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America's Credit Union teaches JBLM students to save

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Regardless of what the economy does or where life leads, knowing how to manage your own money is a valuable skill. One local credit union is trying to instill that lesson early by working with school-aged children to open savings accounts.

When a PTA member from Chloe Clark Elementary approached America's Credit Union (ACU) with the suggestion, management was quick to develop a School Partnership Program and roll it out at the DuPont school.

ACU offers two youth savings account programs that help educate kids about personal finance, both of which can be started with just $1. To open a youth account, the parent and/or guardian must be a joint owner on the account and have his or her own account (in good standing) with ACU.

For children under the age of 12, the Tree Fort Club is the way to go. New Tree Fort account owners receive the typical check register and membership card, but the deal is sweetened for these youthful bankers with stickers, a coloring book and a quarter saver to help them collect their change.

Each time a deposit is made, children receive additional stickers and, at various account levels, they receive other incentives and prizes. For example, once the account has reached $200, they receive a set of dog tags; at $400, a piggy bank; at $600, a water bottle; at $800, a lunch bag; and at $1,000, a stuffed toy.

For youth aged 13 to 17, the Teen Account goes a step further and combines a savings account with a checking account, which includes a free debit card, free online banking, free bill pay and more, just like with an adult's checking account. There are also discount rates for auto loans available for teens just getting their driver's license.

The School Partnership Program also includes free classroom presentations about financial topics and two assemblies - first to introduce the program and then to show the students how much has been saved. Furthermore, one day of every month an ACU staff member will be at the school during lunch to act as a teller and collect deposits from the students.

In addition to Chloe Clark Elementary, the program has been implemented at Hillside Elementary on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Evergreen Christian Elementary in Lacey. Want to see your school develop a partnership with ACU or sign your child up for a youth account? Contact the Membership Contact Center at (253) 964-3113.

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