Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The FCAC: Helping Canadians Get Financially Fit in 2011

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada was set up by the federal government in 2001 to protect the rights of consumers of financial services and monitor the financial services industry. Part of the FCAC mandate, of course, includes basic financial education.

This week I had the opportunity to speak with Julie Hauser, mother of two and FCAC Media Relations Officer. Not only did I find out her thoughts on kids, money and financial literacy, I was also briefed on the great resources that the FCAC has lined up for us in 2011.

Never Too Early
Julie, who told me that a grade-twelve business education course helped her learn the basics of personal finance, says that she has witnessed how stressful mismanaged finances and consumer debt can be. Not wanting her kids to ever have to go through the trauma of being harangued by creditors, she has been talking to her daughters about money since they were toddlers.

She started by using treats to teach basic math concepts like division: if I get twelve smarties and I have two friends over, how many do I give each of them? She also had them counting and sorting coins so that early on they knew little facts like: there are five pennies in a nickel and two nickels in a dime.

Not only has this early introduction to money, counting and the language of money helped her now-teenage daughters do well in math class, it has also laid the groundwork for some interesting family discussions at the dinner table about things like the hidden costs associated with gift cards and other money topics that come up in Julie's work at the FCAC.

The O'Leary Question
I have a question that I first asked Kevin O'Leary of Dragons' Den back in July of 2010, which I pose to all of my interviewees: What three things do you think we should teach five-year-olds about money? Here is Julie's answer:
1. Learn about money.
2. Remember that money is only part of your life.
3. Saving money is important because you might need it later to buy something special.

Money lessons for kindergarten kids aside, Julie suggests that, "We all need to learn enough about money so that we can manage it in the way that best meets our needs and wants." She also feels that having our finances under control is critical to our well-being. She suggests that even if we hire a professional to manage our finances, we should still educate ourselves so that we know how the financial system works.

FCAC "Workouts"
One thing you need to know about the FCAC is that it has resources to match every learning style: videos for visual learners, interactive tools for hands-on learners, etc. They also have an interactive financial learning "game" called the The City that is geared for youth and educators.

You will notice on The City registration page that you can join as a "student" or "teacher." Julie assures me that as a parent, you are welcome to register as a "teacher" (after all, we are teachers...aren't we?). And be sure to input your province because the game will automatically adjust the financial landscape to reflect the cost of living in your area.

Teachers and students who register and participate in The City before March 31 will be eligible to win some great prizes. Teachers can win a Smart board for their classroom and students can win a laptop. In this case, I'm not sure that we parents would qualify as teachers, however, I think it's a great incentive and I intend to sign up for The City and let you know what I think about it in a future post.

One last thing, Julie is shipping me a copy of  the FCAC's Financial Basics workshop delivery kit. If you would like to boost your financial fitness in 2011 (or help others do so), you can order the workshop materials or find out how to host a program by visiting what might be the most helpful financial literacy portal in Canada, the FCAC's Money Belt.

I do believe these are federal tax dollars well-spent and I plan on using the site, and Julie's expertise, to continue building my financial fluency in 2011.

Copyright 2010. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
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1 comment:

  1. That is decent and i personally feel that tanner mainstain is there for me to get a lot of help which works certainly.