Teach money management skills early in school: poll

Finance major Gabrielle Chan is months away from completing her degree and hopes to work in the banking industry, but wishes her education on money matters had started even earlier in life.

Finance major Gabrielle Chan is months away from completing her degree and hopes to work in the banking industry, but wishes her education on money matters had started even earlier in life.

The 22-year-old University of British Columbia student may be knowledgeable now in the area of personal finance, but says this know-how was lacking when she landed her first job.

Chan was in Grade 10 when she started working as a seasonal retail sales associate during the holidays, later shifting to part-time status.

Her parents helped her set up a chequing account, but she didn’t come around to learning how to invest her hard-earned cash until a couple of years later — and there was still confusion.

“I started with the GICs in Grade 12 because I just wanted to do something with my money, but I didn’t really know actually what GICs were or what I was going into,” she said.

Chan said she didn’t want to trouble her parents by asking them endless questions about finances, and laments that she didn’t learn more about the basics earlier, like ways to manage money and the differences between credit and debit cards and chequing and savings accounts.

A recently released survey suggests that many Canadians also see the importance of educating youngsters about money matters.

The poll conducted for the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants of more than 1,000 Canadians found that while 78 per cent of parents have tried to teach their kids financial skills, two-thirds believe they haven’t been very successful.

The Harris-Decima survey also found 84 per cent of Canadians believe young people are ill-prepared to manage finances when they enter the workforce, and 85 per cent believe financial management skills should be taught in schools to help solve this problem.

As a member of Richmond, B.C.-based Financial Literacy for Youth, Chan is hoping to help other young people be better prepared when it comes to dealing with dollars and cents.

The non-profit group is led by a core team of university students and graduates, but early on, had also recruited high school students to help develop its program.

Chan said FLY started off piloting a six-lesson curriculum for high school students in several schools, and later shifted gears to run a one-day conference to help educate youngsters about personal finance and money management.

Nicholas Cheung, a principal with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, said financial literacy is a “lifelong skill.”