Student-Run Credit Unions in MN Teach Value of Cash

Updated: 04/20/2013 7:12 PM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz

April is Financial Literacy Month, a time for people to learn about money - how to spend it, and how to save. In Minnesota, more than 200,000 people don't have access to a bank accounts. At metro high schools, that's starting to change.

"I know, we're high schoolers, we're going to be going out, having some fun, going out to dinners, movies, whatever it may be, but it's important to remember budgeting," Austin Raebel told a class during a presentation at Tartan High School in Oakdale.

Raebel is a junior at Tartan High School, he is also an employee at Postal Credit Union. The union branch at Tartan is run entirely by students.

"Students, staff, they can just come here and ask any questions if they want to open accounts, we are here to do that, even if it's just a simple, how can I budget my money better," Raebel said.

Since the student-run credit union opened in January, dozens of students have opened accounts like senior Steven Skaar.

"I want to be more prepared and get the experience to basically step into the real life after I graduate high school this June," Skaar said. 

Students can open a savings account, a checking account and get a debit card. There is also a Postal Credit Union ATM in the school lobby.

"Credit unions are offering an opportunity to learn about simple financial and important concepts, to save your money (and) to apply for a loan," said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, who visited the school credit union April 4.

There also are student credit unions at Owatonna and Como Park high schools.

KSTP sat down with "Your Money" radio host Bruce Helmer to get some of his best advice on how to teach kids about money. Helmer says it's important to teach children good values and let them manage some of their own money.

"I think there is a balancing act between being responsible, earning money, being responsible how you spend your money, and still allowing yourself to be a kid," Helmer said.

Helmer also says each family should determine how much allowance is appropriate, but that information should be private.

Events are happening throughout the month to promote financial literacy. Click here for the calendar of events.