Category Archives: Financial Literacy

Use technology to deliver Youth Financial Literacy

The comments below have been copied from a response mailed to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada relating to their consultation on a National Strategy for Financial Literacy.

I’ve struggled with the problem that it’s taking far too long to deliver a National Strategy for Youth Financial Literacy in Canada.

I really believe that the problem is not about having enough resources or having enough organizations or experts that want to assist. As a Country, Canada is blessed with all of that. I believe that the real problem is the delivery of a Financial Literacy to Youth and the answer appears at least to me so obvious…

Let’s use technology to deliver Financial Literacy to youth who have grown up in a technology enabled world.

It’s not about generating more financial literacy resources – let’s expedite the delivery of those resources in an efficient and effective way…

bigstock-Financial-Literacy-Road-Sign-I-48133208 (1)

In 2005 the OECD had this to say about Improving Financial Literacy

Financial education can benefit consumers of all ages and income levels. For young adults just beginning their working lives, it can provide basic tools for budgeting and saving so that expenses and debt can be kept under control. Financial education can help families acquire the discipline to save for a home of their own and/or for their children’s education. It can help older workers ensure that they have enough savings for a comfortable retirement by providing them with the information and skills to make wise investment choices with both their pension plans and any individual savings plans

– OECD, Improving Financial Literacy: Analysis of Issues and Policies, 2005

That was 2005 but now it’s 2014 and almost 2015

9 years later…the need for financial literacy education is only more critical in a much more complex & “consumerism” oriented world that we all live in today. On  a personal level, 9 years later, I’m older, crankier and a lot less patient in waiting for youth financial literacy to become a priority. My oldest graduated high school in Ontario 2 years ago and my youngest son is graduating this year and neither can recall any mention of Money Management, Interest, Borrowing, Saving, Investing, Budgeting, Smart purchasing or financial planning in any of their courses outside of Accounting. I’m glad they came up in accounting as they should, but the problem is that not every student feels inspired to take accounting and in fact, accounting is not offered in every school in the Province. (That’s a different problem that I will refrain from talking about here). Both sons have indicated that there has been no hint of money or financial management matters or advice in any “ Integrated Way as the Ministry of Education in Ontario likes to promote.

Let’s just agree. The current patchwork theme of programs & integration into current curriculum that depends on motivated teachers & a variety of different resources & materials doesn’t work. 

My sons happen to be otherwise, lucky. They have taken accounting in high school in order to have a basic knowledge of how to account for money from at least a business perspective and their Mom is an accountant and their Dad is in finance. That leads to a lot of talk about money around the house and we can help make them financially literate. But what about other students?  Surveys show that the majority of families don’t discuss finance and money management at home. A designated financial capability program inside the curriculum across each school board is what’s required for our youth.

It’s critical for youth to have financial literacy skills.. It’s critical because life is a lot more complicated these days, where “consumerism” is rampant, marketing is aggressive & excessive, Credit Card applications are easy to come by and even the Government is in the business of supporting gambling, in the form of tickets, online betting, Bingo & slots. It’s critical for students to learn basic if not intermediate skills, to become good consumers and navigate the good from the bad. But it’s also critical to the future economy of Canada. It’s also particularly critical to have financial literacy skills in place for those 46% of youth who are expected to start a business after graduation.

The results of a study commissioned by the Investor Education Fund for both 2012 and 2009 make the case for how far we have not progressed in the area of  Youth Financial Literacy

IEF 2012 Survey on Youth Fin Lit

The results for 2012 show little if no progress over 3 years. Instead, the results highlight a greater need:

-Only 26% of students felt they were knowledgeable about money & that they made good spending decisions (28% in 2009)

-59% of students felt that schools should provide them with information on managing money after graduation (57% in 2009)

-70% of students thought it was important to learn about managing personal finance (64% in 2009)

And…39% of students felt prepared to manage their money after graduation (38% in 2009)

We are failing our Youth in the delivery of Financial Literacy which is detrimental to them & the economy of Canada long-term.

The question for me is not really about the need for generating more financial literacy resources. There are lots of great and unbiased materials and resources available:

  • The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) provides a Financial Literacy database of resources
  • EduGains provides resources for Ontario Elementary & Secondary School Educators
  • The Canadian Bankers Association provides resources for students across Canada
  • Junior Achievement provides tools and games and resources specific to youth
  • The Investor Education Fund provides money resources for students, parents & teachers

The question for me instead is more about those resources not being ‘delivered’ efficiently and effectively for the benefit of our youth in Canada. I think that it’s clear from the lack of progress to date as well as the urgency of the need that we can’t deliver financial literacy education by way of traditional methods for youth in particular.

I believe Financial Literacy education can be delivered efficiently and effectively without any further delay with the help of unbiased professionals & financial organizations using technology that exists today. Technology is changing the way we do everything else in our lives so it seems a natural solution (at least to me)

Leveraging technology enabled E-Learning to deliver a Canada wide Financial Literacy program has outstanding potential to benefit youth who have grown up in a technology enabled world. And while I’m not an expert, I believe e-learning offered in a classroom setting (termed “blended learning”) offers additional benefits. Teachers already have the experience required to facilitate active discussion and learning but the challenge of educating teachers on how to deliver financial literacy education in particular seems to be one of the large obstacles getting in the way of teaching financial literacy education in a traditional way.

I think so many people – myself  included – don’t feel we do this [handle money] properly in our own lives, so we would need the tools to confidently teach the  proper information to our students.

Comment from a teacher Reference: A sound investment-Report from the Working Group on Financial Literacy Ministry of Education-Ontario 2010 

We need to change the way that the delivery of financial literacy education is offered. Research has shown that blending online learning with classroom time is the most effective way to learn.

bigstock-E-learning-and-education-conce-43944544

The Internet is plentiful with examples of  great e-learning providers, opportunities and solutions. Online learning already provides free world-class education for individuals around the world on a variety of topics.

Listed below are some of the significant advantages of using e-learning as compared to traditional learning which I would suggest would apply to a financial literacy e-learning environment geared towards youth.

  1. Quicker implementation. E-learning in most jurisdictions already exists with reputable organizations offering e-learning infrastructures already,  therefore, there would be no  need to invent or re-invent “the wheel”. Learning would not be restricted by the number of trained teachers.
  2. More Cost effective. For a number of reasons including lower delivery costs, less paper and a reduction in learning compression, E-learning is a more cost-effective way to deliver financial literacy across Canada
  3. It’s Consistent, Inclusive & Relevant. Regardless of the Province or the location of the School or the School Board education provided by E-learning would be consistent and equalized thanks to an Internet connection. This is a BIG one.
  4. Better Appeal to a wider range of learning styles. E-learning is facilitated through a variety of activities. A 9 year survey of literature on e-learning states : “Learners learn more using computer based instruction than they do with conventional ways of teaching as measured by higher test scores”
  5. Tracking progress is easier. Standardized testing can be easily included but e-learning lends itself to knowing when a student is having difficulty with a particular topic without them having to raise a hand. This is a BIG advantage over traditional learning.
  6. Less ‘teacher talk’ and more ‘student talk’. Who doesn’t like to hear their teacher talk but sometimes, you can learn more effectively when information is shared between students & ideas are exchanged. Blended E-learning makes that possible. A richer learning experience that is repeatable will help learners learn and retain the course content better
  7. It’s accessible. E-learning can be assessed anytime and anywhere including at home. Parents could also participate more actively (at home) in teaching their children about money and possibly fill their own gaps in financial literacy capabilities

I have provided below, 2 great examples of e-learning options that deliver Financial Literacy Education  that I hope you will take the time to review:

The Khan Academy who has done outstanding work in other areas of education has partnered  with the Bank of America on a financial literacy project they call Better Money Habits. This site has become a great resource for Americans to learn about and better navigate their finances  It helps consumers build their knowledge and understanding of finances through objective and unbiased videos and tools providing the opportunity to help them become more interested in savings and planning their finances.

https://www.bettermoneyhabits.com/khan-academy-partnership.html

MoneySense is a national financial education in Singapore offered by The Institute for Financial Literacy and Singapore Polytechnic & powered by Udemy (another much respected e-learning provider). The free financial education program  offers  an unbiased financial literacy education program to consumers to enhance their financial literacy over 3 tiers: Basic Money Management, Financial Planning and Investment Know-How

https://www.udemy.com/u/alexlum/

These are but 2 examples  of the quality of e-learning that’s already in place for financial literacy education. However,  I think these examples provide an idea of what Canada could deliver with the help of collaboration & cooperation between the various stakeholders:

  • Non-profit financial organizations & financial literacy leaders that have joined together to help move financial literacy forward to date by providing resources
  • The appropriate Federal & Provincial Agencies & Departments involved in Education.
  • Classroom based teachers who would facilitate delivery & discussion in the classroom

For the sake of our youth and our mutual economies, I think we can and must find the room needed in classrooms and curriculum for financial literacy education by prioritizing the critical need that we all acknowledge it to be.  Delivering it by way of e-blended learning inside the classrooms would be effective and efficient.  E-blended learning will eliminate any further delay & avoid the excessive expense that might otherwise be incurred to educate teachers first and/or require the hiring of additional educators across such a diverse and huge Country geographically.

A natural place at least in Ontario, I would suggest would be to add it into the Grade 10 Semester where students currently learn about Careers & Civics which coincides with the time when many youth are getting their first job. Splitting the semester into 3 topics to include Financial literacy education I think makes good sense.. Being financially literate is critical when you have a career and being financially literate involves being an active citizen and a smart consumer; which is an important part of Civics.  I understand that the BC Ministry of Education chose Grade 10 as the optimum

With respect to your specific consultation questions I would like to also offer the following:

  • I agree with the goals set out in the financial consultation paper and the framework proposed to promote a culture of financial well-being
  • The suggestions made above referring to an e-blended learning financial literacy education site for youth are my suggestion to the question of programs or services that are or would be effective for helping children and youth learn to manage their money
  • Surveys suggest that we cannot rely on parents to teach their children about money. A growing proportion of parents are in need of financial literacy education themselves or are newcomers to Canada. An e-blended learning financial literacy education site would help encourage and facilitate learning at home and may also benefit families as a whole

I hope some of the above will be helpful and constructive to your consultation process. I look forward to hearing more from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada with regards to your important consultations on a National Strategy for Financial Literacy in Canada.

 

 

Canadians are stressed about money

Canadians are stressed out about money

Money stress is the leading source of stress among Canadians

Money stress is causing significantly more stress than work, personal health and relationships according to a Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) survey released today.

The findings are being released in conjunction with the 6th annual Financial Planning week (November 16-22) during Financial Literacy Month (November)

The FPSC survey finds that financial stress is driving Canadians to lose sleep, reconsider past financial decisions, argue with partners and lie to family and friends about their personal finances.

Canadians’ experience financial stress to varying degrees depending on age, gender and openness to discussing personal finance issues.

Here are the key findings among respondents across the country (excluding Quebec):

  • A significant number of men and women lose sleep over financial worries (51% of women; 40% of men);
  • 45% of Canadians are embarrassed about their lack of control over finances;
  • Millennials are more likely than any other generation to lie about personal finances; 33% admit to being dishonest with friends, 25% with family and 15% with co-workers (compared with national averages across all age groups of 17%, 14% and 9%, respectively);
  • 87% of Canadians wish they had made better financial decisions earlier in life;
  • Four in 10 people in relationships with shared finances argue regularly over finances; and
  • 1/3 of Canadians believe that, on average, their friends are in better financial shape than they are.

You can learn more of the details here

What’s the answer?

According to Cary List, the President & CEO of the Financial Planning Standards Council, the FPSC wants Canadians to know that engaging in financial planning with a qualified professional can help enhance both their financial and emotional well-being,

“We urge everyone to source  a CFP professional on our Find a Planner tool at www.fpsc.ca and discuss their situation, goals and financial needs.”

The founder & CEO of LegacyTracker is a Certified Financial Planner and a member of the FPSC.  One of the primary considerations for building LegacyTracker was to enable individuals & families to become more empowered with their own financial/estate information enabling them to become more proactive with financial/estate planning.

Get ‘engaged’ with a Certified Financial Planner today. It’s easy with the Find a Planner tool provided by the Financial Planning Standards Council

Sharing is caring

Family Finances – Sharing is Caring

They say Sharing is Caring in life..& we think that’s particularly true with regards to your Family Finances …

Money management & communication is key when thinking about your family; your family’s emotional & physical survival often hinges on financial stability. Shared & effective communication about money matters is critical to money management but in many families defined roles are established where one spouse takes on the role CFO/Administrator and the other becomes reliant on their spouse to manage the family finances and keep it all ‘together’. It might work; but it’s a risk. It can increase the pressure & responsibility that one spouse feels with managing all that information while the other spouse is left dangerously vulnerable.

It’s not an ideal situation because we all know that life can take unpredictable twists, like a divorce, a death or an incapacity. That’s one of many reasons that we developed LegacyTracker..we think It’s critical that information is at minimum shared if not managed together. Our friend Mark Goodfield who blogs as the Blunt Bean Counter has written extensively on the topic of Stress Testing your finances for a sudden death.  He emphasizes the need for an information checklist for executors/spouses in case of death.

In combination with defining your goals together, we think sharing this information together will enable you to make wiser choices and reach those goals successfully.

LegacyTracker – allows flexible sharing – as little or as much as you wish. Share with your loved ones or your financial advisors or your executor.

Here is a list of some of the details that can be documented & stored inside LegacyTracker:

  1. Assets: including bank accounts, registered/non registered investments, real property, personal property & business assets etc.
  2. Liabilities—including loans, credit card debt, mortgages, lines of credit, business liabilities etc.
  3. Contacts-including medical contacts, professional advisors and family
  4. Digital Assets-including loyalty & reward programs, logons & passwords etc.
  5. Insurance-including disability, property, life, group as well as home & auto
  6. Estate Planning —including Power of Attorneys, Wills, Ethical Wills, Final wishes, Letters etc.
  7. Health & Medical—including immunizations, contacts, history etc.

When you consolidate all of the important information into one secure place in an organized manner we think the benefits are many for you and your loved ones.  LegacyTracker is not just about peace of mind & emergency preparedness in case of a physical or natural disaster or a death or incapacity. It’s about living – simplifying & securing your information which we believe is empowering . Knowing what you have and what you need to work on will help you become more proactive about your financial & estate planning goals.  That’s the mission behind LegacyTracker.

Good infographic from the President`s Advisory Council on Financial Capabilities (US)

The Money As You Grow Website is a great resource no matter what side of the border you live on. The site strives to help parents educate their children about how to live financially smart lives,

The site offers 20 essential, age-appropriate financial lessons with activities that reinforce learning about money. It`s a great way to start a dialogue about money. The site is a great resource for Families, Community Organizations, Non Profits and Businesses who understand and wish to promote financial literacy.

Kids & Money

Being financially aware is… Sexy

Being financially aware is sexy and will make you more attractive ….Forget the Beauty Makeover!

Thanks to a recent survey ( Experian Credit Score Marriage Survey Report 2014 by Edelman Berland) there is now compelling evidence that you can forgo the beauty makeover. It’s all about being financially aware (or mostly)

Married adults value financial responsibility more than physical attractiveness in a long-term romantic partner (spouse)

What makes a spouse attractiveÉ

 

And…financial compatibility is more important in a big way for both married and unmarried adults than Politics, Religion, Career goals & even sex & Intimacy…

Financial compatibility is sexy

 

We think that means that LegacyTracker can make you sexier by helping you become more financially aware. LegacyTracker allows you (and your spouse) to simplify, safeguard and share your important financial information. LegacyTracker comes pre-loaded with a comprehensive set of templates that enables you to become empowered with your own financial information, a net worth tracker and reminders and alerts about outdated or missing information. Yes. Who knew that could make you more sexy right ?

Definitely Good to know.

Here`s more from that survey

Financial awareness makes for a good marriage

Parents, Kids & Money

Interesting but worrisome survey from T. Rowe Price “Parents, Kids & Money Survey” 2013 The survey set out to understand the basic financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of both parents and their children age 8-14 . The survey included 1.014 parents and 839 children in the US. The study was quite comprehensive..but we will share 3 with you here

The complete study can be found here

Kids and Money

And…Where do family conversations on money fit with everything else there is to talk to our kids about?

Topics to discuss with kids

Interesting but more worrying.. 50% or less of parents surveyed have strong financial habits to pass along to their children. Notably: Only 46% had life insurance. While 46% are saving for a family vacation & 39% save throughout the year for holiday shopping; only 26% have an up-to-date will.

Parents not covering financial basics

 

Please.

Get a will! We’ll be reminding you to get one …along the way with LegacyTracker.

And also? Let’s work on some of these basics so we as parents can pass them along to our children.

 

Fin Lit for Seniors

FinLit for Canadians-Phase 1 – Seniors’

A long-awaited National Strategy for Financial Literacy is now underway for development now that the also long-awaited Financial Literacy Leader has been appointed. (Jane Rooney) It’s a very BIG project with the goal of enhancing the financial well-being of All Canadians

Work on the National Strategy is taking place in phases and the 1st phase will focus on seniors and “soon be seniors”.   Other phases will focus on younger demographics as well as newcomers, low-income Canadians and Aboriginal peoples.

Life changing events for seniors

 

Seniors face a number of life changing events which we imagine is why Phase 1 will focus on this demographic

 

 

 

 

 

The Seniors’ Financial Literacy Strategy specifically seeks to strengthen the financial literacy of current and soon to be seniors by increasing knowledge, skills and confidence in making responsible financial decisions.

So how will this happen? What’s the Plan? 

That’s the purpose of the proposed blueprint released this month & the call for help from the Canadian Government to Canadians to both identify some of the current challenges faced by seniors & suggest how these challenges can be overcome

Specifically:

  1. How can we best encourage Canadians to prepare financially for their seniors years ?
  2. How can we empower seniors to plan & manage their financial affairs ?
  3. How can we improve awareness and understanding of public benefits for seniors?
  4. How can we better identify, prevent and combat the financial abuse of seniors ?

Canadians can contribute their input by responding to the questions posed in the consultation document by July 15 2014. Following a review of input received, the target date for a finalized literacy strategy is the Fall of 2014.

Refer to the Financial Consumer Agency website for more info  or grab your copy of the consultation paper here:  seniors_financial_literacy_consultation

Canada's Financial Services Sector

Canada – A robust but confusing financial sector

Behold Less Bewilderment 

Thanks to H2 Central for the great infographic Canada’s robust financial sector my seem a little less confusing. H2 Central published their helpful infographic last week which they indicated, came about from “periodic encounters with clients bewildered by the intricacy of our respected but complex investment sector” 

Indeed. It’s a robust sector and challenging to grasp; full of regulators, financial literacy organizations, educators, advisors, investment companies, investment producers & distributors some who are AND some  who are not connected. Not sure? Check out the colour codes and note the associated abbreviations/acronyms …

 

 

LegacyTracker Net Worth Tracking

Net Worth/Worth Tracking

Some say Net Worth is a GOOD number to track in order to determine whether you are making financial progress. Others say it’s the ONLY number to track.

What is net worth ?

Net worth, (also generally referred to as wealth) is one measure of an individual’s material wellbeing or financial success, measured by the amount by which assets exceed liabilities or debt. And yes; it’s possible to have a negative number especially for young professionals with student debt; don’t despair.

Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth 

Why does it matter?

Knowing your net worth is an important aspect of personal financial planning. It can be a wealth strategy. Net worth can also be a benchmark for wealth or financial fitness much like your weight is a benchmark in a weight management program. It can also be a powerful motivator to save more, spend less, pay off debt or to work proactively with a professional financial advisor to map out a financial plan.to financial success.

Net worth is worth keeping track of as it also represents the degree of flexibility one might have to respond to unexpected or unforeseen circumstances like a job loss, an unexpected illness or a drop in the financial markets. A healthy net worth can also provide individuals with opportunities like starting a business or going back to school. Ultimately, retirement will also be funded by net worth. At some time in the future net worth will be utilized in order to fund retirement.and cover living expenses.

Track or Update regularly

One thing is certain. Net worth will fluctuate over time but hopefully it will grow in the right direction. Regular updates can help you keep on track with your financial goals; a financial checkup; much like going to the doctor for a health checkup. Regular updating can help ensure that savings and spending are held in check. You don’t need to be an accountant to calculate net worth; a simple excel spreadsheet or an online tool can be used. We’ve included net worth tracking as an important feature inside LegacyTracker

Compare cautiously

A growing number of bloggers now post their progress around building their net worth online for all of their readers to see. That’s one way to compare. They say it keeps them accountable. I’m an accountant; we like to keep things nice and confidential.

Easily found comparables might be the annual surveys that report the average net worth of Canadians or Americans as an indicator of financial well-being over time. For example, the average Canadian household net worth broke $400,000 at the end of 2012, which was a 5.8% increase over 2011; slightly ahead of the US by about $19.000.

Whether or not it is used as an indicator of financial status, tracking net worth can be motivating and so keeping it updated on a regular basis and making sure you are making progress, is a positive move. I have found too many clients who are so focused on the estimated value of their assets (say the growing estimated value of a home in Toronto for example), that they don’t take into consideration the growth of their debt over time.That’s the advantage of tracking Net worth as opposed to Total Asset Accumulation.

It’s the NET and the NET movement in financial progress that matters over the long-term for you and your family. That’s the reason we included a Net Worth tracker in LegacyTracker.

BMO study finds many Canadians unaware what investments they hold

A BMO study released in April 2012 made note of these results:

Approximately 80 % of Canadians were confident in their investment portfolio, but …..nearly 50% were unaware what investments they actually had..

Many not aware of their investments

BMO made these suggestions when they released the report:

  • The key is to monitor and add to your investments all year round.
  • Consistently examine your portfolio to make sure that diversification exists between stocks, bonds, cash and real-estate
  • Look to the long-term instead of the short-term as often times, Investors are scared by volatile markets and focus on the potential for short term-loss
  • The best fix includes consolidating your assets to keep track of where your money is being held.

As an accountant, I know first hand that many of my clients when I was in public practice were (and most likely are still) part of these stats. I know because I opened up a lot of their mail each April in order to prepare their tax returns (!) It’s one of the many reasons that I felt the need to develop LegacyTracker.

LegacyTracker can help you with these suggestions. Legacy Tracker offers individuals and families a simple, comprehensive and common sense online solution for monitoring, tracking, sharing and safeguarding important financial, legal and estate information.