Teaching Your Kids Smart Money Habits With Y-12 Federal Credit Union


From Apple Pay to online shopping, it’s easier than ever to click, tap and swipe to pay for everything your family needs. While it certainly makes life easier, it also means our children are seeing few — if any — cash transactions. That makes it more important than ever to teach our children smart money habits. Forming those habits can and should start at an early age. Beth Kobliner, author of “Making Your Kid a Money Genius (Even if You’re Not),” says kids are able to grasp basic money concepts like value and exchange by age three.  Sound too early? Kobliner points to research that shows “many good habits associated with money-management skills are really solidified by age seven.”

Teaching your kids smart money habits goes beyond piggy banks. So how do we raise financially literate children? Y-12 Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Oak Ridge, reached out to Knoxville Moms to share the local federal credit union’s mission to educate kids and help parents raise money-smart children.

Financial Literacy WorkshopYouth Bank Accounts

Opening a youth savings account at Y-12 Federal Credit Union is a perfect first step and it couldn’t be easier. Unlike many financial institutions, Y-12 FCU youth savings accounts are free to set up. Parents are not required to have accounts at Y-12 FCU, but they must co-sign for the youth account. There are no minimum balance requirements and no fees. In fact, those accounts don’t have any fees until the user is 24-years-old. At the age of 14, youth can even open their own high-yield checking account. You can visit any of the 16 Y-12 Federal Credit Union branches in East Tennessee to open a youth bank account or you can do it online.

School Outreach

Y-12 FCU is carrying its mission to educate kids about money even farther. The Institution has partnered with area schools and community groups to bring financial literacy lessons directly to students. Last year, Y-12 FCU’s programs reached well over 4,000 elementary, middle and high school students in East Tennessee. I had a chance to sit down with the Y-12 FCU team behind this outreach effort. They are an approachable, passionate and enthusiastic bunch, which is the right combination to reach kids of all ages. The lessons they teach range from personal finance to business and marketing strategies. Mock interview and resume sessions are also held.

Y-12 FCU Financial Outreach Advisor Brooke Jackson says one of their most popular for high schoolers is called “Mad City Money.” “It’s like the board game Life but on a much, much bigger scale.” Students earn wages, make financial decisions and encounter obstacles. This pretend-play allows them to put their financial knowledge to the test without real-world consequences. Jackson believes the lessons the students learn can set them up for financial success in the future. “That’s our ultimate goal,” she says.

Y12 FCUY-12 FCU team teaching “Mad City Money” lesson at area Boys & Girls Club.

Digital Apps

And what better way to reach tech-savvy kids and teens than through digital apps? Y-12 FCU uses the app Zogo created by Duke University students after a boring financial wellness seminar. The interactive platform teaches high school students to be financially fit in a fun, educational way. Users can even earn gift cards. Thanks to Y-12 FCU, thousands of students in East Tennessee are able to use Zogo for free.

Soon the folks at Y-12 FCU will be rolling out access to another app called My First Nest Egg. Made by moms, the chore and allowance app is geared towards children from pre-K to fourth grade. The curriculum consists of one quick lesson a day that takes less than a minute.


It’s not just about teaching students about money, but also giving them a financial leg up. Y-12 Federal Credit Union awards thousands of dollars in scholarships annually. The goal is to encourage the pursuit of higher learning whether through a university or a trade school. The money awarded can be used for any college expense including residences and laptops, which makes it different from many other scholarships. This year Y-12 FCU will be giving away more money than ever. Students are selected based on academics, extracurriculars, community service, accolades and recommendations. Once selected, students must produce a unique video or essay in response to the provided prompt. Since 2010, Y-12 FCU has awarded $90,000 in scholarships.

These are just some of the programs Y-12 Federal Credit Union is using to foster change in the financial literacy landscape.  By giving kids (and their parents) the tools to develop smart money habits Jackson firmly believes Y-12 FCU is making a difference: “What we’re doing is life changing.”

For more information on Y-12 Federal Credit Union and its programs, visit the Y-12 FCU Facebook page or website.



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