Getting smart with money

A series of workshops, speakers and discussions on personal finance have been taking place across the country as part of Canada’s first Financial Literacy Month.

This initiative was undertaken by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), along with the Financial Literacy Action Group (FLAG) and other participating organizations.

“It was just a way to promote the issue of financial literacy and demonstrate the importance of it in the lives of Canadians,” said Julie Hauser, the Media Relations Officer for the FCAC.

“It allowed us to work with other partners to present activities across the country, and raise awareness of this issue, and strengthen skills of Canadians.”
With approximately 75 organizations participating and 200 events taking place, there is potential for a large impact on the financial literacy of Canadians.
One of the keys to financial literacy is understanding your own needs and the corresponding options.

Hauser commented, “It’s important for people to take the time to research and understand the product or service before they buy it.”

Although this educational program is relevant to all demographics, some of the events have been directed specifically at the student population, both at the high school and postsecondary level.

Hauser acknowledged the distinctive needs of students when looking to open a bank account or get a credit card.

The FCAC website also offers tips to consider before signing a contract and a free budgeting calculator to help people “see where you’re spending your money, and where you can maybe trim your costs.”

“Some people just don’t realize, two dollars a day on a coffee, or magazines, or lottery tickets, or cigarettes or things like that —how much they are spending on it,” Hauser explained.

And in some cases, it wouldn’t be too hard for them to give that up.”
In addition, the FCAC provides materials that can be ordered online by any school who would like to host a financial basics workshop for postsecondary students.

Helena Cao, the senior director of the Waterloo Banking Project, and a student at the University of Waterloo, still believes that there is much room to grow in achieving student financial literacy.

“Most of the financial education, it’s catered towards balancing expenses and your income, except students, ourselves, often don’t have income, and we rely on loans,” Cao noted.

While there are many opportunities to develop leadership skills and awareness of career possibility, she believes that more needs to be done to specifically target financial education.

Cao continued, “I think from my personal experience there hasn’t been very structured financial literacy education system, either in high school or in university.
There’s definitely lots of resources both online, and lots of sessions that people can choose to seek help from, but it’s not in a way that is far reaching enough, I think.”

While there are no events currently taking place in Waterloo, Guelph and Toronto are currently participating in Credit Education Week, and an event titled “Funny Money,” will be taking place in Mississauga on November 18.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its original publishing date.

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