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Financial Literacy: A Forgotten Art in Educational Systems

By: Ashley Quinton

News and Politics Writer

Financial literacy is not mandatory in Canadian educational institutions but some University of Windsor students think it should be.

According to a 2016 BDO Canada poll, 77 per cent, of Canadian graduates regret their money-making decisions while attending post-secondary school.

Sheldon Harrison, the VP of Finance and Operations (VPFO) says schools have steered away from subjects that are relevant to our daily lives, like home economics or shop class.

Harrison says it is crucial for students to learn financial literacy because “money doesn’t go out of style, number one. The spending habits and the lifestyle habits that you establish when you’re young often are going to be reflected in your later years,” says Harrison. “If you have great spending habits and great savings habits when you’re making $100 a week or $100 dollars a month, you’re going to be able to exercise those same principles and habits when you’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.”

Ayesha Dewan, a third-year computer science student at the University of Windsor is working three jobs at the university to pay for her tuition leaving little time to herself, “I barely get forty minutes to grab lunch, and I only eat dinner if I think I can manage eating it while in class.”

Dewan feels like her education did not prepare her to be financially literate but proposes “having a mandatory budgeting course in high school where students learn about how bank accounts work, how investments work, and how to budget money and actually learn real life financial skills.” While her school did not require her to take classes on budgeting she has taken her own initative to improve her spending habits after realizing “I was spending more than I’d like to from the money I am making from my jobs so I have signed up for an online budgeting course.”

Harrison says he frequently hears concerns from students about their personal fianaces.

He says there are a few areas where students tend to veer from the right path when it comes to spending. Harrison says “don’t overspend because that’s one of the biggest unforced errors. And to understand credit cards or credit – it’s not your money. You have to give it back, it’s consignment.” Harrison says students can also save a lot of money by learning how to cook or use technology to assist them in tracking their spending. 

“There are apps like Mint which will tell you what your spending habits are and they’ll send you notifications in the easiest way. You should be able to know what your financial position with the amount of technology you have access now, even down to the decimal points with the amount of tools we have. So utilize them,” says Harrison.

Students can find free copies of Robert R. Brown’s Financial Literacy book, Wealthing like Rabbits: An Original and Occasionally Introduction to the World of Personal Finance circulating around the CAW Student Centre. Students are also encouraged to stop by the UWSA office if they would like a copy.

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