The other day I asked my five-year-old son what he knew about money. He explained that people save money by putting it in the bank so the robbers can't get it. At least he understands that you need to take care of your money. And now he knows what to do with the cash he got from the tooth fairy.
A recent study by Visa Canada found that 86 per cent of parents with children between 12 and 18 are teaching financial literacy skills at home. The study also found that 31 per cent of kids get their information at school, while 11 per cent turn to free online educational tools.
There is so much to learn about personal finance; it's good to have a number of sources to help you out. So, here are a few websites, which I think have good content or tools, to add to your financial literacy bookmarks.
Visa Canada has a website, www.practicalmoneyskills.ca, which offers a free financial literacy program. It has teaching materials and an array of articles and financial tools. It's even got a few fun games: Financial Soccer, which teaches about budgeting, responsible spending, banking and saving; Ed's Bank, which teaches the basics of saving and spending by letting you save coins in your piggy bank and then spend them at the store; Road Trip to Savings, where you're on a road trip and need to manage your expenses and work to add to your cash flow; and a Smart Money Quiz Show.
BrighterLife.ca, which is run by Sun Life Financial Inc. and was launched in September, has information about all the big life issues: money, retirement, health, family and work. It has articles on how to get yourself out of debt, whether your teen should get a credit card, and questions to ask your adviser amid the market turmoil. They also have tools to measure your net worth and calculate your life insurance needs.
BrighterLife.ca also links to Sun Life Financial's MyRetirementCafe.ca, a site focused on retirement issues.
Another good online financial literacy program is The City, developed by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and the British Columbia Securities Commission. It's meant for young adults and also has materials for teachers. One part lets you daydream about all the fun things you'll have once you're out on your own (a car, computer, cool apartment), find out their cost and then look how much the job you want will pay. And then it shows how the two don't match, financially. It's a good way to let young adults discover what "living within your means" really means.
People looking for a stronger investment focus can turn to www.wallstreetsurvivor.com. It offers a virtual stock-trading game in which you get $100,000 in fake cash to put towards your stock portfolio as you learn how to trade. It has a free and paid option. It was fun to buy Apple Inc. shares and know I wasn't really paying for them.
The site also gives you trading tips and points out other metrics to consider when purchasing stocks. I think I could spend a lot of time on that site, and hopefully I won't run out of money too fast.