It’s the first week after Labour Day, which means Canadians of every age and background will be heading back to school – whether that means primary, secondary, undergraduate, graduate or continuing studies. Now is an important time to remind ourselves of the role played by financial literacy inÂ any or all of these stages in our educational lifetimes.
In a survey, conducted for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, virtually all respondents (98 per cent) agreed that money management is an important life skill and 95 per cent felt that learning about it at a younger age increases the likelihood of financial success. However, just over eight-in-ten of those surveyed indicated a belief that our youth are not well prepared to deal with financial matters when they first enter the workforce.
Another recent poll by CIBC finds that 48 per cent of students are most worried about covering their upcoming school year’s tuition and living expenses or repaying their student and school-related debt. Over one-third expect to graduate with more than $25,000 in debt.
Establishing effective personal finance principles for students at the post-secondary level can often be a multifaceted process, starting with development of good spending strategies and awareness of fixed and variable costs of living – often supported by a parent or guardian to some extent and ultimately gaining the ability to perform this management independently over time. However, the place of financial education even earlier in life must not be overlooked, so as to enshrine the best practices and cognizance of personal financial principles ahead of the game.
Making financial literacy interesting and engaging for students of all ages has been cited as one of the major challenges to improving personal financial planning skills. Tailoring the content to the right groups will be essential: ranging from the basics — the concepts of credit, debt, budgeting and Canada’s banking system — to the more complex — using credit to your advantage, managing debt, financial and retirement planning, and the tax system.
With a background in financial literacy taught through schools or independent workshops, online courses or other initiatives, Canadians will be better prepared to develop responsible use of credit, understanding of the necessary savings goals for retirement, and other important milestones.