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Discussion Starter #1
How do you feel about the quality of financial education you received in school growing up?

If you're anything like me, it was non-existent. We spend hours upon hours learning about the water cycle, but no time learning the basics of how to manage money responsibly, or even what interest was.

I did a quick search, and pulled up this.

http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/default.asp

Seems a bit late in the game to be educating people through a website. Chances are, if you're actively searching for financial information, chances are you're not the one most in need of the information. It's those blissfully unaware that most need the help - the only way to reach those ears is while they are a captive audience in schools.

A link to a recent Globe story on the topic:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090330.wmoney30/BNStory/lifeMain/home?cid=al_gam_mostemail

I believe I heard some media coverage a few weeks back that Harper was planning some inititive in the area of financial literacy. What arenas are you aware of that are advocating change in the approach to Canadian financial literacy and education? Do you feel this should be a Canadian national priority for our governments?
 

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How do you feel about the quality of financial education you received in school growing up?

If you're anything like me, it was non-existent. We spend hours upon hours learning about the water cycle, but no time learning the basics of how to manage money responsibly, or even what interest was.

I did a quick search, and pulled up this.

http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/default.asp

Seems a bit late in the game to be educating people through a website. Chances are, if you're actively searching for financial information, chances are you're not the one most in need of the information. It's those blissfully unaware that most need the help - the only way to reach those ears is while they are a captive audience in schools.

A link to a recent Globe story on the topic:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090330.wmoney30/BNStory/lifeMain/home?cid=al_gam_mostemail

I believe I heard some media coverage a few weeks back that Harper was planning some inititive in the area of financial literacy. What arenas are you aware of that are advocating change in the approach to Canadian financial literacy and education? Do you feel this should be a Canadian national priority for our governments?
If it wasn't for my parents, I would have learned very little about personal finance while I was younger. I believe they offered 1 business course going through high school which didn't touch on personal finance.

Personally, I would love to get involved with implementing a national financial education program.
 

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Hopefully one day there will be an actual personal finance class in high school, and make it mandatory. I think there are quite a few people who move on to college and get enticed by all the credit card offers as it seems like easy money.

I’m one of them, my credit was a mess 10 years ago and I think it made me a much more frugal and credit conscious person today. The “new me” never carries a balance on my credit cards and I have a credit score is now 750+.
 

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I have been a big advocate for mandatory personal finance courses in high school. There is just a huge lack of financial education and it is never too early to learn about money management.
 

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If they want personal finance classes to work I think the focus should be on role playing scenarios and case studies. Really allow students to relate. It can't just be texts full of information because they already have access to that via the internet.
 

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I had no personal finance education whatsoever growing up, in school or at home. My parents were of the belief that discussing finances was a no-no.


My husband is involved in a program called Junior Achievement where he volunteers to teach a 5th grade class for a half day about personal finances, credit cards, and savings.
 

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Alexandra I think what your husband is doing is a great thing, I am hoping to be able to do something similar here, maybe not 5th but 8th or 9th grade.
 

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Like others, I picked up frugal financial habits from my parents. I didn't grow up in Canada but I do think that basic personal finance should be taught in schools. I'm skeptical that it would bring about any dramatic outbreak of financial prudence but even if only a small percentage benefit from such education, it would benefit our society at large. The reason for my skepticism is that we all know what is good for us: floss daily, eat vegetables, exercise regularly, save a bit of your income. At least for the vast majority, it is not the "knowing" part that is the problem; it is the "doing" part, IMO. Having said that there is no downside to teaching personal finance in schools and it is worth trying.
 

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My financial education when I was growing up consisted of my father showing me his empty wallet and saying "This is how much money you can spend, because this is all there is"

I took a great interest in my financial education so I would never be like my parents.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
At least for the vast majority, it is not the "knowing" part that is the problem; it is the "doing" part, IMO.
I wonder whether the knowledge really is as commonplace as enthusiasts such as ourselves would like to think. From inside this personal finance bubble, it is a little hard to imagine NOT having the understanding, but when I rewind my own experiences a few years, it wasn't until I took an Engineering Economics course in final year and first saw the concept of time value of money that things really clicked. That was the spark for the fire, for me. I would wager that a lot of people never get that spark. You could also wonder how we might be failing to provide some of the fuel for that fire as well, such as basic math skills around percentages/fractions/exponents.

I would love to be able to send a survey to the Canadian masses asking a range of fairly basic questions from the personal finance arena, and analyze the responses. I think there are some real holes in the basic financial literacy of our citizens.

Is anyone aware of any data/studies that have been conducted on assessing financial literacy levels in Canada? Are there groups doing research in this area?

And I'm interested in Alexandra's reference to the Junior Achievement program. I've dug up the Canadian site for this program, and it looks like there are a wide range of possibilities for how you/we can perhaps make a difference in the education of our youth. It appears there may be an opportunity to get involved in some in-class outreach, if you have the inclination and the time.

http://www.jacan.org/programs.cfm
 

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My financial education when I was growing up consisted of my father showing me his empty wallet and saying "This is how much money you can spend, because this is all there is"

I took a great interest in my financial education so I would never be like my parents.
Hahah Awesome. Now that's a finance lesson I want to pass on to my kids :D
 

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At least for the vast majority, it is not the "knowing" part that is the problem; it is the "doing" part, IMO. Having said that there is no downside to teaching personal finance in schools and it is worth trying.
An interesting topic for me...
1. Teachers are bound by a legal document in what they teach (ie the curriculum). As provinces cram more and more into what they need to teach students, and how, teachers have less and less time to explore some of these other issues (such as money in a more contextual sense) in anything but a superficial or simplified manner. If we are to advocate for change, we need to lobby provincial MLA's for changes/additions to the curriculum.
2. There are some course "options" that deal with money, and some schools allow for more flexibility around option course development. However, many teachers are not comfortable enough with the intricacies with money management to both develop and teach a course on their own, or even to integrate it with their subject matter. Again, support is needed from the province to either fund teacher professional development (as needed) or to have some of the provincial curriculum developers focus more on curricular development for teachers to use as a guideline.
3. Working with junior high students with a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, it is surprising to see the lack of understanding of basic finances from almost all students that I have worked with. I would argue that students need the "knowing" part as well, but that really "knowing" comes from "doing". Like most of us know, experience and wisdom account for a lot.
4. Teachers are offering students more and more choice and flexibility in projects these days. If your child is interested in finances, have them bring it up with their teacher and develop some kind of project together, most likely to be integrated with something they are currently doing in school (if they are working on various types of graphing, have them track and graph some stocks; if they are working on early settlement of the land, have them work on bartering and trade issues of the time, or some companies that have been around for over 100 years and how they have evolved/managed to stay afloat).

I think that teachers, as well as most adults and people, really have very limited knowledge of finances--and for many that's ok, with the other stuff they have going on in their lives. To offer some kind of financial foundation in school for all students would be fantastic, and I agree should be there. If you REALLY believe in it strongly, contact your MLA, or slip it in with discussions with your child's teacher.

fifi
 

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Junior Achievement

Here's another link for those of you in Central Ontario:

http://www.jacentralontario.org/

Here's the details on the experience from my husband:

Basically, you apply online and they contact you. My husband had to do a one-hour training course at Junior Achievement. They gave him the course material, and also an outline as to how to run the class, but my husband added his own point-of view and his own sense of fun. For instance, he bought Nerf footballs, and when the kids wanted to answer a question, he chucked the football at them. They caught it, answered the question, and then tossed it back. He bought prizes for them, and had little made-up pop quizzes so he could give them out. The kids and the teacher had a great time...the class can be as fun as you make it. the class was actually a full-day, not a half-day as I first thought.

JA are looking for people who can talk in front of others, and for people who have some career or life experience to talk on the subject of finances. And, as my husband put it, they are looking to weed out "creepy people" so that is why they will meet with you in person for the training course.

They assigned him a school and class - you will have no choice in that regard (i.e.: you will not be able to teach your 11-year old son's class). According to the website, they are desperately looking for more course instructors, so for those of you who want to give back to the community, here's your chance!

One caveat: Two times, my husband came down with the flu after teaching the course. As he puts it, those classes are petri dishes for germs ;-). So make sure you wash your hands frequently and get your flu shot!
 

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Basically nothing in school. There was one business course and one economics course in high school. Neither touched on personal finances. I wish there were courses available back then to take rather than having to take some of the ridiculous mandatory courses which were useless. If I knew then what I know now I would have taken better care of my finances through my 20s and would have had more freedom to do what I wanted now. Ah well.

The only thing I learned from my parents is what NOT to do.
 

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but when I rewind my own experiences a few years, it wasn't until I took an Engineering Economics course in final year and first saw the concept of time value of money that things really clicked. That was the spark for the fire, for me. I would wager that a lot of people never get that spark.
That's funny because I had the very same experience. I took so much math in school as an Engineer but the most practical learning came from that course.
 

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That's funny because I had the very same experience. I took so much math in school as an Engineer but the most practical learning came from that course.
It's almost enough to make you wonder, when you see how many of the bloggers are engineers by training (CC, MDJ, Free at 45, etc)... Maybe we have uncovered the holy grail of personal finance freedom - take Engineering Economics 101!
 

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I remember in high school, those students in the "basic" stream learned to fill out tax forms in math class, while those in the "advanced" stream did not. (Those terms are no longer used.) I guess it was on the premise that those in the advanced stream could figure out how to do their own taxes. But I doubt very much those in advanced could, especially those that did not pursue math past grade 10 and could not add two numbers together without a calculator.
 

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Investor Education is a good site as well. I like it because it is unbiased. They are not trying to push any products on you.

"The Investor Education Fund was established by the Ontario Securities Commission, the province's securities regulator, and is funded by OSC enforcement settlements. It operates separately from the OSC with its own Board of Directors."

http://investored.ca
 

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My husband is involved in a program called Junior Achievement where he volunteers to teach a 5th grade class for a half day about personal finances, credit cards, and savings.
I haven't done the DWS program but I have been doing the ESIS program with grade 10 &11 students.
 
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