Money Talks: The ABC’s of Teaching Kids About Financial Literacy


“It’s not rocket science,” Gary Rabbior suggests, referring to a parents’ ability to share basic information about finances and money management with their child.

“You [parent] can learn about it,” adds the father of three and grandfather, recalling his personal experiences. “You can get engaged. You don’t have to be an advisor, a teacher. You can be a guide and a confidante. Someone to talk to, guide them into learning experiences. You can learn with them.”

This includes parents who may have or are experiencing financial struggles themselves adds Rabbior, President of the Canadian Foundation of Economic Education (CFEE).


“Parents have also often said to me, I’ve made so many mistakes, how do I teach my kid,” continues Rabbior. “I tell them that makes you the best teacher ever. Mistakes are the best learning experiences you can have, and you can help to make sure your kids don’t have to make the same mistakes going forward.”

His comments came on the heels of the ninth ‘Talk With Our Kids About Money Day’ (TWOKAM Day) in Canada — supported by Scotiabank and presented by CFEE — an organization that Rabbior has led for 40 years.

A non-profit organization founded in 1974, CFEE, “works collaboratively with ministries and departments of education along with school boards, schools, educators, and teacher associations…to improve economic and financial literacy and enterprising capability,” according to its website.

The organization also helps educate a range of stakeholder groups ranging from new immigrants to parents and seniors by producing multi-media resources to support financial literacy.

During a wide-ranging podcast interview with Lianne Castelino of Where Parents Talk, Rabbior discusses the:

  • increasing need to teach financial literacy to children
  • tips and strategies for parents to facilitate this knowledge exchange process
  • impact of the global pandemic on accelerating financial literacy education
  • the links between financial health and mental health

“They [parents] really have to have the will to do something, they have to develop the capability to do something, they have to be open to discussion with their kids, start and learn where their kids are at, and what those interests are, and be a facilitator, not a teacher,” he says.


Rabbior cites a 2018 survey by his organization entitled, “Youth Survey: Learning About Money,” which asked some 6,000 Canadian children between 12 to 17 years old a series of questions, including how they most prefer to learn about money.

Just over 60 per cent of students surveyed said they would most like to learn about money matters from their parents — at home.
A little above 50 per cent of respondents chose school.

A teacher by profession who has been involved in designing curriculum in this space, Rabbior says the tools parents can deploy to  teach financial literacy to their children may not often be obvious to moms and dads.

Image by luxstorm from Pixabay

“We structure the resources much differently. We don’t put parents in being the position to the teacher — let’s sit down on the dining room table and talk about this,” he says. “It’s much more engaged in activities and participatory learning and books to read and movies to watch and trips to take and crafts to build. Something that’s a natural experience between parent and child that provides them generates the opportunity for learning where questions can arise, or you can challenge kids with questions.”

In recounting his own experiences teaching his son and two daughters — now in their 30’s — about money management, Rabbior stresses the importance of teaching a child self efficacy, goal-setting and understanding the importance of trade-offs.


Having witnessed the trajectory and evolution of financial literacy education through the ebbs and flows of history over more than four decades — Rabbior recounts the 2008 financial crisis as being the most recent tipping point for increased interest in this area. That is — before COVID-19.

“Parents have got to recognize that when it comes to financial literacy and learning, we aren’t just trying to teach kids about money and interest rates and picking the right credit card,” he says. “We’ve been doing so much work lately working with those in the field of mental health. And we’re actually building the foundation skills to help a young person stay in control of their life, make good decisions, not evolve into a situation of financial stress and anxiety that so many adult Canadians experience now, and which if they persist often manifests themselves into mental challenges, which is particularly true during the pandemic.”

During the podcast interview with Where Parents Talk, Gary Rabbior also discusses:

  • The optimal age to begin speaking to your child about money matters
  • Practical tips for parents to discuss finances so their child will understand
  • The evolution of “Talk With Our Kids About Money Day”

by Lianne Castelino
President, Where Parents Talk
April 16, 2021

Note: The above interview also resides on the following pages of the When Parents Talk website:
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