Financial Literacy Month in Canada is celebrated every November. The purpose is to bring about awareness to consumers about the basics of personal finance covering topics such as budgeting, money management, building credit, how consumer credit works, banking, mortgages and loans, establishing personal savings, etc.
Society has become more complex and for many Canadians, coming to grips with finances is a real challenge. Survey after survey in recent years show that many consumers don’t use a budget let alone how to properly manage money. Similar surveys also point out that many Canadians would find it very difficult to manage if they missed just one pay cheque. Many consumers also aren’t aware of how to check or even understand their credit report.
Financial Literacy is more than just being good with personal finances. It’s being able to make good financial decisions such as knowing what is involved in buying your first home or automobile, how interest rates work, how paying more than the minimum payment on your credit card will pay off the balance owing sooner, how to guard yourself against online fraud, and so much more. That’s why numerous stakeholders such as banks, credit unions, community groups, government departments and agencies, and credit counselling agencies take it upon themselves to give consumers access to various educational workshops and information sessions in communities across Canada.
The National Strategy for Financial Literacy – Count Me In is a resource-based website courtesy of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). The strategy’s overall goals are for consumers to become more knowledgeable in the areas of money management, planning and saving for the future, and preventing and protecting against fraud and financial abuse.
From there, you can check out the FCAC’s financial publications and resource guides as well as obtain information on the National Strategy for Financial Literacy as well as search the Financial Literacy database and take the self-assessment quiz, too. The Government of Canada recently secured a commitment from Canada’s banks to establish a five-year Financial Literacy Partnership Fund of $10-million to provide grants to eligible community organizations for projects that work to improve the financial literacy capabilities of Canadians.
To get a better understanding of the financial literacy of Canadians and the challenges they face, the Government of Canada in 2009 assembled a Task Force on Financial Literacy. After studying the issues and consulting widely, the Task Force prepared a report with 30 recommendations – many have already been implemented, including the appointment of Canada’s first Financial Literacy Leader and the establishment of the National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy – both in 2014.
The Government also conducted a national survey to gather information on how people are doing with regards to financial capability and where they faced financial challenges. Results of the 2009 Canadian Financial Capability Survey were analyzed under five themes: making ends meet, keeping track, planning ahead, choosing products and staying informed. The results were sobering: only one-quarter of Canadians scored high in all five areas. A second Canadian Financial Capability Survey was conducted in 2014 and the data is now being analyzed. Early results show similar challenges still exist for many Canadians.