75% of American teenagers report feeling stressed and unconfident when it comes to their finances.
And, admittedly, I can’t say that I blame them.
While inflation and the costs of goods are a challenge many Americans are battling; teens aged 13-18 also cite student loans, lack of financial knowledge, and peer pressures as a source of stress. As of June this year, only 22 states require high schools to offer financial literacy courses. And even fewer require it as a requisite to graduate. With so few schools offering financial education as part of their curriculum, teens look to their families for guidance on what to do.
Spoiler alert: Parents are ill-prepared to teach their children about finances
The lack of confidence in finances is not an epidemic isolated to teenagers only. Adults, too, often don’t feel as informed or confident as they could (or should) regarding their finances. And with a staggering 83% of Americans believing that it’s the parent’s job to educate their children on money, it’s pretty clear to see wherein lies the issue.
When parents, while well-meaning, are not well-versed in their finances and teach their children financial literacy it creates a perpetuating cycle of lack of financial knowledge; leading to unconfident and unprepared teenagers.
So … is there anything we can do?
Financial education is a topic that shouldn’t be isolated to one age bracket. At their core, credit unions are focused on serving their communities and fostering better financial futures for their members – of all ages.
Going beyond the transaction, credit unions have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a lifetime of financial well-being. It’s about recognizing that finances are a continuous journey that evolves with each stage of life. From saving birthday money as a kid – to buying a first car as a teenager – to buying a home and preparing for retirement as a child, there is a natural ebb and flow that comes with it.
Financial education is NOT a one-size-fits-all concept. Credit unions need to be aware of the needs of different age groups and tailor their educational initiatives to address the unique challenges faced by different age groups. For the younger generation, this could mean interactive and engaging programs that turn financial concepts into exciting adventures, while for teens, it might require a more mature approach with in-depth guidance on topics like saving for college or managing a first job.
By being a reliable resource for financial education, credit unions become partners in a member’s financial journey, ensuring that they have the knowledge and tools they need at every stage of life. In doing so, credit unions not only fulfill a crucial community service but also reinforce a culture of financial empowerment that spans generations, breaking the cycle of lack of financial knowledge.
Where do we start?
Credit unions must fill the education gap. With a new year around the corner, is your credit union putting financial education on the priority list for 2024? Or, will it sit on the back burner? Members are counting on you to be not just a financial resource, but an educational resource as well. Are you going to answer the call?
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