The lack of “money sense” among Canadian youth has been an item of discussion and growing concern across the nation for some time now.
In response, the Ontario government recently announced a pilot project that puts a focus on financial literacy within the Grade 10 curriculum.
The pilot is aimed at revamping the current mandatory careers studies course by integrating digital literacy, career/life planning, financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills into lesson plans. Twenty-eight high schools and almost 700 students will be participating in the career studies pilot until June 2017.
With the new course, the government hopes to equip students with the money skills and knowledge they’ll need to enter today’s competitive global economy, as well as help them explore all career paths and opportunities.
As a young Canadian, what can you do to avoid debt?
Various studies and reports on the financial decisions of young Canadians have turned up alarming results, leading to the call for mandatory financial literacy classes in high schools. Most recently, a Manulife Financial survey reported that 31 per cent of millennial respondents felt that it was not a “big deal” if they carried a balance on their credit cards. An earlier TD Canada poll also found that 40 per cent of Canadians between ages 18 to 34 only make minimum monthly payments on their credit cards and 23 per cent miss it. For young adults, the idea of being given “free money” seems exciting. And while developing a credit history is important, young Canadians should keep the following in mind to avoid credit card debt:
- Do not indulge in the Cash Advance feature.
- Do not get a credit card without understanding how it works.
- Do not apply for multiple credit cards just for the sign-up bonus.
- Get an understanding of Canada’s best credit cards, especially those geared towards students.
How can parents still encourage financial literacy among youngsters?
In the past, the onus was put on parents to educate their children on personal finance, but rising household debt in Canada may hint that parents don’t always have the knowledge themselves. On average, Canadian households owe nearly $1.68 for every dollar of disposable income. Still, there are a few basic things that parents can do to set an example for their kids:
- Involve the kids in monthly household budgeting.
- Inculcate small, responsible spending habits (for example, minimizing your credit card transactions or setting up automatic transfers to your savings account).
- Give them a small amount of money that they can use every month to buy things they “need” or “want.” Monitor closely and advise when needed.
Overall, this change in the Ontario Grade 10 curriculum has been welcomed by educators and financial experts across Canada, as other provinces have launched similar initiatives over the past few years as well. Provided that the initial phase is received well, the new course will be rolled out province-wide by fall of 2018.