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OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s a thumbs up for Tinker Federal Credit Union’s bid to financially empower Gen Y by encouraging them to ‘Buck the Norm.’“The purpose of Buck the Norm is to encourage young adults not to follow the typical model of mounting debt and overspending. which has hampered many American households,” said Tinker FCU Senior Vice President of Marketing Matt Stratton. “Personal financial management doesn’t have to be a painful process. With education, individuals can make responsible choices that will benefit their overall quality of life and personal happiness.”To that end, the credit union has launched a Web site, www.BuckTheNorm.com, designed to help teens and young adults think and act differently about money management.The interactive site offers life-stage appropriate and relevant financial information in a fun and entertaining format.Collaborating with Third Degree Advertising and Communications in Oklahoma City, the credit union’s financial empowerment initiative is aimed at not only providing a financial resource but to also engage and build an online dialogue with teens and young adults. The site provides opportunities to e-mail questions and offer comments, as well as connections to social media forums such as Twitter and Facebook to encourage the sharing of information beyond the boundaries of the BuckTheNorm.com Web site.“Ultimately, this site is essentially about financial empowerment-not a sales pitch for Tinker Federal Credit Union. And, the timing couldn’t be better as the economy collapsing makes managing money a very relevant topic now for young people,” said Stratton. “Research out there supports this initiative. Young people want to learn about money and need a trusted site they can go to that provides real information and answers questions of what matters most to them.”In keeping with the idea of bucking norms, rather than pull typical lifestyle images, the campaign “spokespeople” are fingers and thumbs.“The idea was to reinforce the message that financial empowerment is for everybody and we didn’t want anyone feeling like they weren’t represented in looking at the site or the ads. So Third Degree came up with the concept that instead of people, just about everyone has fingers and thumbs so we’d use that,” said Stratton.He said the first phase of the site features tips and tools for budgeting, a glossary of financial terms from the Oklahoma State Department of Education to help ease confusion, information on how to get a truly free credit report, advice on interviewing and r?sum? development and more. In addition, a video, comic strip, downloadable art and ring tones further reinforce the meaning of buck the norm.In a soft launch of the initiative, Tinker FCU chose the second annual Ghouls Gone Wild Halloween parade in Oklahoma City, which drew an estimated 34,000 people to make its public debut. The BuckTheNorm.com entry, which won best overall, featured a giant sign of money monsters entitled “debt” and “overspending” pulled on a flatbed trailer. In addition, six money-clad puppeteers carried two large monsters as they were followed by a procession of active BuckTheNorm-ers. Brightly outfitted TFCU volunteers carried Buck the Norm signs and encouraged onlookers to change the way they think, act and feel about their money.In mid-November, the second phase of the site will include Tinker FCU’s second annual video scholarship contest, a sampling of local artists’ music, financial personality quizzes and even more useful and user-friendly financial information. For now, two Tinker FCU staffers serve as the bloggers and plans are underway to find someone to exclusively run the Buck the Norm program full-time.“We want to keep the content fresh and for us Buck the Norm is not an end but rather only part of our overall more traditional youth outreach efforts, like meet and greets at local events and colleges, universities, advertising in various publications and other media,” said Stratton. “We’re not na?ve enough to think the Web site is more than a complement to our existing financial education program. We have two full-time financial educators to conduct seminars targeting all ages and these professional educators have trained the first round of an additional 24 Tinker FCU employees to help in financial education outreach.”According to a 2008 report from Forrester Research, Gen Y (age 18-27) spends 13.9 hours each week online for personal and work purposes compared to 9.5 hours per week on average for all ages of adults. Stratton said the site provides another avenue to educate, communicate and connect with teens and young adults.“It’s old school outreach married to new social media efforts and having them work together,” said Stratton. “The whole nature of social media is electronic word of mouth and the technology allows it to be done in seconds rather than over the course of a week. We’ve already heard that people are finding the site without us telling them yet. Essentially we want this educational and interactive site to be dynamic and one that evolves over the long term.”–[email protected]

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