Can your children read? One assumes that they can, though social media postings by “krazee kewl LOL” youth may suggest otherwise. Let’s guess most of today’s young people are literate. However, they may not be literate in other ways. Are our school boards teaching the basics of financial literacy in the curriculum, even starting with the youngest of children? How many young teens know how to write a cheque? Are teachers giving them photocopies of blank cheques to fill out, just to demonstrate how to do it?
And what’s being done at home? All too often, children and youth – with the possible exception of working-age teens with part-time jobs – see their personal source of income as the “Bank of Mom and Dad,” even if Mom and Dad are split up or the single parent is pinching pennies to make ends meet.
Youth can also take things for granted, unless they use part of their part-time income to purchase things they like, and in the long run, appreciate.
Take the seemingly ubiquitous smart phone. More young teens, and sometimes even primary-school kids, have them. But do these children, especially teenagers, know how much these phones cost? That their parents/guardians have to pay, in many cases, a substantial amount of money every month for the subscription fee, just so Johnny and Mary can send text messages which aren’t about discussions of physics or economics?
Probably not, unless the smart, sensible and financially literate teen is paying for the phone with part of their part-time income. That’s the way it should be.
What about those family vacations to places like Disney World in Florida? It’s not cheap.
After all, young people will be making their way into the world on their own soon. They will have to start paying for their own rent, utility bills and food. Again, one cannot stress enough that the basics of financial literacy should be taught even to young kids. It could make a difference to our own households as we battle the household debt monsters.
Speaking of economics, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, among others, has been saying for years now that debt levels among Canadian households are getting out of hand. As a Harvard and Oxford graduate with a doctorate in economics – and an international reputation for common sense – he seems to know what he’s talking about.
Imagine if Carney, for some strange reason, decided to visit schools to preach the gospel of sound financial management, starting with the primary school kids. “You want to go to Florida, boys and girls? Tell Mom and Dad they need to know how to save money better so you can all have a good time,” he might say. “And tell them if you get an allowance you’ll clean up your room more. Ask your parents if they know what liquid assets are, boys and girls, and if they’re careful, they can have enough money for emergencies and holidays.”
In the real world, it’s advice that even the Governor of the Bank of Canada wouldn’t mind passing on.
— Sue Hickey