How Credit Unions Help Conquer the High Cost of Low Financial Literacy

New data from the National Financial Educators Council finds that big gaps in financial literacy can cost consumers big bucks. Nearly four out of ten people report that lack of knowledge about their finances resulted in them losing at least $500 over the last year. But the average cost per consumer is even steeper at $1,819 annually, an 11% increase since 2021. Given the financial landscape is only growing more complex each year, credit unions are stepping up to provide educational programs to support and foster financial wellness, starting young.

In the Pacific Northwest, Oregon State Credit Union is heading into the classroom with a tech-enabled learning platform that will be deployed in 23 school communities across the state. The program uses Banzai courses that let users manage a budget, create savings goals, and navigate through unexpected financial setbacks. Additional Banzai resources include financial literacy articles, calculators, and personalized coaching sessions. “We have already seen incredible positive response,” says Peter Walker, OSCU vice president of organizational development. “We’re getting the same enthusiasm as we introduce Banzai resources to our members and our own employees.”

The University of Hawai’i Federal Credit Union is also using the high-tech approach to connect with Gen Z. The credit union is using a cobranded version of the Zogo app, which was created by Gen Z college students when they grew frustrated with available financial education choices. The app uses 400+ gamification modules to make learning engaging and fun and address topics ranging from how to open a checking account to understanding cryptocurrency. “We wanted something that would excite students and motivate them to learn, says Bari Carroll, UHFCU’s senior vice president. “Rather than having material fed to them in a typical classroom setting.”

Going even younger, My Nest Egg focuses on children ages 3-12 and is available at partner credit unions. The women-founded digital financial literacy app is being provided free to Landings Credit Union in Tempe, AZ and Y-12 Federal Credit Union in Oak Ridge, TN. “Youth financial literacy is one of the largest challenges we are facing as a nation,” says Alicia Strange, director of community for Y-12 Federal Credit Union. “We are very optimistic about the opportunity to provide engaging, gamified financial education to kids as young as age three.” The credit union says eradicating financial illiteracy will help put their members on the right path early.

For Financial Literacy Month, the Cooperative Credit Union Association (CCUA) has produced two :30 spots airing on radio stations throughout New England and Delaware. The “Better Values – Better Banking” campaign reminds consumers about the power of financial literacy and how choosing a community financial institution like a credit union can help them meet life’s goals. The National Credit Union Association (NCUA) has also launched a financial literacy outreach newsletter with resources for credit unions and financial educators to enhance their financial wellness programs and “support consumers at all stages of their financial journey.”

For more information on financial wellness programs and other successful initiatives in the financial services sector, stay tuned to Believe in Banking. For more banking best practices, see Adrenaline’s Insights channel for brand-to-branch approaches for financial institutions. To learn more about growing your financial brand or to speak with one of our banking and credit union experts, contact us at