With money coming in and a future to think about, Adrianna knew she had to save money somewhere. The next step for the Bay View High School junior is maybe the most important, and often the most unfamiliar, for teens: walking inside a financial institution.

Adrianna said it has become clear that she’ll need a bank that can get her the most when it comes to depositing checks, using debit cards and packing away money for life after high school. She’s already considering TCF Bank, where her mom has an account. Now she’s ready for in-person comparison shopping.

“I’m looking at the fees. Fees that are low or even no fees,” Adrianna said. “I want as much of my money

[as possible].”

Adrianna and more than one dozen of her peers in the Teens Grow Greens program had a first-hand “shopping” experience in banking last week through their participation in Money Coach. The group of teenagers converged on the East Side Milwaukee branch of Educators Credit Union. For a handful of high school juniors and seniors, it was their first time inside of a financial institution.

One of the most important steps for teens practicing solid financial fundamentals is the move they make to enter a bank or credit union. A few financial institutions have met students on their own turf step by setting up a kiosk inside the halls of an MPS high school. But not all students have this resource nearby. Many others are without the family member or other fiscal role model who can has the time and know-how to guide a teen through the new process. Additionally, bankers may not be receptive to how alien this experience can be for some teenagers.

In concert with mentor-led lessons on financial concepts held at schools and community-based organizations like Teens Grow Greens, Make A Difference – Wisconsin has begun to provide teens with immersive experiences at banks and credit unions. With the opportunity to learn and experience in an unintimidating environment, teens can make empowered, important early financial choices.

At Educators last week, leaders from the credit union joined our mentor volunteers in an overview of banking basics. Then, students were able to size up debit cards and log-in to an online banking dashboard. Through the door of a functioning credit union, teens were at ease and fired off an array of questions on credit scores and minimum balances, on types of accounts and upcoming savings goals.

“You’re at an important step in your financial journey,” said Victor Frasher, high school program branch manager at Educators Credit Union.

-by Justin Kern, Marketing & Communications Manager, Make A Difference – Wisconsin

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