MADISON, Wis., and HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/28/15)--Credit unions are taking to the media before the fall semester begins to advise students and young adults to make good financial decisions while on their own for the first time.
News programs in Harrisburg, Pa., and Madison, Wis., interviewed league, state foundation and credit union executives on financial literacy.
Teens spend $170 billion a year, but many do so blindly, with no idea how much they are spending, Mike Wishnow, senior vice president of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), and Kathleen Fey, executive director of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation (PCUF), told Pennsylvania Newsmakers host Terry Madonna last week (Life is a Highway July 27).
They pointed out the need for education both at home and in schools. “Teens will mimic your behavior. If you’re living beyond your means, they will also,” PCUA’s Wishnow said, adding, “Family finances are often taboo in households.”
PCUF works with 285 schools to teach financial education, said Fey. Ten percent of Pennsylvania schools have stand-alone courses required for graduation, while another 100 schools offer financial electives, said Wishnow. Although credit unions generally will work with young members in trouble financially, young people should be educated before they get to that point, Fey said.
On WMTV-15 Monday, UW CU Executive Vice President Mike Long told students arriving on campus for the first time to look closely at the local financial institutions. Interview them about features, benefits and fees, and find an account that works best for you, he said. The interview included several scenes filmed at the Madison, Wis., credit union.
Most institutions have specific accounts designed for students. UW CU’s campus package “includes all the products and services that a student would need to manage their financial life while they are in college,” Long told reporter Meredith Barack.
He also advised picking an institution with low or no fees and looking at its overdraft programs. “Some institutions charge multiple overdraft fees on any given day.” He also suggested getting a credit card with a reasonable limit. UW CU’s card has a $1,000 limit. “You’re really not going to get in a lot of trouble with just $1,000 of credit available,” he said.
Both programs emphasized that young people make mistakes that can impact their credit long-term, for seven to 10 years.