Student-run credit union helps Winnipeg teens and parents

A student-run credit union at Technical Vocational High School in Winnipeg is helping teenagers and their parents learn about managing money.
Tec Voc High School Grade 12 students Wencel Mendoza (l) and Jamie Walters (r) help run Stingers Credit Union during the lunch hour. (Margaux Watt)

A student-run credit union at Technical Vocational High School in Winnipeg is helping teenagers and their parents learn about managing money.

Stingers Credit Union, a partnership between the school and Assiniboine Credit Union, is expanding services this fall, including small, interest-free loans for students and financial planning advice for parents.

"What we're trying to do is expand our services to get into things like registered education savings plans," Greg Link, department head of Applied Technology and Commerce at Tec Voc, said.

The topic was discussed recently at Tec Voc's parent - teacher night.

Grade 12 student Jamie Walters agreed when it comes to money, it should be a family affair.

"I think that it's really important as teenagers, we talk to our families, talk to our parents," she said.

Walters is one of the students working in the credit union during the lunch hour, helping students with day-to-day banking, things like deposits, withdrawals and account transfers. Walters said they also try to promote saving.

"The saving money aspect sometimes can be overwhelming as a teenager," Walters said. "If I have cash, then I have an impulse to spend it, so having somewhere to put that money instead of holding onto it has really helped me personally save my money and be able to reach long term goals that I have, like university," she said.

Students opening accounts, transferring money 

Since Stingers opened in December of 2014, about 100 students have signed up for accounts. And during that time, Link has noticed a positive trend; significant transfers from chequing to savings accounts.

"Many people start with just a chequing account and then they realize, 'Well, maybe I should be diverting some of this money for the future,' for whatever their goal is, whether it's a bike or car or saving for school," he said.

For Walters, who plans to go to university next year to pursue a degree in business, having the credit union located in the school helps get the conversation about finances started and helps deal with any fears students may have around asking questions.

"They can come and ask us questions maybe they don't want to ask their friends. So it's good that we're here for them," she said.

Walters, already sounding like a young banker, had this advice: "Don't share your pin number. That's bad."


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