The Far-Reaching Impact of Financial Literacy
Planning For The Future Gary Rabbior, President of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education, speaks on the importance of improving economic and financial capability.
November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. This month’s designation reminds us of the importance of prompting initiative and provoking discussions about financial literacy, but efforts to improve financial literacy should be a priority every day.
My work in the area of economic and financial education began some 40 years ago when the focus was on making more financial education for youth available in schools. Over time, things started to improve and space was often set aside in the math curriculum reflecting the notion that learning about money was largely about numbers — calculating, balancing, and compounding them.
Things have changed dramatically. The correlation between financial health, mental health, and well-being is now widely recognized. Financial education now goes far beyond just concern for expenses and picking the right credit card; it reaches into our values, our needs and wants, our goals, what makes us happy. It’s also about how we stay in control of our lives and avoid the anxieties and stress of over-indebtedness and feeling our spending is out of control.
Most Canadians want the future to be different for their kids then the past. Many want their own lives to be different and are seeking ways to educate themselves. Even more are advocating for financial education in our schools while many more are looking for ways to help others.
There was much to celebrate this Financial Literacy Month and there is much more to get excited about for next year. Virtually all of the provinces are assigning financial education a higher priority and increasing the time allocated to it in the curriculum. More organizations and institutions are recognizing that Canadians of all ages need help to stay in control of their financial lives. There are now efforts to assist newcomers, seniors, those at an economic disadvantage, those with special needs, and more.
Many organizations, supported by a variety of funding partners, are now engaged in the challenge of improving financial literacy and capability. We are making progress. Canada placed second in the world in the last financial literacy testing done by the OECD in Paris.
Participate in Financial Literacy Month. Speak with your kids about money, teach students about money in your classrooms, organize workshops in the workplace for employees, and share learnings with newcomers or in seniors’ residences. Helping people to manage their financial lives effectively and achieve financial health will have an impact far beyond our ability to calculate it. It can make a real difference in the health and happiness of individuals and families — and that’s something we should be working at every day we can.
Gary Rabbior is President of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE), a charitable, non-profit, non-partisan organization working to improve economic and financial capability.