High school project teaches financial life lessons

Commissioner Mike Rothman>
Minnesota Department of Commerce

A staggering 220,000 or 4.1 percent of Minnesotans are “unbanked” and currently without access to a bank account.

As part of Financial Literacy Month, I visited Tartan Senior High School in Oakdale to tour the school’s newly-opened branch of the Postal Credit Union, the first credit union branch entirely run by students, to promote the importance of youth savings and financial education.

Financial literacy is crucial as teens enter college and the job market. It can mean the difference between getting ahead and falling victim to the pitfalls associated with poor use of credit and focusing on wants vs. needs. Opening a savings account can provide youth the fundamental skills to understand how financial institutions work and teach the skills of budgeting and setting short-term and long-term goals.

Research indicates that consumers who have bank accounts are more likely to own other assets including having savings accounts, credit and insurance.  Conversely, individuals without accounts are less likely to own a home or a car.

As a consequence, consumers without a relationship to a bank or credit union also pay high transaction fees for services such as check cashing. As youth are presented with credit and financial decisions at a younger age, especially due to students’ post-secondary financial planning, the need to have the tools to make smart money decisions has grown.

As a vital step in financial education, the Tartan PCU Student Credit Union joins hundreds of other credit unions who teach youth the benefits of saving. Last year nearly 146,000 young members deposited $28.5 million into their saving accounts during this national event — including 9,058 of which were new accounts.

As a part of the challenge, PCU will be giving $100 to a lucky student who opens an account or makes a deposit during the month of April.

Coupled with the ability to open accounts at school, students at Tartan are engaged in financial education, including peer-to-peer financial literacy presentations to share the needed skills to successfully manage their money.

For more information about Financial Literacy Month, visit thttp://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/financial-literacy.

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