MADISON, Wis. (3/25/13)--As Financial Literacy Month, April will present an opportunity for credit unions to rededicate themselves to their core operating principles of education and social responsibility, says Lois Kitsch, National Credit Union Foundation national program director.
"It is part of our mission," Kitsch said. "It is why we exist. But I also think it makes good business sense. The more educated members we have the more successful and productive they will be as members of the credit union. It makes common sense that access to financial information should be the core of everything credit unions do."
NCUF raises funds, makes grants, manages programs, and provides education to help consumers achieve financial freedom through credit unions. Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions fund financial education and empower more consumers to save, build assets and own homes.
There is evidence that a need for financial education exists among U.S. consumers. The sixth annual Financial Literacy Survey of adults, conducted in 2012 on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association revealed that:
Two in five U.S. adults gave themselves a C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance;
56% admit that they do not have a budget;
One-third, or more than 77 million Americans, do not pay all of their bills on time;
39% carry credit card debt over from month to month;
Two in five adults indicated that they now save less than they did one year ago; and about 39% do not have any non-retirement savings.
"It's a logical step financial education should start with credit unions, which are philosophically grounded in it," Kitsch.
NCUF is inviting credit union organizations to hold a "Financially Fit Day" on April 3 to kick off National Financial Literacy Month. Credit unions can hold fundraising days with members or staff on April 3 or throughout April, NCUF said. Donations will be split between NCUF and a state's credit union foundation.
Credit unions will have plenty of resources to assist in their financial literacy efforts. In April, the Credit Union National Association will offer credit unions two opportunities to increase credit union awareness while building financial literacy among America's youth.
National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27, was created by CUNA so credit unions nationwide could focus on the financial needs of young people and provide financial literacy education. The event focuses on teaching the benefits of saving and goal setting, and invites youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.
This year's theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery" employs mystery and mustaches to engage youth. For National Credit Union Youth Week promotional materials and resources, use the link.
Because National Credit Union Youth Week occurs during Financial Literacy Month, credit unions can extend their youth activities throughout April.
CUNA conducts the National Youth Saving Challenge throughout April. The challenge rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes. Last April, 241 credit unions joined the Saving Challenge and engaged 125,867 youth, who deposited a collective $21.3 million in their credit union savings accounts, including 7,300 new member accounts.
"It makes good business sense for credit unions to help members make the most of their financial resources. We believe that educated consumers choose credit unions as their best financial partner," said Susan Tiffany, CUNA director of consumer periodicals. "We also believe it's the right thing to do."