November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada.
Do we need such a month to help raise awareness of the need for financial education in Canada?
Yep, you’re darn tootin’ we do.
Recent studies continue to reveal scary statistics about the state of Canadians’ finances and, by implication, our knowledge of what affects our financial futures. Other research has shown that money worries and stress can lead to poor health, poor relationships and a lower quality of life. We need to do something.
Various research shows that 44 per cent of us live paycheque to paycheque — as many as 35 per cent of Canadians do not have any retirement savings and many of us are massively in debt. The scary thing is not everyone understands the negative effects of such situations.
Action starts with knowledge.
Solution? Take charge!
There are many ways to improve your knowledge (or that of your children and grandchildren), through free resources.
An exciting new initiative is a joint venture of the McGill Desautels Faculty of Management, the Globe and Mail and RBC Future Launch. Called McGill Personal Finance Essentials, it is a free online program aimed at improving our understanding of personal finance.
The series of courses is a great way to learn the basics of a long list of topics — including budgeting, borrowing, housing and real estate, the time value of money and investing. View and register at mcgillpersonalfinance.com.
I’m proud to say that National Bank, the parent company of my firm, has teamed up with the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE) to develop an educational program aimed at high school, college and university students, and new Canadians.
CFEE has been helping increase knowledge on personal finance for three decades and has helped many provincial education departments develop such curriculums, starting with a pilot program in Manitoba some years ago.
Resources for all are available under the Advice section of the bank’s website at nbc.ca, starting with tips on protecting your financial data and credit card security. There are some 3,000 videos and articles available, again all free.
FP Canada also has a great series of videos on financial planning, at financialplanningforcanadians.ca/videos.
While some of the material is geared toward helping you find a CFP professional to help you with your planning, a lot of it is valuable stand-alone information.
Our friends at the government of Canada also offer tools and resources — including a set of calculators for budget, mortgage, financial goals, credit card and bank account comparisons, along with a financial literacy self-assessment quiz.
All of this is available at canada.ca, with a search for Financial Literacy Month and financial tools all under the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
Knowledge is power, so spend a few hours and grow your power.
Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.
David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is recipient of the FP Canada™ Fellow (FCFP) Distinction, and repeatedly named a top 50 financial adviser in Canada. He is a portfolio manager and senior vice-president with Christianson Wealth Advisors at National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.
By: David Christianson
Personal finance columnist
Winnipeg Free Press