Southern Mass. Credit Union is teaching area middle and high school students about the importance of personal finances, and living within a budget.

Its all part of fnancial literacy instruction being offered free of charge to area schools.

President Daniel Waltz says credit union personnel and community business partners are providing more than 600 students with basic financial information. Waltz says the program includes "understanding the basics of saving accounts and checking accounts as well as lending, but one of the primary skills they're also teaching is knowing how to budget your take-home pay."

Waltz says the bank decided to create financial literacy programs after noticing that many young adults applying for loans are already in financial trouble when they come in.

Southern Mass. Credit Union is running the programs at the Global Learning Charter Public School in New Bedford, Fairhaven High School and St. Joseph's School in Fairhaven, and Plymouth North High School.