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Spotlight on Community Banks: Best Online Financial Literacy Programs

by on June 26, 2012

When it comes to money, everyone can benefit from a little extra information. As it turns out, the place you put your money is also a great place to get a financial education. We’re talking, of course, about your community bank. These local institutions know their customers well, so naturally, they care a lot more about their financial well-being that the big bank down the street. As community banks enter the digital age, more and more of them are putting their resources online, so everyone can benefit.

Financial literacy websites: resources that rock!

Keep reading to see NerdWallet’s picks for financial literacy websites hosted by community banks. Since these materials are 100% online, you can check them out at your leisure. You don’t have to be local to take advantage of a great local bank. And hey, if you are local, stop in and ask about their checking accounts or loan programs. You’ll find better rates than the big banks, and better customer service to boot! Rest assured that these materials are user friendly, too. There’s no need to sign up for an economics course to manage your day-to-day finances. Of course, if you did want to sign up for an economics course, we’re definitely in favor of that. We can’t help it! We’re nerds, after all.

Best for Students: Community Bank of the Cumberlands (Cookeville, TN)

Community Bank of the Cumberlands has 2 locations in Cookeville and 1 in Jamestown. Their Financial Literacy Resources page has a collection of articles from trusted sources like MyMoney.gov, the FDIC, and the National Endowment for Financial Education. You’ll find plenty of tips for saving money, budgeting, and using your credit card wisely, but we especially like the thorough section on financial aid. These articles cover all steps of the process, from applying for loans to paying them off. Most of the articles are intended for students, but they’re suitable for anyone looking to learn more about money management strategies.

Best for Business: Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest (Oak Park, IL)

Don’t worry; this bank’s not having an identity crisis. Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest has 1 branch in Oak Park and 1 in River Forest. Their Banking Toolkit contains all the information you need to protect your personal information, avoid overdraft fees, calculate your loan payments and make smart purchases, among other things. We especially like the section of articles for small business owners. You can learn more about avoiding common small business scams, accepting money from the public, paying for expenses, and protecting yourself while traveling. It’s always nice to know someone’s looking out for the little guy.

Best for Fraud Protection: Bank 1440 (Phoenix, AZ)

Bank 1440 has 1 branch in Phoenix and 1 branch in Peoria. Check out their section on Safeguarding Your Information for a great selection of consumer protection articles. There’s quite a few tips for protecting your bank account, of course, but you’ll also find strategies for protecting your computer, avoiding investment scams, and making smart loan modifications. Looking to take your fraud protection skills to the next level? Check out their links to additional information from the FDIC, the Arizona Attorney General, the FBI, and more.

Best for Car Buffs: Community Bank of Tri-County (Waldorf, MD)

Community Bank of Tri-County has 10 branch locations in Maryland and 1 in Virginia. Check out The Learning Center to find tips on used car buying, vehicle leasing and getting a loan. Even if you’re not in the market for a new car, you’ll find plenty of excellent information about other things, too. Check out the rest of their articles to learn more about the pros and cons of mortgage lock-ins, or get a detailed description of what goes into a credit report.

Best for Spanish Speakers: Community Bank & Trust of Florida (Ocala, FL)

Community Bank & Trust of Florida has 5 locations in Ocala, plus 1 in Belleview, 1 in The Villages and another in Gainesville. In conjunction with Money Smart CBI, their Financial Education website offers classroom-quality materials in both English and Spanish. You can print your own lesson plans in either language, on 10 different subjects: checking accounts, credit, consumer rights, loans, and more. The English section also includes an extra lesson on financial recovery. We can’t wait to see the Spanish version! Each lesson takes approximately 20 – 30 minutes to complete. They include an engaging mix of short articles, written activities and quizzes to make sure the information sinks in.

Best Disclosures: Dean Bank (Franklin, MA)

To be financially literate, you should thoroughly understand the products you already have. That said, how many banks would include account disclosures as part of a financial literacy page? Dean Bank does! They have 4 locations in Franklin, Bellingham, Blackstone and Mendon. Take a look at their Resources section to find easy-to-read disclosures for your free checking account alongside bank forms, helpful links, and articles on scams, retirement planning, couples’ finance management and more.

Best for Visual Learners: Bank of Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)

Bank of Ann Arbor has 6 locations in Ann Arbor (of course), Ypsilanti and Plymouth. If you prefer watching videos rather than reading documents, their Online Education Center is for you. Check it out to view videos on the different types of bank accounts and bank services. You can also learn about basic money management, identity theft protection and, if you’re a huge finance nerd, get the full scoop on the FDIC. For those of you not yet in the know, that’s the government organization that insures your bank deposits. If the unthinkable happens, and your bank fails, they’re got your back!

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