver and Jeffco Public School systems, they’ve partnered with FoolProof, an online, video-driven financial literacy instruction program. If you’re a student enrolled in the course, Westerra makes it easy to login from their page. If you’re not a teacher or student using FoolProof, you can still take advantage of  FoolProof’s financial literacy blogs for young adults, parents and grandparents. Westerra Credit Union membership is open to anyone who lives or works in the 5-county Denver metro area.

Best for Babies: Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union (Anchorage, AK)

Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union has branches in Anchorage and Eagle River. Their Life Accounts program offers savings accounts that are appropriate for every age group. However, if you open an account for your newborn baby, they’ll give you a $10 bonus! Be sure to visit their website for a complete description of the perks associated with each account. Membership is open to employees of 600 eligible groups. You may also qualify for membership if you live in select areas of Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai or Mat-Su. Please see their membership page for complete details.

Best Teen Seminars: Evolve Credit Union (El Paso, TX)

Evolve Credit Union has branches throughout El Paso. In partnership with the Jose Cisneros Cielo Vista Library, they host a monthly teen night where they provide games, food, and a financial literacy workshop. Past programs include Balancing Your Finances, School & Work, and Buying Your First Car. This is part of the library’s weekly teen night program. We’re sure that this type of consistency encourages teens to come back for additional seminars! Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in El Paso County. Businesses in El Paso County may also join.

Best Web and Real World Combo: Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union (Lowell, MA)

Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union has branches in Lowell, Dracut, Chelmsford, Tyngsboro and Methuen. They created an excellent website to complement their real-life, in-school financial literacy program MoneyStrong for Life. Check out the Tools You Can Use tab to learn more about online banking basics, your credit score, guarding against fraud, creating a spending plan, and more. We were especially impressed with their interactive lesson on how to write a check! Membership is open to anyone who lives, works or attends school in Middlesex or Essex counties, the cities/towns of Fitchburg, Leominster, Harvard, Lunenburg or Lancaster, or the New Hampshire counties of Hillsborough or Rockingham. Anyone living within 100 miles of Lowell or within Massachusetts can apply for a real-estate mortgage loan.

Best Young Adult Blog: Abri Credit Union (Romeoville, IL)

Abri Credit Union has branches in Romeoville, Joliet, Woodridge, Lockport, Plainfield, Frankfort, Argonne and Batavia. We love their identify blog for its honest, down-to-earth approach to personal finance for 20-somethings. Author Caity gives great advice on topics like moving out for the first time, buying a car, and using personal finance apps. Oh, and she has a post about how awesome books are. Call us biased if you must, but nerdy finance bloggers rule! Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in DuPage, Will, Grundy or Kendall counties. People who live or work in select areas of Kane and Cook counties may also join.

Best Tour Program: Capital Credit Union (Kimberley, WI)

Capital Credit Union has branches in Appleton, Freedom, Greenville, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute, Neenah and Oshkosh. To introduce elementary school students to the world of banking, they offer behind-the-scenes credit union branch tours. Both classes and clubs are welcome. Capital Credit Union also does outreach at local schools. Little Chute Elementary School students are lucky enough to learn about credit unions as part of a unit. Membership is open to anyone living or working in Outagamie, Calumet, Winnebago or Brown counties. Family of eligible members may also join.

Best Kids Money Tips: SOFCU (Grants Pass, OR)

SOFCU has branch locations in Grants Pass, Rogue River, Cave Junction, Roseburg, North Bend, Bend, Klamath Falls and Medford. Their Kids Club page has a budgeting worksheet, a kid-friendly calculator, helpful articles, and even a list of tips for earning extra money, all of which are perfect for the older elementary school and middle school crowd. Saving is great, but earning extra cash to save is even better. Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in eligible Oregon counties. Organizations within eligible counties and family of eligible members may also join. Please see SOFCU’s About Us page for complete details.

Best Calculator Collection: Visions Federal Credit Union (Endicott, NY)

Visions Federal Credit Union has branch locations in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They have their own page for young people ages 13 – 25, visionsfcurocks.org. This site’s calculator collection is one of the most comprehensive we’ve seen for young people. Most of them are perfect for “now-friendly” topics like credit and debt, saving, and buying a car, but you’ll also find some to help you plan for the future. It’s never too early to think about buying a house or saving for retirement, even if it’s only theoretical. Membership is open to select New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents, and members of select employee groups. Please visit their Become a Member page for complete details.

Best for Young Borrowers: Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union (Albuquerque, NM)

Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union has branches in Albuquerque, Edgewood and Los Lunas in New Mexico, and Livermore in California. Their Savings Laboratory website, in partnership with CU Solutions Group, is just for members 10 and under, and we love their Borrowing Bucks page. This teaches kids “borrowing vocabulary”, asking parents for money (the right way), and making a repayment plan. Many financial literacy programs for younger kids talk about saving, but few discuss how to borrow money as it might apply to kids’ own lives. Parents, we apologize in advance. We promise it’s worth it! Membership is open to current and former employees of select employee groups, and family of eligible members. Please see their Who Can Join page for complete details.

Best Timeline for Parents: Western Federal Credit Union (Oxnard, CA)

Western Federal Credit Union has branches in California, Utah, Colorado, Virginia, Western Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas, Indiana and Arkansas. Ever wondered which financial literacy tips are most appropriate for which ages groups? Be sure to check out Western Federal’s article on raising financially fit kids, which groups tips by age appropriateness (2 to 4, 5 to 7, and so on, up to 18). Membership is open to members of select employee groups, people who live in qualifying communities, and family of eligible members. You can also join by becoming a member of the Surfrider Foundation or Friends of Hobbs. Please see Western Federal’s Membership Eligibility page for complete details.

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