In a single day, we make dozens of financial decisions—from simple purchases to bigger budget commitments—without a clear sense of the impact on our future goals. When it comes to making ends meet, keeping track of finances and planning ahead, it’s often a challenge to make sense of it all.

"Only 40 percent of Ontario high school students feel that they are prepared for managing their finances after graduation."

Bridging the generation gap

In 2011, the federal government issued a call for a national strategy to strengthen Canadians’ financial literacy, and programs geared to youth have been rolling out in schools across the country. The theme of this year’s Financial Literacy Month, “Financial Literacy Across Generations,” is bringing the issue into focus again.

A recent study by the non-profit, Investor Education Fund, shows that among Ontario high school students, the greatest financial concern was being able to afford post-secondary education. Yet, only 30 percent of survey respondents are actually saving for this purpose. Instead, young people of high school age are largely choosing to save for clothes, entertainment, cash and gifts.

The same study showed that only 40 percent of students feel that they are prepared for managing their finances after graduation. 

Like most life lessons, we develop our financial habits when we’re young. With the right knowledge, tools and a little confidence, students will be able to make financial decisions that have a positive impact on their lives and communities, and achieve their personal financial goals.

"Like most life lessons, we develop our financial habits when we’re young. With the right knowledge, tools and a little confidence, students will be able to make financial decisions that have a positive impact on their lives and communities."

Here are some tips to get the conversation started with the young people in your life:

→ Children seem to have money to spend before they understand what money is really all about. Help your child appreciate the fundamentals of money by having them divide their piggy bank cash into three categories: saving, giving and spending.

→ Talk to your child about their career ambition. What will it take to get into this career? What kind of salary might they expect? Would it be enough to support the lifestyle they envision? Conversations like these will give your child a sense of the financial realities of life after graduation.

→ Include your child in the financial decisions you make every day. Build a family financial plan together — while grocery shopping, ask them to calculate the price of goods and keep a food budget, or include them in the decision-making process for larger financial decisions, such as selecting the best options for a family vacation or major home renovations.

→ Help your child understand the value of money by reviewing the difference between “needs” and “wants.” Have a conversation about people who are less fortunate, discussing ways in which you can share what you have with them.