As a Chartered Accountant, many of my clients ask me how they could help their children become more financially literate.
As a Chartered Accountant and parent, I could understand why they are concerned. Being financially literate is a life skill that children will carry with them even after high school. They need this knowledge in order to responsibly file their tax returns, help pay off debts and credit cards and save for their future. Lacking financial skills could definitely lead to financial troubles.
The good news is there are many different initiatives across Ontario that are helping children and youth gain money skills. For instance, the Ontario Ministry of Education is engaged in a pilot project that is helping revamp the Grade 10 careers courses and is laying the groundwork for financial literacy to become part of the curriculum for the fall of 2018.
Also, findings released this week by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) reveal that Canadian youth are among the top global performancers in financial literacy. Canada came second in financial literacy out of 15 countries that participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey. Eighty-seven per cent of about 3,400 Canadian students who participated in the survey, demonstrated at least a baseline level of financial literacy and Twenty-two per cent of Canadian students demonstrated advanced levels of financial literacy, well above the OECD average.
What could you as parents do to help your children gain money skills?
I recommend talking with your children about money early on and doing so as often as possible. In fact, the PISA survey revealed that Canadian students who discussed money issues with their parents tended to score higher with those discussing money issues at home once or twice a week scoring the highest.
As a Chartered Accountant, from my experience, it is also beneficial for parents to encourage their youth to start handling money early on that way the youth gain greater practical knowledge on how to budget, save and spend wisely. In fact, the PISA survey found that Canadian teenagers who held occasional jobs like gardening and babysitting had, on average the highest financial scores. Children and youth learn about money by doing. Here is an example of about 100 summer jobs for teens, one of them might peak your children’s interest.
What unbiased resources are out there that could help us parents discuss money matters with our children?
Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA) offers free unbiased financial literacy sessions to the general public. The program is run by Chartered Accountants that volunteer their time and expertise and is available to adults, seniors, workplace, new Canadians, schools, post-secondary students, small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs. For instance, some of the topics that parents could learn at the sessions are how to teach their kids to be money-smart and how to become good financial role models for their children. If you are interested, you may request a session here.
Another informative website is Teaching Children About Money which offers many programs and activities for youth and children. Some topics discussed are: “What to consider when deciding to give an allowance: how much to give, how often to give and if it should be earned” as well as “What to teach your preschool, school-aged, preteen and teenaged children about money management.”
There is a also a Financial Literacy Database for Canadian parents which offers some educational and fun resources such as how to teach children about money management in a fun and interactive way, how parents could save for their children’s education and an e-book on how children could learn to be smart spenders.
Also, besides teaching children and youth about the value and importance of money and helping them take on seasonal jobs early on, it is important for parents to attend financial literacy workshops. Such workshops will give parents more confidence in their knowledge and skills about money, help them be better role models when it comes to handling money and make them feel more comfortable to initiate such conversations at the dinner table.
If you require additional consultation or a tax planning strategy, please do not hesitate to contact:
Polina Presman, CPA, CA
T- 416-371- 6017
Shani Marzin, CPA, CA
S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9