Hit them right in their existential dread

Hey CUs, young people need your help

I’ve written at length about how credit unions can get noticed by Millennials. But sometimes it feels like people forget how time just keeps passing us by.

Not to make anyone feel old, but as of 2022 millennials are now between the ages of 26 and 41. This means the vast majority of college grads are Gen-Z, and there’s officially a whole new incoming generation for CUs to deal with.

So rather than saying “Millennials and Gen-Z” every time, I’m just going to say “young people” and hope that works.

Despite the new blood, we can’t forget that young people are still struggling. They need help to prepare themselves financially for the future.

And credit unions should be jumping on this opportunity.

Your younger members have been dealt a difficult hand

We’ve known for a few years now that young workers today are making less money than their parents made at the same age. There are a lot of reasons for this, and a big one was the 2008 financial collapse. Furthermore, the older generation has stayed in the workforce for longer, making it harder for younger workers to move into higher-paid positions. For these reasons and others, a lot of young people haven’t been able to make big financial moves like buying houses or starting families.

To make literally everything worse, with 2020 came the first global pandemic. I won’t rehash what we all just went through, but it should suffice to say that many young people are having difficulty imagining a future at all. A lot of us went from “I wish I could afford a mortgage,” to “I wish I could afford a car loan.”

If you asked my friends about their retirement plans, a lot of them would laugh out loud. But even for those who don’t think of retirement like a fairy tale, the reality is daunting. Back in 2016, USA today projected that young people would have to save $2 million or more to maintain their standard of living during retirement. Kind of hard to do that when you can’t afford a car loan.

Credit unions could make all the difference

This is where your CU should be seeing the golden opportunity. Credit unions do their best work when they’re helping people, and we have multiple generations who are going to need the help.

Now, CUs probably can’t fix the wealth gap, the pandemic or rising cost of housing. (Feel free to try if you can!) But where credit unions can really reach young people is by helping them prepare for the future. This means refinancing student loans, building good credit hygiene and opening retirement accounts. In other words, you’ve got to hit them right in their existential dread.

Because if history has taught us anything it’s that time moves forward in a linear fashion. The future is coming, no matter how many memes are made about the end of the world. And if young people don’t get the help they need, they won’t be ready to be old people.

Let me be clear, this isn’t a new concept. It’s just that credit unions seem to be waiting for the young people to show up and ask for help, and a lot of young people don’t even know you exist. You’re going to have to get the word out to them, or they’re just going to keep making memes well into their 80s.

Sam Dicken

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