Using this guide

It’s a jungle out there!


You wouldn’t travel to a foreign country without checking a few things out first, would you? Maybe check out some online sources or take a travel book out of the library? Likewise, you shouldn’t head out into the wild world of finance until you’ve done a little background research. 

This is your guide to surviving your next expedition into the wild world of finance. Take it with you, refer to it often and report back on the wild animals you see.

What is Young & Free?

Young & Free is a North America-wide movement on a mission to let the 25-and-under crowd know that dealing with a credit union is a better choice for their financial needs.

In 2007, the first Young & Free program was launched in Alberta, Canada. Young & Free was the first-ever online job search for a credit union "Spokester"—possibly the coolest job ever!

Credit unions are cooperative financial institutions that put the needs of their members first. Credit unions that participate in the Young & Free program feel strongly that young people should be celebrated, rather than regarded as not-so-profitable numbers on a balance sheet.

Supersize your Field Guide experience!

Each episode of the Living Young & Free Show gives the 25-and-under crowd tips, tricks and hacks to get the most out of their money. A new episode is produced every two weeks by Young & Free Spokesters from all over North America.


The cooperative way to bank

The credit unions of today operate on the seven cooperative principles established in Britain way back in 1844 by a group of 28 weavers and artisans who named themselves the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers.

1. Inclusiveness  

Membership should be open to all. There is a credit union for everyone. Some are tied to an employer, but many are open to anybody who lives in the community without discrimination based on gender, race, religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation. It is the mission of the credit union movement to offer financial alternatives to underbanked and credit-challenged members of our communities.

2. Voice

Members call the shots. Credit unions are democratically run organizations, controlled by the members. The board of directors at a credit union are composed of volunteers from the membership, and each representative is democratically elected by the members.

3. Participation

Member participation leads to rates, fees and services that benefit the entire credit union. Surpluses are returned to members in the form of fewer fees, more services, lower interest on loans and higher dividends on deposits. The more members participate, the more there is to go around.

4. Independence  

Autonomy and independence set credit unions apart. As a financial cooperatives, credit unions are autonomous and independent because they are controlled by members, not outside shareholders.

5. Education

Financial education should be free and available to all. Credit unions believe that education is important. Most credit unions provide free education to members, elected representatives, management and employees so that all can prosper and contribute to the growth and well being of the cooperative. This typically includes providing financial information via seminars, workshops, newsletters and on their websites.

6. Cooperation

Cooperation among cooperatives is vital. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions serve their members best and contributes to the cooperative movement by working with other cooperatives through local, state, regional, national and international organizations.

7. Community

Giving back to the community is an obligation. Credit unions believe it is a priority to give back to the communities where they do business while focusing on their members and their needs. Credit unions seeks to achieve a greater good through responsible corporate citizenship.