i Hear. i Learn. i-Pod.
Michael Duffy acknowledges he is not the "hippest" or "coolest" guy any more, but he does have a lot to say to young adults about their finances.
And he does know how to reach those members.
Duffy, the president of Financial Center Credit Union, is using Podcasts to get the word out to people 18 to 34 years of age. The homemade audio broadcasts available on the Internet might be unusual to some, but not for the target demographic which is accustomed to using the i-Pod devices from which the medium gets its name.
"The reaction has been fantastic," Duffy told The Credit Union Journal. "We don't have the website hit numbers yet, but we have received several e-mails back. We had quite a few members from outside the targeted demographic who said the advice was good for people of all ages."
The idea for spreading financial advice grew from many conversations Duffy had with people regarding the dearth of information the younger generation is getting. Duffy speaks in the Stockton area to Chamber of Commerce gatherings-usually about saving and building a sound financial foundation-but he wanted to do more.
"I heard more and more people saying: 'Wow, the younger generation is getting taken advantage of,' " he recalled, "Parents were telling me their kids went off to college, got a credit card, and got taken advantage of. I wanted to speak to them, and if you are going to service people, you have to know where they are coming from."
For Duffy, the tipping point came earlier this year when he was at a Las Vegas hotel and repeatedly was asked by young adults for advice on financial matters. In late August, he recorded his first Podcast. The 56-minute program included stories about how his father forced Duffy to save part of his allowance each week, how to tell the difference between needs and wants in life, and a few anecdotes about Ben Franklin.
The name of Duffy's Podcast is "Talkin' about the Benjamins," a pop culture phrase that stems from Franklin's picture on the $100 bill.
In the first edition, Duffy notes Franklin's printing press was used to establish the first U.S. currency.
Duffy also offered his five tenets of financial planning: first, self examination to determine needs from wants, second, put a price tag on things, third, save money, fourth, pay down debt, fifth, be mindful that "idle hands" might get busy spending.
"Don't do everything for money, but don't be a slave to your money. You have the power to control it," he advised on the first Podcast. "Keep your desires in check by paying yourself first. Put money away, and you don't miss what you don't have."
Finally, he adds at the end, "Here's a no-brainer, join a credit union today."
"Everything I talk about in the Podcasts is what I've been doing for years," Duffy said. "Self examination, needs and wants, good debt versus bad debt. It is my passion."
According to Duffy, financial literacy, like most things, is learned by children from their parents. He likened the process to brushing teeth: mom and dad teach the kids how and give them the habit.
Of course, it can work the other way: "People pick up good habits, bad habits or no habits."
To promote the Podcasts, Financial Center CU soon will be mailing a marketing piece to young members. Duffy said six months ago he began sending cards to young members to mark the occasion of their 18th birthday. He said the birthday card includes an offer to open the person's first checking account.
Eventually, the plan is for the Podcasts to be recorded every two weeks. They are available on the credit union's website at www.fccuburt.org, as well as at the iTunes site.