Help! Managing Your Money on Campus

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Project Overview

CFEE has created the Help! Managing Your Money on Campus program – a series of workshops designed to increase the financial knowledge and confidence of post-secondary school students across Canada.

The majority of post-secondary students have entered a new world of financial costs, responsibilities, planning, spending, debt, credit cards, and many other obligations that they are not likely well prepared for. In the summer of 2020, The Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE; see developed a series of workshops targeted specifically to post-secondary students to build the foundation for their financial journey, which were launched in the fall of 2020.

In the first half of 2020, CFEE surveyed close to 1,500 post-secondary students across Canada and found that 83% of students were experiencing financial challenges, which were then exacerbated by the global pandemic. (You can view the survey report here.) Based on the results of these surveys, eight workshops, available in both English and French, were developed focusing on major areas of concern for students:

Living a Financially Healthy Life:

Finances are an unavoidable and important part of life. Join us to examine the foundational skills of budgeting, goal setting, saving, and effective spending. With these concepts under your belt, you’ll be ready for the next stages of your financial journey.

The goal of “Living a Financially Healthy Life” is to help you develop a healthy attitude towards money. Coming out of this workshop you will be able to make more informed decisions about purchases, be able to create a budget that includes savings and can help reduce your financial stress and know how to apply the magic of compound interest to increase your savings. You will learn how to take control of your money by setting goals and creating a budget that emphasizes paying yourself first; how to recognize the difference between a need and a want; and why it’s important to make savings an integral part of your life, not an afterthought.

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Understanding Personal Income Taxes:

Taxes are an essential part of the Canadian economy, but what are your tax obligations as a student? Join us as we look at how Canada’s tax system works, when students are required to pay taxes, and some strategies you can implement to decrease your tax burden now, and in the future. With planning, taxes can even become an exciting prospect!

The goal of “Understanding Personal Incomes Taxes” is to give a basic overview of the Canadian personal income tax system, with an emphasis on the expectations of post-secondary students. You will learn how taxes impact your finances as you start your careers and start making more money; specific deductions and credits available to post-secondary students; and some of the tax efficient government programs that can defer, or even shelter a portion of your income from taxes.

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Getting Started with Investing:

Investing may sound like an activity for the wealthy, but it plays an important role in your financial journey at all levels of income. Join us to learn about why having an investors mentality for finances is important, the main asset classes available, and the accounts that can protect your investments from taxes. Developing investment habits early will make a big difference in your long-term financial health.

The goal of “Getting Started with Investing” is to provide the foundational knowledge necessary to de-mystify investing and give you the confidence to make longer-term financial decisions. You will learn about inflation and why it’s important to invest your money to stay ahead of it; the basic asset classes available and the relative risk of each; and the tax implications of various investment accounts and how you can use them to your advantage. Investing is not a get rich quick scheme, it’s a way to use the money you don’t need right now to work for your future, offering peace of mind for years to come.

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Building an Investment Portfolio:

Investing without a plan can lead to serious risk of loss, something a wise investor likes to avoid. Join us to learn about tax efficient investing, strategies to manage your overall investment risk, and methods to evaluate and understand stock purchasing decisions. Building a solid investment portfolio can help keep your money safe, so you can watch it grow for years to come.

The goal of “Building an Investment Portfolio” is to cover the basics of diversification and managing investment risk. You will learn about methods to decrease or even eliminate the tax burden offered by your investments; different strategies to manage investment risk and build a more stable asset portfolio; and methodologies to review and evaluate stocks, which can be a driving force behind a balanced portfolio. “The best offence is a good defense”—by building a balanced portfolio, you can reduce your risk of loss, putting your money to work for you.

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Investing in Alternative Asset Classes:

In the world of investments, there is a lot more available than just the “standard”. Alternative investments are items and asset classes that offer unique properties that, when added to a diversified portfolio, can offer additional balance, or even growth opportunities. Join us to learn what alternative investments are, the risk/return profiles of some alternative asset classes and dig into the opportunities and concerns of cryptocurrency.

The goal of “Investing in Alternative Asset Classes” is to look at alternative investment options with an open mind, reviewing the potential risks and comparing with the opportunity for return. Understanding your personal risk/return balance is important to recognize which alternative investments may be worth including in your diversified portfolio, and which are beyond your comfort level. You will learn what alternative investments are, and how they behave compared to the standard market; the risk/return profile of some different alternative asset classes, including commodities, private capital, and derivatives; and some of the opportunities and concerns that come with a popular new alternative investment, cryptocurrency. Sometimes the perfect portfolio balance requires thinking outside the box—just be sure to do your research first.

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How to Manage Debt and Credit:

Debt and credit can be powerful tools, but only if used properly. Join us to learn ways to manage general debt, including deciding when it’s worth taking the debt in the first place; how to effectively manage a credit card; and why your credit score is so important for your future. Use debt and credit the right way, with confidence.

The goal of “How to Manage Debt and Credit” is to help you understand and navigate the ever-expanding world of borrowing. You will learn how to manage general debt, and the difference between “good” debt and “bad” debt; how to use credit cards as a resource and a tool for your future; and what a credit score is, why it’s important, and strategies to improve a weak score or maintain a strong one. Debt and credit can be powerful tools, or dangerous opportunities. Take the time to learn how to use them correctly and you will thank yourself down the road.

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How to Pay for School:

A post-secondary education in Canada is a significant investment and can cost $10,000+ per year. Join us to learn some of the ways you can pay for your education, important details about taking on and repaying government student loans, and the impact of being a student on your credit score. You’re in post-secondary to plan for your future, start now by planning for post-secondary.

The goal of “How to Pay for School” is to help you prepare for your post-secondary education by thinking about how you plan to pay for it, and what the longer-term consequences of that payment approach may be. You will learn about some of the ways available to pay for your education, including scholarships and bursaries, loans, and government programs; some of the finer details of government student loans, related to both taking them on, and paying them back; and how being a student can affect your credit score, including ways to build your score as a student. Without a proper plan, the cost of a post-secondary education can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. Think ahead, so you can get ahead.

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Preparing for the Future of Work and Your Career:

The world is changing. Join us to examine these changes, how they’re affecting workplaces, and some of the skills you can work on to stay in high demand. Don’t just embrace the future, help make it.

The goal of “Preparing for the Future of Work and Your Career” is to give you a better understanding of the transformation that is occurring in the workplace due to the fourth industrial revolution, and the skills you will need to succeed in your career. Times and workplaces are changing, an inevitability that was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. You will learn how to look for the impact of these changes in your chosen field and anticipate what the future holds for the industry; how workplace and employee dynamics are being redesigned; and ways to highlight and improve the skills that will keep you in demand for years to come. The future is now. The future is you.

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A Newcomer’s Guide to Canadian Finances:

Moving to a new country and starting your life there can be a stressful experience. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through it alone. Join us to look at some of the specifics of life in Canada, like costs, banking and credit, and the income and personal tax systems. Learn from the experience of other newcomers to Canada, and the things they wish they knew when first arriving.

The goal of “A Newcomer’s Guide to Canadian Finances” is to provide you with the foundational knowledge necessary to prepare for life in Canada and manage your finances as a new arrival. You will learn about life in Canada, such as the costs you can expect, considerations when renting, and scams to watch out for; the differences between banks in Canada and how to get started with credit; and the ins and outs of earning income in Canada and paying personal income taxes. Starting over doesn’t mean starting from scratch—learn from the experiences of others to help make your transition to Canada as easy as possible.

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Buying Your First Home:

Home ownership is a significant investment and can signal the beginning of a new stage of life for many Canadians. Join us to look at the pros and cons of home ownership, the steps of the home buying process, and some of the government programs available to help along the way. It’s never too early to start thinking about whether buying a house is right for you.

The goal of “Buying Your First Home” is to help you understand the home buying process, and whether it’s the right move for you. You will learn whether buying or renting is a better fit for your lifestyle and needs; how to prepare for and navigate the home buying process, including ways to determine what you can afford and how much you need for a down payment; and the government programs and other service providers like real estate agents and mortgage brokers who may also play an important role. 2/3 Canadians own their own home, but it isn’t for everyone. If home ownership is part of your future, start planning now—it may be the most significant investment of your life.

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There are incentive opportunities available for schools who offer 5+ workshops, including a cash prize draw for students, and the ability to earn a “Badgr” badge to represent the student’s new knowledge on social media.

Help! workshops have reached more than 8,000 students across Canada, at 35 schools. 100% of the students who responded to our post-survey said they are interested in attending more workshops. To date, the workshops have been offered on a predominantly virtual basis, however, an additional hybrid approach will be implemented starting in the fall of 2022.

For more information, or to add your name to the list, contact Chad Izatt at

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