ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/4/14)--Over the last few years, the National Credit Union Administration has used Financial Literacy Month as a high-profile time to roll out new education materials. In April 2012 the NCUA launched Pocket Cents, a site featuring a variety of resources for children. The following April it was expanded, with the agency intending to include tips for multiple populations, including families, servicemembers and seniors.
(Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series on the role NCUA can play in supporting credit union financial education efforts for their members. Part I was titled "MyCreditUnion.gov: Making fin.ed. resources available" and ran Sept. 3. See resource link.)
The 2013 update to the site also included a game, called "Hit the Road." In it, the player recruits friends for a cross-country car trip, and must have enough money to get them to their destination. Players must have enough money to keep the car filled with gas, passengers fed and have money to get them out of jams, such as a flat tire or a passenger getting sick.
|In the game "Hit the Road," players must decide how best to spend their money while making a cross-country road trip. (National Credit Union Administration Graphic)|
"The game is mainly for teens and pre-teens, but anyone can play. It was designed to teach lessons about math and money, but also about decision making, consequences, debt and figuring out the difference between wants and needs," said Laura Todor, a consumer affairs officer with the NCUA who designed the game. "Sure you can spend your money on souvenirs and attractions, but once something goes wrong and you don't have any money, you're in trouble."
Another part of the site tailored for youth starts with the most basic aspect of financial education: money itself. Visitors to the site can learn what currency looks like in different countries, how it's made and even take a quiz on the faces that are on coins and bills.
"One of the biggest upticks we've seen is mobile traffic, especially to the 'Hit the Road' game, which we think means more youth are hearing about it, trying it out on their mobile phones and sticking around to check out other parts of the site," Todor told News Now. "Any section of the site with youth content has seen much higher mobile traffic than other sources."
As users of the site move onto other phases of life, the site has additional materials in those sections:
Morgan Rogers, director of the NCUA's Division of Consumer Affairs, said the traffic on the site has been growing faster than anticipated, especially when new information is added. It has been featured in Good Housekeeping, TipHero.com and NBC's "Today" show.
"We've even been seeing traffic and hearing back from people who aren't credit union members, who just stumbled on the site looking for financial education information," Rogers said. "So in that way, it has evolved into a financial literacy tool for everyone."