Why we must talk to our kids about money
With the myriad of financial considerations affecting the lives of Canadians, ensuring that we have the necessary level of financial literacy — the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions — is absolutely essential.
The Canadian Task Force on Financial Literacy, co-chaired by BMO Financial Group’s Jacques Ménard, stated in its final report in 2011 that strengthening the financial literacy of Canadians is a shared responsibility among many stakeholders, and cannot be realized without the combined efforts of individuals, families, governments, educators, financial service providers, employers, labour organizations, businesses and voluntary organizations.
Those of us who work at BMO — indeed all those in the financial services — strive to help Canadians gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions at all stages of their lives. But it is particularly important that we reach out to our young people, who face financial decisions and responsibilities much earlier in their lives than those of past generations. With a BMO survey finding that more than a third of Canadian parents are not certain whether their children have a firm grasp on the basics of money management, Canadian youth represent an important focus for our financial literacy efforts.
As part of its national strategy on financial literacy, the task force noted the importance of the formal school system in building foundational knowledge about financial matters.
Meanwhile, parents continue to have a critical role to play in educating their children on money matters. Yet data suggests that only 25 per cent of Canadian parents feel strongly that they are equipped to give their children a solid financial education.
To that end, we can all look forward to the second annual Talk With Our Kids About Money Day, taking place on April 16. On that day, the Talk With Our Kids About Money program will encourage parents and teachers to have “the talk” with youth — a discussion on understanding money matters.
Talk with Our Kids About Money, offered by BMO and the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE), fosters ongoing year-round discussions on financial literacy with its annual awareness day. It brings many key stakeholders together in our public schools and at home.
Using a fun and interactive online resource, Talk with Our Kids About Money Day helps achieve the goal of ensuring that young people can benefit from early discussions about money. It’s all part of the wider effort to help build knowledge and skills for the financial decisions our young people will face in their lives.
In its inaugural year in 2013, parents and teachers in Toronto and Montreal participated in Talk With Our Kids About Money Day, sparking conversations with youth about money and personal finances.
Both parents and teachers are encouraged to visit the online hub, www.talkwithourkidsaboutmoney.com, leading up to the day itself on April 16. Parents are encouraged to have “the talk” with their kids, while teachers are encouraged to incorporate money matters into their lesson plans.
The online hub, free for anyone to access, is regularly updated with resources for parents, as well as curriculum ideas for teachers.
Highlights of the school program include: curriculum suggestions for incorporating finance into art, history, mathematics, science, geography, language and more; group discussion and debate ideas; and resources and interactive tools.
Meanwhile, parents have the opportunity to access: activities to do at home and in the community; family discussion starters and tasks that foster financial learning; and suggested movies, books and TV content to spark conversation.
Talk with Our Kids About Money Day sends a strong signal to parents on the importance of having frank and open conversations on the matter of money with their children.
The signal is reinforced in our public schools, where the school boards and teachers who shepherd our children can draw on the various tailored communications developed for this special day.
All of us share the responsibility of bringing financial literacy to our young people.
Talk with Our Kids About Money Day represents an important part of that effort, which will benefit Canadian youth for years to come.