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Michigan Credit Union League

Michigan Credit Unions Spent April Focusing on Financial Wellness

Each April, credit unions across the country celebrate National Financial Literacy Month and National Credit Union Youth Month by participating in events and initiatives that emphasize the importance of financial wellness.

This year, many Michigan credit unions participated in a variety of programs, services and products to advance financial wellness in Michigan, including the Smart Money Kids Read, sponsored by the Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF). 

In April, the Smart Money Kids Read gave 7,500 Michigan families a free copy of the children’s book Give It! by Cinders McLeod through virtual story time and craft events at 108 libraries across the state. These events were scheduled at public libraries across the state in partnership with Michigan credit unions, Michigan libraries and the Michigan Financial Wellness Network.

Alongside statewide efforts like this, credit unions throughout Michigan celebrated National Financial Literacy Month.

Gerber Federal Credit Union President/CEO John Buckley read the Smart Money Kids Read book in a video sent to second grade teachers across the county.

“It remains important to start these conversations while children are young and lay a foundation for financial literacy,” said Buckley. “Prepare your kids to be Money Smart adults, practice saving with them and start talking about what money is and how it is earned.”

In addition to the video, Fremont-based Gerber, with the assistance of MCUF, donated a total of 600 books to nine area school districts. The credit union provided every student, teacher and school library with a copy of the book.

“Our goal is to increase our youth membership and involvement at Gerber,” continued Buckley. “We believe if children get started with their savings account early they will be better prepared for a responsible financial future.”

Community Focus Federal Credit Union, based in Brownstown Charter Twp, also held virtual storytimes. Each Sunday, credit union employees volunteered to read a children’s book with a financial theme, then recorded and posted as videos on Facebook. According to Marketing Manager Magdalena D. Kadlitz, the credit union saw increased online engagement each Sunday.

In addition to supporting Smart Money Kids Read in White Lake, Highland Township and Springfield Township, Auburn Hills-based Genisys Credit Union has partnered with area high schools and MCUF to host Financial Reality Fairs for students to get hands-on, interactive experience to advance their financial understanding through realistic approaches to budgeting.

“We place a focus on being a resource to our communities for financial education,” said Jackie Buchanan, president/CEO of Genisys. “Financial knowledge and capability are key in empowering an individual or family to reach their goals for financial freedom and choice - it’s never too early to start that education.”

Since the program began in 2019, Genisys has hosted 20 fairs in various school districts such as Orion, Chippewa Valley, Vassar and Rochester.

Outside of financial education for students, the credit union also has a Financial Wellness Center on its website that offers tools and information about budgeting, spending, saving, managing debt, retirement planning and more.

Saginaw-based Jolt Credit Union took part in a variety of Financial Literacy Month projects during April, including offering a 4% APY Youth CD available for members aged 18 and under. More than 690 young members invested a total of $1,220,000 for their future.

The credit union partnered with community events, such as the Bay County Library’s Smart Money Kids Read event, which included a Financial Literacy Challenge for teens and adults.

Additionally, Jolt took to social media and its blog to keep spreading financial literacy, with posts like “12 Tips for a Financially Healthy Family” and “Raising Money-Smart Kids.”

Fellow Saginaw credit union Team One Credit Union held Money Moves, a free online financial education program that provides relevant information and tools to help you build a stronger financial future. Each interactive video was about five minutes in length and provides an engaging learning experience around critical personal finance topics, including: using credit wisely, credit scores and reports, planning for uncertainty and preparing for retirement.

Also in Saginaw, Health Advantage Credit Union offered young members special rates, account opening specials and teen webinars, along with giveaway prizes — all of which were tailored to encourage smart financial habits early.

Additionally, Health Advantage wanted to reward parents and guardians for taking the first steps to get their children on the right financial track. Every parent and guardian earned an entry for a Visa Gift Card for signing their youth up for a new account or youth CD.

“Even though we can’t celebrate in person at this time, we wanted our youth members to know they’re still at the top of our list,” said Marketing Manager Vanessa Cole. “Providing them with the proper tools and fun ways to learn about financial education is part of showing them that!”

In Lansing this year, CASE Credit Union launched brand new youth accounts to its membership, and subsequently promoted the importance of savings accounts through social media and webinars. The credit union also promoted its Ultimate Learning Portal, an internal program for employees’ children and extended family members that provides financial education core concepts on a weekly basis, and virtual family-based financial trivia nights.

LAFCU, another Lansing credit union, also took to social media, encouraging students to share savings goals using a hashtag to enter a $50 deposit drawing. The credit union also deposited the first $5 for youth accounts opened through the end of April. 

Alongside various financial wellness programs, TBA Credit Union took a slightly different approach, awarding four classroom improvement grants totaling $2,650 to local educators in the Traverse City area.

“TBA Credit Union was founded by teachers, for teachers and we remain dedicated to supporting education throughout our community,” said Marketing Assistant Jasmine Birgy. “While school districts continue to experience budget cuts, we believe it is important to help educators fund projects and programs that are otherwise unsupported. We are committed to students’ education, and we are proud to offer Classroom Improvement Grants to our local educators.”

The grants were used toward books and classroom support programs.

Arbor Financial Credit Union, in Kalamazoo, has been busy all year educating students at area schools and organizations about financial wellness. Through financial reality fairs, webinars, storytimes, newsletters and challenges, the credit union has worked to spread financial literacy to students and young members. And every Thursday in April, the credit union held a virtual storytime to teach financial wellness.

“We want to be present in their financial journey, therefore, offering semi-annual courses for them to learn more about their accounts and the ins and outs of personal finance has given us the opportunity to assist them,” said Marketing Coordinator Sara Sparrow.

As of April 19, Arbor FCU had 1,587 deposits made by youth, as well as 56 new accounts. In comparison to 2020, for the entire month of April, the credit union had 1,592 deposits and a total of 46 new accounts. 

Also in West Michigan, Parchment-based Advia Credit Union celebrated Financial Literacy Month by promoting counseling, calculators, credit-building loans and its credit-checking tool. 

In addition, Advia extended its Half-Off Transfer (HOT) Guarantee to help members refinance high-interest debt. Historically, Advia has been able to save members an average of $3,000 when they transfer higher rate loan debt and high-rate credit cards from other financial institutions. HOT Guarantee sweetens the deal with an offer of depositing $100 into their account if the credit union is unable to find potential savings of $500 or more when they transfer their loans to Advia.

Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union (MSGCU), based in Clinton Township, embraced Financial Literacy Month by presenting educational workshops to local schools, libraries and community organizations. MSGCU hosted five virtual presentations hosted by the Pontiac Library bringing in more than 50 attendees. The workshops, which were shared on social media, included topics on checking account management, credit cards, boosting credit and budgeting living on your own.

MSGCU also continued its partnership with Oakland County Michigan Works with four workshops as part of their new Financial Fitness program, which included topics on grocery shopping, identity theft, business plans and predatory lending.

Additionally, MSGCU’s very own workshop, Getting Started with Cash and Credit, was hosted twice during the month, helping teens understand the importance of checking account management and responsible credit card use. The credit union also presented eight workshops to local schools, helping to educate nearly 150 students on choosing a financial institution, acing an interview and living on their own.

In the Detroit area, Diversified Members Credit Union ran a promotion for its My Future Savings Account, both internally and externally. If someone opened a my future savings account they were entered to win a bike. The staff member with the most referrals for a youth account won a cash prize.

“While we really placed a focus on youth month, we will continue to place an emphasis on all of it for the entire year,” said VP of Marketing Colleen Scott. The credit union recently won a CUNA Diamond Award in the category of financial education.

Dort Financial Credit Union teamed up with the Lapeer District Library in support of the Smart Money Kids Read, but also took it a step further by purchasing 300 wooden carrots and 30 paint sets to help make this an interactive activity for the children.

“The wooden carrots and paint sets attracted a lot of newer families in our community into their library to participate in a financial literacy program!” said Mary Cowles of Lapeer District Library. 

Dort Financial took the chance in April to specifically challenge young entrepreneur members with a business request contest — the winner of which received a VISA gift card.

Romulus-based Public Service Credit Union held a series of free webinars during a week in April to promote financial wellness on topics including savings, safe banking, student loans and housing. And Total Community Credit Union in Taylor celebrated the month by encouraging youth members to make regular deposits throughout April.

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2021-05-17 00:00:00