By Jane Rooney, Financial Literacy Leader
Young people today face a bewildering number of consumer choices and ever-higher costs for major life events like post-secondary education. The temptation to spend money on the latest electronics, fashion or entertainment is ever-present. How then to prepare for the future and make best use of your allowance or your earnings from part-time jobs?
My job as Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader is to help Canadians learn and practise the ‘financial basics’ that will allow them to enjoy a secure financial future. Financial literacy means having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. Using credit cards wisely and learning how to create a budget and save for the future are good examples of financial literacy.
You are never too old or young to improve your financial literacy. Luckily, there are many resources available for youth to learn the financial basics at home, and for educators to bring financial learning into the classroom. Many organizations — from governments to private companies and community organizations — are involved in supporting financial literacy. Financial literacy is being taught in all educational jurisdictions in Canada.
My job is to coordinate the efforts of groups across the country to make sure that financial education is available to all Canadians and is relevant to the problems they face in daily life. Canada will soon have a national strategy for financial literacy that will reach people from all walks of life, including children and youth.
Helping to write and implement the national strategy are the members of the National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy. The Steering Committee is composed of 15 influential individuals who have a vast experience in financial education. Some of their work has involved bringing financial learning into schools.
For example, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, where I work, collaborated with the Canadian Bankers Association on a program called Your Money Students that brought 600 banking professionals into high schools in many provinces to coach on budgeting, saving, investing, and how to avoid fraud. In all, more than 220,000 students participated.
This is just one example of the many financial literacy initiatives that target school-age kids. To ensure teachers and students can learn of similar programs, FCAC will soon launch a financial literacy resource database at itpaystoknow.gc.ca, gathering information on all of the financial education tools, programs and resources available to Canadians. The resource database has a filter so you can search for material aimed at students.
November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. It’s an opportunity for all Canadians to get involved in financial literacy and take steps to improve their own knowledge and skills with money. The FCAC website has a calendar of event taking place during the month, and students are invited to enter the My Financial Literacy Selfie photo contest. Simply snap a picture of yourself and write a short caption depicting how you are putting your financial literacy skills to use, or how you are helping to strengthen the financial literacy of others.
I hope to see photos submitted from many students and their teachers. It’s easy and the prizes are great! Financial literacy involves life-long learning, so start young and stick to a plan that will help you achieve your long-term financial goals.
Financial Literacy Month pages at the FCAC website: