We really ought to teach financial literacy in school.” That’s the default answer from financial experts when we hear another story about Canadians who are up to their eyeballs in debt. It’s not that I disagree – I’d love to see a broad curriculum of age-appropriate financial topics all throughout school.

The problem lies in the execution. Teachers aren’t equipped to write the course material, let alone deliver the concepts in meaningful and engaging ways for children aged 6-17. So we’re left with two options; outsource the entire financial literacy course – from creation to delivery – to the government or not-for-profit sector, or else seek out resources from the financial services industry. Talk about letting the fox in the hen house!

I take issue with the way banks and investment firms try to shoe-horn their way into the financial literacy curriculum when a good portion of the content should be about educating Canadians on how to become savvy customers of bank products.

Financial Literacy

The Ontario government will make financial literacy part of its grade 10 curriculum starting in 2018. Maclean’s had an interesting discussion on the subject of financial literacy, with one article suggesting these programs don’t work and can even be harmful when financial literacy is offered as a substitute for action on poverty.

Canada’s financial literacy leader Jane Rooney fired back, saying the programs do work if done right:

“That’s why FCAC supports the delivery of programs over many years, at strategic times in people’s lives, and in a variety of contexts—for example, at home between parents and children, in schools, colleges and universities, in the workplace, at financial institutions, and in many other community settings.”

I agree with Ms. Rooney, but the biggest challenge is how to implement these programs at critical stages in our lives, who should be delivering the programming, and whether or not it should be mandatory.

This Week’s Recap:

On Monday I explained how an investor lost nearly half a million dollars due to his advisor’s risky investment strategy.

On Wednesday Marie looked at buying back pensionable years of service after an absence from the workforce.

And on Friday I shared a story from 70 years ago – how an ad manager from Merrill Lynch brought Wall Street to Main Street by demystifying the stock and bond market through education advertisements.

Weekend Reading:

You’ve hopefully filed your personal tax return by now. Jamie Golombek explains what happens if you get audited.

A blast from the past for Toronto residents: These classified ads show how much it cost to rent and buy a home there in 1975.

This Debt Free in 30 podcast featured Squawkfox blogger Kerry Taylor, Wealthing Like Rabbits author Robert Brown, and budget travel expert Barry Choi.

A nice (or gruesome, depending on your view) visual look at the downfall of Home Capital – Canada’s largest alternative mortgage lender.

Some see this as an isolated incident, but stay tuned: Home Capital’s crisis may puncture Canada’s housing bubble yet.

A Wealth of Common Sense blogger Ben Carlson explains why baby boomers won’t destroy the stock market in retirement.

Millionaire Teacher Andrew Hallam was featured in this CNBC segment explaining how he became a millionaire at 36 on a teacher’s salary:

Andrew Hallam also chatted with Millennial money expert Jessica Moorhouse in her latest podcast and got her excited about low-cost passive investments.

Now that CRM2 has been fully implemented, Steadyhand’s Tom Bradley is disappointed that many investment companies did the absolute bare minimum of reporting on investor returns and disclosing fees.

Dan Bortolotti explains FOMO – or the fear of missing out – as it relates to investing:

“If you’re a Couch Potato investor, you’re going to have a FOMO crisis of your own at some point. It won’t be easy, but you’ll need to shake off that nagging feeling that there’s something better out there. I’d start by taking stock-picking stories with a heaping tablespoon of salt.”

Michael James enjoyed the behavioural finance book, Nudge, and shared some of the authors’ smart takes on the decisions we make.

Peter Nowak explains why artificially intelligent voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Assistant are poised to change how we interact with our homes.

A solid argument from the Harvard Business Review on why you really need to stop using public wi-fi.

Finally, here’s how online shopping makes suckers of us all. This article shines a light on the exotic and highly technical strategies used online to extract the most money from customers.

“Our ability to know the price of anything, anytime, anywhere, has given us, the consumers, so much power that retailers—in a desperate effort to regain the upper hand, or at least avoid extinction—are now staring back through the screen. They are comparison shopping us.”

Truly frightening.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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