Financial Literacy Month

Make Financial Literacy Month work for you

October 31, 2014

Happy Hallowe’en!  This week’s weather makes it clear that summer is finally giving way to fall.  Who would’ve expected that?

November is Financial Literacy Month, with some unique and worthwhile opportunities for you to access financial advice.  My hope is that you will commit to raising your level of knowledge about your own financial situation and financial planning in general.

The federal government recently named Jane Rooney as Canada’s first Financial Literacy Leader.  Its goal is to empower financial consumers and promote responsible financial market conduct.

The FCAC website has a large variety of tools, including calculators, advice and statements of your rights as a consumer.  It is well worth a visit.

An important part of Financial Literacy month is Financial Planning Week, now in its sixth year.  The FPSC (Financial Planning Standards Council and the IQPF (the Institut Quebecois de Planification Financiere) have initiatives to advance toward what they call Vision 2020.

This vision is that by 2020, Canada will be shaped by a nation of people, organizations, and the regulatory environment that values  financial planning, shares and assumes responsibility to ensure the financial planning needs of Canadians are well served, and has a viable financial planning profession that ensures broad access to competent, ethical, financial planners, for all Canadians who need professional advice.

That’s a lofty goal, but these organizations have a track record of delivering.

Last year, CFP professionals donated more than 1,000 hours of volunteer time to programs like Junior Achievement’s Dollars with Senses program, and CFPs are once again being challenged to volunteer their time and expertise to community groups, in a joint initiative with the FCAC.

The FPSC has provided great resources like presentation materials to its licensees and offered continuing education credits to those who go out and present to charities, support groups, service clubs, schools, book clubs - you name it - to help all Canadians get a start on improving their financial decision-making skills.

Contact a CFP to arrange a presentation for your group between November 1 and 17. www.fpsc.ca/find-a-planner-certificant

The Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (www.IAFP.ca) is also a great source for finding a planner.

Not to be outdone, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada - the new combined organization of CAs, CMAs and CGAs) are volunteering their time to provide financial education seminars across the country.  This is supported by $518,000 from the troika of Great West Life, London Life and Canada Life.  Kudos to them.

Search out CPA Canada’s Community Connect initiative for details of what’s available in your community. Online at www.financiadecisionsmatter.ca they have a great list of topics and courses.  These include short courses on teaching your kids about money, identity theft protection, effective tax strategies, planning for retirement, estate planning, saving strategies and others.

Workshops for schools can also be requested by emailing communityconnect@cpacanada.ca

Let’s get on this, teachers!  There are programs designed specifically for late primary school, middle and high school. I was flattered to see from some of the subject matter that the course preparers had apparently read my book, Managing the Bull. 

That’s my segue into suggesting you commit to reading at least one introductory book on financial planning, tax education or investing.  Authors to look for include Gail Vaz-Oxlade, if you are having trouble making ends meet; Evelyn Jacks, if you want to understand how to reduce your income taxes; The Knowledge Bureau, for a variety of titles on mastering your retirement planning, small business management, US taxes and others; the lovely and talented David Chilton for a
good read and great perspective; and yours truly, if you want some inspiration on creating a vision for the life you want, and developing a financial plan to achieve it.

No matter what you choose to do, please make this month count, by making a small investment of time that will pay off huge in the years to come.

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Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.

Please consult legal, tax and investment experts for advice on your unique situation.

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David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIMis a financial planner and advisor with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a Vice President with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.