Financial education may be the avenue credit unions have been looking for to reach parents, young adults and children alike.
According to a recent survey commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education in cooperation with Forbes.com and conducted by Harris Interactive,
A full 59% of parents are providing, or have in the past provided, financial support to their adult children after they are out of school.
The survey explored how the current economic and job landscape has presented a bigger challenge than expected for those who should be leaving the nest.
Some 65% of young adults age 18-39 who are not in school believe the financial pressures faced by their generation are tougher than those experienced by previous generations. In addition, 32% of parents agree and said their own generation had it easier than their children’s generation, with 43% stating they provide financial support because they are "legitimately concerned" with their child’s financial well-being, while 37% said they did not want to see their children struggle the same way they did in the past.
"Parents are continuing their financial involvement longer than we expected," said Ted Beck, president/CEO of the Denver-based NEFE. "The general sentiment is that financial pressures are higher for this generation. But if parents are going to financially support their adult children, they should first have a serious talk about their kids’ expectations so that everyone protects their financial futures."
According to the survey, parents are providing support in many ways:
• 50% provide housing,
• 48% help with living expenses,
• 41% help with transportation costs,
• 35% provide insurance coverage,
• 29% hand out spending money and
• 28% help with medical bills.
According to Beck it marks a disturbing trend where parents are making sacrifices to help their kids that they may not be able to comfortably make.
"We all want to ensure the best for our children. But if you are taking on extra debt or delaying retirement to help your adult child, you could be making a mistake and putting your own financial future in jeopardy," Beck warns.
Thirty percent of parents responded that they have given up privacy since their adult children moved back home; 26% have taken on additional debt; 13% have delayed a life event, such as buying a home or taking a vacation; and 7% have delayed retirement.
Recognizing the need for more financial education among area consumers, the New Jersey Credit Union League issued a "Financial Literacy Challenge" in April 2010 to credit unions across the state to provide as much financial education as possible for one year.
To help encourage participation, the league developed a set of curriculum for children, teens and adults that credit unions could use in the classroom, at the credit unions, or anywhere else they were able to provide financial literacy education. The league’s curriculum was provided free of charge to affiliated, participating credit unions. If a credit union wished to use their own or other curriculum, the league requested a copy of it to review before it could qualify.
"Credit unions do an excellent job of providing financial education to members daily, whether it be through programs designed to provide young students with knowledge of budgets or credit, through programs like the financial reality fairs that were started this year, or just through one-on-one counseling at a local branch," said Paul Gentile, NJCUL president/CEO. "The Financial Literacy Challenge was a way for us to further help credit union members by providing them with scholarships to help them further their education on any front."
Participating credit unions were split into three asset categories: under $10 million, $10 million to $25 million and over $25 million. The top credit union from each asset category would receive two $1,000 scholarships; second place would receive two $750 scholarships; and third place would receive two, $400 scholarships. The scholarships could be provided to members of the credit union’s choosing–not just limited to graduating high school seniors. Progress was tracked via attendee evaluation forms.
A total of 16 credit unions signed up for the challenge, and Gentile said four credit unions did an outstanding job over the past year providing financial literacy to individuals and groups of all ages across the state. The NJCUL recognized 1st Bergen CU, MidState FCU, Central Jersey FCU, First Jersey FCU, and Jersey Shore FCU as the Financial Literacy Challenge winners.
In total, participating credit unions reached 1,466 people across New Jersey with their financial literacy efforts.