Financial Literacy: Crucial for all of us

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. This annual event acknowledges the need to educate ourselves in a crucial area of life—how to navigate the consumer culture without being consumed by it.

This initiative came out of the work of a task force that travelled the country to assess the state of financial literacy in Canada.  My submission to that task force expressed the view that all post-secondary students should be required to complete a personal finance course in order to graduate.

I was pleased that the final report of the task force recommended that “…all provincial and territorial governments integrate financial literacy in the formal education system, including…post-secondary education and formalized adult learning activities.”

Realistically, this is unlikely to happen. But there’s a lot we can do ourselves—in our families and the groups we belong to. It’s always possible to educate ourselves. And taking a proactive approach allows us to focus attention on what we most need to learn.

Some people require specific information in order to make more constructive choices. Credit cards are a good example. If we understand the implications of making only minimum payments, then the financial folly of carrying a balance on a credit card becomes clear.

Some people need to learn how to manage themselves rather than their money. Our mindsets and unconscious beliefs are incredibly powerful in influencing our actions—even when we are unaware of their existence. There are many ways to become more conscious in our relationship with money. Learning about this can be the key to greater financial ease.

To help people find the resources they need, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has recently established a Financial Literacy Database. It’s set up with a variety of search parameters to help you zero in on what is most useful. I’m pleased that Conscious Spending, Conscious Life is one of those resources.

And to further extend the educational value of my book, I’m producing a Group Leader’s Guide to accompany it. This project is in development now and I’m looking for first-run participants to test it. This can be done at a distance, and I’m happy to work with anyone via Skype or FaceTime to make it happen. For details, go to Study Groups.

Whether you’re in a group or on your own, a yearly check-in is a good practice.

  • How are things going?
  • What has changed since last year?
  • Are you moving in the direction you want to be?
  • If not, what changes would bring you back on course?

Financial Literacy Month is a good reminder to focus on our situation and set changes in motion for the coming year if required. In the end, it’s up to us.