Category Archives: Financial Education News

Commitment to youth compels F&M Bank to create Kids Bank, Teen Bank


7-22 financial literacy logoBy Joe Birkestrand, Communications Coordinator, Iowa Bankers Association

It’s not controversial to say that saving money is a skill that everyone needs to understand. And like anything, the earlier in life that you learn how to save, the more likely you will be to apply those skills later on. But how do you get children excited about saving?

F&M Bank & Trust in Burlington does it through hands-on experience. In 1997, the bank started a program called F&M Kids Bank, which allows elementary students to operate their own savings bank. Not only are the students able to make deposits, they also work at the bank, accepting deposits from their classmates and keeping track of accounts.

In 2012, the success of the Kids Bank and the request of a local high school for help creating a financial literacy curriculum that would help satisfy Iowa Core requirements led to the creation of a F&M Teen Bank. Financial Literacy Coordinator Jennifer Schuster believes the banks provide students with an entry point to saving for their futures. The banks have been so successful that F&M Bank currently has 850 Kids Bank accounts and 600 Teen Bank accounts that it is servicing.

“We really encourage the students to save for their future,” Schuster said. “So many of our students have plans to go to college, and they know the expense they would incur, so one of the things they say they are saving for is college.”

There are several differences between the Kids Bank and Teen Bank. First, the Teen Bank uses a computer to record deposits while the Kids Bank uses hand-written ledgers. Teen Bank students are also given an ATM card to access their accounts – although they have a maximum daily withdrawal amount – and they are given mobile and online banking options to track their accounts.

There is also a difference in the deposit limit on each bank. Kids Bank allows students to save $25 per week while the Teen Bank allows students to save up to $50 per week. Schuster said that the increased weekly deposit amount doesn’t always equate to more savings, however.

“It seems that our elementary kids are better savers than our teen savers. I think it’s because (the teens) like to spend more, but we’re out there trying to encourage them to save,” Schuster said, laughing.

One thing that is not different, however, is the 4 percent interest that the students earn on their accounts. The interest rate is one that has not changed since the Kids Bank was first introduced in 1997. It is used as an incentive to compel students to participate in the banks, but also as a way to show the value that storing money in a bank can provide.

On top of receiving valuable financial literacy lessons, the students also get a full introduction into the inner workings of banks. While students work as tellers, they also serve as the banks’ boards of directors. The boards make decisions on things like advertising the banks at the schools. Promotions have included advertising the banks at a school dance or during halftime of a basketball game. The student boards also give a presentation to F&M Bank’s Board of Directors each year on the progress of their banks.

Along with the school banks, F&M Bank also provides lessons on different topics, including identity theft, saving for the future and basic information on financial planning. Schuster said that all of the financial literacy programs that F&M Bank provides are a great way to give back to the community.

“I personally believe that it’s one way to change our society,” Schuster said. “We can help as many students as possible stay out of poverty by educating them about financial literacy. And, as a bank, we have a commitment to our community, especially our youth.”

Titonka State Bank invites students for ‘Bank Day’

By Lex Adelman, IBA Marketing/Communications Intern

In elementary school the best days were field trip days because nothing was better than getting out of class to go somewhere new and exciting. Titonka State Bank (TSB) had a “Bank Day” and invited fifth-grade students to visit their Forest City branch for a field trip after they had completed the EverFi financial literacy course online.

“Bank Day” was a hit with not only the students but also those working for TSB, because they were able to see how much the students had learned about finance. Jan Anderson, who works for Titonka State Bank said, “The students enjoyed seeing how the bank worked and asked a lot of questions based on what they learned.”  The program was able to give the students enough background information so they could ask detailed questions and continue to learn throughout the visit. The field trip was so much fun for everyone involved that TSB has already invited a summer school group for another visit.

Everfi, the online learning program that TSB has sponsored, has financial literacy programming geared toward both elementary and high school students. Between TSB’s three branches they are able to provide the programming to six different elementary and high schools between Algona, Forest City and other cities in northern Iowa.

While fifth-graders were invited to tour the bank, high schoolers also benefited from EverFi. By completing the program, they are able to meet their math and ELA Common Core standards, which are required for graduation. They are taught about things such as how to apply for loans, good credit vs. bad credit and what a credit score means. Anderson hopes the skills the students learn through the program will be useful in the students’ lives after graduation.

The bank has received very positive feedback from parents, teachers and students since the start of the program. “It’s nice for teachers because they don’t have to come up with curriculum,” said Jan, as EverFi has done a good job of keeping the information interesting and fun.

TSB is committed to supporting their community and plans to continue funding the Everfi program for the next three years. The results are worth the financial investment in the program, says Anderson. Anderson is also looking forward to more excited faces as students visit for the next “Bank Day” field trip.

Glenwood State Bank helps students practice sound financial habits

By Joseph Birkestrand, Communications Coordinator, Iowa Bankers Association

When I was a kid, I loved money. In fact, I still do. I didn’t have a bank account at the time. Instead, I kept my money in a pencil case. I enjoyed knowing I had a certain amount more than I enjoyed spending what I had saved. Of course, that’s a whole lot easier to say when your parents pay for your necessities.

I loved saving so much as a child that I think it’s safe to say I would have thrived in financial literacy programs like the ones Glenwood State Bank sponsors for area elementary and high school students.

“We are really committed to financial literacy,” said Larry Winum, president and CEO at Glenwood State Bank. “We feel it is the responsibility of the banking industry to educate our future customers.”

Glenwood State Bank sponsors an EverFi – Financial Literacy program at the local high school and a Vault – Understanding Money program (also provided by EverFi) for elementary students. The EverFi program focuses on several aspects of financial literacy, including budgeting, credit cards and loans, while the Vault program has its primary focus on saving.

By making this information available to children at such a young age, Glenwood State Bank is helping to ensure that children in the community start practicing sound financial habits at an early age.

“Children learn a lot easier,” Winum said. “We see a lot of times that people have a difficult time managing money. Children learn a lot quicker and faster.” By passing this information to students early in life, “they are able to gain a better feel for the importance of saving,” Winum concludes.

By the numbers

The results of these programs speak for themselves. In the 2015-16 school year, the programs provided by Glenwood State Bank achieved the following:

  • 243: Number of students enrolled
  • 996: Number of learning modules completed
  • 437: Number of hours of learning completed
  • 69%: Average increase on assessment test after EverFi – Financial Literacy program was completed
  • 34%: Average increase on assessment test after Vault – Understanding Money program was completed.

Banking is elementary

Glenwood State Bank doesn’t stop with the EverFi programs. They have also created the Ram Savings Bank at a local elementary school with the goal of teaching kids the importance of saving money. The bank is open one day a week, and children work as tellers, receiving deposits each week. The Bank has operated since 2001.

“We send out applications to fourth graders for tellers,” Kathy Reisner, who oversees the Ram Savings Bank. “We train them for one day and take kids from any financial background. Then we ask them to teach others what they have learned.”

The purpose of the savings bank is to get children in the habit of saving. The money that students put into the bank (a minimum deposit of $0.25 is required to open an account) is deposited into accounts at Glenwood State Bank. At the end of the year, the children are free to withdraw their funds from the account and move them to another bank if they wish.

“We’re not focused on the amount of deposits,” Winum said. “It’s more about the number of deposits.”

Glenwood State Bank provides incentives like pizza parties for the students who are able to make the most deposits. Reisner says the children not only gain a lot of knowledge about the importance of saving, but they are grateful for the experience that the Ram Savings Bank provides. She has even been able to develop relationships with the students who appreciated her guidance so much that they invited her to their graduation parties.

“You really develop great relationships [with the students], Reisner said. “I’ve even been invited to students’ graduation parties.”

As an avid saver during my childhood, my younger self would definitely have loved to work as a teller, taking deposits for my fellow students. Keeping my money in a student-operated bank definitely would have beat keeping my money in a plastic pencil case.

The Financial Literacy Blog is a platform provided by the Iowa Bankers Association to share what Iowa banks are doing to promote financial literacy in their communities. Contact if you would like to share a financial literacy program you sponsor in your community.


CFPB creates scale to measure financial well-being

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has created a scale to measure a consumer’s financial well-being. The tool is free and can help banks track the financial outlook of the customer’s they serve.

Understanding financial well-being is crucial to helping consumers achieve it. Earlier this year, the CFPB released a report that described financial well-being  based on the perspectives of consumers around the country. The report became the basis for creating a set of questions – a “scale” – to measure this concept. Check out the scale and other materials at

CFPB financial well being scale

Two Rivers Bank & Trust sponsors nine Iowa high schools with financial literacy program

Two Rivers Bank & Trust, along with EverFi, Inc., has brought the Iowa Financial Literacy Program to nine Iowa high schools during the 2014-2015 school year. The online, interactive program allows students access to financial management resources, which has improved their knowledge of key financial topics by an average of 63 percent. So far, 1,746 students have been involved in the program since it began in 2011.

Security Savings Bank Brings Financial Literacy Course to Southeast Valley

Security Savings Bank  in Gowrie and EverFi, Inc. have partnered to educate Southeast Valley students about complex financial literacy concepts. Throughout the course, students cover topics such as credit scores, insurance, student loans, credit cards and more. The progress and performance of each student is tracked and a “Certification in Financial Literacy” is awarded to those students who successfully complete the course.

“I hope that as these students make financial decisions in their daily lives, they think back to this experience,” said Bradley S. Lane, president and CEO of Security Savings Bank. “This is just the beginning – and we are proud to be a partner in this quest to prepare our students for their financial futures.”

FDIC Announces Youth Savings Pilot Program

As reported in the American Bankers Association (ABA) Newsbytes, the FDIC announces the launch of a pilot program to identify and highlight promising approaches to offering financial education tied to the opening of safe, low-cost savings accounts to school-aged children. This pilot will consist of FDIC-insured financial institutions that have entered, or intend to enter, working relationships with schools and/or non-profit organizations to help these children open savings accounts in conjunction with financial education programs.

The FDIC will connect pilot participants together to share best practices and to provide technical assistance in addressing challenges related to the operation of their programs. The FDIC plans to communicate results of the pilot to provide banks with best practices to work with schools or other organizations in combining financial education with access to a savings account.

“Bank partnerships with schools that combine financial education with savings accounts offer the promise of helping children better learn to manage their money and realize the benefits of an insured savings account,” said FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg. “Insured financial institutions have committed significant volunteer resources to promote financial education and account formation in schools, and we hope this pilot identifies promising programs and adds valuable insight in understanding what works best in this area.”

The pilot will be conducted in two phases: the first covers programs that will be in place during the 2014-2015 school year. Through August 22, 2014, the FDIC is soliciting interest from institutions that will have a youth savings program underway during the 2014-2015 school year. For the second phase, the FDIC will begin soliciting interest in April of 2015 for institutions that will begin new savings programs with schools in the 2015-2016 school year. Information on this pilot program can be found at