Help Wanted: A Generation in Debt Seeking Advice and Education
While flipping through the channels one night, I landed on a special on the history of America. The show was interesting, but what I was left thinking about after was the commercials.
Each break was kicked off by a Bank of America commercial talking about how it was tied to certain banks that existed during Colonial America. The commercial then went on to plug certain historical projects that were funded by grants from Bank of America.
I understand that while the good things credit unions do may not be known on a national level, the efforts of many credit unions are recognized on a local level. But is that enough?
I know credit unions can't compete with the marketing dollars of Bank of America, but credit unions can't hide behind that fact forever.
Last month was financial literacy month, and while at my desk I heard all about what CUs were doing for it. Outside of work I heard nothing.
The idea of a national brand campaign that will explain what credit unions are is complicated, but financial literacy is something simple that credit unions should be able to get together on. For financial literacy month, why wasn't there a national campaign promoting what credit unions are doing across the country to educate people on good financial practices?
Recently I read an article in USA Today (www.usatoday.com/money/economy) that had some frightening statistics, mostly because I see the real life results of those statistics among my peers.
The article cited a Pew Research Center study released in February that said about 37% of 18-to-29-year-olds have been underemployed or out of work during the recession, the highest amount among that group in three decades.
An October study by Hewitt Associates said 60% of workers 20-to-29-years-old cashed out their 401(k) retirement plans when they changed or lost jobs.
The article cited Fidelity Investments, which said that Gen Yers each have more than three credit cards, and 20% carry a balance of more than $10,000.
The most recent data from the Project on Student Debt showed Gen Yers are graduating from college with an average of $23,000 in student debt.
It's obvious that my generation needs guidance and help in the financial management department. If credit unions can be this resource for us, then why aren't you working together to make it known?