Money talks; not ev­ery­one knows the lan­guage

Truro Daily News - - OPINION - Steve Bartlett The Deep End Steve Bartlett is an editor with SaltWire Net­work. He dives into the Deep End Mon­days to es­cape re­al­ity and Master­Card bills. Reach him at steve. bartlett@thetele­gram.com.

I was flush with cash.

Or at least it felt that way.

I had just started my first year of univer­sity and my stu­dent loan had ar­rived.

It was some­thing like $2,300. Mom and Dad had al­ready paid my tu­ition, with an un­der­stand­ing they’d get their money back once the good ship Stu­dent Aid came in.

But $2,300 was now sit­ting in the bank.

I was 19 and never had ac­cess to so much cash.

Cha-ching!

Surely, mom wouldn’t mind some piz­zas.

Or a few cases of beer.

Or if I took a taxi and ate at some nice restau­rants and not the res­i­dence din­ing hall, which was al­ready paid for.

Within two weeks, I also had the best pair of Nike cross-train­ers to be found, plus a cool track­suit and some clothes em­bla­zoned with the name of my res­i­dence, Doyle House.

And I was caught up on all the lat­est movies … and I was al­most broke.

The money I owed my par­ents was gone; as was most of the cash I was sup­posed to live on for the rest of the se­mes­ter.

There were five or six weeks left. To top it off, I had gained 10 or 15 pounds, and I was be­hind in my stud­ies, with ter­ri­ble marks to boot.

My first foray into liv­ing away from my par­ents was a train wreck.

I was be­ing a care­free, self­ish, fi­nan­cially il­lit­er­ate id­iot.

My folks weren’t too im­pressed. They ran small busi­nesses – ser­vice sta­tions, then an auto sal­vage yard – through­out my child­hood.

Their ef­forts pro­vided us with a good life, but they worked very, very, very hard for ev­ery cent.

My dad would come home from work com­pletely ex­hausted.

And here I was not work­ing hard at any­thing and blow­ing his money.

Cash was tight for the rest of the se­mes­ter.

As a 19-year-old univer­sity stu­dent, I was try­ing to stretch $20 or $30 over a week — what Mom would de­posit in my ac­count Fri­day af­ter­noons.

It was bud­getary bap­tism by fire; a huge life les­son learned the hard way.

Since then, I’ve al­ways felt fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy should have been part of my grade school ed­u­ca­tion. I can’t re­mem­ber spend­ing any time on it what­so­ever, but then again, I wasn’t the most at­ten­tive stu­dent.

Money mat­ters – per­sonal debt, in­ter­est rates, etc. – are taught more these days, but Cana­di­ans now owe $1.68 of debt for ev­ery dol­lar earned, so I’d ar­gue it needs to be an even big­ger com­po­nent of the cur­ricu­lum.

It’s too late once a kid leaves the nest and moves on to higher ed­u­ca­tion or the work­force. Take it from some­one who wasn’t ready to fly.

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