Take charge of your finances during Financial Literacy Month!

October 20, 2017 

By Jane Rooney, Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader

Financial Literacy Month (FLM) is fast approaching! Starting November 1st, an exciting and varied roster of events and activities hosted by Canadian organizations will roll out across the country, all designed to raise awareness about and strengthen financial literacy.

This year’s theme for FLM is Take charge of your finances:  It pays to know! It’s designed to encourage Canadians to take concrete actions to better manage their money and reduce their debt, including making a budget, having a savings plan and understanding their financial rights and responsibilities.

I’m very excited to announce that we will be kicking off the month with FCAC’s National Conference on Financial Literacy, which will take place in Montreal on November 1-3. The theme of the conference is Reporting on Progress, Building the Future - Everything Counts! We have a robust agenda, including enlightening guest speakers, plenaries and breakout sessions on timely topics. We will hear about success stories and challenges from people working in the field; we will discuss financial literacy by priority groups; and we will showcase the research that’s being done to evaluate the impact of financial literacy programs and initiatives.

During FLM, we will have weekly sub-themes, which will bring attention to the benefits of basic money management practices at different stages of life and encourage Canadians to reduce debt and save for the future. Here are the highlights:

Week 1: Achieve financial well-being: Greater financial literacy at all stages of life can improve your financial well-being, and also your health. Strong financial well-being has been linked to reduced stress, better physical and mental health, and increased productivity in the workplace. Research has also shown it’s best to deliver financial literacy to people “where they are,” and most adults spend most of their time at work. So you’ll also hear more about workplace financial literacy initiatives during this week.

Week 2: Live within your means: It isn’t always easy to live within your means. Sometimes, small changes to your daily spending habits can add up to big savings over time.  But how do you get started? Here are some ideas: make a budget, track your spending, spend less than you earn, and get in the habit of saving for bigger purchases instead of using credit.

Week 3: Manage money for student life: Learning how to manage money and debt wisely when you are young will help you avoid costly mistakes and reach your goals – in education and in life. The basics of money management for post-secondary students include: understanding the risks of student debt, making a budget, applying for scholarships, bursaries and grants, using credit wisely, paying your bills on time, understanding the terms of a contract before you sign one, and doing your taxes to access benefits you may be entitled to. 

Week 4: Teach children about money: You are never too young to learn about how to manage money, plan and save for the future, and protect yourself from fraud and financial abuse. We need to start talking with our children about money early, to help them grow up to be people who are more likely to achieve financial well-being. This way, children will learn early how to make good decisions about spending, understand the difference between needs and wants, save for the future, practice good financial habits, and use credit responsibly.

Week 5: Know your financial rights and responsibilities: Canadians enjoy consumer protection when it comes to financial products and services. Consumers have rights, but they also have the responsibility to know about their obligations as a depositor and borrower. We will discuss the rights and responsibilities of the financial consumer in this last week of FLM.

I hope you can find time to participate by attending FLM events near you or hosting one! Strengthening the financial literacy of our citizens is ever more crucial. In these economic times of high debt and low savings, and in a more complex and rapidly-changing digital marketplace, Canadians need the knowledge, skills and confidence to make informed financial decisions. 

With that as our goal, when we work together, it really pays off, no matter how big or how small the initiative. So keep up the great work, and stay tuned!

 

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