Schools fail in teaching students the basics in financing. I see this when I meet with clients and learn how naïve many young individuals and couples are when discussing financial basics. It strikes me that in three generations we have gone from a society taught to save up for things we want to buy to one in which conspicuous consumption and instant gratification is the norm.
One obvious reason is that, debit and credit cards, and cheap credit have emotionally detached us from our money as it’s all too easy to spend it with instant electronic payments. If we had to count out $20 bills for our monthly car, mortgage, RV or boat payments, the number of bills involved would shock us.
Another reason is demonstrated by this internet post by a young person titled: “Things I Never Learned in High School”
- How to do my taxes
- Why I have to pay tax and what the money is used for
- How to vote and why it’s important that I do so
- What political parties are and what they all stand for
- How to write a resume and cover letter, or anything related to getting a job
- How to write a cheque, balance a cheque book or reconcile statements
- Anything to do with banking and dealing with banks
- How to apply for college loans and the importance of repaying them
- How to jump start a car or other basic emergency needs
- How to go about buying a car or a house
“But I’m so glad I had to learn the Pythagorean theorem and the many other useless things that I know I will never use during my adult working life.”
The federal government has initiated a financial literacy program, and Jane Rooney is Canada’s first Financial Literacy Leader. Appointed in April 2014, Ms. Rooney works to coordinate financial literacy initiatives by collaborating with stakeholder groups across the country. Her goal is to strengthen the knowledge, skills and confidence of Canadians in dealing with financial matters. This program is focused on helping Canadians increase their financial knowledge and confidence, and increasing consumers’ knowledge and awareness of financial products and services, and their rights and responsibilities in this area.
Having seen first-hand the negative impact on young individuals and families that this lack of financial education is having, I plan to get much more proactive about doing something in our local schools to correct this. It’s a national and provincial disgrace that school children in all grades are not getting educated on the basic financial skills needed to survive in today’s complex consumer driven society we all live in. Things as basic as paying credit card balances when due, especially when they have the money sitting in a saving account earning nothing for interest.
I recently hosted a financial workshop at the Ramada for “Millenials” people aged 20 to 30. The information covered was very enthusiastically received by all who attended. I plan to do more of these in the near future, to continue to educate the younger generations regarding finances. At the same time, I ask parents to do your part and sit down with your children and discuss finances with them.
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